Thursday, January 31, 2008

Caterwauled endorses Obama

I'm happy to say I'll be voting for Barack Obama in the super Tuesday primary next week. I wish I could say I was doing it with all the enthusiasm with which I'd have voted for Dennis Kucinich, but I think I will be able to vote for Obama with significant peace of mind.

His message of hope and change are inspiring, but I feel that on the essential issues we face - the war in Iraq, civil liberties, the economy, health care, education, poverty - he will move us as far as possible from the Bush doctrine as is possible in a country now ruled by fear, xenophobia, racism, and zealotry.

I think he is more capable of this than other candidates because he exhibits the qualities of a unifying force. He's not afraid, for example, to talk about homophobia to a homophobic Christian audience in a church. He is also, ultimately, the most electable candidate.

I don't like the idea of a continued family dynasty in the White House, nor the conduct of Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail. It's unfortunate that the first credible woman candidate for the office is saddled with a charismatic, out-of-control, ex-president of a husband whose liberal credibility is questionable.

Pogues payback

Many of you know this story. On last year's US tour, the Pogues cancelled one show, at the last minute, due to an injury to lead singer Shane MacGowan. I didn't find out until I had traveled all the way to NYC, and was standing in front of Roseland, where notices of the cancellation was posted. I cursed all the way back to Grand Central, and vowed never to buy tickets to a Pogues show again.

Then they went on sale this year.

I bought a pair of tickets to the Roseland show on the day before St. Patty's (I'm too old, cynical and delicate to brave the streets and the club on that holiday). Yesterday, I found out that Billy Bragg will be a special guest on the one and only night for which I purchased tickets. I feel as if a little bit of the luck of the Irish has been spread before me. But I won't count my chickens until the night of the show.

BTW, Bragg's new album will be out just before his US appearance.

The ultimate coincidence is that I was introduced to both of these artists in a trip to Britain in 1984 where I saw the Pogues open for Elvis Costello at the Hammersmith Odeon, and I heard Billy Bragg for the first time when John Peel played a new cut over the radio as I was heading to Bacup for the wedding of a friend.

Epistle from Rosa

Apparently Rosa Delauro has gotten the message that Middletown residents don't want an Army Reserve Training Center built on pristine open space in Maromas. So, she's sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers to ask them to consider using brownfield sites instead of untouched fields and forests.

I'm still waiting to hear back from Delauro's office, but it's good to know, that whatever her motivation, she's pushing back at the Army.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Just something I picked up in New York

Reading the Village Voice on the way back home from the city on Monday, I realized how much I miss reading the Village Voice. I picked up the habit back in the seventies when the Voice was printed in New Britain at the Herald's printing plant.

Anyway, it was the issue with the annual Pazz and Jop poll, and the band Vampire Weekend was mentioned glowingly.

The description, prep-school smart pop punks with African rhythms sounded intriguing. Maybe the next Talking Heads?

Decide for yourself.

The American squirm

Attorney General Michael Mukasey is demonstrating today, to those of us who had strong doubts about his appointment, that he is a Bush man before anything else. Principle be damned. Rule of law be damned. Freedom and liberty be damned.

Mukasey won't give a direct answer to any question about waterboarding, torture, contempt citations or FISA. He's a mealy-mouth apologist for a criminal administration. In his refusal to answer questions, he's no better than his successor.

Here Senator Kennedy asks him the wrong question about waterboarding. The question should have been, "Would it be torture if it were practiced on your wife, or your son, or your daughter?"

Creepy Joe™ dreaming of Minneapolis

While Creepy Joe™ Lieberman has pooh-poohed the idea that he would run as Vice President on John McCain's ticket, it seems as if he might like the idea of attending the Republican National Convention.

I think the DNC and Connecticut Democrats ought to give him a shove toward Minnesota.

And they can do it legally, according to the State of Connecticut plan for determining delegates to the Democratic National Convention (if ever you wanted to convince yourself that politicians wanted to keep the candidate selection process out of the hands of regular voters, this is the document to read).

According to the plan, delegate who fall into the category of "Unpledged Party Leaders and Elected Officials," include:

All of Connecticut's Democratic Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate.

These delegates must then be confirmed by the Secretary of the Democratic National Committee.

So, while Lieberman caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate, he has insisted, ad nauseum, that he is an "independent Democrat." Since there really is no such animal, offiicially, that leaves him off the "Unpledged Party Leaders and Elected Officials," list. And even if he made an argument that he should be on the list (since he remains registered as a Democratic voter), the Secretary of the Democratic National Committee would have to certify that.

Time to contact the Democratic National Committee to let them know that Creepy Joe™ is not welcome in Denver.

Wrong about Delauro?

While I have not heard back directly from her staff member who promised to return my call, nor from Rosa Delauro directly, I have heard indirectly, that the rumor of Congresswoman Delauro's involvement in siting an Army Reserve Training Center in Middletown, is likely untrue.

Matt Lesser, an alternate on the Zoning Board, an activist in the local Democratic Party, and a Wesleyan student, sent me an email yesterday indicating that Delauro's office had "zero influence" on the BRAC report.

That, of course, leaves it in the realm of mystery as to how Middletown was specified as the location for the base. And as we know, the Government moves in mysterious ways. And happily so.

President Scrooge

To listen to his State of the Union, George Bush has is a generous spirit who thinks as much about the poverty-stricken children of America, as he does about his rich buddies.

But if you do the math, as Greg Palast has, you'll find his generous spirit doesn't quite add up.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hillary breaks her word before the campaign is through, or yet another reason not to vote for Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton, who signed a pledge vowing to abide by the penalty to strip Florida of its delegates to the Democratic national convention, has now decided that Florida delegates should be seated.


Because she won. She won in a state where it was well known that the vote wasn't going to count. She won, and she's claimed victory. She won in an unofficial vote. She won, and she showed up in Florida to claim the victory. The victory?

Of what?

No delegates. And Clinton has demonstrated once again that she will do absolutely anything to win, even if it means turning her back on her party.

Has she been talking to Creepy Joe™ Lieberman?

Phew, safe for another two weeks

Yeah, like you I was feeling a little shaky that he Protect America Act was going to expire on February 1.

After all, how would we know who the untrustworthy amongst us were if they weren't tapping our phones.

Now it seems that those grating statesmen, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and George Bush have agreed to extend our protection against terrorist monsters (actually extend our ability to eavesdrop on the party line), and to protect us good muhricans against the fear of terror.

As always, Jane Hamsher and Christy Hardin Smith at Firedoglake, and Glenn Greenwald at Salon have been doing an amazing job deciphering the arcane politics of how our leaders are screwing us with our own screwdrivers.

The social contract frays at the stop sign

(© 2008, Caterwauled)

I work in the South End of Hartford where disregard for simple traffic rules is often stunning. From the plague of pocket bikes a few summers ago, to the regular disdain for Stop signs, to the short and ubiquitous horn beep as soon as the light turns green, to the clever trick of short cutting through corner convenience store parking lots when the light is against you and, of course the creative pass on the left to make a right turn on red, ahead of you.

Yes, these, and more are everyday occurrences in a drive around the South End.

But today, I witnessed a zenith of disregard, a nadir of contempt for traffic rules, a spectacularly stupid disdain for life and limb. Three teens, on two unregistered All Terrain Vehicles were speeding down Maple Avenue at about 70 mph. One of the ATV drivers pulled a wheelie through two intersections, where the light was against him, and weaved in and out of the opposite lane of traffic.

I called the Hartford Police Department twice, but gave up each time after the phone rang for several minutes without being answered.

And then I saw that the ATVs were continuing their antics with impunity on Maple Avenue across from Goodwin Park. So I decided to get a photo. Then I drove off before getting shot.

What's Abramowitz know that we don't?

Monday, in a Washington Post preview to the State of the Union, reporter Michael Abramowitz writes:

That is the dilemma Bush faces as he prepares to deliver his seventh and probably final State of the Union address tonight.

I don't know about you but the phrase "probably final State of the Union," bothers me. Under what circumstances would Monday's address, not be the final one for Bush? If he declares martial law and cancels elections in November, using his buddy Pervez Musharef's strategy? If he leads a coup against whoever wins the November election? If he forthrightly admits his disdain for the Constitution and declares himself king? If, somehow, whoever is rightfully elected, is not able to serve?

Come on. This was his final State of the Union, right Mike? Right? Tell me it was a typo, please?

The bile rises in my throat

I got back from NYC in time last night to hear as much of the State of the Union speech as I could stand.

I know somewhere on the web there's line by line explication which demonstrates that George Bush is at best, a liar, and the worst, a morally bereft, delusional leader who carries a record of miserable failure, and doesn't have a single real idea about how to address the isssues we all face.

But until I find that explication, the New York Times editorial will have to do.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Warming the crowd with racism

Six months ago, I applied for seats for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Little did I know that the writer's strike would leave Stewart a little less brilliant than he appears when he has a full team (it's still hard to imagine he writes the entire show himself). But even he is willing to admit that it's not at the level of the old show, and has acknowledged it by temporarily changing the name of his show to A Daily Show.

The WGA strikers were picketing, and a few of the writers handed out leaflets suggesting ways in which A Daily Show audience members could help toward a solution to the strike, including phone numbers for Viacom execs. Surprisingly, the writers did not urge the waiting audience members not to attend the show.

Inside, audience members were required to pass through a metal detector and to relinquish sharp objects.

After waiting in our seats for about a half hour. Paul Mercurio, an obnoxious stand up comic, and former writer for Stewart emerged from the wings to "warm up" the crowd. Aside for some fascist calisthenics designed to raise the energy level of the audience, in which we were urged to cheer, shout and chant, Mercurio offered little in the way of real humor.

He set about insulting audience members. He called one middle-aged female attendee a slut because she admitted to enjoying a cocktail. Then he settled on one of the few African Americans in the audience.

"Hey man, you look cool," he said to a young African American man. Then he asked of the young, white woman sitting next to the man, "Is she your girlfriend?" The man said, "Never saw her before." When he found out that the young woman was from Britain, he suggested that the man show her New York.

"Hey, don't rape her," Mercurio warned. Then to the woman, "Watch out, he's going to kidnap you."

The crowd wasn't laughing nearly as heartily as when Mercurio poked fun at some frat boys in the first row.

The racist and sexist humor should have driven me from the room, and I feel a bit guilty that I stayed for the show. But at the very least, Stewart ought to be aware that his warm-up act is appealing to the most base instincts of an audience that ought to know better.

Where's Creepy Joe™?

Not doing the work of his constituents again.

Creepy Joe™ Lieberman is campaigning for his Republican candidate of choice, in Florida, instead of doing the work he was elected to do.

I'm happy not to have him in Washington, but where are all the cries about dereliction of duty like those leveled at Chris Dodd when he was actually running for President.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Despair over the backyard fence

Here are what some potential future neighbors of the Army Reserve Training Center have to say about the well-orchestrated Corps of Engineer Meeting last Thursday at Middletown's City Hall. Needless to say, little trust in the Army or our elected officials:
On Jan 25, 2008 Karen Torop wrote:
Last night I was exhilarated because there was so much support and unity. But this morning I felt pretty low because I realized that our united community opposition means nothing to the Army. It is a necessary but not sufficient basis. And I do not trust the mayor at all. He and his friends may well be crying all the way to the bank, so to speak, if Freeman Road ends up being the site. They will have their sewers. And funneling suggestions through Bill Warner's office seems to me like the fox guarding the hen house, although he may be responsible about it. I sure hope so.

I think that the pressure will have to come from higher powers like the DEP, maybe NU, our legislators, Rell (I plan to call the Coxes to urge them to do that). Katchen Coley will lobby personally in Lieberman's office, where she apparently knows the environmental person, because she will be in DC soon. Gail Hamm is doing a great job.

The letter from Gina McCarthy was very encouraging-I really liked that she was "surprised to learn of the Army's interest" in the Freeman road property. I read it as “What are they thinking of?!”
We should write again to Dodd, Lieberman, and as for Rosa, I will call her office again and let them have it, for a start. Others might do the same. Maybe she forgot that we are her constituents.

Most of all I am hopeful that Susan Bysiewicz will come through. Her Director of Constituent Concerns was at the meeting last night. I will write to her Monday. I have some more things to tell her since I talked to her on Wed. She talked of contacting various people, including Gen. Martin of the National Guard, Gina McCarthy at DEP and possibly Richard Blumenthal. I will keep what pressure I can on her. It really is discouraging, to say the least, that a united community, one willing to find alternative sites and so passionate about saving Freeman Road, has no impact on the Army, that they are so obdurate and impervious.

Paul thinks that it is bluff, and that they did not expect the mayor to double-cross them. I see them as rigid and determined to do just what they want to do, the human and environmental factors (meaning wildlife, not contaminated groundwater) be damned. So we need help from people and groups with power they will have to listen to.

On Jan 25, Barrie Robbins-Pianka wrote:
That awful Army meeting was a bitter reality check. We little ants will be crushed by the Army's personable Big Boot. I feel so foolish to have thought that logic, or intelligent planning would have any impact on the Army's machine-like mission to site this Monstrosity in Middletown on Freeman Road. Not so long ago the National Guard was touting itself as Connecticut's "hometown Army" on account of scattered small bases. The Army's tune and "needs" have indeed changed to embrace two mega-centers, one in Newtown one in Middletown. Middletown got its name in the BRAC report long, long ago, probably on account of the Nike Base. We are not going to find out when and how this happened. And that personable Diane McCartin knows her mission and what to say to get it done, especially when there is any question about environment or suitability or any other little thing! How frustrating.

The City made a good show of unity but how can they be credible and undo what they undoubtedly did in the past? Remember, the Army met with B. Warner and M. Wackers and discussed the scope of the project in Oct 2006 and by the following spring the Army reps were seen walking in the Freeman Road meadow. And really what can the City do now? Can they help by suggesting to Northeast Utilities that selling this property would be a poor choice? Will NU then suggest a different piece of Maromas? Can the City get behind the DEP with supportive talk? Can the City be expected to take a real estate agent's approach to what the Army might consider as a good alternative? Because if the DEP and/or CL&P get Freeman Road and Maromas out of the picture, the Army idiots insist that Middletown is the only community they will consider for a site. To date, the Army is on schedule, following the timetable in the Project Operations Description. This month they are advertising, seeking Requests For Proposals divided into two phases. By next October they will Award the $78,000,000 Contract. If you believe in a Higher Power, now would be a good time to make an appeal.

I do not like to be so pessimistic but clutching to the hope that yet another of our public servants, S. Bysiewiecz, will do the right thing, seems far fetched. Where has she been? In a cave? And that namby, pamby Adjutant General Martin has already deferred responsibility to the personable Corps of Engineers. It makes me gag.

I think it may come down to someone having a great deal of influence on our Governor. How depressing is that! I am full of Gloom and Doom. That being said, I am not ready to crawl away or put my head back in the sand. What positive actions can we citizens take to achieve our goal to prevent the Freeman Road desecration and find a least painful spot for what is coming to our community? Help!

On Jan 26, Paul Torop wrote:
I agree that we should not let up just because we have public support and because the position expressed at the meeting by the army is laughable. I really think that we should not be discouraged.

It was hard for me to take Thursday's meeting seriously. I saw it as theater complete with a washed out southern belle and extras in fatigues. The 'Project Manager" was not knowledgeable about the process in Middletown. She was more of a PR person delivering a canned speech.

Did she do this because she couldn't think fast enough to do otherwise or because even if Freeman Road is off the table, talking about Freeman Road kept the audience from demanding that the base not be in Middletown or at least not in the CT River watershed or because the army did not appreciate the new conditions on the ground (the mayor switching sides)?

At any rate, I am more angry than discouraged by Thursday's spectacle.

At its base, a dumb idea

Great Place column by Tom Condon in the Hartford Courant this morning. Condon, who attended the meeting in Middletown, in which the Army discussed its plans to build an Army Reserve Training Center in Maromas, focuses on the issue of sprawl, and what it really means to be a good neighbor.

As several attendees pointed out, the Army has created its share of brownfields, later abandoned, but refuses to build bases on brownfields. In the case of Middletown, the Army proposes destroying pristine riverside forest instead of considering former industrial sites, which seem better suited.

A comment from Barrie on one of my original posts reports that the budget for the project, which the Army Corps of Engineers refused to report at the meeting, has been published, and is $75,000,000.

Also, the mystery of why Middletown was designated as the site for the base is still unsolved. Rumors floated around the meeting room that the placement of the base was seen as a "favor" to Middletown that was orchestrated by Rosa Delauro. I called Delauro's office on Friday to get some clarification, and spoke at length with one of her assistants who promised to get back to me, and has not yet returned a call with answers to my questions.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Boom, from the man who cursed us with Barney

If you're from Connecticut, you'll recognize Larry Rifkin for the hundreds of pledge breaks he's hosted for CPTV.

What you might not know is that this brilliant son of Waterbury comes from a broadcast family (his dad was in radio, which is still Larry's first love), he's a big wheel in the PBS system, he has his own radio talk show on Waterbury's WATR-AM, he's the one who brought UCONN women's basketball to the public airwaves, he helped revive the fortunes of groups like the Animals and the Zombies in "as scene on PBS" aging rocker TV spectaculars, and he's the one who discovered Barney and brought him into the national consciousness. That is only a partial list of his accomplishments.

He's also in a mid-life crisis rock and roll band.

Boom (for baby boom), is at La Boca in Middletown tonight, Saturday January 26. Sip your margaritas and listen to some classic rock from fellas who know it well.

Christians demand ESPN release "fuck" tapes

The Christian Inquisitioners arrived at the gates of ESPN yesterday to demand the head of Dana Jacobsen, who is reported to have cursed Notre Dame's "touchdown Jesus."

Somehow, it's okay for everyone to talk about touchdown Jesus (the icon of Christ which looms from an adjoining building, over Nortre Dame's football stadium) whenever they want. No disrespect there, because of course, we know that Jesus would want nothing more in the world he left behind than for his Catholic team to score. But the minute a slightly tipsy ESPNette says "Fuck touchdown Jesus," Roman collars start spinning across this great, and increasingly priestless, land.

Christian Inquisitioners like Patrick Mahoney actually seem to enjoy the spotlight, and appear to enjoy the fact, that in asking for answers to his questions, in the name of the Christian Defense Coalition (these are the same guys who stepped between the lions and the disciples in Rome's Coliseum, right?), they get to say things like "They aren't saying what she said. We want to know if she said 'fuck Jesus.'"

You can only imagine that a tingle went down his spine when he said "fuck Jesus." Because he could say it with impunity in defense of the lord.

I once had a nun in Catholic school who listed all the curse words we shouldn't say in the playground. Some of those words we had never heard or imagined before. To this day, I'm convinced that she got a great thrill in reciting that litany of epithets, and initiating a classroom of fourth graders to the splendors of foul language.

The strange thing about the ESPN roast for the two Mikes at which Dana Jacobsen displayed her profane side - it was never broadcast. It was not intended to be broadcast on ESPN, and never was, so aside from the jocks in the room who might have been offended, I'm not quite sure who the Catholic Inquisitioners are protecting. Is it Jesus himself (I think he's already handled worse)? Because if they're worried about the other Christians who might be offended, aren't they actually making matters worse by proliferating the profanity?

In days gone by the inquisitioners would have burned Jacobsen at the stake. These days, ruining her career would be satisfaction enough. Somewhere in here there's a homily, which some good pastor will deliver this weekend, about the time that Jesus said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." That would thin out the Christian picket lines pretty readily.

I wish these inquisitioners would get so riled up by the legion of child molesters the Church of Peter has protected lo, these many decades. Now that's something I'm sure Jesus would have been offended by - pederasts pretending to be holy men.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Uh, I think that's "Dumbublican"

Newsweek needs to use spellcheck for the headline of its interview with Creepy Joe™ Lieberman in this week's issue.

It is Creepy Joe™ who, after all, uses the phrase "partisan stupidity," which, after all could define his dismissal of all Democratic presidential candidates, and his embrace of John McCain. In the interview, Joe denies being vengeful in his uncomfortable embrace of all things Republican.

It's Creepy Joe™ who, as chairman of the McCain campaign in Connecticut, just realized that as a registered Democrat, he won't be able to vote for his candidate in the primary.

It's Creepy Joe™ who claims he was hurt by Chris Dodd when he supported Ned Lamont. Of course, Lieberman is in denial about all the people he hurt when he abandoned the Democratic party in Connecticut to pursue his egotistical election as Senator in a political party he named in a narcissitic fit, after himself.

It's Creepy Joe™ who, in defense of his own bellicose war boosterism, claims that Truman, Humphrey and Kennedy were "neocons."

Creepy Joe™ isn't fooling anyone but fools in his home state. He's a preening, self-centered, dishonest, shape-shifting, warmongering, backstabbing, powergrubbing Repugnacrat.

Jesus, why can't she get a date?

She's pretty. She drinks like a fish. Swears like a sailor. Hates Notre Dame. What's not to like?

ESPN commentator, Dana Jacobsen, who graces the cover of this month's Hartford Magazine, as one of Hartford's most eligible, has gotten into a bit of trouble for cursing a Notre Dame icon ("Fuck touchdown Jesus," she said with a girlish wink and a smile at an ESPN party.)

Maybe you wouldn't want to bring her home to Mom, but she'd be a spitfire at your Superbowl Party ("Fuck Robert Kraft. Fuck Bill Belichick and his video camera. Where's the Stoli? Fuck the Patriots. Fuck the fucking Patriot Act.")

Hey, who needs Adrien's Landing. This woman just put Hartford on the map. Parrrr-teeee!

FISA, fear and feckless politicians

The FISA bill is complex. The politics and parliamentary procedures surrounding the debate about FISA are an impenetrable thicket.

This is the way a lot of our elected officials like it. They like it most of all when you don't know what they're doing. They like it even better when you don't care.

These days, the press is abetting them.

But you can't afford to be discouraged into inaction. You can't be hobbled by the inability to parse the twists and turns of a Senate attempting to make bad law. You need to have the strength of mind to read the complicated dispatches from the few journalists and bloggers who care, and decide what you're going to do.

Read no further if you're comfortable with the idea that George Bush, or someone who works for him, could decide to spy on you, for no better reason that he dislikes you politically, or that your company competes with his friend's company, or that you don't like Jesus, or that he doesn't like your blog, or your song, or your TV show. And once they assemble enough "evidence" to trump up a case, they'll need to label you, or your brother, or your daughter a terrorist, who needs to be whisked away to a secret prison for "harsh interrogation." And if you think it can't happen here, brother, it's already happened here.

The FISA law has been around for four decades. It allows the government, with court approval (after the fact when necessary), to eavesdrop on calls when terrorism is suspected.

The Bush administration, trusting that fear will create absolution, have misused the law, eavesdropping on millions and millions of phone calls and emails, trolling for terror where no terror exists. Some really big telecommunications companies helped them break the law.

The Bush administration has acted outside the letter of the law, and the Constitution. And now the Bush administration wants Congress to pass a law which says it's okay for them to act that way in the future, and it was swell of them to have acted that way in the past.

Some in Senate don't want to give this president, or any president that kind of power, because that kind of power leads to abuse.

The president, and those who support him, want to give the telecommunications companies immunity after the fact for helping the government break the law. On the surface it seems like the president wants to help the poor telecommunications companies from losing truckloads of money in lawsuits. In reality, the president wants to prevent the lawsuits from coming to court where judges will discover just how much outside of the law law the president, and his minions, stepped.

On Monday, Republicans in the Senate will try to force a vote to end debate on the FISA bill, which includes immunity for telecommunications companies. Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd said he will filibuster to prevent that vote, and to prevent the immunity clause. He is supported by Democrats like Feingold, and Kennedy. And now even the Senator without a backbone ("Watch him fold. Watch him bend.") is encouraging the filibuster, not because he thinks the law is particularly bad, but because the Republicans double-crossed him, and he's mad as four year old who hasn't gotten his way.

On Monday, our useless president delivers his last State of the Union address in which he will likely heap scorn on Congress for not passing FISA, and leaving the country adrift on a sea of terror.

On Monday, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will be in Washington for the SOTU, and therefore in the Senate for the filibuster, or the vote. We will be able to witness the strength of their vertebrae.

So read up. There's a lot to know, and it's your duty as a voting citizen.

Glenn Greenwald on Jay Rockefellers abdication of responsibility.
Christy Hardin Smith on the Republican desire for failure, and some phone numbers for you to call.
Ryan Singel on a press that doesn't get it.
Chris Dodd on why the FISA bill is wrong.
Tim Tagaris on the ugly details of the politics.
Russ Feingold on Senate Republicans.
The New York Times on how close George Bush is to getting his way.

Who's doing A&R for Apple?

So Apple's stock is shit.

The new MacBook Air is shit.

But a Mac is always preferable to a PC (especially one running Microsoft Vista).

And Mac commercials are great.

And the music they pick, has been superb.

Yael Naim from the new MacBook Air spot.

Steven Jobs as Ed Sullivan.


Anyone But a Republican.

A hat tip to Susan Forbes Hansen for sending along this blog from Steve at the Last Chance Democracy Cafe.

He makes a cogent argument that after Denver, and the Democratic National Convention, we've all got to work diligently to make sure that a Republican is not elected president this year. That means, if Hillary is the candidate, I'll have to swallow hard and vote for her. It'll be difficult for me, especially since I saw David Brooks assert that the Bush White House would love her to win so that she can protect the "Bush legacy."

But after reading Steve's blog, and the comments, I couldn't agree more. This country cannot bear another conservative, Republican, religious zealot in the White House.

At the moment, I hope for the impossible, that John Edwards will be the candidate. And I'll take Obama, nearly happily. But if Hillary is it, I'll hold my nose, and cast a vote for her.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The army wants to be a "good neighbor"

That's the message Diane McCartin, of the Army Corps of Engineers brought to Middletown. If she said "we want to be good neighbors" once, she said it two dozen times.

But neighborliness was not the word I would use to describe the feeling in the packed chambers of the Middletown Common Council Thursday night when the Army arrived to explain why they'd chosen a site in Maromas, along Freeman road to build an Army Reserve Training Center. The Army's presentation was vague, at best (and in fairness the plan is in a very early planning stage), but they could not, or would not talk about budget (except to say they couldn't exceed it), nor about the actual plan for the center, nor about how, precisely they found the site ("they were just driving around" - yes, that's the way they described finding the site). They did say, that the site off Freeman was suitable because it was "buildable" (their word, not mine), accessible from major roadways, and not a brownfield.

McCartin, who is obviously sent on the road because she's affable, and good at "selling" a project, seemed to expect to tame the angry beast which was the attending crowd. She found zero support. By the end of the meeting she had heard dozens of reasons why neighbors, open space advocates, anti-army students, and concerned residents thought building on the site was a very bad idea. And while she continued to smile, it appeared as if she, and the Army might not be convinced to choose another site. This, despite a resident, and Hartford Courant "Place" columnist Tom Condon explaining that the language of the Congressional act allowed the army to choose another site, and another town, "if a suitable site" was not found in Middletown.

McCartin received courteous, but firm, indications from new town councilor Phil Pessina, veterans Earle Roberts and Ron Klattenberg (representing the Democratic caucus) that building on undeveloped, untouched open space was a bad idea when there were several brownfields with potential. Even the mayor, a former supporter of the idea, seemed to back away when he suggested the Army consider brownfield development. The pile-on got higher when State Representative Gail Hamm indicated that state representatives would work with the the city, state representatives, and the DEP to trigger an option to purchase the property so the Army could not.

For her part, McCartin seemed unmoved, except to say that "the Army wants to be a good neighbor, that's why we're here," and explaining that she would never recommend that the Army build on a brownfield (a former industrial site).

Props to all the neighbors, open space advocates, Wesleyan students and residents who attended and spoke out against what appears to be yet another very bad idea from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Foxwoods here I come

I'm listening to talk radio, and I've decided that politicians are smarter than I ever give them credit for.

So far, four people have called the radio host to find out exactly what they're going to get back from the government. People love it when you send them money, no matter how little.

Hey, should I tell them, or will it be you? That money they're about to "get" is the money they've already given, will give, or their children will give to the government in the form of taxes to pay for giveaway programs like this, and the war in Iraq. Those politicians aren't "giving" us anything but bigger problems. Stimulus package indeed!

Three hundred dollars. Wow, that's 1200 quarters for the slots at Foxwoods. Or enough for a scalped ticket in the pit for the Bruce show at the XL Center (though I may have to go to the XXL Center, myself). Or a couple ounces of pot. I can see how this is going to be a great stimulus for the economy.

Three hundred dollars. That's a cartful of groceries at Whole Foods. Or almost enough for a 13 quart Creuset Dutch Oven at Williams Sonoma. Or one Open Toe Manolo Blahnik Mary Jane Shoe. Or 90 minutes on the town in Manhattan.

All the while our roads, and bridges, and sewers, and sidewalks crumble.

The Courant forgives, McEnroe doesn't forget

In the, "maybe I love Louisiana so much because it's really a lot like Connecticut" line of thought, it's hard to imagine anything more laughable than the suggestion that the mayor (Mike Jarjura) of a major (though municipally-demented) city (Waterbury) in Connecticut would offer a job to a disgraced, less-than-remorseful, corrupt ex-governor (John Rowland) a job in which he would be at the center of potential development deals.

No one is more willing to forgive and forget than the Hartford Courant (who, as an editorial voice, seem to be able to magnanimously dismiss all sorts of political and bureaucratic malfeasance).

No one seems more incredulous than Colin McEnroe. His blog today is priceless. When Colin is angry at some unbelievable injustice, he's at his best. His WTIC-AM radio show ought to be interesting today.

Contempt for contempt

As if to prove that our representatives in Congress have as stiff a spine as Gumby when it comes to standing up to the president, Nancy Pelosi is once again dragging her feet in putting contempt citations up for a vote.

Josh Bolten and Harriet Meirs have both ignored Congressional subpoenas to appear before committees investigating the political firings of US Attorneys by the Bush administration. The ability to investigate is at the core of the separation of power, and checks and balances. Once again the comedy team of Pelosi and Reid seem more interested in making the President happy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Polishing his comfortable filibustering shoes

Dodd's up for a filibuster.

So much for it being a "campaign trick."

Happy to see that one of our Connecticut Senators has read the Constitution recently.

Protect America from the Protect America Act

The campaign has begun to encourage Democratic presidential candidates to support Chris Dodd in his fight against telecom immunity in the Protect America Act (FISA). Here's what Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald have sent along:

John Edwards should challenge his rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to go back to Washington, DC and fight against retroactive immunity for the telecoms.

The Republicans are not going to let Harry Reid punt and extend the Protect America Act for another 18 months so it looks like the FISA bill is going to come back up again on Monday. Chris Dodd's objection to Unanimous Consent still stands, so they will pick up in the middle of the Motion to Proceed debate.

Without the help of the presidential candidates, we are doomed to lose this fight. And all their calls for change will ring hollow if they allow George Bush to railroad this bill through a supine Democratic-controlled Senate because of their absence.

You can email Senator Edwards directly at


Jane Hamsher & Glenn Greenwald

Here's what I sent in my email to John Edwards:

Senator Edwards:

I know you know how totally George Bush has screwed up America. And I know you agree that it's time to take it back.

You are in the perfect position to insist that your colleagues and opposing candidates in the run for President support your former Senatorial colleague Chris Dodd, and my senator, in his fight against the flawed FISA bill.

Technically you can't stand by Dodd's side and filibuster this bill which strips liberties from Americans, and rewards lawbreaking by major corporations. But you can make it an issue which your opponents have to respond to.

I urge you to make the FISA bill a major issue, because it is. According to an ACLU poll, two-thirds of American voters think that the telecomm immunity provided by the FISA, or as it's euphemistically titled, Protect America Act, is wrong.

Please voice your concerns immediately. The bill will likely come to the floor of the Senate next week.

I will be more than happy to support you, if you support Chris Dodd.

Ed McKeon

Creepy Joe™ out of the closet in CT

Creepy Joe™ Lieberman can no longer disguise the fact that he likes to dress up like a Republican. Yesterday he was appointed the co-chair of Republican John McCain's presidential campaign in Connecticut. Creepy Joe™ is now officially a pachyderm dressed like an ass. One would now assume that Creepy Joe™ is planning to attend a party convention in Minneapolis (R), as to one in Denver (D)

That'll show you Chris Dodd.

Love him or hate him President Bush did not lie...more than 935 times prior to the invasion of Iraq

Genius Jim Vicevich has the first part of this headline posted on his website, in a semi-permanent manner (have I mentioned that he's too scared to host comments, and that the lack of original content on his site is a reflection of his thought process? And how important is Jim's show if, when he's on vacation for a week, it's replaced by Computer Talk with Tab?), we can thank the Center for Public Integrity and Fund for Independence in Journalism for what comes after the ellipses.

As they say in the press, "fool me 935 times, shame on you; fool me 936 times, shame on us."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I'll vote for whoever supports Dodd

My vote's for sale, sort of. As Glenn Greenwald points out today, the FISA fight is imminent, most Democrats are cowering (they're afraid of being called cowards, and in the process are demonstrating their cowardice), and Chris Dodd is preparing for a filibuster.

Greenwald points out that there will be web campaigns launched this week to help convince the top three Democratic presidential contenders to vocally and publicly support Dodd in his fight against FISA as it's being brought to the floor by Harry Reid.

So, whoever puts some public face time in the fight against FISA will get my support in the primary. Otherwise, it'll be voting my heart for Dennis Kucinich.

Is Sam Zell for real, part 3

Former LA Times Editor-Chief, James O'Shea, thinks not.

The Army will entertain questions, sir

At the rescheduled meeting about the placement of an Army Reserve Training Center in the Maromas Section of Middletown, the Army will take "relevant" questions. This from the office of the mayor:

Please be advised that the Army has rescheduled the informational session with the public regarding the Army Reserve Center Site for January 24 at 5:00-6:30PM. The Army will make a presentation and answer relevant questions from the public. Please forward as appropriate.

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

I was listening to Colin McEnroe and Teresa Pelham on Colin's drive time show on WTIC-AM last night on the way home, and I heard a UCONN pollster talking about a recent poll. At some point, the pollster seemed to diverge from poll results and move toward some conclusions which didn't seem to be a part of the polls. To be fair, Colin kept returning to the topic of "poll results" and his guest, Teresa Pelham continued to question the methods and validity of the poll. Anyway, I called in and chatted with Colin, and then wrote this in an email to him today:

I called in at the end of you show yesterday to complain about polls, but not exactly to complain about the polls themselves, but about how the media talks about them.

Agreed that polls aren't going away, but maybe responsible journalists and media outlets can begin to write and speak about polls for what they are - mere projections of what may happen, and not absolute facts about the future.

How many times have you seen a headline, or a news anchor proclaim something like: Lead Swells for Obama. And that "fact" comes two weeks ahead of an actual primary. We've seen how polls can be very wrong. And wrong or right, what effect do they have on the elections?

Sure enough, yesterday you talked about the UCONN poll as a poll, and were pretty careful throughout to mention that the conversation was about a poll, but as the conversation went on, your guest talked less about projections, based on the polls, and more about the treating her poll's results, or assumptions made as a result of that poll, as facts.

Based on a sample of 400 in each party, Monika McDermott was making blanket statements: about McCain, she said "he's not seen as conservative," and about Obama, "he's a firecracker that (sic) really inspires people, and he excites them." Both of those statements sound like opinion to me, and I wonder if a statistician ought to be sprinkling those kind of opinions into a conversation about poll results.

I think polls skew voting, and I think some in the media treat polls as fact, particularly when they write headlines, or create graphic grabs on TV.

I know polling and writing about polls are protected by the Constitution, but maybe responsible members of the media could post a disclaimer in every story, every conversation about polls that would be similar to the warning on a pack of cigarettes: This story/conversation is based on a poll, and as such is merely a projection of what might happen in a real election/caucus.

Personally, I think polls are a way for media outlets to create news that they think will get them more readers and viewers. It's become another big business, and like weather reporting, it's designed to grab eyes and ears.

Monday, January 21, 2008

More news on John Stewart's death

If we were immortal, we would never learn what the true value of life is.

Some details of John Stewart's passing this morning, may give some a bit of
comfort to help make the circle of life, love, music and family seem

Before John died this morning, he and Buffy Ford (his wife and musical
partner) had spent Thursday evening with Nick Reynolds (for those too young;
John's friend and former original member of the Kingston Trio) and his wife
at Nick's home on Coronado. They spent the evening listening to some newly
released compilations of Trio material. I am told that it was a wonderful
evening for all.

John suffered a massive stroke or brain aneurysm early Friday morning and
was taken to the same hospital where he was born 68 years ago. This was
very much a surprising part of the full circle of many lives because John
and Buffy have lived most of the last 30 years in Marin County, hundreds of
miles away from his home town of San Diego.

John was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's. He had already
given up his driver's license and had completed a telling new song about it,
"I Can't Drive Anymore." Many of his friends have said the prognosis was
not good, may have already become very painful and that blessings come in
unusual ways.

After John collapsed in his hotel room he never regained consciousness.
Buffy and all of his children were with him when he passed in peace around
7:30 AM this morning.

John gave his all to his music and the cause of peace. It is somewhat
fitting that he would go during the week we celebrate the birthday of Martin
Luther King, Jr. Along with many others committed to the causes of peace
and unity, John walked with Dr. King during the 3-day march to Selma in
March of 1965. An event that most say was a life threatening experience for
those involved.

For some he will be always be known for the compelling words and music he
wrote. His album "California Bloodlines" is on the Rolling Stone top 100
list of all time significant albums. For those of us who met him or knew
him through his years of political action he was one of the most powerful
voices for a better world to come out of the 1960s. I met him in 1968
during the Robert Kennedy campaign. I was 17.

His own words will likely be a better eulogy than those anyone else can

"There's always one more river the sea can carry. There's always one more
soul that heaven can hold There's always one more star the sky can hang on
to So hand your heart to the wind, let it carry you home.

"There's always one more song to sing for the lonely There's always one more
dream to carry you along There's always one more eagle come flying in the
morning So hand your heart to the wind let it carry you home.

"And I'm believing, believing,
Believing that even when I'm gone
Maybe some lonesome picker will find some healing in this song"

John Stewart
September 5, 1939 - January 19, 2008

Submitted by:
Fred R. Munroe
Musica Del Rio House Concerts

Thanks to SF Hansen.

Yours forevermore

As a teen growing up in New Britain, I was captivated by radio. I spent hours calling into my favorite DJ at WPOP-AM (then a top-40 station), talking on-air to my favorite DJ (Lee Babi Simms, who went on to a huge and influential career in Los Angeles), requesting favorites like the Animals version of C.C. Rider, which they called cleverly called See See Rider.

Then along came underground radio on the FM dial, and I listened to WHCN-FM (then an alternative, diverse, DJ programmed station), and my ears were opened to the Velvet Underground, Muddy Waters, John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, Moby Grape, the Band, Love and lots of other musicians who never slipped onto the then wide-open playlists of the top 40.

One of the morning DJ's had a favorite album, which became a favorite of mine, and everyday he played an extended, jazzy song which began with the simple words, "This is a tearjerker." The song was Good To Me, and the band was Forevermore.

I was one of the few in the US who bought a full-priced copy of the album Yours, which featured album artwork out of a Victorian-era scrapbook, an absence of any meaningful liner notes, and a small, blurry photograph of a group of hirsute musicians with Scottish names.

I could never find out much about the band, but after the album tanked I bought dozens of copies, some for as little as 29 cents, in retail and record store bargain bins, and handed them out to friends who appreciated music. The album was amazingly accomplished and diverse, moving comfortably through folk, jazz, blues, country (doing as good a job, as say, Traffic) -- this was a Scottish group who liked American music. And like many albums of the era, it included throwaway, novelty numbers in the Oo-blah-di, Oo-blah-dah school.

I listened to that album for years, and when I was in college and read somewhere that RCA had released the band's second album Words on Black Plastic, I wrote RCA to get a review copy, and a label representative wrote back denying that the album existed (I think I still have that letter somewhere). I subsequently found the album in a NYC record store. The second album spends less time with throwaways, and I always swore that the musicians had obsessively listened to two albums which were also favorites of mine, The Band's Music from Big Pink and Jack Bruce's Songs for a Tailor.

A few of the musicians from Forevermore, went onto greater fame as founders of the Average White Band (Alan Gorrie and Onnie Mair), making really tacky funk and R&B during the mournful disco era.

The original Forevermore album is nearly forty years old, and without a turntable at home, I was rarely able to listen. A few weeks back, I found an online listing of a German release (completely unofficial, I'm sure), of a CD which contained both albums on a single disk, at a totally reasonable price. In addition, I found a place online, where the first album could be downloaded. Since the CD arrived, I've been listening non-stop for about a week. In the process of my search, I found a blog by English writer Tom Cox, extolling the virtues of Forevermore, and another which places the first album on a list of lost albums, which can now be more easily found on the web (thereby spoiling the fun of the search). In a recent article for the Guardian he says:

Few records fulfil the 'great lost album' criteria on as many levels as Yours Forever More, the debut by Simon Napier-Bell prodigies Forever More. From its slightly accidental existence (Napier-Bell was merely fulfilling a contract), to the two very odd Ringo-ish country filler tracks (real lost albums need eccentric filler!) to Permissive, the grimy forgotten B-movie in which its gnome-like creators starred, to the album's childishly hand-drawn gatefold sleeve, it begs to be preserved exclusively on 12-inch cardboard, preferably with Sellotape in one corner and a former owner's ancient address on the inner side.

Or at least that's what I used to think, back in the days when I would waste afternoons scouring Greater London's record shops for extra copies. These days, its lack of CD reissue just seems slightly cruel and arbitrary. Sucked of their romance and promise, Lost Albums seem lost in a different, sadder way than before. That's perhaps nothing to get too cut-up about. After all, they're only objects. None the less, some music will always improve with age and demand reinvestigation, and it's hard to suppress a shiver when considering the possible future equivalent of today's Lost Albums: unmanned ghost MySpace pages, replete with ancient tour dates and outdated comments from long-withered porn stars inadvertently having their images used to sell ringtones. Who, you find yourself wondering, will take them home, wipe some 20-year-old lint off their grooves, and love them?

It make me feel better that I'm not the only person who can get obsessed by a song, or album, that has never made it into the digital realm.

Is Sam Zell for real, part 2

A third Courant writer has responded.

1. Is Sam Zell the real thing? I hope so.

2. Are you encouraged/discouraged by his speech, and why?
I was heartily encouraged. For the first time since I've worked at the Courant, a corporate bigwig has publicly recognized the fact that you cannot do more with less in the newspaper business. Unlike the previous Tribune regime, which was not-so-slowly bleeding the company to death while currying favor with Wall Street, Zell said the other day that the first duty of Tribune papers is to readers, then advertisers.

3. Do you agree with him about the eventual decline of The Courant if it
remains, simply, a print newspaper? Yes, but it's not just the Courant -- every newspaper needs to figure out how to best use the Internet. Zell's publishing man, Randy Michaels, said something to the effect that Tribune newspapers need to think of themselves as 24-hour news-gathering operations that publish once a day, for the record. As someone who blogs and files updates to in addition to writing stories, this makes sense to me.

4. Is there a sense of liberation amongst the staff, or are people worried?
Some people are worried, some feel liberated. I'm greatly concerned about the company's gigantic debt load, but the bottom line is, it's still up to me to do my job as best I can. However, I get the sense for the first time in years, that doing my job well might actually count for something within the company.

(UPDATE: A few more words from this Courant reporter)

News this morning that James O'Shea was axed from the LAT for refusing to make more cuts tempers my optimism somewhat. I'm hoping David Hiller acted unilaterally and not on orders from Chicago.

Even if Zell is what he says he is, he's only the guy at the top. It's very much up to journalists, individually and collectively, to make the paper relevant and essential reading. I hope that's something Zell recognizes and values, but I guess we'll see.

Rescheduled meeting on proposed Army training base, Thursday

The informational meeting about the proposed Army Reserve training center in Maromas, which was postponed last week due to the snowstorm, has been rescheduled for Thursday, January 24, 5 pm in the Common Council Chambers at City Hall, Middletown.

My sources tell me that the procedures for running the meeting have not been set (it's not a Common Council meeting), but that the main portion of the meeting is to allow the army to present its plans. Whether comments or questions from residents will be allowed has not been made public.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Meet the meat

At Lucy's urging, I drove down to Four Mile River Farm today and met Nunz Corsino who runs the place with Chris Bourne.

Corsino raises beef cattle and hogs without the growth hormones and antibiotics commonly found in feedlots of factory farms. He has the animals slaughtered in Rhode Island, and produces beef and pork that is decidedly homegrown, as healthy as beef and pork can be, and delicious.

Four Mile Farm was recommended by Steve and Monica who partnered with some friends and bought a side of beef (you can buy smaller cuts at farmers markets attended by Four Mile, or at their "market stand)," which is the smallest amount of beef, or pork they will sell in quantity to individuals. Of course, they cut and prepare the meet, so your basement won't look like a meat locker.

It's not an inexpensive proposition, but, in the end, it's likely cheaper than buying the same cuts, and the same quantity from the meat cooler at Stop and Shop. And if you trust the chefs at some fine local restaurants (like Chester's River Tavern), who only buy their beef from Four Mile, then you might consider trying a roast or two from the farm.

Nunz is affable, honest and dedicated to raising health meat. He's a teacher, and when he talks to you about how a side of beef or pork can be divvied up, you get the sense that he enjoys educating you about the things you've eaten thoughtlessly for several decades. He's deeply involved in the movement to raise, distribute and eat local food, and he appears at several farmers markets where that is the goal. He recommends the Lyme Farmers Market and the City Square Farmers Market in New Haven, which are only held monthy in the winter.

When I tell him I'm the kind of carvivore who carries 20 lbs of smoked sausage back from Louisiana, Nunz gave me a package of hot dogs "on the house," and recommends that I visit the smokehouse where they are created, Noack's, in Meriden. As that kind of carnivor, and a central Connecticut boy, I was ashamed to admit I had never been to Noack's (nor heard of them).

"Visit," Nunz advised. "You'll never have to haul sausage back from Louisiana again."

Daydream believer - John Stewart RIP

Jim Musselman of Appleseed Records, where Stewart last recorded, sends the obit:

It is with deep regret that I wanted to pass on the [news of the] death of John Stewart. John passed away this morning with his family by his side in San Diego, passing away at the same hospital where he was born. John was a member of the Kingston Trio for years and wrote songs that captured the essence of the real America and the people who made the country interesting. From sitting in a room of Jamie Wyeth paintings and writing songs about the characters in those paintings, John like Steinbeck,Twain or Charles Kuralt, John captured the true American experience with his words and images. His words said so much at times: "Don Quixote's windmills were giants in his eyes -- to see things as they really are it can only make you wise". He had a life of performing, with the Kingston Trio all over the world to writing "Daydream Believer" to having the hit song "Gold" in the 1970's. But he was so much deeper than those things which were just the surface, and what most people saw and heard. It was beneath the surface with the songwriting and singing that touched so many that John's true beauty was.

Civil rights and wrongs

Kevin Rennie is that rare commodity - a pundit who sees beyond partisanship to shine a light on any party, any politician, and bureaucrat, who acts illegally or unethically. He understands the system, and the law, and we're fortunate to be able to read his columns in the Hartford Courant.

Today, he underlines the irony of ambitious Connecticut US Attorney Kevin O'Connor pursuing a job in Bush's justice department when he spent months pursuing librarians as if they were mobsters, using the Patriot Act like it was a bludgeon.