Ronald Reagan was a Michael Jackson Fan, John G. Roberts was Not

I was reading through the June issue of Harper’s Magazine and came across a letter from Ronald Reagan to Michael Jackson that was sent after Michael’s hair was accidentally burned while filming a Pepsi commerical.  I wanted to post the letter here, so I searched for it hoping I would find it and not have to type it myself.  I found it and a whole lot more.

Here’s the letter that started my search:

Dear Michael:

I was pleased to learn that you were not seriously hurt in your recent accident. I know from experience that these things can happen on the set–no matter how much caution is excercised. All over America, millions of people look up to you as an example. Your deep faith in God and adherence to traditional values are an inspiration to all of us, especially young people searching for something real to believe in. You’ve gained quite a number of fans along the road since “I Want You Back” and Nancy and I are among them. Keep up the good work, Michael. We’re very happy for you.

Sincerely,

Ronald Reagan

In addition to the letter, I found this New York Times “The Caucus” blog post that gives a rundown of the relationship between Reagan and Jackson.  There I learned that Jackson visited the White House in May 1984 and also appeared with Reagan at an anti-drunk-driving event.

In September of 1984, Jackson invited Reagan to a “Victory Tour” concert at RFK stadium.  Reagan’s office drafted a letter to decline the invitation and to invite Michael Jackson back to the White House, but this time with his brothers. 

The letter was reviewed by a young associate counsel who objected to Reagan signing the letter.  The associate was John G. Roberts, now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. 

David Weigel at The Washington Independent got a laugh out of this part of Robert’s rejection:

In today’s Post there were already reports that some youngsters were turning away from Mr. Jackson in favor of a newcomer who goes by the name “Prince,” and is apparently planning a Washington concert. Will he receive a Presidential letter? How will we decide which performers do and which do not?

Prince, the “newcomer,” was touring in support of his sixth album, Purple Rain.

That’s pretty funny, but I thought this part was even better:

Why, for example, was no letter sent to Mr. Bruce Springsteen, whose patriotic tour recently visited the area?

Yes… another clueless Republican who heard only the chorus to “Born in the U.S.A” and never bothered to listen to the verses.  Springsteen’s 1984 tour was not patriotic in any way, and he loathed the Reagan Administration.

Reagan wasn’t a very smart man, but he did recognize a foe when he saw one.  Young John G. Roberts?  Not so smart…

Home of the Brave? Maybe Not

In the 30 years I’ve lived in this country, I have never witnessed a more shameful and cowardly performance than that of Congress denying the Obama administration funds to move Guantanamo detainees to high security prisons  in the United States.

It’s not like the NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) concept is alien to me; it’s just that I never thought I would see such irrational fear and illogic displayed to the world in a way that was so utterly brainless, gutless and weak-kneed.

America’s prisons house serial killers, rapists, sociopaths and psychopaths and other evil doers to compare with any country in the world. Yet our representatives and senators, not to mention their constituents, are scared shitless at the thought of having some of the prisoners at Guantanamo incarcerated even in US military prisons. It’s hard to know whether their fear is of the detainees escaping en masse to wreak havoc in their communities or the thought that al-Qaida might launch an invasion of, say, Fort Leavenworth to free them.

The city council of Hardin, Montana, hoping to boost a sagging economy, has stepped up to the plate by offering to house some of the detainees in a newly built prison that the state now says it no longer needs. “Over my dead health-care plan” says Senator Max Baucus (or words to that effect anyway), ever the study in political courage.

And then there’s the issue of where to put those detainees who have been determined not to be enemy combatants. These are the people whom we scooped up in the Bush administration’s panic-ridden response to 9/11, held for several years in conditions that most of us don’t want to know about, only to find that they were no threat to us after all. Many of them can’t go home because they would likely be imprisoned, tortured and killed by their own governments.

We had an opportunity to release one such group, Muslim Chinese called Uighurs, into the US. These have no axe to grind against the US but oppose the Chinese government’s policies towards the Muslim population. There are Uighurs in the US already, including a community in the Washington DC area. Had we been willing to bring them to the US we might have had more luck convincing European governments to take other detainees.

But no, jittery politicians and a frightened electorate don’t want to hear about it.  The gutsier souls of Bermuda and Palau have put us to shame and agreed to take in some of the Uighurs.

So my question is this: how is it that a country capable of fielding such valiant and dedicated men and women in its armed forces who serve their country so bravely, can be otherwise so bereft of courage?

Friday Night Videos – White Denim, Robyn Hitchcock, Ha Ha Tonka

White Denim is from Austin, Texas, and this song is from their new album Fits that you can’t buy in the U.S. right now.  

I found about them by reading a review of the new album in the July issue of Mojo Magazine where their sound was described as “Cranium-melting Texan galactic punk/funk” worthy of a four-star rating.  That makes me want to buy the album, but I can’t.

Here’s the video for “I Start to Run.”

Robyn Hitchcock was a favorite of mine back in the eighties.  Here he is performing “Brenda’s Iron Sledge” on a 1985 airing of the BBC program Whistle Test.

Ha Ha Tonka’s video of “Caney Mountain” from their 2007 album, Buckle in the Bible Belt.

Jesus Disciples with Rifles

One might think that a Christian church would be a relatively safe place to visit – that it wouldn’t be full of people carrying guns.  That’s probably true for most churches, but not this oneThe New York Times reports:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Ken Pagano, the pastor of the New Bethel Church here, is passionate about gun rights. He shoots regularly at the local firing range, and his sermon two weeks ago was on “God, Guns, Gospel and Geometry.”  And on Saturday night, he is inviting his congregation of 150 and others to wear or carry their firearms into the sanctuary to “celebrate our rights as Americans!” as a promotional flier for the “open carry celebration” puts it.

“God and guns were part of the foundation of this country,” Mr. Pagano, 49, said Wednesday in the small brick Assembly of God church, where a large wooden cross hung over the altar and two American flags jutted from side walls. “I don’t see any contradiction in this. Not every Christian denomination is pacifist.”

The bring-your-gun-to-church day, which will include a $1 raffle of a handgun, firearms safety lessons and a picnic, is another sign that the gun culture in the United States is thriving despite, or perhaps because of, President Obama’s election in November.

Mr. Pagano said the church’s insurance company, which he would not identify, had canceled the church’s policy for the day on Saturday and told him that it would cancel the policy for good at the end of the year. If he cannot find insurance for Saturday, people will not be allowed in openly carrying their guns.

…John Phillips, pastor of the Central Church of Christ in Little Rock.  In 1986, Mr. Phillips was preaching in a different church there when a gunman shot him and a parishioner. Both survived, but Mr. Phillips, 51, still has a bullet lodged in his spine.

In a telephone interview, he said he found the idea of “packing in the pew” abhorrent.

“There is a movement afoot across the nation, with the gun lobby pushing the envelope, trying to allow concealed weapons to be carried in places where they used to be prohibited — churches, schools, bars,” Mr. Phillips said.

“I don’t understand how any minister who is familiar with the teachings of the Bible can do this,” he added. “Jesus didn’t say, ‘Go ahead, make my day.’”

Well that’s his opinion, but the congregation of the New Bethel Church knows:


Seriously though, this story reads like an open invitation to a gun nut with a death wish.  I hope it doesn’t turn out that way but, if it does, no amount of insurance will be enough to cover the damage.

Achewood’s Emergency Essay on Michael Jackson

Go to Achewood and read Ray Smuckles’ emergency essay, “On the Sudden Passing of Michael Jackson” today.

Excerpt:

It’s bad. It’s bad around here. It’s like today was fake. Even the sunlight seems staged. I wish they’d take it away.

When I got the Celebrity Death Beep on my Blackberry, I blew it off as a dumb rumor. That service is good, but I can see it makin’ mistakes. A false headline at, like, The Onion coulda’ triggered it. Michael had an eye on his health constantly. You know that about him. We all know the lengths he went to for health. Dude slept in a hyperbaric chamber. I like my health, but I ain’t gonna go that far, you know? Michael’s health was, to him, a special, magical thing. Something worth machines.

What I think a lotta folks are feelin’ now is a regret. Not regret that a man died; no. They regret that for almost three decades they been mockin’ this guy. This guy who wrote Thriller, and PYT, and Billie Jean. You know who you are, you Michael deniers, listenin’ to your The Cure or Aerosmith. You always considered Michael’s music silly. Not serious. Lame, mainstream. “Popular.”

The rest is here.

Viva La Jackson T-Shirts now Available

I just finished designing and coding my friend’s new website Viva La Jackson.  The site is selling Michael Jackson/Che Guevara mashup T-shirts.  They are really awesome shirts and can’t wait to get my hands on one.  I hear that there are other designs in the works.  Stay tuned.

From the website:

Michael Jackson was the KING of POP, he led the POP REVOLUTION for millions of fans worldwide.

Show the world you’ve joined the revolution with this iconic Michael Jackson/Che Guevara mash-up T-Shirt.

Media Matters employees next on the conservative hit list?

Abortion doctors, law enforcement, even employees of national museums. They’ve been targeted by extremists and their right-wing hatred, fueled by right-wing talk radio feeding off of Republican talking points led by right-leaning cable news and driven by an overwhelming fear of facts, science, and progress.

Now right-wing nutjob Michael Savage is threatening to put on his website the names, addresses, and even photos of the employees of Media Matters for his listeners to do with what they will.

He’s not suggesting any violence. He’s just sayin’, if anybody in this great land deserved to die at the hands of extremists, it’s these guys. Not to encourage illegal activities, you know. Just to say that certain law abiding citizens are sometimes driven by their consciences to act. Not vigilantism, per-se, nor is he advocating the taking of the law into anyone’s own hands. But how could you blame an average Joe if he were to just go out and get him some liberal, commie lynching done? How could you possibly blame a guy? S’all he’s sayin’.

Via Media Matters

Perhaps you’ve already seen the news that Michael Savage (née Weiner), America’s third highest rated radio host, has vowed to post “full pictures and other pertinent information about” Media Matters employees on his website. If not, the following links will help bring you up to speed:

Huffington Post: Michael Savage Issues Fatwa Against Media Matters

Examiner.com: Savage vows to post Media Matters staff pictures and ‘pertinent information’ on website

MSNBC’s The Ed Show: In “Psycho Talk,” Schultz says Savage “is pinning a ‘Wanted’ sign on employees at Media Matters

Watch their response here:

Farrah Fawcett is Dead

The hottie from the poster on my wall as a kid has died.  I have fond memories of her, as l spent many a night falling asleep to her playful gaze.

Entertainment Weekly has details:

Actress Farrah Fawcett died on June 25 in Los Angeles at the age of 62. With her passing after a long battle with anal cancer, we lose one of the quintessential symbols of post-feminist Hollywood, a definitive pinup who somehow parlayed a delicate-flower demeanor and all-American beauty into a 30-year career.

“After a long and brave battle with cancer, our beloved Farrah has passed away,” Fawcett’s longtime companion Ryan O’Neal said via a statement. “Although this is an extremely difficult time for her family and friends, we take comfort in the beautiful times that we shared with Farrah over the years and the knowledge that her life brought joy to so many people around the world.”

Michael Jackson is Dead

Multiple sources are reporting the Michael Jackson is dead.  While his music died several years ago, he was in the process of staging his largest comeback ever before he suffered cardiac arrest today.

I just heard a report that there is secret footage of him preparing for shows.  This footage will be worth millions.  More to follow as soon as I verify this rumor.

See Newsday for more details and take a Michael Jackson Fan Quiz.

Additionally, Michael Jackson has been accused in the past of molesting many children, although he was never convicted of these horrendous crimes.

He was rushed to the hospital after a call to 911 was placed.  He was not breathing at the time…

Per The National Post:

LOS ANGELES — Pop giant Michael Jackson, who took to the stage as a child star and went on to set the world dancing to the thumping rhythms of his music for decades, died on Thursday, TMZ website reported. He was 50.

“We’ve just learned Michael Jackson has died,” TMZ said.

“Michael suffered a cardiac arrest earlier this afternoon and paramedics were unable to revive him. We’re told when paramedics arrived Mr. Jackson had no pulse and they never got a pulse back,” the entertainment site said.

Supreme Court Rules that School’s Strip Search of 13-Year-Old Girl was Illegal

Duh…

The A.P. Reports:

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a school’s strip search of an Arizona teenage girl accused of having prescription-strength ibuprofen was illegal.

In an 8-1 ruling, the justices said school officials violated the law with their search of Savana Redding in the rural eastern Arizona town of Safford.

Redding, who now attends college, was 13 when officials at Safford Middle School ordered her to remove her clothes and shake out her underwear because they were looking for pills – the equivalent of two Advils. The district bans prescription and over-the-counter drugs and the school was acting on a tip from another student.

“What was missing from the suspected facts that pointed to Savana was any indication of danger to the students from the power of the drugs or their quantity, and any reason to suppose that Savana was carrying pills in her underwear,” Justice David Souter wrote in the majority opinion. “We think that the combination of these deficiencies was fatal to finding the search reasonable.”

And you may ask yourself:  Why wasn’t this a 9-0 ruling?  Who was the lone dissenter?

If you guessed Justice pubic-hair-on-a-Coke-can Thomas, you were right!

In a dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas found the search legal and said the court previously had given school officials “considerable leeway” under the Fourth Amendment in school settings.

Thomas warned that the majority’s decision could backfire. “Redding would not have been the first person to conceal pills in her undergarments,” he said. “Nor will she be the last after today’s decision, which announces the safest place to secrete contraband in school.”

So will Safford Middle School or Vice Principal Kerry Wilson be held liable for conducting the illegal search? 

The court also ruled the officials cannot be held liable in a lawsuit for the search. Different judges around the nation have come to different conclusions about immunity for school officials in strip searches, which leads the Supreme Court to “counsel doubt that we were sufficiently clear in the prior statement of law,” Souter said.

“We think these differences of opinion from our own are substantial enough to require immunity for the school officials in this case,” Souter said.

The justices also said the lower courts would have to determine whether the Safford United School District No. 1 could be held liable.

There seems to be a whole lot of immunity being granted these days.  Everyone seems to be following the examples set by the lawless members of the Bush Administration who, except for Scooter Libby, have not been held accountable for anything.

More about the SCOTUS decision here.