I'm listening to KPIG (online) and I nominate the following that they just played for Best Lyrics:
by Richard Thompson (Hear it here.)
Oh says Red Molly to James "That's a fine motorbike.
A girl could feel special on any such like"
Says James to Red Molly "My hat's off to you
It's a Vincent Black Lightning, 1952.
And I've seen you at the corners and cafes it seems
Red hair and black leather, my favourite colour scheme"
And he pulled her on behind and down to Boxhill they did ride

Oh says James to Red Molly "Here's a ring for your right hand
But I'll tell you in earnest I'm a dangerous man.
For I've fought with the law since I was seventeen,
I robbed many a man to get my Vincent machine.
Now I'm 21 years, I might make 22
And I don't mind dying, but for the love of you.
And if fate should break my stride
Then I'll give you my Vincent to ride"

"Come down, come down, Red Molly" called Sergeant McRae
"For they've taken young James Adie for armed robbery.
Shotgun blast hit his chest, left nothing inside.
Oh come down, Red Molly to his dying bedside"
When she came to the hospital, there wasn't much left
He was running out of road, he was running out of breath
But he smiled to see her cry
He said "I'll give you my Vincent to ride"

Says James "In my opinion, there's nothing in this world
Beats a 52 Vincent and a red headed girl.
Now Nortons and Indians and Greeves won't do,
Ah, they don't have a soul like a Vincent 52"
Oh he reached for her hand and he slipped her the keys
Said "I've got no further use for these.
I see angels on Ariels in leather and chrome,
Swooping down from heaven to carry me home"
And he gave her one last kiss and died
And he gave her his Vincent to ride.
Sigh. KPIG and Santa Cruz and Lighthouse Point and Steamer's Alley (it's a surfing thing)...

Update -My potty-mouth wife says, "Romanticizing a bad way of life - A bank robber on a fucking motorcycle." I MET her in Santa Cruz!

Other KPIG Best Evers:
The Road Goes On Forever By Robert Earl Keen
Illegal Smile by John Prine

Another Fact On The Ground

Sharon, thanking us for reversing decades of US policy and completely backing the policies of the Likud party while obtaining no concessions at all from Israel, has now had Hamas leader Rantisi assassinated. So this will be another "fact on the ground" for us to deal with.

You might remember last month's Israeli assassination of Yassin -- the guy in the wheelchair. That assassination directly triggered the recent events in Iraq, leading to the deaths of 82 American soldiers, and hundreds of Iraqis. THIS assassination is very likely to lead to a further increase in violence in Iraq, and across the Middle East.

We have a President who allows -- encourages -- these actions by Israel which lead DIRECTLY to increased violence in Iraq and the deaths of ever more American soldiers.

It looks more and more like this President WANTS all-out war in the Middle East.



The DNC has gotten it right. Go watch this powerful ad!!! DNC Video: Mistakes Were Made. Excellent.


"There is a great big political battle going on with a bunch of guys who take no prisoners. We are not dealing with our daddy's Republican Party. They are not going to disappear and they are not going to allow us to enact a progressive agenda unimpeded. We'd best take that into account because simply reforming the Democratic Party into a fighting progressive voice for change ain't gonna get it done. We need every last person for this battle from all those awful DLC'rs and Democrats in the House and Senate to John Edwards to audacious faux Dem Wes Clark to Howard Dean. We don't have to sign any loyalty oaths but we do have to be serious and mature and understand how terribly difficult and how high the stakes are in trying to govern with the sort of opposition that puts a criminal like Tom DeLay into a leadership position. They will fight with everything they have."
Digby! Digby! Digby!

Intellectual Crisis of the Left

Over at Blogging of the President Matt Stoller is writing about "the intellectual crisis of the left." He summarizes posts on the subject by Peter Levine and Mark Schmitt of the Decemberist.

I piped in with the following, and repeat the comment here:

Levine writes (as paraphrased by you) that
"Creating a network of left-wing institutions to play hardball politics with the right as the radicals have done (such as Air America to balance Rush Limbaugh), doesn't make sense, and can only lead to a further fraying of our civic culture."
I'd like to take issue with that view of what Progressive organizations would do, if only we could get them funded. I'm much closer to Schmitt's view.

Let's step back a minute and think about what the Right's huge advocacy infostructure is and how it affects our politics. First, take a look at Jerry Landray's Media Transparency article about the huge machine backing up Bush's campaign efforts, and the recent NCRP study it discusses. (And some of my own research starting here.)

Here's how I see it: This huge infrastructure of the Right -- "the Wurlitzer" -- has spent decades softening up the public, spreading right-wing memes through the population, creating "conventional wisdom" that we need "tort reform," "tax relief," "school choice," and that "Social Security is going broke" and many more such themes. So after hearing this, over and over, the public is ready to support politicians offering solutions to these "problems."

So what these organizations do is lay the groundwork for the Republican Party to come in and harvest votes. It hardly matters who their candidate is, the election script is already written, they just repeat it, and they have this huge chorus backing them up nationwide. So come election time, the public has already been prepped.

Progressives and Moderates have very few real advocacy organizations in place -- especially not those that promote general Progressive principals out to the general public. As a result, the public is not prepped for Progressive issues. Our politicians have to educate the public about problems and issues from scratch, alone, and must do it during each election cycle. And not just alone, as in a voice in the wilderness against the huge right-wing chorus, but also they do not get the kind of marketing advice and assistance that organizations like the Heritage Foundation offer.

Mark Schmitt nails this when he writes,
"Having worked on a presidential campaign in 2000, I came to the conclusion that the hardest thing to do within a campaign, even an idea-driven campaign, is to develop new ideas, because the field operation, the message-of-the-day, the press, dealing with the candidate's time, etc., consume everyone's energy. The best a campaign can do is to pick up on and promote ideas already developed, and so I see campaigns as the moment where we measure the availability of new ideas in the larger world, and the success of other groups and people in developing the kind of visions and policy blueprints that candidates can use. If the candidates fail to do so, it is at least in part an indication of the failure of the think tanks or other institutions that are supposed to do the job.
But I don't think the problem is that our "think tanks or other institutions" are failing to do the job, I think the problem is that WE are failing to understand that this is the job of these think tanks and other institutions and not the politicians and parties. So it's really WE who are to blame for not creating and funding them.

We often complain that the "Democratic Party" is not "finding its voice" and is not explaining issues well, etc. We complain that Kerry is not voicing the issues effectively. But look at the other side. Do you think Bush is this amazing master of communications. NO! He just repeats what the right-wing machine feeds him. The Republican Party is little more than the candidate wing of this huge apparatus. So we shouldn't be blaming the Democratic Party, this is not their job. The job of politicians is to reflect the will of the public. The job of a network of advocacy organizations is to set up that background of public understanding for them.

Politicians on the Right have such an easy job! The public has been hearing decades of "what's wrong with" public schools, lawsuits, etc. AND hearing "experts" talk about how to solve those problems, so the politicians of the Right just come in and pick up on that.

THAT is the role of the Right's network of advocacy institutions. The progressive Center for American Progress is one small, small beginning towards doing something about this. But they are just one organization, and their focus is current legislative issues -- sort of trying to beat back the tide. The Right has over 500 such organizations in place. They have literally thousand of well-funded operatives. Our side needs people to step up to the plate and start funding these kinds of organizations as well.

So I think that yes, we DO need a network of left-wing institutions. But what I think they should be doing is putting out books, articles, op-ed pieces, and people to talk on the radio and TV, all advocating a return of progressive values of community, democracy, sharing, nurturance, tolerance, etc. I see this as an effort to restore civility, not to further fray our civic culture. I think that leaving the Right's institutions in charge of the megaphone is what is very, very dangerous to our civic culture. But, as I said, my vision of this is that the organizations are conducting the research into how to better our society, and doing the research on the nest ways to put the word out there, advocating progressive values of community, etc.

(Some time ago I wrote something similar in Don't Blame the Democrats.)

Facts On The Ground -- So Deal With It

I'm watching the press conference with Bush and Blair. They are talking about the decision to back Sharon's plan, and screw the Palestinians. In the press conference they are saying something along the lines of, "Well, this is the way it is NOW, and you can either look back and say, 'You shouldn't have done that' or you can look at what is happening now and get involved in the reality of today.' "

This is another example of leaders presenting us with "facts on the ground." Bush and Sharon are just going ahead and doing what they want, and getting the situation the way they want it, regardless of what the public wants or the participants want. They just go ahead and do what they want and tell us to deal with it. Since the Palestinians don't like they solution THEY propose, they are going around them, saying that they are blocking peace so they are going to go ahead and impose this WITHOUT Palestinian participation or negotiation.

This is the new style of our government -- no listening to public opinion, no votes, no legislation, just presenting us with "facts on the ground" and telling us this is the way it is now so deal with it. This is the corporate style of management. "The decision has been made." Present us with "facts on the ground" and call it "bold leadership." The format of press conference itself exemplifies this style: there will be 3 questions and no more, and forget this nonsense about leaders being accountable to the public. The decision has been made.

They have learned from the WMD situation. They made up a justification for invading Iraq -- WMDs -- and now it is causing them trouble. So forget the justifications from now on, they are just going to go ahead and make declarations and we'd best just "shut up shut up shut up" and recognize that, as Bush said in his press conference. "The decision has been made and it is not going to change."

Remember what Chalabi said about tricking the US into invading Iraq:
"When asked if he feels any unease or discomfort at the fact that some Americans feel the United States was suckered into a war under the false pretenses of disarming Saddam of weapons of mass destruction, Chalabi replies, 'No. ... We are in Baghdad now.'"
The decision has been made, and they are in Baghdad now.


The Apprentice: Guest Starring George W. Bush

The Apprentice: Guest Starring George W. Bush

Tax RELIEF??!!

Headline at the Kerry campaign site:
"John Kerry has proposed three times more tax relief for middle-class families than George W. Bush "
Tax RELIEF???!!! What's next, "Tort Reform?" You would think that SOMEONE in the Kerry campaign would be aware of Lakoff and others' work on FRAMING, since every weblog I read and most politically aware thinking people I am in contact with is. How can a national political campaign in the year 2004 make such a framing mistake? If Kerry gives in to the Right's use of language, and acknowledges their framing of this issue, why not just endorse Bush, since the "need for" tax cuts is the central message of Bush's campaign? How can Kerry now argue that the deficits are bad?

And then there's Kerry's statement on Bush's sudden, surprise reversal yesterday of decades of US progress on Mid-East peace, enraging the entire Arab world:
That Bush's move was good politics was evidenced by Democratic rival John F. Kerry's quick move not to let Bush outflank him among pro-Israel voters.

"I think that could be a positive step," the Massachusetts senator said, approving of the Bush-Sharon action regarding both refugees and Israel's borders.
I'm still going to vote for Kerry. But... I'm not going to ask if it's him or his old-style Washington Democrat campaign staff... He hired them. I'll put the Kerry donation button back up when I feel better about him.


Did Ashcroft Intimidate the 9/11 Commission?

Slate has a couple of good articles up about Bush's speech and Ashcroft's testimony. What this usually means is that we can expect to see a couple of crappy articles soon for balance, to protect Slate against the charge that they've gone all liberal and shit. (But I suppose I should be grateful and not complain so much.)

Molly Ivins summed up Bush's Texas character in three words: pious, macho, and anti-intellectual. Saletan describes a man detached from reality and perhaps borderline mentally-ill. Partly in response to his article, I ended up fearing that Bush might win the election even after all the rational conservatives (Richard Clarke, George Will) have jumped ship, leaving us with a lame-duck President who owes nothing at all to anyone who has a brain. After all, he "means what he says", and the voters seem to like that.

Kaplan's piece asks why Ashcroft was treated so gently by the 9/11 commission, which allowed him to blame various Clinton-administration people and did not confront him about his own inaction. Ashcroft, who put a low priority on counterterrorism and denied requests for more funding, is really the most vulnerable member of the Bush administration, but the commission didn't even touch him.

Kaplan speculates about various plausible reasons for this, but leaves out the possibility that the commission had been intimidated. Ashcroft will almost certainly remain Attorney General for the next nine months, and might well serve for four years after that. He's an utterly ruthless true believer who controls police powers (many of them as-yet unused) which are unprecedented in American history. Perhaps the members of the commission all decided that they didn't dare make an enemy of a man like that.

Those are two pretty chilling possibilities. Bush's support is steadily eroding, but we can expect a savage counterattack, and Bush has gotten out of the last two or three weeks a lot better off than he deserved to.

Trust, Don't Verify (Saletan in Slate)

Ashcroft Gets a Free Pass (Kaplan in Slate)

The Right Declares Absolute War On 9/11 Questions

New York Post Editorial: NATIONAL DISGRACE:
"The national 9/11 commission has been hijacked by political shills -- men and women eager to subordinate truth to partisan advantage; who hold a transitory victory on Election Day more dear than American victory in the war on terror.

Tawdry ambition has eclipsed sacred duty; all Americans are diminished, but none more than the families of the 9/11 victims -- who expect better from the commission, and certainly deserve it.

Unless it is the thousands of young Americans now under arms in Iraq and elsewhere; their bravery and devotion to duty is inspirational. How shameful that the commission attack dogs hold their sacrifices so cheaply.

And John F. Kerry, who presumes to the presidency, acquiesces. What a disgrace. "
There's more. It is incredibly divisive and intending to inflame Bush supporters to a hateful frenzy. Watch your backs.


At The Kerry Blog

Over at the John Kerry for President Blog:
"Tonight, the President had the opportunity to tell the American people what steps he was going to take to stabilize the situation in Iraq. Unfortunately, he offered no specific plan whatsoever. Rather, the President made it clear that he intends to stubbornly cling to the same policy that has led to a greater risk to American troops and a steadily higher cost to the American taxpayer."

The Press Conference II

It seems to me that after this performance tonite REAL Republicans must be REALLY pissed off at the Scaife-funded "movement conservatives" who have taken over their party, and packaged up Bush as a Product to be Marketed, and got us into this incredible mess in Iraq, and put the country into massive, massive debt.

So are they going to continue to take focus-group-tested instructions from Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, or are they going to take their party back from the Tom Delay/Pat Robertson/Newt Gingrich corporate-fascism crowd? I mean, looking back from here, compared to this crowd even Nixon seems like a reasonable, fairly-honest, moderate leader who was at least somewhat concerned about the greater good of his country when it came down to it.

Ashcroft Sets Looniness Record

Today Attorney General John Ashcroft made two of the looniest statements that any public official has ever been guilty of. Yeah, I know that that's saying something.

I don't mean blaming the Clinton administration for 9/11. We knew that the shifty-eyed, guilt-wracked Puritan with the shameful secret would do that. The looniness is in the way he did it.

"The commission cited a May 10 Justice Department document setting priorities for 2001. The top priorities cited were reducing gun violence and combating drug trafficking. There was no mention of counter-terrorism.....[Ashcroft] said the May 10 memorandum was based on goals developed by the previous administration."

In other words, almost five months after he had been selected by Bush, Ashcroft hadn't changed anything whatsoever. He was still working for Bill Clinton!

Looniness the Second: later in his testimony Ashcroft said "Our agents were isolated by government-imposed walls [and] handcuffed by government-imposed restrictions...."

I hate to tell you, John, but you aren't an outsider any more. You are the government! The Department of Justice is not an innovative private entrepreneur being crushed by the load of government regulation, or a hardworking family man being harassed by the IRS. The Department of Justice is a branch of government! You have to come up with some new cliches!

The man is afraid of calico cats. He's threatened by neoclassical marble sculptures of bare-breasted women. He has assigned trained investigators to surf for porn on the internet. He spent over a hundred thousand dollars prosecuting Tommy Chong for bongs. He spent tens of thousands of dollars finding whores in New Orleans when you practically have to fight them off, and when most guys can score for less than two hundred.

Boobs and loonies usually live out their lives in obscurity and are forgotten a few years after they die, but Ashcroft has earned himself a reputation which will last as long as the rivers flow and the grass is green. Too goddamn bad we didn't promise that to the Indians.


The Press Conference

I'm watching the press conference. I'm having so many reactions... I keep wanting to write about specific things Bush is saying... The admission that he has a list to call on, his focus-group-tested statement that oceans used to protect us (he's never heard of ICBMs, or the British burning Washington DC?), his clear lie about WMDs combined with his statements that the Iraq war is really about changing the Middle-East, his bumbling, rambling manner, his inability to admit ANY kind of mistake... AND some of the reporters were asking actual questions - not tough but certainly more than they ever have.

But I'm going to See the Forest, not the trees, and say that I think I am watching history. I think there has never been a Presidential performance like this before, and I am including Reagan's rambling answer in the Mondale debates, when his Alzheimer's disease was beginning to have its effect.

I can not imagine that a reasonable adult could watch this performance without thinking that it would be best if the Republicans choose someone else as their candidate this year. Best for the country, best for the Republican Party, best for the world.


What Did He DO?

Everyone is asking, "What did the President DO after seeing the Aug., 6 memo?" Thanks to Kos, here is the transcript of Bush the next day. This is on the White House's own server, by the way. Remarks by the President to the Pool. (That's press pool...)

Abraham Lincoln: Stalin or Osama?

Recently a regrettable controversy erupted when Blogger Y was accused of having compared Blogger J to Hitler.

Below our neo-Confederate friends show us how we can make our points vividly without using the Hitler comparison. At issue is an attempt to erect the first statue of Lincoln anywhere in the solid Republican South. This led to a split in the Virginia Republican Party, many of whom think of Lincoln as a hated Northern Liberal. Opposition was led by U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode (R., VA.) and Virginia Legislature Delegate Richard Black (R., Loudon), with some help from The Washington Times.

Comments from the first three pages of a 3600-signature petition:

"Absolutely Not ! I'll accept a statue of Ape Lingum in Richmond when Karl Marx and Vlad Lenin are placed in Washington, D.C. along with a statue of Bin Laden in New York City.....

Why not put up a statue of Osama bin Laden at Ground Zero?....

The only way that I would support a statue of Lincoln in Richmond would be to have him depicted in CHAINS in a kneeling position!....

Put up a Lincoln statue in Richmond ONLY after you put up a John Wilkes Booth statue at Ford's theatre....

A statue of Lincoln the war criminal doesn't deserve to be anywhere in the state of Virginia, much less in Richmond....."

There's more on this from Mac Diva here. Mac now writes at Macaronies and Silver Rights.

Al Franken

I hope you're all listening to Al Franken's show every day. It is just so FUNNY!


The Other Side of the Story: John Kerry and Martin Van Buren

Some may think that the 9/11 investigation is about George W. Bush and maybe Bill Clinton, but if you spend enough time on the internet you'll find out that it's really about LBJ, FDR, Woodrow Wilson, and every other goddamn no good Democratic President that there ever was or will be.

My friend Al at Brad DeLong has strengthened the Republicans' case, pointing out that the Democrat Martin Van Buren's performance in the 1837-1838 Caroline incident and Aroostook War on the Maine-New Brunswick border was disgraceful and cowardly.

Kerry should firmly dissociate himself from Van Buren's costly do-nothing policy in the Aroostook Valley, and explain that as a New Democrat he has renounced the failed policies of the past. Unless he does so, he cannot expect the American People to elect him to the highest office in the land.

Back Off The Bin Ladens

On the Randi Rhodes Radio Show, she just suggested going to Google and looking up the phrase "Back Off The Bin Ladens".

And always keep in mind that the President's Daily Briefing, warning of an al-Queda attack on the US, was presented to Bush the day before he started the longest vacation any President has taken.