Friday, September 28, 2007
A Win For Our Side
A proposed California initiative campaign that could have helped Republicans hold on to the White House in 2008 was a shambles Thursday night, as two of its key consultants quit.
Unable to raise sufficient money and angered over a lack of disclosure by its one large donor, veteran political law attorney Thomas Hiltachk, who drafted the measure, said he was resigning from the committee.
Hiltachk's departure is a major blow to the operation because he organized other consultants who had set about trying to raise money and gather signatures for the initiative. Campaign spokesman Kevin Eckery said he was ending his role as well.
There remained a chance that the measure could be revived, but only if a major donor were to come forward to fund the petition drive. However, time is short to gather the hundreds of thousands of signatures needed by the end of November. And backers said Thursday that they believed the measure was all but dead, at least for the 2008 election.
" 'Shambles' is the wrong word," said strategist Marty Wilson, who curtailed his fundraising efforts weeks ago. "The campaign never got off the ground."
This is good news, and a cause to celebrate -- but not to let our guard down. As for that "major donor" -- Tom Hilton over at If I Ran The Zoo has some interesting information about his, um, back-biting proclivities, shall we say...
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Horseshit From A Leading Chickenhawk
That's right -- from the comfort of his plush radio booth, the fat-assed coward with the penchant for fine cigars, Viagra and Oxycontin has the unmitigated gall to slander decent men and women in our armed forces who have the courage to speak out against the travesty over there, simply because they disagreee with his propaganda, and with the official Republican position that the war is "winnable" and a "just and noble cause." This kind of smear is simply disgusting, and all the more so because it will get virtually no play in the so-called "mainstream media." While the MoveOn.org ad calling General Petraeus General Betray Us gets a fucking official condemnation from a cowed Congress, Rush and his chickenhawk brethren are free to impugn the patriotism of anyone who dares to disagree with them or question the wisdon of attacking and occupying a sovereign nation that had not attacked us first and was no threat to our nation. Tell me again how the fucking Republicans are the party that "supports the troops;" I need a good laugh.
They Came To Praise Barry, Not To Censure Him
I know many people are happy to see Barry Bonds go -- and some of them think he should have been shown the door a long time ago -- but I'm not writing this to rip either him or the Giants. Yes, I think it's time for him to go as well, but I look back on the 15 years he spent in a San Francisco uniform, and most of the memories I have are positive ones. He was exciting to watch, and he could change a game with one swing of the bat. He's the only member of the 500-500 club (500 home runs, 500 steals), and has hit more home runs than Willie Mays, Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron. He had a great career with the Giants.
One of my most enduring memories was seeing the Giants clinch the NLCS against the Cardinals in 2002, putting them in the World Series for the first time since 1989. The emotion that ran through the stadium with the final out of that last NLCS game was electrifying -- and that would not have happened without Bonds on the team. That World Series looked as if it would finally give Bonds the championship ring he had wanted his whole career -- until Game 6, when Robb Nen's arm, which had been held together with baling wire and Blackjack chewing gum up until that point, finally gave out. The Giants had the game won... until the Angels came back against Nen and snatched victory away, tearing the hearts out of the fans and the players, and effectively ending Dusty Baker's tenure as Giants manager. It was the closest Bonds got -- and probably ever will get -- to a ring. That season still hurts me, and I'm sure it always will.
A lot of people complain that Bonds is aloof and arrogant, that he treats fans and the media disdainfully (to put it mildly). Is he a jerk in regular life? Probably, but he's certainly not alone in that among the elite of any sport or entertainment industry. Would I want to hang out with him? No. Then again, there are very few baseball players I would want to hang out with. Most of them are less-than-brilliant, full-of-themselves individuals who tend toward conservative politics and heavy doses of Jesus. I don't watch baseball because of who the players are as individuals, but because I love the game. And for many years, Barry played it better than anyone alive. Did he take steroids? Probably. Do I care? No. He did the same thing that dozens -- if not hundreds -- of other players did at the time (and some still are); and if steroids were all it took to make a player great, we'd all be talking today about the mighty feats that players such as Marvin Benard, Bobby Estelella, Armando Rios and Jeremy Giambi had accomplished over the past five or six years. Honestly, I don't give a skinny (or artificially bulked-up) rat's ass whether he did or not, I was just happy to see the team win in the many years that Bonds played for them.
Of course, that's the rub now. The team has endured three losing seasons in a row, and Bonds' skills have declined precipitously. Though he's still a good hitter, he doesn't strike fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers and managers the way he did just a couple years back. For $18 million a year, I would think the club could find a couple of younger guys with some pop in their bats and the ability to run down balls in the outfield or leg out a single or steal more than two or three bases a season. It's time for the Giants to rebuild, maybe two or three years past time. But you couldn't have convinced too many fans attending last night of that. Even with Bonds going 0-for-3, they were unconditional in their adoration of him in his final game, cheering and yelling and waving signs. After his final at-bat, when he hit a ball to the warning track that some thought at first might go out, he waved to the crowd, went back to the dugout, came out again for one final curtain call, then headed into the clubhouse and was gone before the game even ended. The final score, 11-3 Padres, coupled with Barry's early departure, seemed to illustrate the Giants' 2007 season in microcosm.
I always found the dichotomy of the Barry-haters interesting. Perhaps the most illustrative of that was the trip Mrs. Generik and I made to Boston in June for the inter-league series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. For three games, the fans there booed Bonds unmercifully, calling him a cheater and holding up disparaging signs and plastic syringes and foam rubber asterisks. In his third at-bat in the final game, he hit a long home run to right field, and all those same fans who had been booing him just moments before dropped their signs and their asterisks and stood up and cheered. They hated him, but they all wanted to see him hit one out.
Announcer Mike Krukow told a story about that same series on the radio last night that sort of makes the same point (I'm paraphrasing here). He said that as he and the rest of the broadcast team were leaving the stadium, a Red Sox fan approached them on Yawkey Way, saying that the Giants had "the biggest bum in baseball on their team." "That guy, Bonds," he said to them with contempt, "is a bum!" Krukow told the guy that the Red Sox had just announced a deal with the Giants after the conclusion of the game, and that Barry would soon be joining the Boston club. "Really?" the guy asked, his eyes lighting up, obviously excited. "We're getting Bonds?"
Everybody hates him, but they love to see him hit the long ball.
The question now is what happens next year? Personally, I think he should retire as a Giant, and make this the end of his career. He's said he wants to keep playing, and wants to pursue 3000 hits (he's less than two hundred short), but where would he go? I don't believe that there will be much demand for him in the off-season, though it's always possible that he could show up as a DH next year in a Texas Rangers or Baltimore Oriole (or some other second-tier American League team) uniform. Though I don't think it's likely, maybe George Steinbrenner will discover a couple pallets of money just burning a hole in a warehouse somewhere and decide to put Barry in pinstripes. To mis-quote H. L. Mencken, nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American baseball club owner.
Whatever happens, he'll never play another game for the San Francisco Giants. It's been a hell of a ride, but I'm okay with that.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Whose Opening Line Is It, Anyway: The First Cut Is The Deepest
Sound simple? It is! And I think most of these will be not very difficult to identify (though I may not be the best judge of that), because I know you, my readers, are all intelligent and well-versed in the various arts of our culture, especially popular music. So let's have at it, shall we? Answers and a new quiz next week!
1. Well, I just got back, and I wish I never leave now (Where'd you go?)
2. Now that your picture's in the paper being rhythmically admired and you can have anyone that you have ever desired...
3. Let me tell you how it will be; there's one for you, nineteen for me.
4. What is that sound? Where is it coming from? All around. What are you running from?
5. Beside yourself if radio's gonna stay. Reason: it could polish up the grey.
6. Spent some time feeling inferior, standing in front of my mirror...
7. Oh, yeah! I hear you talking, when I'm on the street. Your mouth don't move, but I can hear you speak.
8. Early one morning, the sun was shining, I was laying in bed, wondering if she'd changed at all, if her hair was still red.
9. Mother, mother, there's too many of you cryin', brother, brother, brother, there's far too many of you dyin'...
10. Every day I try so hard to know your mind and find out what's inside you...
**Bonus** You know, and I've been wondering, you know, all the way home, whether the world will see I'm a better man than others by far.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Right (Wing), Said Fred
(Fred) Thompson may act like a blank slate -- a homespun version of Being There hero Chauncey Gardiner running on a platform of "Whatever you say" and "I'll get back to you on that" -- but he represents something else that no one, after seven years of George W. Bush, could possibly have expected: a new low. It was bad enough when the GOP field was led by a grinning Mormon corporatist and a fascist ex-mayor itching to take his prostate pain out on the world, but Thompson is the worst yet -- a human snooze button, campaigning baldly for the head-in-the-sand vote by asking Americans not to think but to change the channel. And that, after all, is what the campaign trail is all about. Give voters a chance to go lower than they've ever gone before, and you'll get numbers in a heartbeat. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the next Republican front-runner.
Think about the millions of Americans out there who spend their lives in a daze, whose idea of news runs the gamut from Britney to Paris to O.J., and it makes perfect sense: Thompson is the ideal candidate for the somnambulent voter.
When asked about Iraq, Thompson goes into a scene straight out of Hollywood, talking about visiting wounded soldiers at Walter Reed hospital who just couldn't wait for their leg stumps to grow back so they could give Jerry some more hell at the front. "It's the ones who are most wounded who most want to rejoin their comrades," he says.
Two minutes after that last bit, I am outside talking to an older woman named Rita Fairfield, who pronounces herself completely convinced. She likes Thompson's take on national security, among other things, especially the part about staying the course. I ask her why she thinks the surge is working. "From what I heard from the soldiers who are coming back, they're willing to give up life and limb," she says. "The ones that are coming back maimed seem to be the ones most ready to go back to battle."
Huh, I think. Where did I just hear that?
Just what we need as Commander-in-Chief: another goddamned liar calling the shots and sending our children off to die and get hurt, all the while reassuring us that the ones who are hurt the worst are the ones who want to go the most. Who wouldn't want to vote for a stand-up guy, a true patriot like that? I'm ready to send my marked ballot in today, so that I can get back to watching the game before the Seinfeld reruns come on.
Pot, Meet Kettle
White House: Obama too "intellectually lazy" to work here
This just in from the Irony-Free Department: A "senior official" in the White House of George W. Bush tells journalist Bill Sammon why Barack Obama won't be the next president of the United States: Obama is intellectually "capable" of the job, the official says, but he relies too much on easy charm. "It's sort of like, 'That's all I need to get by,' which bespeaks sort of a condescending attitude towards the voters ... and a laziness, an intellectual laziness."
Monday, September 24, 2007
MRFB: Three Quick Ones
1. Didn't I see you down in San Antone, on a hot and dusty night? Memo From Turner, Mick Jagger.
2. Listen to me, lady, so it's understood, this runnin' 'round life ain't doin' me no good... Runnin' Blue, Boz Scaggs.
3. We met when we were at school; never took no shit from no one, we weren't fools... Stay Free, The Clash.
4. There's a smart young woman on a light blue screen who comes into my house every night... Green Shirt, Elvis Costello.
5. All I can say is that my life is pretty plain. No Rain, Blind Melon.
6. What's the matter with me? I don't have much to say. Watching The River Flow, Bob Dylan.
7. People I know, places I go, make me feel tongue-tied. Here's Where The Story Ends, The Sundays.
8. Rockets, moon shots, spend it on the have nots... Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler), Marvin Gaye.
9. Crazy Janey and her mission man were back in the alley, trading hands... Spirit In The Night, Bruce Springsteen.
10. Janey said when she was just five years old, you know, there's nothing happening at all. Rock And Roll, Velvet Underground.
11. Well, there are sixteen people in daddy's apartment, sixteen people are living there... Dirty Old Town, David Byrne.
12. I found America hiding in a corner of my wallet. B-Movie, Elvis Costello.
13. I got a pair of shoes, I swear, that somebody gave me. Funky But Chic, David Johansen.
14. Here we stand, like an Adam and an Eve, waterfalls, Garden of Eden... Nothing But Flowers, Talking Heads.
15. Here comes Johnny Yen again, with the liquor and drugs, and the sex machine, he's gonna do another strip tease. Lust For Life, Iggy Pop.
16. Mama said yes but papa said no, make up your minds, 'cause I gotta go. Rip This Joint, Rolling Stones.
17. I was born in Little Rock, had a childhood sweetheart, we were always hand in hand. I Was Made To Love Her, Stevie Wonder.
18. Today is gonna be the day that they're gonna throw it back to you... Wonderwall, Oasis.
19. Waiting, watching the clock, it's four o'clock, it's got to stop... Better Man, Pearl Jam.
20. I know you've deceived me, now here's a surprise. I Can See For Miles, The Who.
21. Can't help it 'bout the shape I'm in, I can't sing, I ain't pretty and my legs are thin. Oh Well, Fleetwood Mac.
22. Betcha didn't think I knew how to rock and roll... Blues Power, Eric Clapton.
23. Oh, she may be weary; young girls, they do get weary... Try A Little Tenderness, Otis Redding.
24. I found a picture of you, oh oh oh oh, what hijacked my world that night? Back On The Chain Gang, The Pretenders.
25. Shyness is nice, and shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you'd like to. Ask, The Smiths.
So, not bad, you folks guessed 20 out of 25, that's a pretty good percentage -- especially considering that a few of them were fairly obscure. I'm a little surprised that no one got the Clash song (from Give 'Em Enough Rope) or the Dylan song (which is found -- as far as I know -- only on Greatest Hits, Vol. II -- but, I mean, come on, it's on a freakin' greatest hits album! That, I thought, should have been easy). I thought someone would recognize The Sundays song for sure, but maybe I was expecting too much there.
The David songs -- Byrne and Johansen -- are probably only known to the very staunch fans. Dirty Old Town is on the album Rei Momo, one of my all-time favorites, and David Johansen's self-titled solo effort came out in the late '70s-early '80s, between his stints as front man for the New York Dolls and his Buster Poindexter incarnation. In addition... I have to admit to kinda sorta cheating on that one, because in truth, the opening line to the song is also the title: "Funky, funky, but chic; funky, funky but chic; funky, funky but chic; you funky but, funky but, all right all right all right..." and that's the chorus. The line I gave was the first line of the first verse, and didn't give away the title. Still, no points taken away from anyone for not getting it.
Also, no points taken away from Eric the DB and nashtbrutusandshort (who both had very good showings) for pluralizing Spirit In The Night, as Bruce does sing "spirits in the night" in some of the choruses.
In a bit of full disclosure, I admit to including Elvis Costello's B-Movie largely because I knew nash would get it, having written about it on his old blog once before. I should even have included the second line: "It's a well-kept secret, thought that I had better swallow it..."
Kudos to Tom Hilton for being so quick on the draw, to Eric and nash for recognizing Fleetwood Mac's Oh Well, which I thought might be a stumper, and to Steve H., not so much for recognizing Memo From Turner (which I thought would be a fairly easy one), but more for owning it on both 45 and 8-track. I'm so jealous! And I have to agree with Melville's surprise at the lack of classic Motown fans here -- I thought Stevie and Marvin would be easy spots. Final kudos to mrgumby2u for catching Boz Scaggs' Runnin' Blue; I thought that could very well be one that no one would guess, but I also figured that if anyone did, it would be him.
Okay, that's all. Thanks for playing, and I'll try to have more content up soon. Seems like an awful lot happened while I was away...
Friday, September 07, 2007
Hiatus And A Music Quiz
Just so this space isn't a complete wasteland while I'm gone, I'm leaving you all with a musical quiz, something that might take a few days for folks to answer in the comments section. Here's the deal: I'll give the opening line(s) of a song, and you, my dear readers, will identify the song and the artist in comments. I know Fred and Eric the DB are both good at this, and I have a feeling nashtbrutusandshort will recognize at least a few of these as well. I think most of them are easy, but there are a couple of rather obscure ones for you.
So have at it, enjoy, and I'll post the answers when I'm back, sometime around the 24th or so.
1. Didn't I see you down in San Antone, on a hot and dusty night?
2. Listen to me, lady, so it's understood, this runnin' 'round life ain't doin' me no good...
3. We met when we were at school; never took no shit from no one, we weren't fools...
4. There's a smart young woman on a light blue screen who comes into my house every night...
5. All I can say is that my life is pretty plain.
6. What's the matter with me? I don't have much to say.
7. People I know, places I go, make me feel tongue-tied.
8. Rockets, moon shots, spend it on the have nots...
9. Crazy Janey and her mission man were back in the alley, trading hands...
10. Janey said when she was just five years old, you know, there's nothing happening at all.
11. Well, there are sixteen people in daddy's apartment, sixteen people are living there...
12. I found America hiding in a corner of my wallet.
13. I got a pair of shoes, I swear, that somebody gave me.
14. Here we stand, like an Adam and an Eve, waterfalls, Garden of Eden...
15. Here comes Johnny Yen again, with the liquor and drugs, and the sex machine, he's gonna do another strip tease.
16. Mama said yes but papa said no, make up your minds, 'cause I gotta go.
17. I was born in Little Rock, had a childhood sweetheart, we were always hand in hand.
18. Today is gonna be the day that they're gonna throw it back to you...
19. Waiting, watching the clock, it's four o'clock, it's got to stop...
20. I know you've deceived me, now here's a surprise.
21. Can't help it 'bout the shape I'm in, I can't sing, I ain't pretty and my legs are thin.
22. Betcha didn't think I knew how to rock and roll...
23. Oh, she may be weary; young girls, they do get weary...
24. I found a picture of you, oh oh oh oh, what hijacked my world that night?
25. Shyness is nice, and shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you'd like to.
Okay, that ought to keep you occupied for a few minutes, anyway. Seizure, kids!
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Intelligence? What Intelligence?
Well, color me shocked and everything... still, the depraved criminality and bloodthirstiness of this man continues to astound and appall. Why is he still in office, and not on trial -- or already convicted and serving out a long, long sentence for treason and war crimes?
Here are some excerpts from the article, but I urge you to read the whole thing:
On Sept. 18, 2002, CIA director George Tenet briefed President Bush in the Oval Office on top-secret intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, according to two former senior CIA officers. Bush dismissed as worthless this information from the Iraqi foreign minister, a member of Saddam's inner circle, although it turned out to be accurate in every detail. Tenet never brought it up again.
Nor was the intelligence included in the National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002, which stated categorically that Iraq possessed WMD. No one in Congress was aware of the secret intelligence that Saddam had no WMD as the House of Representatives and the Senate voted, a week after the submission of the NIE, on the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq. The information, moreover, was not circulated within the CIA among those agents involved in operations to prove whether Saddam had WMD.
On April 23, 2006, CBS's "60 Minutes" interviewed Tyler Drumheller, the former CIA chief of clandestine operations for Europe, who disclosed that the agency had received documentary intelligence from Naji Sabri, Saddam's foreign minister, that Saddam did not have WMD. "We continued to validate him the whole way through," said Drumheller. "The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming, and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy."
Now two former senior CIA officers have confirmed Drumheller's account to me and provided the background to the story of how the information that might have stopped the invasion of Iraq was twisted in order to justify it. They described what Tenet said to Bush about the lack of WMD, and how Bush responded, and noted that Tenet never shared Sabri's intelligence with then Secretary of State Colin Powell. According to the former officers, the intelligence was also never shared with the senior military planning the invasion, which required U.S. soldiers to receive medical shots against the ill effects of WMD and to wear protective uniforms in the desert. [...]
Both the French intelligence service and the CIA paid Sabri hundreds of thousands of dollars (at least $200,000 in the case of the CIA) to give them documents on Saddam's WMD programs. "The information detailed that Saddam may have wished to have a program, that his engineers had told him they could build a nuclear weapon within two years if they had fissile material, which they didn't, and that they had no chemical or biological weapons," one of the former CIA officers told me.
On the eve of Sabri's appearance at the United Nations in September 2002 to present Saddam's case, the officer in charge of this operation met in New York with a "cutout" who had debriefed Sabri for the CIA. Then the officer flew to Washington, where he met with CIA deputy director John McLaughlin, who was "excited" about the report. Nonetheless, McLaughlin expressed his reservations. He said that Sabri's information was at odds with "our best source." That source was code-named "Curveball," later exposed as a fabricator, con man and former Iraqi taxi driver posing as a chemical engineer.
The next day, Sept. 18, Tenet briefed Bush on Sabri. "Tenet told me he briefed the president personally," said one of the former CIA officers. According to Tenet, Bush's response was to call the information "the same old thing." Bush insisted it was simply what Saddam wanted him to think. "The president had no interest in the intelligence," said the CIA officer. The other officer said, "Bush didn't give a fuck about the intelligence. He had his mind made up."
Bush "didn't give a fuck about the intelligence." Doesn't that sound like a sum-up of his entire life?
The Real Rudy
God (or whatever deity or higher power you subscribe to) help us if this man becomes president.