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December 26, 2006

Dirty Stockings: 2006

We live now in the dirty stockings of Adolph. That's how we saw it. No surprise there. As we await the Bullshitter-in-Chief's next maneuver to cement two legacies of his regime -- the genocidal war in Iraq and the BananaRepublic -- here's a year-end review of some political postings favored by readers:

To Our Pipsqueak Leaders
Bad Bargains
One More Ventriloquist Dummy
No. 1 With a Bullet
'I Am Me and Rummy's He ...'
Frankly, He's a Toad
Deja Prevu, or Just the Facts
President Neuman
No Parking for 9/11's Fifth
Tears of Bullshit
On a Bicycle and a Prayer
Banana Republicans
Pants on Fire
No Full Stop
Pass the Milk, Please
And Still Counting
The One True Person of the Year

Tomorrow: Postings on arts and culture.

Postscript: Ah well, tomorrow came ... and went. Mebbe later.

Continue reading "Dirty Stockings: 2006"

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December 21, 2006

'Tis the Season

And now we defer to the merry holiday. For wicked wunnerful, ya can't beat "The Junky's Christmas." It's the perfect gift. Originally produced in 1993 and presented by Francis Ford Coppola, the film has just been released on DVD. It combines claymation and live action, and the pristine cinematography in black and white looks gorgeous.

William S. Burroughs, who wrote the tale way back in 1952, narrates. Christmas music swells as the camera tilts in on him, standing by the living room fireplace. He takes a book down from the shelf and sits in an armchair by the fire. Gifts beneath the decorated Christmas tree are waiting to be unwrapped. His eye watches, all-seeing, like a wise old elephant's eye. He reads from the book in a deadpan voice, his clipped Midwestern accent offering dry counterpoint to the swollen music:

It was Christmas Day and Danny the Car Wiper hit the street junksick and broke after seventy-two hours in the precinct jail. It was a clear bright day, but there was warmth in the sun. Danny shivered with an inner cold. He turned up the collar of his worn, greasy black overcoat.

This beat benny wouldn't pawn for a deuce, he thought.

He was in the West Nineties. A long block of brownstone rooming houses. Here and there a holy wreath in a clean black window. ...

And so begins a tale to cherish. Jean Shepherd and Lenny Bruce would be jealous.

Continue reading "'Tis the Season"

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Nobody Owns Headlines

Forget the substance, look at the form:


That's the subhead on a TV ratings item in today's "Arts, Briefly" column of The New York Times.

Now look at the headline on yesterday's item about the Vienna Philharmonic:

VPo + America - Blacks = (Classical Music x Cultural Racism)²
Yeah, yeah. We know it must've been pure coincidence. But the S/U staff of thousands on the prowl for recognition loves when the mainstream press flatters it by imitation, no matter how minor.

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December 20, 2006

VPo + America - Blacks = (Classical Music x Cultural Racism)²

Having taken his latest whack at the sexist-cum-racist policies of the Vienna Philharmonic, which is, historically, Europe's most iconic classical orchestra, William Osborne relates its continued euphoric reception in the United States to "patrician rituals" and America's cultural racism.

Osborne is a composer, musicologist and social historian. He divides his time between New Mexico, where he was born, and Germany, where his wife Abbie Conant is a professor of trombone at the University of Tubingen.

Continue reading "VPo + America - Blacks = (Classical Music x Cultural Racism)²"

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December 19, 2006

The One True Person of the Year

For his special comments, Keith Olbermann. Nobody in the media -- mainstream or meanstream, high or low -- has been more compelling or persuasive in voicing outrage at the arrogance, incompetence and rank stupidity of the Bullshitter-in-Chief and his regime of BananaRepublic cronies.

Olbermann's special comments are remarkable not only for their anger but for their boldness and literacy. They're more powerful, hands down (Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert notwithstanding), than any televised political editorials I know of. (Hell, even my print faves, Paul Krugman and Frank Rich, can't compete with him for charisma.)

If you missed last night's "Countdown" broadcast, a roundup of excerpts, you can have a look at them online one by one. Check them out from top ("Have you no decency, sir?") to bottom ("This hole in the ground"). It's not the same as having them fused together and beamed into your livingroom. Ya hadda be there. But it's a brilliant collection easily worth your time, the more so for offering them whole, and surely deserving of greater recognition than mine.

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Techmeister

Time's Person of the Year is you? "Yes, you," the magazine declares. "You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world." Uh, not so fast. Here's the guy in charge:

Continue reading "Techmeister"

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December 17, 2006

Loud Whispers

Finally, an acknowledgment of Sunni genocide as the BananaRepublic's sub rosa policy in Iraq: "The Whispers and the Why Nots." Reported by Helene Cooper, "Whispers" is the lead story of the Week in Review section in today's New York Times.

"We shall call it the Darwin Principle," Cooper writes of the policy, also referring to it as "the Shiite option." One unnamed senior regime official is quoted as calling it the "stare into the abyss" strategy.

Although the policy is couched as a "proposal" in an ongoing debate within the Bullshitter-in-Chief's regime, as though it hasn't already been implemented, Cooper's report is explicit about the fact that Sunni genocide has been promoted at the highest Banana Republican level, namely by Darth Cheney's office.

Which confirms the worst suspicions we've had of a U.S. regime secretly bent on mass murder by way of proxies -- suspicions I must admit I had recently begun to doubt after reading so many news stories about the U.S. military's desire to root out the Shiite death squads.

The "Whispers" headline in the NYT print edition has been toned down on the Web site to "The Capital Awaits a Masterstroke on Iraq," a craven minorstroke of what I presume to be second thinking. Maybe the public editor will look into the change and explain it.

Continue reading "Loud Whispers"

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December 12, 2006

Deep Woodstein

Do we really need a book about the impact of Watergate on the lives and careers of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein? We already know what happened to them. Woodward went on to write a shelfload of best sellers about the government, told from the inside, and Bernstein joined the glitterati.

Well, Virginia, that's not the whole story. Alicia C. Shepard's new book, "Woodward and Bernstein: Life in the Shadow of Watergate," fills in the rest with nuances you probably don't know or never considered, and does it with enough thoroughly documented details to slake the curiosity of a news junkie like me.

Is that special pleading? So be it.

Shepard has scrutinized the pair's Watergate papers (bought by the University of Texas for $5 million in 2002). She has interviewed both guys, their wives and former wives, their editors, their competitors, and plenty of others including Alan Pakula, the Hollywood director who did his own interviews for the film version of the Woodstein book "All the President's Men."

All in all, Shepard has put in a prodigious amount of work. Yet "Woodward and Bernstein" is a swift read, its lackluster prose notwithstanding. Which left me feeling grateful -- even surprised -- given the sense I must admit having of a magazine feature padded out to textbook length for journalism courses.

Besides, who can resist the opening bars of the "Dance of the Knights" from Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" in a book promo that riffs on the emblematic scene of the Pakula flick?

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December 8, 2006

Foodies on Iraq

Don't treat it as a "fruit salad," says James Baker. It's a "recipe for our defeat," says John McCain. At last we've come to the real terms of debate over the Iraq Study Group Report. It's a foodie fight.

Conservative jerks like McCain who support the war call the report a recipe for defeat as if the Bullshitter-in-Chief has ever offered a recipe for anything but. You have to wonder about their sanity and their tastebuds. Baker asked pols to eat the report whole, not to pick at it ("I like this but I don't like that."). You have to wonder about his fruity choice of language. (Arianne Huffington treats the thing more like a Big Mac®. She's for "cutting the fat.")

Foodies, feh!

As a British political analyst and antiwar activist, Milan Rai, pointed out this morning on Democracy Now!, the report offers a mere "modification of the occupation" of Iraq. The debate over the report gives the erroneous impression that real withdrawal is at stake, which is "not the case at all."

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Still Delusional

It's always refreshing to see the news of the day told with accuracy, in this case the Bullshitter-in-Chief's reaction to the Iraq Study Group Report:

In light of the report's stark warning that the situation in Iraq was "grave and deteriorating," Mr. Bush came close to acknowledging mistakes the Bullshitter showed just how delusional he is. "You wanted frankness -- I thought we would succeed quicker than we did," the president said to a British reporter who asked for candor. "And I am disappointed by the pace of success."

That's from the fourth graph of the lead front-page story in this morning's print edition of The New York Times -- with our bold-face phrase subbed in, of course, per the postscript to yesterday's item, Here We Go Again.

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December 7, 2006

Not Quite Cole Porter

But the lyrics have a certain swing, ring, sting.

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Here We Go Again

As usual:

When [the Bullshitter-in-Chief] insisted that the Iraq Study Group would not provide cover for the White House to chart a 'graceful exit' of American troops, he was missing the whole point.

By the way, the report is already on two best-seller lists. At the moment it's No. 3 at Barnes & Noble online and No. 6 on Amazon. I haven't read it yet, just the news stories about it.

To judge from the first sentence by the study group's co-chairmen -- "There is no magic formula to solve the problems of Iraq." -- my guess is that it's a pretty good sleeping pill. Anyone for calling in Houdini?

Postscript: Just got a huge laugh out of the Bullshitter's definition of failure in Iraq. "I am disappointed by the pace of success." Apparently still delusional, he thought he was auditioning for "The Daily Show" at today's press conference.

Continue reading "Here We Go Again"

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