Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Democracy Now! Headlines and an in depth look at these stories ....

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) Calls for Independent Counsel to Investigate Cheney and Rumsfeld for Violating Torture Laws
Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York has urged Attorney General Michael Mukasey to appoint an independent counsel to investigate Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and other senior Bush administration officials for violations of the law relating to the torture of prisoners in US custody. Nadler is the chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. 

Max Blumenthal on "Rick Warren's Double Life"
President-elect Barack Obama is drawing criticism from many supporters for his choice to deliver the invocation at next month’s inauguration. Obama has selected the Reverend Rick Warren, a leading evangelical opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage. Warren supported California’s recent gay marriage ban and has compared abortion to the Nazi Holocaust. In a recent interview with the website BeliefNet.com, Warren said he thinks gay marriage is comparable to incest, polygamy and child abuse. We speak to investigative journalist Max Blumenthal. 

25 Years of the Harper's Index
Harper’s Magazine is marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of its popular monthly feature, the Harper’s Index. The Index reports sometimes funny, often sobering political realities through statistics and unusual figures. Turn to this month’s edition, and you’ll find out things like how much the Bush campaign paid Enron and Halliburton for use of corporate jets during the 2000 recount, or the estimated total calories members of Congress burned giving President Bush’s 2002 State of the Union standing ovations. 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Big cars, Big Mess : The Suburbanite Conundrum - The Big Three Lie Down In Beds They Made With Our Help

It seems remarkable how the landscape of America's highways have been so visibly transformed in such a short time. Two years ago, I could barely count one sedan per ten SUV's or full size pickups; Now the exact opposite seems to be the case. Not that I have been systematically counting automobiles on the highway, rather as a matter of observation I would notice and remark at the number of really large vehicles buzzing along the roads and highways. I suspect that any person of conscience might agree with me that this phenomenon was rather alarming as vehicles on the highways seemed to grow larger and thirstier with every passing year, and their drivers became more and more lead-footed and aggressive. 
As gasoline prices sharply increased over time, I found myself quietly 'doing the math' while my wife and I drove around town in her fuel efficient Toyota Echo. As gasoline prices crested above three dollars per gallon and climbing, we were quite pleased to be getting 41 miles per gallon. I noticed the looks on the faces of Large SUV owners as they were fueling up; oftentimes, we would zip in, top off our relatively small ten gallon tank, snatch up the receipt and be on our way before the SUV owner was even halfway through filling up.

Sometimes we would pull in after an SUV owner had fueled up and balk at the staggering dollar figure still displayed on the pump under the heading "Total Sale". We were getting twice as far, and in half the time and it felt good for once! Now, thanks to higher fuel costs, the roads seem a bit calmer, quieter and more sane than they have in quite some time. For the time being, fuel prices have decreased dramatically -- this time as a result of a deflationary cycle spurred by constrictions in the global economies. Perhaps the pain to come will pale in comparison to the 'Pain at the Pump' that seemed to be the mantra of local evening new broadcasts nationwide. The demand for gasoline has dropped sharply as fewer and fewer miles are being driven by Americans, and those miles are being driven in more fuel efficient sedans and imports.

Now, the so-called 'Big Three' of the US auto industry are falling through the pegs of this weakened economy like so many 'Plinko' chips. And, there is no telling where they might land. Now, many are asking "How did we get to such a sorry state?". Well -- there are reams of documents that seek to answer that question and more. It seems Detroit dove headlong into the murky waters of Consumerism in order to make a quick buck, all the while trusting that Uncle Sam would throw them a lifeline when the treading became too perilous. Now, in this lame duck session of Congress it appears that there may be no Captain to call to muster the deckhands to throw said lifeline. We shall see. In the meantime, I will recount an especially meaningful and personal experience; not related directly to the matter, but telling of the manner in which we have arrived at this juncture.

The fall of 2004. My mother had just passed away. Amanda, who would later become my wife, lovingly stood by me during the entire process of my grieving. We were back in Rockledge for two days before the funeral. Amanda, wisely helped to distract my distraught mind by planning daily outings -- one of which was to shop the local furniture outlets for a sofa. We were due to move into an Apartment in Titusville later in that month. It seemed a good idea, I was up for it, and I drove. We were in her little Toyota Echo. It was a beautiful crisp clear Autumn day. Though I cannot fully explain everything that I felt emotionally at that time, I can say with a degree of certainty that I was at peace. As we traveled along 192 in Melbourne, FL at the posted rate of speed, we looked this way and that for the various furniture stores along that stretch. Then there she was - I'll call her 'Angry Nissan SUV Woman'. She was clearly upset that we had been traveling in the left-hand lane at the posted speed. She was one of those drivers deluded by the notion that all roads should be treated as interstate highways. I still see her ilk blasting down stretches of US-1 at seventy miles per hour. So we had come to a crossroads, or rather, a traffic light, one which the woman driving the SUV behind us had clearly wished to barrel through. She, through the lens of my tiny rear-view mirror was very distraught. I lifted the sunglasses I was wearing from my face and peered into the rear-view mirror again -- the lady promptly grimaced, making every wrinkle on her face markedly pronounced and threw her thumb and forefinger against her forehead in the shape of an 'L' for loser. I was astonished, and at that moment I felt the fullness of grief and rawness of nerve that had been filling those days immediately after the death of my mother. I wondered if the lady in the SUV behind us understood this. I often wonder how she might have reacted if I had quietly gotten out of our vehicle and explained to her that my mother had just passed away the day prior and that my mother had taught me to treat others with kindness even if they would not show kindness in return. The reality? As soon as the light turned, I sped forward allowing the angry woman to speed into the right-hand lane and overtake us.

I can only guess that the woman may yet be as underwater in her SUV and her home as she was in her morality on that day. The saddest part of this commentary; the lady had affixed a Christian 'fish' medallion onto the rear bumper of the sparkling new Nissan SUV she was so aggressively driving on that Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Democracy Now! Select Broadcasts to be Embedded on DisorderlyMuse

The following in quotations is From the Democracy Now! website Democracy Now! dot org The War and Peace Report:

"A national, daily, independent, award-winning news program, Democracy Now! airs on over 375 stations in North America. Pioneering the largest public media collaboration in the U.S., Democracy Now! is broadcast on Pacifica, community, and National Public Radio stations, public access cable television stations, satellite television (on Free Speech TV, channel 9415 of the DISH Network), shortwave radio and the internet.

The program is hosted by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez and produced out of the Downtown Community Television Center, a community media center in New York City's Chinatown.

The War and Peace Report provides access to people and perspectives rarely heard in the U.S. corporate-sponsored media, including independent and international journalists, ordinary people from around the world who are directly affected by U.S. foreign policy, grassroots leaders and peace activists, artists, academics and independent analysts. In addition, the War and Peace Report hosts real debates -- debates between people who substantially disagree, such as between the White House or the Pentagon spokespeople on the one hand, and grassroots activists on the other."

The Embedded Video Episodes From Democracy Now!

DisorderlyMuse.blogspot.com will be embedding selected episodes Democracy Now! broadcasts on a regular basis. The reason for this is simple -- There is precious little of this type of "in the trenches" journalism happening these days. The production value of Democracy Now! the War and Peace Report is outstanding in its excellence. It is my honest opinion that the reporting here holds true to the highest journalistic standards.

The following headlines are from Democracy Now! 's internet archive website :

In this broadcast, which originally aired Thursday, November 13, 2008:

Congolese Citizens Caught in Crossfire of Battle for Region's Lucrative Resources

A quarter of a million people have been displaced
in fighting between government forces and rebel militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where reports of rape, looting and murders of civilians continue to rise. We speak to Maurice Carney of Friends of the Congo about the varying regional and international actors fueling the conflict.[includes rush transcript]

Bush Admin Pushes Through Last-Minute Deregulation that May Be Hard to Undo

The Bush administration is quietly trying to push through a wide array of federal regulations before President Bush leaves office in January. Up to ninety proposed regulations could be finalized, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment. We speak to Matthew Madia of the watchdog group OMB Watch.

Michelle Obama's Biographer on Nation's First African American First Lady

Since the start of the presidential campaign, Michelle Obama has been more scrutinized than the spouse of any other presidential candidate. Scant attention has been paid to her personal history as the descendant of slaves, an upbringing in the South Side of Chicago, and work in community organizing. We speak to Washington Post writer Liza Mundy, author of the new unauthorized biography Michelle. [includes rush transcript–partial]

Please bear in mind that the embedded video, which is already buffering, is one hour long and of high quality. Most computers and internet connections will handle the load easily. This film can be found, along with other episodes from the archives at www.democracynow.org video archives

This video will take a while to buffer.... please be patient.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Special Video Commentary from Countdown ...


In spite of the many joyful successes of Nov. 4th and a willingness to reverse the course our nation has taken over the past eight years, there was one issue where we as Americans fell woefully short -- and there is good cause to be deeply grieved. For whatever reason, Amendment 2 passed in Florida by a 62% margin.

Nowhere, have I seen a more strikingly poignant dissection of the fundamental principles surrounding this issue than in this special commentary by Keith Olbermann on the vote in California to ban gay marriage, during his Monday night November 10, 2008 broadcast on MSNBC -- it can be seen here below.

Much more cannot be said at the moment. I will post my thoughts soon. Please post yours by commenting below.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

America The Beautiful : Americans Bid Farewell to the Politics of Divide and Conquer through Fear

While Wall Street is still trying to find its legs, a battered Uncle Sam is dusting himself off to once again proudly stand upright before the world. 'We are all Americans' is once again the sentiment across the globe. But this time, it is not a sympathetic expression of solidarity over a tragic event; rather it seems to have sprung from a heartfelt desire to see America succeed at her best. For those of us that voted this November Fourth in what looks to be a record turnout, regardless of how we voted, we can savor and relish every emotion that comes from having wielded our most coveted right -- that of expressing our highest democratic ideals through a single vote. We are Americans, and everything that we do, whether we stumble and fall or rise greatly and succeed, we do so in a very big way.

And this nation, our beloved United States of America being founded just over two hundred years ago is yet again shining as a beacon of hope to all that desire the unfettered freedom and privilege that comes of a democracy such as ours. Yet, as this report from MSNBC news shows, with such hope of freedom comes the weight of gravity and a sobering realization that the world does indeed expect us to be forthright in upholding these ideals --

Ours is a courageous democracy -- a democracy that consistently looks toward its highest ideals. It is a democracy wrought with blood, much of it being spilled as we have time and again cast ourselves violently upon upon the cornerstone upon which this nation was built -- Whether here on our shores in civil strife or abroad to defeat fascism and in defense of those oppressed by dictators, for better or worse the guiding light of our endeavor has always been the pursuit of our highest American ideal of freedom and liberty. It may yet be too early to tell, but I think that we all, in no small measure yet again touched that cornerstone as we cast our votes. Whether we voted for President Elect Obama, or we voted for Sen. McCain -- we voted, and history was made as a consequence. Our still young and oftentimes fledgling democracy did something no other western representative democracy has done - elected a person of color. In doing so, we fulfilled the creed of our founding fathers' Declaration of Independence in ways that they themselves would be astonished at.

And, in doing so we have garnered the astonished admiration of the world by earnestly and without patronizing presuppositions bringing to fruition the dreams and aspirations expressed by Dr. Martin Luther King only a few short decades ago.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sen. Obama Brings Positive Message of Hope for America, Laying to Rest the Politics of Fear.

Shortly after the airing of Sen. Obama’s much talked about political message, which has widely been heralded as the most expensive campaign ad ever produced by a major party candidate, the campaign of Republican nominee John McCain released a short statement, saying: “As anyone who has bought anything from an infomercial knows, the sales job is always better than the product. Buyer beware.”

The McCain campaign website also moved to post on their 'splash page' a 30 second ad in response to Sen. Obama’s message saying “Tonight Senator Obama paid over $3 million for thirty minutes to tell us how he will try to fix America. We only need 30 seconds to tell you how unprepared Barack Obama is and how wrong his plan for America is.” -- A more cool-headed approach would have been to quickly agree to the basic tenets of Sen. Obama’s message while respectfully offering a different path.

Unfortunately for the McCain campaign, it has squandered its political capital in a blitzkrieg of negative ads, doubling down on the same old fear-mongering strategies taken straight from the Karl Rove political playbook of the past decade. All of which have flatly failed. These strategies all bear the same hallmark; after causing the stir of an initial whoosh in the media, they dully thud in the resounding ‘booing’ of the hardest of right-wing rally-goers. In stark contrast to the percussive droning of McCain's negative campaigning, Obama offers a different view of the challenges facing our nation and more importantly, an optimistic belief in the resilience of the Americans who will rise to those challenges. Refreshing, yes, refreshing indeed for those of us who have for too long been wandering in the wilderness and in dire thirst of a reviving draught from the wellspring of positive and optimistic politics:

Senator Obama, during the thirty minute spot coolly revealed his trump card, without arrogance or a false doctrine of superiority, but with humility and decency, laid bare his hopeful and optimistic vision for America’s future before the American people. At this juncture in American Politics, Sen. Obama offers the American people optimism and hope, as opposed to fear and pessimism. Obama’s is the voice that is finally calling America to rally once again around her greatest ideals. There can really be no other response from the McCain campaign other than to respectfully agree to disagree on how we are to yet again reach toward the highest ideal of our Nation. Yet, by the very wording of the McCain campaigns response of “buyer beware” and “try to fix America” they seem to indicate that they would continue the same doctrine of fear that the Bush White House has used over these past dreadful years as a bullwhip meant not to rally us toward our greatest potential, but to herd the American people into a cramped pen of abjectly timid obeisance.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


This story has been breaking for nearly a year now. It was first brought to my attention by a series of articles which appeared on Bill Moyers Journal during the spring of this year. In many ways the story of what has been referred to as a “Perfect Storm” brewing around world food shortages and hunger has, during the intervening months, been largely overshadowed by the titanic specter of the worldwide economic crisis as it marches over front pages the world over.

If this is the second coming of the Great Depression, it seems clear now that its scope and reach extends far beyond borders hemmed by “amber waves of grain”. If the abject despair of the Dust Bowl era that followed the economic collapse that led to the Great Depression doesn’t replay here in the US, it certainly appears that a much more egregious scenario might play itself out across the globe, in places like Egypt, Pakistan, The Congo, and recently Hurricane ravaged islands such as Haiti and Cuba.

In many ways, the particulars of the impending tsunami of hunger building are as obscurely complex as the poisonous derivatives and seedy financial instruments that are causing the markets to buck and quake, sending panic across every facet of the global economy.

US Farm Policy must certainly factor into the equation when we think about the availability and affordability of food worldwide. When the poorest people around the world are forced to rely on the supply of cheaper grain produced under lavish subsidies because it is simply economically unfeasible to produce their own crops domestically due to insurmountable hurdles of overhead vs. profit; something is dreadfully wrong.

I think Bill Moyers speaks more eloquently than I ever could on this. In an April 11, 2008 article “CASH COWS & COWBOY STARTER KITS”, he introduced his piece with a short commentary, during which he said,

-- “As so many people face empty fridges and bare pantries, American farmers are going all-out to meet the world-wide demand for food — and earning record prices for their efforts, as they should. Farm income almost doubled last year, and is now reaching an all time high. With grain prices skyrocketing and the federal deficit out of sight, this would seem the moment to cut back on those tens of billions of dollars that taxpayers shower on milk producers, cotton and rice farmers, and growers of corn, soybeans, wheat, and sugar — subsidies that keep coming whether they're needed or not. Our farm policies frankly are a ramshackle, a costly mess — a monster jerrybuilt by politics. What was supposed to be a temporary financial safety net for imperiled family farmers has become a huge boondoggle for a fraction of wealthy farmers, including landowners who've never gotten close enough to a barn to slip on the manure.”

As I said, I couldn’t have said it any better. Below are some links to some of the articles from Bill Moyers Journal that I honestly feel are deserving of a second look, especially this close to the Presidential elections. We mustn’t forget or ignore those here at home, and abroad who are and who will be struggling for even the most basic of necessities.
Bill Moyers : Cash Cows and Cowboy Starter Kits
FAO Initiative on Soaring Food Prices

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Kicking off the boots: The latest of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series

The latest installment, volume 8, of Bob Dylan's Bootleg series has arrived. "Tell Tale Signs" is a collection of outtakes and previously unreleased gems from studio and live recordings made during Dylan's quote, unquote self-resurrection of -- say the last fifteen years. I'll make no bones about it, until "Love and Theft", I had largely regarded Dylan as some relic of some bygone era belonging to the free-wheeling, free loving youngsters of the sixties.

I couldn't have been more wrong, but then, his emphasis had been largely diluted by the time I arrived on the scene as a young teenager to give a listen to his self titled debut album, after picking up a copy at a thrift store sometime during the late eighties. I dismissed him back then as a hack -- and promptly filed him (in my mind) alongside the neo-folk troubadours of his era.

I've since arrived at an appreciation for Dylan and his music through less conventional means. He might applaud me for it, or laugh in my face -- But, as a teenager, I would often listen to and fall asleep to the recordings of Charlie Patton, Howlin' Wolf, The Carter Family and Jimmie Rogers. I wouldn't recommend that to everyone -- it can lead to rather heinous dreams -- and I didn't arrive there by chance, either. My father; not by virtue of some 'movement' or reverence for days past, played folk songs for my brother and I as youngsters. We didn't even have a television in the home until I was seven years old. Our sole entertainment was listening to my father play and sing his songs. The songs he knew. The songs he learned from his father.

Dylan and my father are nearly exactly the same age. I doubt Dylan's father played anything -- I have in my possession the 1928 National Duolian steel guitar my grandfather played at peanut boils and fish fries in the thirties and early forties. In that sense, Dylan was looking as much at my father as he looked at anyone when he struck out from the Middle American constraints of the Midwest to head east into New York City. There is no doubt in my mind now, that the young Bob Dylan knew he had already tapped into the richest vein of Americana as his feet first touched pavement in New York City. Why else would he have gone to pay homage to a dying Woody Guthrie in a nearby Brooklyn hospital.

Yet now, here so many years later, a song such as 'Dignity' emerges to defiantly expose all those who said that Dylan was the voice of their generation as naively self righteous in their determination as they demagogically sought to strip from the rugged individuality of a young Bob Dylan some fleshly souvenir, anything that might support their endeavors.

From the Bobdylan.com website:

Columbia Records is happy to announce today's release of Bob Dylan's "Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8".

Los Angeles Times: "'Tell Tale Signs' is not just "extra" Dylan. It's essential Dylan."

San Francisco Chronicle: "For Bob Dylan, these are outtakes. Most musicians would call them their greatest hits."

The BBC: "Beautiful, brave and beguiling."

Boston Globe: "a feast for casual fans and Dylanologists alike."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Old Crow Medicine Show have done it again.... but not in quite the same way

I've been following this band for some time now. Their latest release , "Tennessee Pusher" is in stores now. The band is Old Crow Medicine Show, and if they've walked a long highway from the disappointment of a gritty and inhospitable Nashville to the sidewalks of some lackluster town in North Carolina they've solidified their huckster ways on their own terms. The road was stark, and lones0me, very much like the path trodden by the dust-bowl era songsters that preceded them. Perhaps it was all that hard travelin' what gave them their high lonesome harmonies and hokum rhythms. This latest release, Tennessee Pusher, finds the band shooting die in some back alley junkie game of craps. It is the rawest and most deeply honest album they have turned out. As much as I adore the tight harmonies and rambling fiddling of "Wagon Wheel", and have certainly enjoyed their second full length album "Big Iron World" (it will certainly remain an invaluable fixture in my collection), I am compelled to say I'm glad to see they've mined the rawest of ore on this latest release.

No punditry can suffice

My blog on myspace.com features several political articles and essays, many of which I may move here in the near future. But, I just can't resist resting for a bit in the repose of the irreverent satire concerning last week's debate:

Grotesque Verse

shot wheel smack boulder solar trance
this is the stratospheric inheritance --
an elvis song in minor key,
transfiguration bullet, stay the run tide turned inside
a muse.

If the elephant is sleeping, she lilts to this side
-- and that.
That is elegance and fortitude.
A great big house, for an enterprising mouse,
it smokes weed, fat with a pink nose, and ink stained forepaws.
If jokes are the mocking tone of life washed lies,
there is a taste for truth and delicate wandering eyes.
That searches for meaning in the corners of a frown.
All these things have come up from the earth, the glitter and blink,
and make strange noises, and warmth and dirty oil.

But, it is the same dirt and the same sky and the same ocean.
And salty sea. What have we?
Nothing, but to ultimately rely on miracles.
Turn my wine into water, I'm sick of drunkenness;
Close up the sea, I wanna drown.
I won't eat your manna, I relish the pangs of starvation.
There, now a Negress crouches and clutches her aching skeleton.
Goddamn your insolence.

for love of songs and an unsung songstress ...

Okay, so we all know Chuck E was in love; or something like that. It was quirky in its lyrical undulations -- a snappy tune for sure -- and Rickie Lee Jones' 1979 debut album seemed (at the time) as unassuming as it would be relatively unheralded. With a crisp and overly-tightly polished production, the debut record seemed to suggest that the established record industry was sure it could pluck this gem from the gritty earth and set her in a mount of burnished 24K gold. The cover of her self titled debut belies a muted truthfulness and frank non-conformity -- in the rather stark portrait, a young Rickie Lee Jones in her red beret could seem to care less; couldn't give a shit really. The halls of dank dorm rooms would suit her music just fine -- it seemed the world was just going to have to catch up to Rickie. And it nearly has -- well, at least by proxy. She remains aloft, standing apart from the rest; defined only by a rugged individuality that is as radiant as it is rare. And now, as I listen to "The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard" I am convinced that Rickie Lee Jones has enigmatically re-defined what it means to be a female singer-songwriter for at least the next thirty years--