Friday, December 16, 2005

Governed by Cowards

Be honest - who among you was genuinely surprised to read that Bushco had authorized illegal spying on American citizens? Who among you was genuinely surprised to learn that Americans torture perceived enemies? And be honest, when further revelations of American abrogations of laws national and international on the order and the watch of George Bush reach media consciousness, will you be genuinely surprised?

One of the more perniciously successful tropes Conservatives use against Liberals is that Conservatives are "realists" and Liberals "idealists," the implication being that Liberals are so concerned with what should be that they are dopes to what is. I've written about torture here; I've asserted that one can take a moral position that torture can be justified (and be wrong, in my moral opinion). One can take a moral position that violating the civil rights of all Americans is justified if it prevents the death of other Americans (and be wrong, in my moral opinion). One can take the moral position that international treaties are breachable and void at any time the United States considers that action to be in its best interest (and be wrong, in my moral opinion). What one cannot do is take the moral position that such actions are justifiable, do them, contrive to hide those actions and then, with feigned outrage, deny that you did them when caught.

This is governance of cowards for cowards, and gives lie to the perception that Liberals are the ones misguided by idealism. Governments don't lie about their actions to thwart their opposition, they lie about their actions to keep their supporters' idealism lit. America the Exceptional is oxycotin to Conservatives. If we were to torture, it'd be justified, but we don't, they do. Or, we know we torture, but ssh, it's justified if kept quiet, because only the strong need know. It's the code of the wifebeater, the embezzler, the coward. It's the code of our conservatives and the code of our president.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Juana Molina:

No es tan cierto

Tres Cosas

Four more mp3 on website.

James Wright:


Twilight bounds softly out on the grass.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I think
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


The press is all fluttery that George Bush is acting presidential. Stung by criticism that avoiding questions, insisting on speaking nowhere but before pre-screened and friendly audiences, and isolating himself from all but the closest of associates, Bush broke his own precedences and answered apparently ad hoc questions. Great gumdrops! Has our country turned the corner out of darkness?

I'm past getting mad at the politicians on their side playing politics. If I was advising a president with an earned reputation of being disinterested in any opinions besides his own, incurious about the world, and afraid to appear anywhere anyone could express dissent or ask tough questions, I'd take the chance to trot the show pony out and hope he could do a couple of tricks without breaking an ankle. What really does Bush have to lose in taking a few off-the-cuff questions? The world will think he's a dope, clueless beyond his belief in his own rhetoric?

I haven't been posting here lately. What's new to say? The gobsmacking daily realization that barring a revelation of something truly criminal at the absolute level of the presidency we're stuck with this sub-mediocrity through 2008 depresses any glee at the continuing revelations of his incompetent and dishonest captaincy of the country. We're like parents who know their kid is a trouble-maker and who stare at the ringing phone and resent we can't pick it up because we're afraid it's the school principle calling to tell us the latest. We can't fix the kid and we don't want to hear what shit he's gotten into this time.

So when the president acts presidential, after mumbling and stumbling and cowering and hummina-hummining and growling and snarling and bitching and moaning, who cares if in reality everything is worse by a day from yesterday? We live in performative times. Even the tattooed and squirrel-haired glue-sniffer that is your son can take a shower and put on a suit, and for a couple of minutes you can think, maybe. Maybe.

Maybe he isn't a coward. Maybe he's not a divisive demagogue with a messianic complex. Maybe he isn't imcompetent, blindly stubborn, maybe he's not controlled by the willfully immoral who use his messianic complex to their own advantage. Maybe he isn't too stupid to string together three sentences. Probably not, but maybe, maybe. I'm all aflutter.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Planet Claire Blackdogred, my 12 and a half year old daughter, had her Fall recital yesterday. Her piano teacher has two recitals each year. The second one is always solo. The first, in the Fall semester, is a duet with a string player; the piano teacher's bestfriend and bitterest rival is a string teacher. The piano teacher calls her business Herlastname Studios, the string teacher calls her business Herlastname Studios. D, the piano teacher, just bought a house and had a large, fabulously beautiful and tasteful studio/performance mini-hall addition added. It is bigger, by about 10%, than the addition the string teacher put on her house three years ago.

They match up students of roughly equal ability as well as they can from the rosters they have available, trying, when possible, to get similar ages and genders. In drawing up the order of performers they reasonably rank them in order of ability. In six years I've watched Planet go from one of the first to, now, second to last, though I hasten to add that the piano teacher had a large graduating class last Spring so Planet's rank is partially due to attrition. Planet and a sweet kid named Leah played a piece called "Sarabande" by somebody named Bohn (mit eine umlaut, I guessing) and aced it.

Afterwards, I was approached by the piano teacher, the string teacher, and the parents of Leah, all of whom urged me to commit Planet to a competition for duets later this coming Spring. They hadn't ask Planet first whether or not SHE would be interested before asking ME to commit her to the competition. When I asked Leah's parents whether they had asked THEIR daughter before enlisting her, the father said, No, no, why would I? Both teachers and both parents were clearly annoyed that I would even consider asking my child her opinion before committing her to something she may or may not have any interest in and may, in fact, have an active disinterest in doing. "She's not still playing soccer, is she?" sniffed the violin teacher.

Planet is not a prodigy, but she's talented and composed and has great technique (so I'm told). The piano teacher has told me often that Planet could possibly, with dedication and practice and the eschewing of a normal teenage life, make a very fine living as an accompanist. Her soccer coach says that with dedication and practice and the eschewing of a normal teenage life, Planet could possibly get herself a college scholarship as an attacking midfielder. The piano teacher wants her to quit soccer, the soccer coach wants her to quit piano, Planet doesn't want to quit either. I know this because I asked her.

Planet has been told that she WILL be taking piano lessons until she graduates high school. I don't want her to be like me, another one of a gegazillion who wishes as an adult they hadn't stopped playing as an adolescent. And there's the whole discipline and keeping teenagers occupied thingee. And she's genuinely talented, so I want to keep her engaged as much as possible when she doesn't want to be engaged so she can be ready to be good if and when she decides she wants to pursue music professionally. Which will be her call. I'll handle the teachers and coaches.

For Your Pleasure:

Love Tractor (from 1989) - "I Broke My Saw"

Laura Viers - "Fire Snakes"

Afro Cuban All Stars - "Amor Verdadero"

Far be it from me to say "get your groove on," but if you wanted to "get your groove on" and you asked me for music that would help you "get your groove on," I'd recommend Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and Zuco 103 (and do check on Zuco's website for tastes). Not that I'd use the phrase "get your groove on," mind you, though it'd be a serious groove I'd suggest.

The Wedding Present's most famous album is called *George Best*, and since George died a couple of weeks ago and the World Cup draw was last Friday and since this is a terrific album, well, there you are. The Wedding Present broke up (or went on long hiatus, depending on who you read) and in the interim between then and now David Gedge formed Cinerama, and to be honest, I prefer Cinerama to The Wedding Present, which is to take nothing away from *Take Fountain."

The bottom two Rhino boxsets are offered as great last minute holiday presents for anyone you know who loved music of that era. I have a bit of a problem with *No Thanks:* anyone who considers Joe Jackson's "Is She Really Going Out with Him" a punk song deserves slapping, and the collection is not all that punk in general. It's still got lotsa good stuff on it, just don't expect lotsa punk.

*Left of the Dial,* however, is very well thought out, and the compilators did a great job of picking representative songs of the bands. I've given it to seven people who came of age in that period and been offered plentiful thanks by all. Goodness, remember Beat Happening?