Sunday, August 31, 2008
Today, Britain is to comedy what France is to cooking, or Italy to shoes. But things weren't always that way, as evidenced every time KUED has a bad fund-raising year and is forced to fill its evening British-comedy slot with cheaply purchased, dreary, 40-year-old sitcoms.
The post-1970s British explosion of bizarre, incisive and compelling humor can be attributed to a generation of irreverent and forward-thinking men and women--among whom Perkins served as something of a visionary. Without Perkins, who produced the offbeat sketch series The Fast Show it's doubtful there could have been a Little Britain. Without Perkins, who advocated for Ben Elton The Man From Auntie, could there ever have been a Blackadder?
Perkins was 55 at his death.
Some Little Britain:
Friday, August 29, 2008
But one election year—1996 to be exact—change was in the air, change in the form of plucky brunette 32-year-old Sarah Palin. Once a co-captain of her high school basketball team, Palin in 1982 led the Wasilla Warriors to win an astonishing state championship. For that, she’ll always be a local hero. At a young 28, she’d been elected to the city council and soon took issue with Stein’s “stale” leadership and “tax-and-spend mentality.”
It became apparent Stein was in for a fight of his political life.
Upon learning she’d won the hotly contested race, Palin and her supporters huddled together and prayed to Jesus Christ in gratitude. I began to wonder what was up with our local politicos. I’d watched as Palin aligned herself—in a city mayor’s race—with our newly minted Republican state lawmakers, all tripping over themselves to claim conservative Christian cred. I noticed how positions on abortion and gun rights bubbled up in a municipal race. After her win, a local cable TV show proclaimed Palin as the town’s first “Christian” mayor, much to the surprise of the town’s previous mayors who hadn’t been told their faith was revoked.
Even with all that prayer behind her, Palin’s first years as mayor were bumpy. She had to clean house and eliminate John Stein supporters among her staff. The local media and organizations around town questioned her ability to run a city without experienced people. She rather famously proclaimed: "It's not rocket science. It's $6 million and 53 employees."
That gutsy attitude along with her love of the Alaskan outdoors and her beauty-contestant good looks made her instantly popular and easy to re-elect.
About that time, I up and split Alaska, disillusioned by the conservative political sweep of my community. The Republican Party was seemingly intent on hijacking just about every nonprofit board and political office in the valley, filling them with smug, holier-than-thou operatives (I should point out that this is now changing. One Wasilla lawmaker from that era, Rep. Vic Kohring, for example, is serving time for accepting oil-industry bribes, and more are getting their comeuppance every day).
But keeping tabs from a distance, even I came to respect Palin’s subsequent moves: Being easily recognized by the Republican Party as a comer, she ran for, and lost, a bid for lieutenant governor in 2002. As a consolation prize, then-Gov. Frank Murkowski rewarded her with a chairmanship of the state’s powerful oil and gas commission. She then discovered and audaciously ratted out the commission’s good old boys on their ethical lapses. When the Republican Party turned its back on her, she ran her own campaign against incumbent Frank Murkowki, beating him in the 2006 primary. From there, it was a cakewalk against Democrat Tony Knowles to the governor’s mansion.
Bottom line: This woman is true to herself. She disarms you with her perkiness and off-the-cuff conversation style, and it is easy to mistake that quality for innocence and underestimate her. But don’t. I’m betting John Stein and Frank Murkowski are somewhere in Alaska today pounding shots in a dive bar. Nobody seems to own her. At least up until now. It remains to be seen if one maverick (McCain) can control another.
And, despite her legendary fresh face and ethical high road, she can still lay claim to hatahs. There is a little scandal brewing right now in Alaska about how she canned her public safety commissioner because he would not fire her sister’s ex-husband—a cop behaving badly. Some say she’s in over her head running Alaska, but she would likely fire right back: Hey, it’s not rocket science.
I guess I can say I knew Sarah when. But oddly enough, Dick and me go way back, too. Prior to my stint in Wasilla, I grew up in Casper, Wyo., hometown of another infamous VP maverick ... emphasis on the “ick.” [Jerre Wroble]
- As a man, I feel I can speak for women when I say whom the little darlings should vote for.
- "If not Georgia, where? If not for flimsy reasons, why?"
- I call for a return to the days when teenagers never drank alcohol.
- Of course, the really spooky part will be when Russia signs a non-aggression treaty with itself!
- Damn you toll-road-loving commies!
- Ooh, my sarcasm is just devastating. Take that, Obama-lovers!
Tune in to 90.9 FM, 6-7 p.m.
OK Utah: Let's all cut our wrists together, wail and gnash our teeth. Then we can move on.
“The record is clear: John McCain has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really what does it say about your judgment when you think George W. Bush has been right more than 90 percent of the time?” Obama asked the roaring crowd.
Obama kept his McCain attacks in reference to George W. Bush and his party, not stooping to such potshots as McCain's anmesia for the number of homes he owns.
“For over two decades he’s subscribed to the discredited Republican philosophy to give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else,” Obama said. “In Washington they call this the ownership society, but what it really means--you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it...
"... Well it is time for them to own their failure. And it’s time for us to change America.”
After remininiscing about his time as a community activist on Chicago's South Side and how he learned a work ethic from his scrappy grandmother, Obama ended on what he promises will be the key to the next 68 days: “That’s the promise of America. The idea that we are responsible for ourselves but that we also rise or fall as one nation.”
And finally, a few of Obama's plans, as outlined in his speech:
*Cutting tax breaks to corporations that shift jobs overseas; rewarding companies that keep jobs in the U.S.
*A tax cut for 95 percent of all working class families.
*Eliminating capital gains taxes for small businesses and high-tech startup companies.
*Affordable health care for all.
*Pledging to end foreign oil dependence in 10 years.
*In foreign policy, the focus will return to Afghanistan rather than Iraq. “John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the gates of hell—but he won’t even go to the cave where he lives,” Obama said.
Then in a magnanimous conclusion, Obama recalled his experience and reflected on the good of all Americans.
“It is that American spirit that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen—that better place around the bend.”
It was a place called hope hat seemed at long last to subdue the week-long hype surrounding Obama. (Eric S. Peterson)
Thursday, August 28, 2008
[OwlWatch] A second Laverne sighting has renewed the hopes of those in the Bountiful community who have been fasting and praying for her safe return.
Fran B., a reader from Northern California, snapped this photo of Laverne frolicking with two other bathing beauties at a Santa Cruz beach. It appears the wayward owl is taking a late-summer vacation!
More details on this breaking story as they emerge.
The worker bees, who aggressively hand out the Trib's "commuter daily" near TRAX platforms, seem, typically, to have been forgotten by management. According to one yellowjacket, they were "notified" of their impending job-loss at the same time the rest of us found out about it--when they read the story in the paper.
I don't suppose they'll qualify for a parachute--even a yellow one.
Rockslide led the way along with a small army of more than 100 protesters. The group of well-meaning and ripe-smelling kid anarchists took to the streets to call out the hypocrisy of the "green" convention.
Decked out in battle colors of dirty camo green and black bandanas, the group moved peacefully but passionately, shouting chants and drumming on plastic buckets. When a reporter asked Rockslide if they had a permit, he tapped his hand over his heart, saying "This is our permit."
Which might explain the surprise many motorists had as they turned a corner only to find hundreds of green revolutionaries clogging the street. But if the march seemed impromptu, that's not to say it wasn't well-orchestrated. The group stopped outside numerous office buildings and relayed information about the polluters inside and also about how they were supporting the DNC convention financially. Citing Oxfam studies, the group called out Denver-based Newmont Gold, which protesters said had displaced 20,000 of the rural poor in Ghana with a mine. Newmont donated $250,000 to the Democratic National Convention, much like Xcel Energy, responsible for half of Colorado's mercury emissions -- and $1 million contributed to the convention. (Check this out for a more complete of corporate DNC sponsors.)
Police watched the march closely, but were far from confrontational. Several riot police just smiled and took photos as keepsakes. At one tense moment, as the marchers were pushing down a crowded downtown sidewalk chanting anti-capitalist slogans, a street vendor seeing the crowd come up anxiously hollered "Yo! Get your Obama pins, only $3!"
After the march had finished its circuit downtown businesses and made corporate chieftans uncomfortable by shouting outside their offices -- "For the earth we will fight, we know where you sleep at night!" -- I asked Rockslide what the next step was.
"We're just going to keep putting pressure on politicians to come up with real energy solutions," he said, catching his breath. "We want to stop land exploitation like mining in western Colorado and Utah, the uranium mines in Paradox [Colorado] near the Utah border. We need to keep these areas wild.
"We also wanted to break the spell of greenness of this convention," Rockslide says. "It's been touted as the greenest convention, but they've just done some recycling and offered a few free bikes. While people are flying in from all over, going to lavish parties and advocating policies that aren't sustainable." (Eric S. Peterson)
"[McCain] will be a lame duck president," says Carol Anderson, who has set up her small PUMA camp in Denver's Civic Station Park. Anderson, a lifelong Democrat, believes a Democratic-controlled congress will buffer any damaging conservative policies McCain might unleash. While she supported Clinton, she doesn't believe in the change Obama offers, especially with energy policy.
"Obama voted for the  Cheney-Bush energy bill to set up liquefied gas terminals and 42 nuclear power plants in Washington and Oregon. Cheney hatched this bill in his office with Ken Lay and other big energy moguls, secretly. John McCain didn't vote for it, Hillary didn't vote for it, Obama did."
The issue will resurface, seeing as how the 2005 bill Obama supported included sizable tax breaks for big oil companies-- an issue Obama is working hard in his campaign to say differentiates him from his opponent. Obama has said he supported the bill "reluctantly" because it also diverted ethanol funds to his state of Illinois.
Anderson says the natural gas stations the legislation earmarked for her state of Washington are volatile and dangerous. "If one of them blows up, it will be worse than any nuclear holocaust in 100 miles," she says.
Anderson also doesn't feel the connection to Obama -- especially since his appearance at a Washington town hall meeting, where he was asked about Hanford, the site of one of the nation's oldest nuclear waste dump sites, retaining waste from the original Manhattan Project of the 1940s. Activists worry the clean-up has been stymied for too long.
"When he was asked 'What are you going to do about Hanford?' " Anderson says, "he said 'What's Hanford?' " (You can check that video moment out here.)
"I can't have this know-nothing guy as president," Anderson says. (Eric S. Peterson)
The respective vids:
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Don't get me wrong, I've been a Democrat all my life. But after three nights of convention stumping I've developed a strange wincing stomach twinge every time I hear "change we need."
But for more honed criticism, the night offered a few notable surprises. The first came from the man who would be president-- John Kerry. Kerry aptly presented the knife to McCain that had been stuck in his back since 2004: flip-flopper. "To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick instead of the reality of a politician, I say, let's compare Senator McCain to candidate McCain." Kerry pointed out McCain's backpedaling on climate change, wartime tax cuts and immigration."Candidate McCain says he would now vote against the immigration bill that Senator McCain wrote. Let me tell you, before he ever debates Barack Obama, John McCain should finish the debate with himself."
Lauren's group normally just distributes simple meals that otherwise would have been thrown away, usually bagels and bananas, twice a week to low-income and homeless in Denver (Salt Lake City has its own Food Not Bombs group, as well). But the Denver FNB chapter has kicked into overdrive since the convention started routing the homeless elsewhere in preparation for the convention--some critics charging they have been swept out of downtown areas.
Well, the pissing match seemed to be getting nowhere when in a moment of pure hilarity one of the long haired activists took off his shirt, walked over and proclaimed himself as Jesus. Soon the hippie kids were bowing at his feet and asking him to save them from gayness.
Tough luck for Utah though, that coming alphabetically after New York they didn't get a chance to proudly declare their 19 Obama and 10 Clinton votes. In a move for unity Hillary stopped the roll call at New York and moved that the counted delegate votes sustain Obama as the nominee.
Oh well, that's not going to put a damper on the experience for Utah delegates like Rep. Phil Riesen, D-Salt Lake City. Throwing in the vote is one thing but not everything. "What I'll take back is the tremendous sense of unity, we came in here with diverse opinions, we all leave here unified as a democratic party, determined to elect a democrat president," Riesen says. "Something desperately needed in this country." Riesen also plans on taking away some of the ideas workshopped about alternative enery policy, including possible tax credits for fuel efficient vehicles, an idea he and other Utah reps are thinking of running for the 2009 session.
Riesen who helped get Obama on the Utah primary ballot in February as his state point person, believes his time as president is coming. While Utah might be a small voice in electing him, Riesen recognizes the growing voice of a democratic western region that Utah is a part of. "As a group we hold some clout, as we should."
Riesen is not the only one with Obama fever. Kathy Snyder from Mendon, Utah has enjoyed the perks of being a delegate. "Where we're at here for some reason, all these dignitaries have to walk right by," jokes Snyder of the convention floor exit right in front of the Utah delegation's seats tucked in the corner of the Pepsi Center floor. Besides spotting celebrities of the political world like Madeline Albright and George McGovern, Snyder got to take part in a panel discussion on progressive democrats in America moderated by John Nichols of The Nation magazine, who happened to swing by and console Kathy for not getting the limelight to cast the Utah delegation's votes.
Snyder, a "born democrat" thinks the party will get the message across about Obama. "We will once again have a president who respects American, and also restore the US position in the world." Snyder is sold, but will the rest of the nation catch the fever? "Oh yes," says Snyder. "It's contagious." (Eric S. Peterson)
"This should be a one-of-a-kind performance from Shinedown ... We were able to scrape together a 10-piece string orchestra, featuring members of the Utah Symphony, to play some songs with them. They’ve never done this live before and I’ve never really seen anything like it except on award shows. If we can pull it off, it should be pretty special."
The Blaze 97.5's big turnouts for these shows is somewhat special, too, considering that the station had its longtime frequency 94.9 (what's there now ain't The Blaze, not matter what they imply) yanked from under it and had to scramble to a new number recently--judging by last week's crowd, the switch didn't make a dent.
A little Shinedown, doing a fine cover of Skynyrd's "Simple Man":
No, it wasn't a bunch of crazy rednecks manufacturing crank or armed gangsters smuggling heroin across the border. It was a few pot farms.
Still, the D-News breathlessly reported that it "may be one of the largest drug busts in state history" and, predictably, failed to offer a single quote from a grower or legalization advocate.
... Seeing the Diamond parking lot behind the old Zephyr building (300 South and West Temple) only half full. Used to be jam-packed with City Weekly employees' cars until they raised their rates and sent us packing. Now, we have to walk a half a block farther every day to get to work but it does give us a chance to savor the schadenfreude of Diamond's often vacant lot. [Jerre Wroble]
So here's where we stand today. In spite of 24/7 cable, endless online access and even a full hour or so prime time coverage from the conventional networks, we still get only a sliver of the coverage. Why? Because we have to listen to endless "analysis" by talking heads Wolf Blitzer, Chris Matthews, Campbell Brown and the gang. I was switching last night for three hours from Fox, to MSNBC to CNN and it never ended: The Dems needed to serve up the "red meat" to show McCain they are serious. Hillary had to hit one out of the park. Oh, and we were told--many times--what a kickass speaker the Mountain West's own Brian Schweitzer (Montana's Democratic governor) is. But how would we know for ourselves? Not once did the cameras cut away to let us see/hear him.
So here's the text of Schweitzer's speech. And I wasn't surprised to hear the guy brought the house down last night--I've heard him speak several times. He's a stemwinder speaker, but he's wrong about clean coal being the answer to our energy and environmental woes. Mostly because what he champions would take a shitload of water to accomplish, and we don't have it to spare in the West.
Anyway, it was frustrating for a convention geek like me to see Schweitzer's image on the video screen behind the CNN Gang of Five desk (or whatever the pithy name of their convention team is) and not to hear a word of it.
And yes, I know I could have had it all online in real time, and it's all over YouTube. But I prefer my convention and all the trimmings on the big flat screen in my living room, not on a laptop screen, thanks ever so much.
We have all this great technology but I'd take the old 1964 coverage in a heartbeat. At least it was raw and true and nicely unfiltered. (Holly Mullen)
However, if you feel the urge to tune in and watch the show (it’s made for TV, after all), I highly recommend catching your convention coverage on BET. Last night BET commentators on the convention floor discussed why two days were being turned over to talks from Hillary and Bill Clinton. (“This is Obama’s time. It’s not about Hillary being dissed.”)
The best line of the night: “Obama and Clinton is destroying anything that Biggie and Tupac ever had.” (Ted McDonough)
In a display of deft politics the Democrats united through spite, against McCain. They were whole once again as speaker after speaker lined up to pound on McCain. Governors, senators and representatives tapped in and out to pummel the presumptive Republican candidate up until Hillary herself made the stage. By the time Hillary entered the ring the straw man effigy of McCain was dazed and stunned after some six hours of punishment. Throughout the madness of the crowd it was almost as if the voice of Mortal Kombat’s Shang Tsung pronounced from on high: “Finish him!”
But before that moment you have to appreciate the blows that rained down upon McCain. Really these blogs are long enough and there would be just no way to repeat all the put-downs. Needless to say, McCain was getting be-bopped and scatted on so many times the whole affair was beginning to resemble a furious barrage of political yo-mama jokes.
“They say the George Bush came into office on third base [after the Clinton years]. Well if that’s the case he then stole 2nd, and McCain cheered him on every step of the way.” –Ohio Governor, Ted Strickland.
“Well being from Kansas we’re familiar with the term there’s no place like home. But John McCain’s version seems to be ‘there’s no place like home or home or home or home…”-- Kathleen Sebelius, Kansas Governor.
Oh no she didn’t!
“McCain says he’s a maverick. But when you vote 95 percent with Bush this year, that’s not being a maverick, that’s called being a sidekick.”-- Sen. Robert Casey Jr., P.A.
“No way, no how, no McCain,” Clinton said warming her up speech. Moving in a way that was both grateful and sympathetic to her supporters, the party and Obama. Clinton graciously recalled meeting young veterans, a mother without health insurance battling cancer, the pleas of a family one paycheck away from poverty. Invoking these figures Hillary spoke directly to her loyal soldiers.
“Were you in this campaign just for me or were you in it for the young Marine and others like him? Or the mom struggling with cancer? Or that young boy and his mother surviving on minimum wage? Or for all the people in this country who feel invisible?” Clinton asked in complete sincerity and authority.
The Democrats clearly have taken to a classic good cop/ bad cop routine to win over the public and especially disenchanted Clinton voters. On the one hand, distanced from the punchier attacks, Obama will appeal to unity among Americans, highlighting “post-partisan” working class values. On the other, Clinton and others will beseech their wayward party members through an unrelenting attack on the McCain camp as the greater evil to a not-Clinton presidency.
And so after historical comparisons to the women’s suffrage movement Clinton called upon supporters to recognize the historical import of the present.
“Think about your children and grandchildren come Election Day,” Clinton said. “We’ve got to ensure the choice we make this election honors the sacrifices of those who came before us.”
With a speech punctuated by yells of ‘We love you!’ and roaring applause, Clinton beckoned with open arms her followers back into the fold and with a kick to the gut of the McCain campaign.
“It makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities, because these days they’re awfully hard to tell apart,” Hillary said, pulling the head and spine from the metaphorical McCain, to a standing ovation. (Eric S. Peterson)
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Frankly, considering the state in which the neocon-infested GOP has left the economy on which we depend--and the nation that I love--there's no goddamn reason any presidential poll should be even close to tied. Surveys should favor Democrats, hands down, in every contest.
There's a great article in the New Yorker (it's brief and highly recommended) describing the opposition Obama is facing from The Borg--particularly that from Jerome Corsi, author of many trashy, ethically void pseudobiographies, including one called The Obama Nation. Apparently for the same reason Corsi's past bullshit books have garnered lots of airtime, his newest smear against Barack Obama seems to be getting some play.
Now, regarding the weird evenness in the polls, anybody who cares to look closely into my wardrobe knows that I do own a tinfoil hat. And, from the standpoint of accessorizing, it goes with everything during years that are divisible by 4. (Political polls are, after all, controlled by corporate overlords adept at employing weird shock-doctrine tactics. And they always freak us out.)
Still, this year is slightly different in that it's easy to locate a concrete, non-paranoid rationale for the Democratic candidate's sudden popularity lapse. It's Obama's Senate vote in support of the unconscionable FISA Amendments Act (FAA), which not only provides immunity for bootlicking telecoms that agreed to spy on American citizens during this protofascist George W. Bush era, but also seriously undermines the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978.
Now, FISA is a good thing. Surveillance of citizens by despotic U.S. presidents is nothing new. FISA was enacted in response to Richard Nixon's freaky domestic-spying program. It limited government wiretapping and the arbitrary abrogation of citizens' Fourth Amendment rights.
The evil FAA crippled FISA. It said that the phone company is not required to abide by the U.S. Constitution. It made it easier for the government to spy on us for whatever whimsical reason it chooses, therefore normalizing the nosy, un-American policies of the George W. Bush administration. In case you've been wondering why everybody's so afraid these days, it's because of the FAA.
Barack Obama, our agent of change, voted for the FAA--to our surprise--and therefore voted for the continuation of nanny-government Bush policies. That made me a lot less excited about his candidacy. It also brought his poll numbers down to dreary McCain levels.
There's still time for Obama to renew all that hope he's been running on. But time is running out. Obama needs to take a strong stand against these creepy neocon policies which, suddenly, have made our lives a lot less private and much more subject to government intrusion.
Any forceful, symbolic stand will do. He can pick one of Bush's most chilling executive orders, and vow to repeal it once elected. That's what's going to convince me of "change." Yes, I am desperate enough that I'm willing to get back on the bandwagon for a token gesture, as long as it sounds sincere.
Will he make such a gesture? The DNC would be an awfully good time for it.
Dilulio saluted the success of Bush's multi-year, multi-billion dollar faith based successes in providing aid to communities in sub-Saharan African countries. Dilulio while defensive of the previous administration for getting the program going, was one of the original refugees of the Bush administration and was adamantly behind the Obama take on faith based initiatives.
Citing Obama's criteria that his program would not give federal dollars to programs that proselytized, that federal dollars had to support secular programs and that the programs must work Dilulio commented: "All I can say to that is, amen, amen and amen."
Diluli0 thought the Obama initiative could be more broadly applied and with a strong "fiscal reality" principle could make sure programs were effective and that the money would not be crowding out other financial programs that would be more effective.
Dilulio also agreed with other panelists that the most constitutionally sound way to broker this unique kind of private/public partnership was for faith groups to create nonprofit 501c3's with secular purposes, or for that matter interfaith 501c3 groups where common ground amongst religious groups, informed by separate faiths would drive their mission.
The importance and potential of such partnerships was for Dilulio and others a no-brainer.
"You cannot go to north central Philadelphia, south central Los Angeles or New Orleans and not find that faith communities are the ones that are driving and leading the human recovery process," Dilulio said.
Rev. Otis Moss, a black church icon, who was an integral part of the civil rights struggles of the '60s and a potentially strong voice on religion in the Obama administraion, concurred and hoped that faith based initiatives would flourish and expand under Obama. "I think we need to look at how can we engage, interact and access all the departments. of government," Moss said of an exchange that would help educate faith groups about the workings of government, but with a warning.
Moss reminded the crowd that martin Luther King Jr. has described faith groups as being neither the master nor the slave to the state, but the conscience. That standing he warned could be jeopardized if faith based initiatives only drive faith groups to bow to the government for financial support.
"Getting a grant should not be the front side or at the head of the agenda," Moss said. "If getting the grant is the number one agenda, how can you then be the conscience of the state?" (Eric S. Peterson)
Behold this hysterical YouTube bastardization ... or was it edited at all?
Off to Eugene! (Chaz Prymek)
[OwlWatch] Our hearts go out to City Weekly's receptionist Chelsie during this difficult time. According to Chelsie's blog, Laverne the owl has been abducted from her Bountiful roost!
Still, we must keep hope alive: A local photographer spotted Laverne, alive and well, sunning herself at Salt Lake Temple Square. Laverne flew off soon afterward, so everybody please be on the lookout. If you have any Laverne sightings, post them here.
Michelle emphasized that her tradition and Barack’s were working class. It was an important point and worth mentioning that while both she and Barack had educations and opportunities to work in high paying law firms they rededicated themselves to working in low income neighborhoods. for Michelle it meant giving back to her community. For Barack it meant community activism in Chicago neighborhoods devastated by the loss of Steel manufacturing plants.
“My piece of the American dream, is made from the same conviction that drives men and women all across this country,” Michelle said. From parents struggling with two jobs to “the military families who say grace each night with an empty seat at the table,” Michelle made the case that her and her husband were part of a larger American family. “Barrack doesn’t care where you’re from, he knows the thread that connects all of us.”
The speech was killer. With only one really tense moment. Some might say it was where she said “that’s why I love this country.” I don’t. You could tell she meant it. The only awkward moment was when speaking of heroes Michelle said, “like Hillary Clinton.”
The moment received immediate, roaring applause. But there was something wrong. Almost imperceptible. It wasn’t insincerity, it was a moment of just tense almost over-focused poise. Michelle knew what was at stake and knew it had to be natural the way she delivered this simple praise. Unfortunately the white knuckle grip she had on trying to confidently and assuredly deliver this praise, effectively choked out any natural delivery.
This moment however was but one crack in a speech that I think should connect with many blue-collar and disenchanted democrats. That is, if they were listening. (Eric S. Peterson)
The main act of course was Michelle Obama's speech (see next blog) but for major points Kennedy and Leach made a strong bi-partisan case for Obama to deliver on change without making it a cliche. Their one-two combination should be one the party should work to deliver again and again for a November knockout.
One thing they should definitely not rely on is, the oratory of House Speaker nancy Pelosi. She came in trying to get the crowd into doing a big chanting thing about "McCain is wrong!" Which seemed tacky and ineffectual. Not to mention the fact that the all white (one piece?) suit she wore made her look like she should be the captain of Star Trek Voyager. Oh well, I suppose she could be considered the future of the party. (Eric S. Peterson)
But if the GOP has capitalized on the division nationally, here in Denver the showdown is not between democrats calling on republicans everywhere. It is between coastal liberals and the western purple state cowboys. And in the case of my cab driver Anne, cowgirls.
“I had a friend who’s been a democrat for thirty years,” says Anne as we cruise out towards downtown Denver. “He was a Spanish fella, and a big Hillary supporter. Since she lost he’s voting McCain and he’s actively campaigning for McCain.”
The first thing I noticed about Anne was the bizarre assortment of bobble head frog figurines cluttering the dash of her cab. The second thing I noticed about Anne was a good rocky mountain liberal attitude, blue-collar and straight talking. When I told her about the Hillary defectors she figured it was probably closer to fifty percent.
Either way the western democratic showdown was on. The town was readying for a party of unity. To try and get a little healing done and press a united front into November. The party has a candidate with a revolution of “change” hoping to ride him into an historic election victory. But first the party has to show that they understand the soul of blue collar folks.
I couldn’t help but notice tucked in the back of the cab a flyer that read “Obama talks Shop,’ depicting Barack getting his hair cut in a black barber shop. I wondered how many black barber shops there were in Colorado. Certainly some, hell there’s at least a couple in Salt Lake, but still it’s clear that now is the time for the democratic party to start fine tuning the message--its not necessarily a racial thing, but thinking more Western is something the party should be mindful of, especially if they want to keep more of those blue collar Hill-raisers from jumping ship.
So predictions… Things are gonna get folksy real fast. Western and southern democrats are going to get the podium, a lot. The conference opened with a video montage of various Western democrats giving their support in various western backdrops: Colorado Governor Bill Ritter in fly-fishing gear in front of a river, Nevada’s Sen. Majority leader Harry Reid in a ten gallon hat. The message was good, like Colorado congressman Ken Salazar: “We’re mainstream westerners that just want to get the job done.” But the props were a little much.
Still the message can resound especially on class lines. And the class card should be played, and played smartly.
Cue Party treasurer Andrew Tobias at the opening night: “In the last eight years the only kinds of people who have done better off are those with private jets, who can’t even remember how many houses they own.”
My other prediction for democrats going country-- actually my hope is, that god willing, I might spy Ted Kennedy in all denim. Call me a dreamer…
But if I don’t see that I can at least count on Obama cheer leaders like the girls pictured above. Who drove up from Santa Cruz, California bringing their so-cal sex appeal in a station wagon covered in Obama stickers. Five to ten says your not gonna find legs like that at the Republican National Convention. (Eric S. Peterson)
Saturday, August 23, 2008
That was the crux of Immortal Technique’s closing spiel at the emcee’s Thursday afternoon Slowtrain performance and signing. Not your typical hip-hop commentary, but Tech is not your typical hip-hop artist.
A liberal-arts understanding of econ and poli-sci isn’t necessary to appreciate this rabidly independent artist out of Harlem, but it definitely helps. On his most recent release, The Third World, he and his crew, including Rebel Armz, (on hand for opening duties and back-up), tackle geo-political issues like war, famine, and poverty with driving, antagonistic rhymes and martial beats by DJ Green Lantern.
Tech is a left-wing militant, a true-believer armed with a microphone instead of an AK only because of circumstances. If he’d grown up in rural Columbia instead of Manhattan, we’d probably be seeing him on the evening news, masked and brandishing an assault rifle next to a French journalist hostage. I mean that in the best possible way.
The show itself was in concentrated form, with a song each from the afore-mentioned duo Rebel Armz and Diabolic, self-described soldiers in Immortal Technique’s rebel army.
Tech himself took the stage, or rather, the corner of the store, with intense delivery to laptop canned beats, opening with an old favorite, but quickly segueing into a too-small handful of tracks off the new record. The reconstituted nature of the performance was excusable considering the rumors that the crew thought they were just coming in for a signing, with the performance getting slapped together at the last minute. Prepared or not, the entire entourage brought their best once they had their mics, spitting with conviction to the enraptured sub-cultural hodge-podge with the good sense to show up.
Tech is the kind of guy who can actually get away with wearing one of those Che Guevara shirts. He’s not only a performer, but also a self-styled educator and rabble-rouser, so the crowd got a few well-rehearsed but impassioned lessons along with their music on Thursday. I, for one, was convinced. The revolution may not be televised, but I will be able to bob my head to it.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Anna Eagar has become my newest heroine. Her well-written blog Cartoon Brick Wall caused a stir earlier in the week when she published an account of an on-the-job run-in with Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo. Seems that, when Eagar attempted to deliver a pizza to the home of the Senate majority leader, there was some mix-up over preferred methods of payment--upon which Bramble became bizarrely combative, even going so far as to pull a "Don't you know who I am?" diva fit with the bemused pizza-delivery woman.
Until this, Eagar says her blog was read mainly by a few friends and family members. But the Bramble entry proved to be a sensation: The story got some blog action, was picked up in the Daily Herald, discussed by Nightside's Ethan and Alex, and sparked a report on KSL-5.
Now, Eagar's no political operative. There's no way she wrote the blog entry as some kind of anti-Bramble hit piece. She wrote about her feelings, and even tried to withhold Bramble's identity at first. She was bullied by a typically hyper-aggressive Utah legislator, and, understandably, got hurt.
As it turns out, our policy of keeping our state senabots carefully segregated from actual human beings means that, after a few years, the Brambles of the world forget how to simulate human emotions--or even recognize emotions in others. Eagar's story reads as a perceptive account of a really strange encounter. And, I dunno--now that I've read her blog, I just really like her.
Prior to the Bramble incident, Eagar's blog is that of an acutely introspective, intellectually gifted young person. She seems either unaware of or unconcerned with the fact that, outwardly, she is by any standard a striking beauty. But she wastes no time obsessing about fashion or other superficial concerns.
Instead, Eagar prefers to chronicle a rich interior life: her dreams, emotional catharses and spiritual insights. At times, she even achieves the truly revelatory transcendence of a mystic. At other times, she contemplates that sense of profound despair which, by rights, belongs only to exceptionally sensitive young people.
There may have been something transformative about the experience, though. After the incident, Eagar seems to have found a new kind of internal strength and self-awareness: Recognizing an opportunity for personal development, she triumphs upon summoning the assertiveness to kill a spider--or to write a polite letter instructing Bramble how to accomplish his goals like a human being--without humiliating and demoralizing other people.
Eagar's letter contains a lesson that, by now, the senator might do very well to heed.
- As a man whose name is Eugene L. Kimball, I think I can speak with authority when I tell perfect strangers what they can and cannot do.
- My great-grandfather was George Q. Cannon. Does that turn you on?
- My luggage was routed to Istanbul, the flight attendant spat in my face, we spent six hours on the tarmac with no sanitary facilities and a wild-eyed TSA agent kept muttering something about "trains and tunnels." But, on the plus side, we didn't crash into the Andes and nobody made jerky out of the pilot. Thumbs up, airline industry!
- Kostecki Update: Rainbows and kittens are the solution.
- Visit my blog for documentation of Milli Vanilli's involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing.
- I'm also pretty sure that René Descarte, Marie Curie and Victor Hugo would have disapproved of Calexico.
- OK, if this doesn't get my brother and his "friend" to stop bugging me about that goddamn Pottery Barn registry, I don't know what will.
Recent posts on the The Senate Site the “unofficial voice of the Utah Senate majority”
finds the unofficial voce steamed about the idea GOP leaders would ever consider changing the citizens referendum process--even if citizens did use the law to overturn school vouchers last year.
“We're not inclined to change the law. We feel the current balance is about right -- referendums and initiatives are tough, but doable,” writes the voice. “Any push on our part to change the process is news to us.”
Rep. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, goes further on his own blog, writing the Deseret News, which reported GOP moves afoot to monkey with citizens referendums, “fabricates more news” and “made up a story.”
We’ll put that down as decided then: No changes to Utah’s referendum law. (Unless, of course, someone wants change the referendum law by referendum.) (Ted McDonough)
So, the guy owns a chain of newspapers and a boatload of debt. And Singleton is nervous.
The following two-page memo (click images for full size) to MediaNews staffs around the country dated Aug. 8, recently found its way to the City Weekly newsroom. But no way is anyone in Denver pushing the panic button. Or the Easy Button. (Holly Mullen)
Thursday, August 21, 2008
The article suggests a behavioral explanation--they stay alive longer because they have to, with so many children to support. I imagine the kids and wives simply won't let the poor old dude enter senescence and kick off like a normal person.
Still, as we've learned from TV ads about spry octogenarians endlessly waterskiing and canoodling, men are biologically capable of fathering children well past the age when they should probably stop. So, in cultures that have practiced monogamy since prehistoric times, it seems there could be some natural selection at work here, as well: Over the millenia, men who carry genes contributing to longevity have more time to create greater numbers of offspring--but only if they are given access throughout their long, long lives to women of childbearing age.
A man in a monogamous culture, of course, loses that evolutionary opportunity since, once the mother of his children advances past childbearing age, his only opportunities for reproduction are illicit (and, come to think of it, probably life-shortening, if his wife finds out about it).