Sorry for the lack of blogging. I took a huge and tragic spill on a hill I had no business skateboarding down back when I was in college and, as a result, I occasionally throw my back out, so I’ve been laid out flat for the past two days. Here’s a quickee post for you to enjoy and then I’m going to crawl back on the couch.
Guitarist extraordinaire Gary Lucas hosted a “Beefheart Night” back on April 9th at the Knitting Factory here in NYC. Gary played with his fantastic all-instrumental Captain Beefheart cover band Fast ‘N’ Bulbous (their CD Pork Chop Blue Around the Rind is highly recommended) and several fans and friends of Don Van Vliet spoke in between the band’s two sets. David Lynch sent in a cool little video of himself reading “Pena,” too. The highlight was a surprise appearance by the legendary Robyn Hitchcock at the tail end of the evening, who performed three songs with Lucas accompanying him on the steel guitar. A few weeks ago I uploaded my video of them doing “Sure ‘Nuff ‘N’ Yes I Do” to YouTube and yesterday Lucas contacted me to let me know that both he and Hitchock really enjoyed seeing it, so I uploaded their version of “China Pig” today (unfortunately, I didn’t record their last song “Click Clack”). Enjoy.
I heard an interesting passing observation from John Harwood on MSNBC in which he more or less characterized Senator Obama’s campaign as a process “reform” campaign that may be losing a little steam as economic events overtake his theme of post partisan transcendence. I think there may be some truth in that. When Obama conceived of his campaign, political reform and ending the war in Iraq were the winning Democratic messages coming off of the 2006 election. (And it’s not to say that they are no longer issues at all; Iraq is certainly likely to take center stage again simply because it’s McCain’s white whale.) But some people are starting to get seriously worried about their own lives and when that happens they become skeptical that abstract assertions about “fixing Washington” is the way to fix their problems.
When Obama won Wisconsin, I assumed he had pulled together the Democratic coalition and that Texas and Ohio would prove that. But since that primary, events have overtaken his thematic campaign. Gas prices are rising dramatically. The stock market has been volatile. The housing market just gets worse. Working people are starting to get nervous (they are always much closer to financial ruin than the professional class.) His “change” campaign may seem a bit distant and abstract in the current circumstances. Unlike Perot, who ran as a reformer in a recessionary climate in 1992, Obama doesn’t have the decades of business experience to use as a proxy for successful economic stewardship, so he probably needs to be more explicit in his economic message now. (And while Perot got 20% of the vote, his reform message was never taken up—- it was his deficit message that penetrated. With the help of other rich powerful jackasses.)
This problem is correctable. Senator Obama probably needs to ramp up his personal energy, which has been flagging, (people need to believe the president is superhuman in times of stress) and start talking about bread and butter solutions with a touch of fiery populism. That’s where the mood is leading. It’s boring as hell to the media and the comfortable creative class types who are looking for something transcendent, but it’s what’s necessary at times like these.
And, as expected, Hillary’s ever-vigilant supporters immediately twisted Digby’s post into a flat-out endorsement of their candidate and a rejection of Obama, but she was having none of it:
What is wrong with people? I didn’t say one word about it being Hillary’s turn. Are you delusional?
I was trying to analyze why the coalition we all thought was coming together after Wisconsin hasn’t stuck. I’m going on the assumption that Obama’s the nominee and simply saying that I think he needs to change his message.
Jesus H. Christ. I can’t stand this willful inability to see anything in this primary except in terms of puerile cheerleading or slash and burn character assassination.
“Faith Healer” from Big Dipper’s Boo-Boo, quite possibly the best EP ever released
Thank god I thumbed through the latest Time Out New York this morning or I wouldn’t have known that two of my favorite indie pop bands of the 80’s, Big Dipper & Great Plains, are playing tonight at Southpaw in Park Slope. Boston’s Big Dipper released their first three exceptionally solid pop masterpieces in the late 80’s on the legendary (and long-gone) Homestead Records label and Merge Records was recently kind enough to re-release all of that out-of-print material and a slew of great bonus material on an insanely cheap 3-disc box set called Supercluster: The Big Dipper Anthology. Columbus, OH’s Great Plains were under-appreciated fractured pop masters, churning out smart n’ snarky clingers like “Letter to a Fanzine” (chorus: “Why do punk rock guys go out with new wave girls?”), “Dick Clark” and “Martin Luther King/Martin Luther Drinking”. Old 3C’s wonderful 2-CD retrospective Length of Growth 1981-89 is unfortunately out-of-print and fetches $99 or more online, but you can obtain a CD-R version of it from the label and apparently MP3 downloads are still available via eMusic and iTunes.
Today I woke up to Joe Scarborough, Andrea Mitchell, Willie Geist and Mike Barnicle, four of the whitest people you’ll ever encounter sharing a split-screen, blabbing on and on about Rev. Jeremiah Wright and how hard it is for American Caucasians to shoulder the burden of his very existence.
Insecure white people suck. If you need me I’m going to be out in my garden enjoying a beautiful Brooklyn day.
Hillary is now pimping what she’s calling “The Oregon Compact” (dig the fancy header graphic!) and demanding that Obama agrees to two debates in Oregon, including one focused on her “compact.” I honestly can’t decide if this is utterly guileless pandering or if Hillary has gone completely off the rails. Where’s the Iowa Compact? Where’s the New Hampshire Compact? Where’s the Louisiana Compact? Where’s the New Mexico Compact? Where’s the compact for her home state of New York? Hell, where are the Michigan and Florida Compacts? Look for my new petition site at my-state-wants-a-fucking-compact-too.com.
And Obama’s arrogance, most vividly displayed recently when he “flipped off” Hillary Clinton doesn’t help his image with average Americans either. Along the same lines, today David Axelrod audaciously insulted white working class voters by declaring them irrelevant to a Democratic victory. This uppity attitude likely explains why 32% of Democratic voters in Pennsylvania told a pollster that they would never vote for Barack Obama.
TexasDarlin, I’ve got a sobering question, too! Why don’t you go fuck yourself?
Then there’s Rachel Maddow. What the heck happened to her and her Ph.D. in Political Science? I think that woman has truly lost her mind. She is so in love with Obama that I am beginning to wonder if she bats for both teams! Yeah. . . maybe I shouldn’t have said that——but I did. She obviously has some built-up hatred for Hillary. Don’t believe me——then listen to Dr. Maddow sometime or better yet catch her on TV. Ms. Maddow is nowhere near being neutral on this subject. Nope. . . she is deep in the Hillary hatred camp along with righty Rush!
As a matter of fact I blame all of the progressive radio hosts for the mess we are in. They didn’t stay neutral and keep this party unified. . . Oh no, they worked very hard to take down a lifelong Democrat. And for what or whom? For someone with not much to him to back up his words. But, oh he makes me feel so good. From what I hear a vibrator does the same thing, but I like the real thing thank you very much!
Shorter Puget Sound Island Girl: Rachel Maddow must love dick if she loves Obama.
Charming. And someone might want to tell PSIG that the “lifelong Democrat” was a very active Republican until her junior year in college.
This article by Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi, the best political writer working the circuit these days, hasn’t been getting a lot of attention, but it should:
One Sunday about three months ago — on the day before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in fact — I got out of bed very late and lazily switched on CNN. On the TV screen, Sen. Hillary Clinton was smiling broadly and wearing a black jacket over some strange Oriental get-up. She was standing next to influential black pastor Calvin Butts, in front of the latter’s famous Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. Camera bulbs were flashing. An important announcement was about to be made.
Butts, it turns out, was endorsing Hillary over Barack Obama in the upcoming New York primary. I raised an eyebrow. It’s not that I expected Butts — perhaps the most prominent black minister in New York — to automatically endorse Obama simply because he is black. But I certainly didn’t expect to see Butts go on national television and make swipe after thinly veiled swipe at Obama, sounding like he was reading a script prepared for him by Hillary’s campaign team.
“This is no time for waiting or hoping for solutions,” quipped Butts, making an obvious reference to The Audacity of Hope author Obama and echoing the hope-ain’t-shit theme that had been pounded on the campaign trail by the Clinton camp over and over again.
The predominantly black crowd barely had time to scratch its collective head and ask what the hell was going on before the endorsement party abruptly ended, leaving the stunned audience to break out in scattered boos and dueling chants of “Harlem for Obama!” and “Hillary! Hillary!” The strange scene left some in the audience wondering what exactly they’d just seen. “What’s frustrating about ministers endorsing candidates,” an Obama supporter named Rafael Mason wondered to a reporter, “is it makes you question if their decision is representative of the church or if there’s a backroom discussion going on.”
Months later, while researching pork-barrel spending by the presidential candidates, I came across three federal budgetary awards requested by Hillary Clinton in this fiscal year:
$446,500 Abyssinian Development Corporation, New York, to support and expand youth and young-adult after-school and summer programs (Discretionary Grants — Juvenile Justice Programs) COM 08 D Rangel Schumer Clinton
$893,000 Abyssinian Development Corporation programs for at-risk youth, New York (Discretionary Grants — Juvenile Justice Programs) COM 08 D Rangel Clinton Schumer
$146,000 Abyssinian Development Corporation, to support and expand youth- and family-displacement prevention programs (Social Services — Department of Health and Human Services) LABHHS 08 D Clinton Schumer
If you haven’t already guessed, Calvin Butts is the chairman of the Abyssinian Development Corporation. The above-mentioned $1.5 million in federal funds that Hillary requested on behalf of Butts’ organization had been approved by Congress a month before she received the minister’s timely endorsement. Maybe the minister was following his conscience in endorsing Hillary — but then, it never hurts to have a little financial incentive when it comes to difficult decisions like these, does it?
On MSNBC just now, top Hillary adviser Terry McAuliffe claimed that by the end of today, the Hillary campaign will have raised $10 million since she was declared winner yesterday.
The number of new donors to the campaign, according to McAuliffe: Fifty thousand.
McAuliffe has always given me the creeps and he was a disaster as DNC chariman. He’s an oily political hack and an unrepentant liar. This is a sleaze play to quell the damaging chatter that the Clinton campaign is in bad financial shape. I’m just not buying it, especially coming from a Democrat who praised Faux News last night for being “fair and balanced”:
My wife and I had to rewind the DVR last night to make sure we heard this correctly. Ladies and gents, I present Patrick Buchanan, friend of the rabid anti-Obama Hillshills and an utterly massive dickhead:
Realism = Marxism. Sweet. If I were Rachel Maddow I would have replied, “Fascist says what?”
MSNBC, please mothball this racist fuckknuckle before he calls Maddow what we all know he’s dying to.
From The NY Times (which endorsed Hillary for the Dem nomination):
The Pennsylvania campaign, which produced yet another inconclusive result on Tuesday, was even meaner, more vacuous, more desperate, and more filled with pandering than the mean, vacuous, desperate, pander-filled contests that preceded it.
Voters are getting tired of it; it is demeaning the political process; and it does not work. It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election.
If nothing else, self interest should push her in that direction. Mrs. Clinton did not get the big win in Pennsylvania that she needed to challenge the calculus of the Democratic race. It is true that Senator Barack Obama outspent her 2-to-1. But Mrs. Clinton and her advisers should mainly blame themselves, because, as the political operatives say, they went heavily negative and ended up squandering a good part of what was once a 20-point lead.
On the eve of this crucial primary, Mrs. Clinton became the first Democratic candidate to wave the bloody shirt of 9/11. A Clinton television ad — torn right from Karl Rove’s playbook — evoked the 1929 stock market crash, Pearl Harbor, the Cuban missile crisis, the cold war and the 9/11 attacks, complete with video of Osama bin Laden. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” the narrator intoned.
If that was supposed to bolster Mrs. Clinton’s argument that she is the better prepared to be president in a dangerous world, she sent the opposite message on Tuesday morning by declaring in an interview on ABC News that if Iran attacked Israel while she were president: “We would be able to totally obliterate them.”
By staying on the attack and not engaging Mr. Obama on the substance of issues like terrorism, the economy and how to organize an orderly exit from Iraq, Mrs. Clinton does more than just turn off voters who don’t like negative campaigning. She undercuts the rationale for her candidacy that led this page and others to support her: that she is more qualified, right now, to be president than Mr. Obama.