Monday, March 31, 2008

project blue river rescue

2008 Project Blue River Rescue, 18th annual. Bring an attitude. We'll supply the tools, gloves, t-shirts, and hot dogs.

Sign-up between 8-9am @ Lakeside Nature Center
4701 E Gregory Blvd. Kansas City, MO 64132

What's the plan? Remove trash, plant trees, and have a good time mixing with 750 other volunteers in the 18th Annual project Blue River Rescue. Annually sponsored by Missouri Stream Team 175, Friends of Lakeside Nature Center, and a host of other interested folks, including government and non-governmental agencies that work in the watershed.

This looks to be the year that this project removes it's 4 millionth pound of trash from the watershed. Without the work of Project Blue River Rescue, this trash would have otherwise polluted the Blue River and then the Big Muddy MO. The MO needs the mud, but not the trash.

Be there. For more information call 816-513-8960

project blue river rescue
m.o.i.: blue river portraits
blue river watershed association

Sunday, March 30, 2008

jules feiffer provides dna evidence

Just because Jules Feiffer has come to believe that there's little, if any hope, for change in the status quo doesn't mean you have to. Each of us has to choose our battles, and if you don't think you can win them, or believe that you can no longer affect the outcome, then perhaps there are different places better served with your energy. Like your family. Or your art.

Lot's of folks want to change the face of politics and sometimes it feels like it just might happen. Other times, it's more of a slog. And slogging about in the muck doesn't really improve the shape of the world. You just end up soiled.

Feiffer, who captured the attention of leftists and the powerful alike with 42 years of Village Voice cartoons and the Academy Award-winning Munro, decided at the millennium that there are more noble callings than throwing darts at the likes of George Bush and Dick "the Dick" Cheney. Especially since none of the poison pen ink seems to be able to tattoo thick Republican skins and many Americans seem more content with shopping at Nebraska Furniture Mart than marching against the war on any given Sunday.

As Twain(?) said, in order for satire to work, people have to be well read. Well, here's to reading.

So Feiffer has moved onto a calling at least as noble as that of a serious comix artist - that of writing and illustrating children's books. His daughter, Kate, also writes children's books and together they presented a Feifferian view of the world according to the infinite childhood.

The Feiffers, along with other Merry Pranksters, were in Kansas City for the Reading Reptile DNA Literature festival held again this year at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Community Christian Church. One of Feiffer's early collaborators in the absurd, Norton Jester ("it's Juster, Norton Juster you fool!"), was baffled, as have been many before him, by which of Wright's sensibilities, if any, went into the church's design. No one knew, thus Jester dropped his shoe on Wright and the architect was exposed as curmudgeon.

Juster, whose classic book The Phantom Tollbooth ,initially confounded critics, but delighted both children and parents (thus the critics were forced to follow suit), followed the Feiffer family with a stump speech that played like a stack of 3 x 5 Groucho Marx index cards. Juster stopped short of dancing a jig but the crowd hardly noticed; they were waiting for the magic word. When the duck finally dropped even Norton seemed surprised that the word was delight.

Jane Yolen, who's written more books (~300) than the President has read in a lifetime capped the festival with a finely crafted story about the process of re-writing what's already been written. Park would be happy to know that this post, having been rewritten as least 4 times, is still unfinished, but alas, time to move on to satire.

smitten by mittens
the interrogation of junior
knocked out of the park
yolen along
the potter family
feiffer gives it up

Saturday, March 29, 2008

things to do with ron paul signs left by the side of the road

More from the ubiquitous series: things to do with ron paul signs left by the side of the road

You've seen them everywhere--Ron Paul signs. One has to give Mr. Paul credit, he either had the largest sign budget of all the candidates or his supporters really love to use a stencil. One of most reproduced was a reworked image from a Crirque de Soleil logo for a Beatles tribute -- The Ron Paul Revo(Evo)lution. Unfortunate for Mr. Paul, once they moved past the medium, they arrived at the message.

But what happens to those signs after the primary, after the caucus, after Ron Paul has conceeded defeat?

Apparently, Ron Paul supporters have a lot more energy for making signs, than retrieving them. Plus they like to plant them in public spaces, which technically is against the law, but something easily overlooked in the fervor of a campaign. But there comes a time when the sign clutter gets a little out of hand and as one who works on litter clean-ups, there's enough trash, without political trash, laying around the planet.

So what to do?

One option is to make more signs! Of rival political candidates who are still in the race. Belief Change was made from a recycled Ron Paul Revolution sign, found in one of our public parks a month after the primary. It seemed appropriate to use this sign to mark another revolution of sort trying to make it's way across the country. For this sign, Obama's features have been blended with a youthful Muhammad Ali, because in many cases America seems to have a similar response to the two.

Back in the early 60's, when Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, was winning the Olympic Gold Medal as an American, and strutting around ring waving a tiny US flag, he became an instant hero. Not just at home, but around the world. Ali practically invented the wordy, self-hype that today has become the staple of athletes and politics everywhere. But when Clay, converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali, doubts began to spring up, especially when Ali decided it was in his, and the country's best interest, not to enter the army while thousands of brothers were being served up in Vietnam for an unjust, unwinnable war.

Ali, the black man with a voice and not afraid to use it, became the anti-Elvis for many people. Elvis, if you remember, served in the Army with all the panache of one of his B-movies, and it was while stationed in Germany that he met Priscilla and the rest, one might say, "is Vegas".

Ali, was stripped of his heavy-weight crown, remained famous, and eventually was able to mount a successful comeback once America came to it's senses about Vietam. But his vocal stylings took a toll on his career. By some accounts Ali is the most recognizable person in the world today, but his tendency to speak his mind, and to confront the politics of race, exposed the open wound of racism that is still evident in America. Just ask Hillary Clinton, John McCain, right-wing talk radio hosts, and perhaps your father.

In some ways, the Obama ascendancy has followed a similar arc - at least on the rise. People love to believe, but they don't necessary want to change. Change is a lot more difficult to effect, than belief, although one follows from the other. If Obama does succeed in winning the nomination and then the general election, he will become the most recognizable person on the planet.

Belief Change, acrylic and duct tape on found political sign, 31' x 39', 2008, m.o.i.

moi: the caucus badge

ron paul liberty poster
i support ron paul poster
nytimes, ron paul graphics revolution

Friday, March 28, 2008

nasa's march madness on demand

The space shuttle Endeavor recently returned to earth after a 16-day stint, in which, among other things, astronauts used a caulk gun to fix holes in the sides of the flying rock. The holes were caused by micro-meteoroid orbiting debris, or MMOD, as the astronauts like to say.

Houston, we have a problem say NCAA officials. MMOD is a trademarked logo and stands for March Madness on Demand - the internet broadcasts of the tourney that the NCAA is hoping will lure more viewers.

This acrimonious approach to acronymns quickly forced NASA to develop a new lingo. Henceforth, holes in the shuttle skin will be called, a DING, dang infernal nugget of God.

Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

giuliani, out of control, endorses city bus tax

Rudy, with nothing else to do, has decided to endorse the 3/8 cent city sales tax for buses on next Tuesday's ballot.

code yellow for smokey bear, vigilant grandfather

Smokey Bear Style Guide
The official rules and regulations for Smokey Bear imagery and usage.

We note that with help from the Ad Council Smokey Bear has gotten a makeover. Now he's the benevolent, ever vigilant grandfather (he just turned 60) warning about wildfires, instead of forest fires. We're assuming that by working in the word wildfires, instead of forest fires, SB is trying to lead the public in the direction of prescribed burns and management techniques designed to reduce combustibles and increase logging in natural forests.

phonoautograph of cat scratch fever

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently played a scratchy recording of a cat - it sounded like, "rrrrraa...rrrrllll...rrllll...rllllnnnnee", and called it the first recording.

The researchers claimed it to be a digitized version of a phonautograph, invented by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville in 1860, which the historian in you will recall is almost 30 years before Edison made a wax recording of a tenor, which some folks have had the audacity to call the birth of the blues but others call the foundation of the mpeg.

But fear not Edisonites! Careful listening of the phonoautograph will reveal it to the caterwauls of a pussy, albeit it a French one, thus all the rage today by researchers and pussy afficinados everywhere.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

dna lit fest - if the glove fits, then you must attend

What do Commander Toad, Kite Fighters, Mystic Paper Beasts, The Man in the Ceiling, a Phantom Tollbooth, Arnie the Doughnut,and Henry the Dog with No Tail have in common?

The 12th Annual Reading Reptile's DNA Children's Literature Festival. Once again hosted by those inimitable master's of the Oblique and Ironic Event, the Family Reptile.

This Friday and Saturday. Saturday you can hear industry giants, including Jules Feiffer, Norton Jester, and Jane Yolen discuss their art. You will have a good time.

Festivities start promptly at 8:55 am for some reason.

Saturday, March 29th, 2008
Community Christian Church
4601 Main St.
Kansas City, MO
8:55-2:15 pm

More at:
dna litfest

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

nancy reagan endorses mcgruff the crime dog

Vowing to endorse the old guard before time runs out for the both of them, Nancy Reagan issued an endorsement of McGruff the Crime Dog for President.

Americans are expected to respond appropriately.

housing market collapses, crane collapses, ice shelf collapses

Who said world events aren't related. Not moi.

A crane collaspes in Miami, killing 2. Then, moments later, the Wilkins Ice Shelf, an Antartic ice cube the size of Conneticut collapses into the ocean.

Just how stable is your world?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

rethinking amy winehouse

Don't they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? No? No? No?

This video came my way via Pedro who brought Club Nice Nice, one of the new vibe spots in the recently redone downtown area, to fruition. This place is so hip that reservations are made only via text message; if you don't have the number (and it changes monthly), well, you probably don't belong. There is no door, just a velvet rope guarded by holographic images of Angelina Jolie and Wesley Snipes. Both are armed.

I made it past the velvet rope one day doing an impersonation of a bicycle delivery person and found myself in a kitchen where the sound of basement bongra was almost as loud as the pungent aroma of garlic. The Executive Chef was suspended over the kitchen in a cage and everyone once in a while would throw peeled potatoes at the service staff when they couldn't accurately describe the merits and nuances of the day's prix fixe.

In my few minutes in the kitchen, I witnessed the sous chef go through her paces to prepare for the luncheon rush of 75 plates. She downed in quick succession, a coffee shooter (recipe below), immediately followed by a 540 (recipe below), and then a finishing flourish of Christopher Elbow bon bons.

Pedro and I do share a common love for the absurd, the difference being that he's been able to make a living using it to his advantage while I toil under its infinite mask.

Coffee Shooter
Pour 3 double espressos in a martin shaker full of shaved ice along with 3 packets of turbinado sugar.

Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
Strain contents in a frozen martini glass.
Down in one gulp.
Contains 480 milligrams of caffeine and 12 grams of sugar.

Immediately follow the coffee shooter with a 540.
The 540.
In the same martini shaker!
One can of 180.
2 shots of 360 vodka.
2 espresso beans.
Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
Strain contents in a frozen martini glass.(Use the same one!)
Down in one gulp.
Contains 90 milligrams of caffeine, 33 grams of carbs, 25 mg of sodium, and 4 ounces of alchohol.

The Flourish. Chocolat avec caramel et fleur de sel.

Sharpen your knives and you are ready for anything.
club nice nice

Monday, March 24, 2008

4000 casualites, 96 years to go

At the current rate, at the end of 100 years there will be 80,000 U.S. casualties from the Iraqi war. And at the current rate of U.S. wounded, there will be approximately 600,000 wounded soldiers.

It's a lot harder to get an accurate count on the number of dead and wounded Iraqis - be they friend or foe. The numbers are all over the place and the U.S. does not officially release numbers of Iraqi deaths - be they civilian or enemy. The U.S. military does maintain estimates of enemy troops killed in action, they just don't release them for a number of reasons, the main one, being it's bad politics, and the second one is called Vietnam.

The high figure of Iraqi death seems to be 1.2 million from Lancet, the British Medical Journal commissioned a statistical survey that was used to develop these numbers but the results have been criticized by a number of organizations citing serious study flaws. One can easily imagine how difficult it would be for British citizens to go about in Iraq trying to randomly sample a subset of the population to fairly and accurately determine the number of deaths. Criticize it all you want, but to my knowledge this is the only study that has tried to accurately determine the total number of Iraqi deaths as result of this war.

Another group, the Iraq Body Count ( uses news accounts to determine the number of civilian deaths and their most recent estimate is between 82,400 and 90,000. Remember these are just civilian deaths. These do not include enemy combatants or whatever term you wish to use to describe the enemy, so the 1.2 million number may be plausible.

You'll notice that the Iraqi civilian casualties are 20 times U.S. casualties so you easily see who's bearing the brunt of human death and destruction in the war.

All told it's a lot and to paraphrase Virginia Woolf, "Politics, and by its faults the world, is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others". One is left to wonder just how much longer Americans will tolerate the wreckage.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

bunny awakes, wrecks Easter havoc

An Easter Bunny went on a rampage in a shopping district in Kansas City tearing its way through a flower bed with such ferocity that eventually it broke through a rock wall. A portion of the wall collasped, causing a landslide which closed a portion of one the main roads leading into the shopping area. There were no reported injuries however several children were purported to have dropped eggs in a mad dash that ensued shortly after the bunny appeared.

Apparently the bunny, which stands almost 6 feet tall, has frightened residents of the Country Club Plaza for years. It was not entirely clear what led to the incident. Initial reports indicated that the bunny had been upset with the combination of the late arrival of Spring coupled with an early Easter. It was also widely reported that the bunny was also having trouble adjusting to the earlier arrival of daylight savings time. Others suggested that the bunny was tired of being chased by off-leash dogs and just finally snapped.

However, in a statement released later, the bunny claimed that the tirade was a reaction to waking up and seeing that his chocolate cousin had once again been forced into the centerpiece role of a subservient basket case.

mr peabody's coal train


Chased by goons, AGAIN. Holy shit this is tough business and we, the dog and I, and why?... why did I insist on bringing that damn dog? He's not fast and the goons are closing in, and now there aren't many places to go, and in fact there is nowhere to hide, and there's a train coming, and shit, now I can hear them yelling, "You there! Stop now. We told you to leave yesterday so what the fuck are you doing here again today!" Our only option at this point is to run, run, run for the other side of the tracks and hope that we make it before they catch us.

So it's the shits for us unless we pull a caper and the odds are getting longer and longer for that with each closing second at they pull nearer and so I yell, "Trex!" and yank on the leash and the dog now senses the danger and begins to howl.......urrrrrrrr...urrrr......urrrrr....... except soon I discover he's not howling at the goon danger. No. He's howling at the train which is bearing down and unless we make that crossing before the train, before the goons catch us, then we're done for.

Wwwronnnnnn...wwwwrrronnnn...wwwwrrrnnnnn...the train whistle blows and they can't stop, can only warn, and then again....wwwrrrnnnn... so we ARE OUT OF OPTIONS. There is only one hope left so I tug hard again on the leash and lean ever so slightly into the wind and then WE ARE LIFTED UP INTO THE AIR and we are flying over the tracks, over the trains, over the goons, and I look down and there below I can see it.

Mr. Peabody's coal train. Actually it's Mr. Peabody's coal trains. There are trains coming and trains going and one is full and one is empty but thank goodness we are up in the air above these trains, because there's no way they could have stopped for us, and we are above the goons and the shouts and the danger and down below all I can hear is wwwrrrnnnn...wwwwrrrnnn...wwwrrrn....and surely the engineer must think there's nothing left of the boy and his dog, but he can't see us 'cause we're flying over the trains. Mr. Peabody's coal trains.

And one of Mr. Peabody's trains is going away, receding into the distance, empty and one is coming and is full, completely full of coal and all I can think of while the dog and I are flying over these trains is a day, years ago in Wyoming standing at the base of a 100 foot thick seam of coal and wondering what in the hell happens to all that coal and now I know, it goes into Mr. Peabody's trains, where guarded by goons, it, the train, Mr. Peabody himself, snakes through our town, yes the one with the ladder and the Second Act, it snakes its way through OUR TOWN and almost no one notices the coal train, except me and the dog, and we're not supposed to be here, we're not supposed to notice the train, and the goons know that which is why they are shouting and chasing and that is why we are flying and soaring away and trying to find a way out of the danger of Mr. Peabody's coal train.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

a principle, in part, of uncertainty

Yesterday I took the day off, not for religious reasons -- unless you consider the advent of Spring a religious celebration -- which of course it is, even if masked by the slaughter of a Lamb. I spent part of the day trying to catch up with the many neglected tasks of the winter, namely cleaning and organizing, but I've still got a ways to go and will likely never catch up completely. Alas.

The rest of the day I devoted to art, either making, or collecting materials for the making. I was able to add another piece to my collection of Things to Do With Ron Paul Signs Left by the Side of the Road, the second this week, and can only say that there may be one more left in the series before I leave Mr. Paul where he belongs -- by the side of the road.

I spent another part of the day fetching some very nice pieces that another artist had lost in a flood, in part, because although he claimed to be a water artist, he didn't have a clue about hydrology and by my critique, this makes him a shitty water artist, although the public might disagree since his last installation drew thousands. I remember having an installation once where one person (OK maybe 2 showed up) so it's not like I'm an expert, but never let the attendance figures stop you from doing what GoD has called you do should GoD somehow discover your cell phone number.

Fetching these flood-ravaged pieces has already taken the better part of 2 afternoons, the first to schlep them a quarter-mile up from the muddy river bed, and then today to schlep them another mile across the switching yard. It's taken so much time, in part, because these pieces ended up in an area that largely inaccessible unless you work for KC Southern. For each trip I have to go a mile in, and then a mile out. To get them all will take another 2 days.

For a few days last year, I had the secret access code that would have allowed me drive into the KC Southern switching yard motor out the pieces. We had the code because we were working on a river clean-up in the area adjacent to the rail yard, but alas, either the code has been changed, or more likely I don't remember the number because I never thought I'd be going back into that forbidden urban wilderness again. What do I know about anything?

Anyway, there are 11 pieces that I'm trying to retrieve so that I can make 11 more things. I wouldn't be going to all this trouble, except that these are actually very elegant and sophisticated pieces that I would never be able to afford to have fabricated which is why I'm schlepping them for a mile. Also, I really like the idea of creating something designed to be carried by a flood salvaged from a piece that got destroyed by a flood.

The inimitable Rare West Tibetan Mountain Dog was along for the walk, in part, because what else is he going to do?, and also because one never knows who you might encounter on a jaunt across a rail yard including hobos, tramps, and goons. Having the dog along makes me appear to some as a homeless vagrant, which means stay the fuck away!, although I did have a bit of consternation about having to walk along a rail line wearing these two huge things around my neck (this was the only way to carry them) that kinda resemble very large hand grenades, if for instance your grenade happens to be the size of medicine ball.

Had I been near the green zone or anywhere in Iraq someone would surely have shouted, "stop! don't move!" or even shot me on site. Again, this is where the dog can come in handy as to my knowledge the terrorists have not yet begun to wire dogs but let's hope they don't read this blog or the shit will get even worse than it already is with people who aren't afraid to pull the pin on themselves or their grandmother. However that never happened today and I only saw a few people on my rail yard jaunt. The first brakemen ignored me, and the second said "Hi!" to which I replied "Hi" but his greeting may have been, in part, due to the fact that the Rare West Tibetan Mountain Dog is a friendly breed and his tail was wagging.

However, on my second trip back I got caught and had to wait for a very long coal train that was empty, as did the Union Pacific person who was also waiting on the other side of the tracks. This seems to happen a lot around this switching yard, I guess, in part, because the business of business is business which in this case means trains, trains, and more trains. Although they claim to have remotely operated trains in this yard, everyone I've seen moving has had an engineer on board.

After the last empty coal bin passed and the road cleared I was greeted by a Union Pacific goon who wanted to know, "now, exactly who are you?" which was understandable considering that I was wearing two twenty pound grenades around my neck and there was a Rare West Tibetan Mountain Dog at my side - of which fewer than 500 are believed to have survived the Chinese crackdown.

I threw out some standard phrases like "recovering some materials lost in a flood... blah...blah...blah..." but he wasn't the friendliest sort and needed to tell me that this was private property which of course I already knew. I did explain to him that the only reason I was on the private property was that this was the only way to get down to the section of the river in order to retrieve the valuable materials lost in the flood but he just kinda stared blankly at his laptop and asked me, "have you talked to anyone at the railroad about this?"

So after looking at the Union Pacific emblem on his door, I said, "you mean, besides yourself?" which did not draw a laugh so we tried, "who should I talk to? and where would I go to talk to them?"

He proceeded to tell me, "you know, Union Pacific is a really big organization, I'm not sure who you should talk to," at which point I realized he was just being a dick, so I took the opportunity to leave.

Later we read Maira Kalman's The Principles of Uncertainty, in part, because we were tired from all the art-making and schlepping and because it was a holiday and what better way to celebrate Spring than to read a lovely and mysterious book about life -- what it means and doesn't mean. And because, in part, I took the day off to contemplate such things, since they mostly baffle me, which is why I'm always chasing after an answer in some form or another and never seem to get there.

Image. Maira Kalman, self-portrait

maira kalman

Friday, March 21, 2008

careful what you wish for

In the back and forth game of Democratic primary politics, this has been a week for Obama. There was the speech on race earlier in the week which has gone platinum viral on the net. Then there were the decisions from both Michigan and Florida that there will be no do-over from the primaries that weren't. Thank goodness the plans to privately fund public elections didn't move forth; this an idea that ought to scare the hell out of folks.

Then today, there was Governor Bill Richardson's endorsement of Barack Obama, calling him a "candidate of a lifetime." And finally, there was the release of photos of President Bill Clinton with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright at a breakfast on Sept. 11, 1998 in which he, Clinton, admitted for the first time in public, that he had sinned with Monica Lewinsky.

HRC will need more appearances on SNL to get right again with the voters.

god checks the math

And the answer is one? three? infinity? Suppose it depends upon the word problem which appear to be complex and largely unsolvable by mere mortals. But folks keep coming up with answers and shoving them in our face and demanding this is so. This is how it is. Uh, really. Might want to re-check your math.

Like the Islamic fundamentalists who declare jihad over a cartoon depiction of the Mohammad? What! The religion of peace is turned into something that says it's OK to kill someone over a cartoon? God has a sense a humor and he doesn't find this funny.

Speaking of funny business the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Private Property has been protesting the Bodies Revealed exhibit being held at Union Station. The reason? It's a blasphemous display of God as expressed by the human form. Really? Wouldn't, shouldn't God be proud of his handiwork and want us to marvel at its nuances and details?

The ease at which fundamentalist groups want to rail at another world view of which they known very little brings to mind the saying "oh yeah of little faith." Why be afraid if your faith is boundless? The truth shall set you free. Why are these folks so ashamed of being human? Of seeing the human form? We think it's rooted in a fundamental distrust of sex as a natural extension of our being.

According to its web site, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, founded in 1973, was formed to oppose the ideas of liberal, socialist and communist trends of the times and proudly affirms the positive values of tradition, family and property (read, the Catholic Church). Another example of the Cold World War view of "you're either 'wid us, or 'agin' us" that's worked so well in the Mideast.

The founder of the movement, Prof. de Oliveira, talks about the need for truly counterrevolutionary action in service of the Church to resist the neo-pagan revolution of our days. Colorful sidewalk demonstrations,such as were held last weekend Union Station, are an example of just such counterrevolutionary actions.

Is it tradition that prevents them from using anything more sophisticated than heraldry banners to usher in the revolution against the neopagans? Do they really believe that with a few waves over their heads, the peasants will bow down in service of the gilded throne and take up the 3rd Encyclical?

Really, they rail against the neopagans but they could learn a lesson or two about colorful sidewalk demonstrations from the masters of the agitprop, Bread and Puppet Theater. A 2-story puppet of Jesus on the Cross paraded through the shopping districts would surely cause some wonder among the debt-ridden classes this weekend. Alternatively, they could drag people through the streets using special effects to enhance the gruesome nature of such punishment. Such demonstrations might confuse traditionalists as being real examples of an unbeliever were being punished in accordance with previous mores.

Bread and Puppet image, Nathaniel Brooks for the NYTimes.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

river otter day

These folks, Vicki Richmond, West Coast coordinator for Missouri River Relief, and Vincent Gauthier, French historian for the KC Port Authority, would love to visit with on Saturday, March, 21st. And even buy you lunch.

All you have to do in return is show up at First and Main Street (near the pedestrian bridge and overlook) and lend a hand for a couple of hours cleaning winter debris from the Riverfront Heritage Trail. When you're done, take a walk along the river. I don't think you'll see an otter, but if you walk far enough you might see an eagle.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

please allow me

One of the best lines of late was that of David Patterson addressing the NY Legislature on Monday.

"Let me reintroduce myself. I am David Patterson and I am the Governor of New York!"

The press waited a day before asking the governor about his past sex life. Don't know what it is about the sex lives of NY Governors that so intrigues the press, but similar journalistic probing led one member of the press to say this about the blind Governor, "he's known as a good listener." How could he not be?

where the perfection begins

Tired of hearing pundits sound surprised that someone (read Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.) is upset with the pace of change in America? I know I am. and OH!, this just in to the news desk! Rev. Wright's assessment that the United States is fundamentally racist and the government is frequently corrupt and murderous is a view shared by millions of Americans - black, white, brown, and yellow. Only a hypocritical Republican or Clintonite or someone who's never read history can't see it.

We've enclosed the full text of Barack Obama speech delivered at National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, March 18th, 2008. Don't know what his speechwriter called it, but it might be:
where the perfection begins

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity: “People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.”

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man who's been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well. '

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

candidates resort to bracketology to settle score

Unable to reach a decision on how to (or not to) seat Michigan and Florida delegates at the convention rival camps have decided to use the outcome of March Madness to determine the process. Candidates will fill out a bracket with scoring as follows --each round worth a total of 32 points, points for each round awarded proportionally based upon wins for that round. Final score is the sum of all the rounds. There are 6 rounds, therefore a total of 192 points is possible if someone picked every game correctly. Delegates for each state will be awarded based upon the ratio of each candidate's final score.

Hey, it's a lot cheaper than a complete redo, and everyone else in the country is playing along, so why not the candidates.

The HRC camp is said to favor more traditional approaches to filling in the brackets, going with the number one seeds and the 'usual suspects' while the O-sters are said to favor a mixture of a few scattered upsets in the early rounds, followed by ceding to power rankings in the later rounds, but not being afraid of going with their gut instincts. Neither camp has released their final picks and have until noon Eastern time on Thursday to do so.

Monday, March 17, 2008

cheney, mcgruff, bauer to lead st. pat's parade in green zone

Wow what a lineup! And almost as hip as the Rachel Ray showcase at SXSW, leaders of the group, American Death Metal, will headline the St. Pat's Day Parade in the Green Zone.

In a surprise visit, Dick "the Dick" Cheney, McGruff the Crime Dog, and Jack Bauer have all landed in Iraq to assess the situation and trade war stories, autographs, and riff on endless war. Beer chugging contests, spontaneous back-slapping, and green puke expected later.

More @:

Rachel Ray @ SXSW

Jack Bauer sweet talks Pam Fessler

McGruff rocks the Green Zone

Petraeus testifies about The Surge

Jack Bauer saves the Democratic Primary

Sunday, March 16, 2008

art knocked for a loop

Skeptics abound. No matter the venue.

After spending the better part of yesterday at the Missouri Stream Team Conference, listening to folks engaged in the activity of trying to involve others in the activity of helping their fellow humans, I stopped by the recently opened Kansas City Live! entertainment district. The entertainment district is using the March Madness vibe and the Big 12 Basketball Tournament being held next-door at the Sprint Center as the genesis for its kickoff event.

The crowds were ample, although the area seemed to be designed largely as a place for white folks to gather and drink responsibly(?) in public. Between the tournament and KC's St. Patrick's Day parade to be held on Monday, the excuses seem to be in place for those looking for a 3-day party binge.

With the two top seeds moving into the championship round the street hustling activity was heavy and front and center. Lower level tickets were a standard $100 per ticket with center court tickets at 2 bills. Successful alumi surrounded the action, yakking into cell phones, brokering deals as though it were the Board of Trade. And tickets went back and forth. Is this the market economy everyone loves to tout? The effects of one too many pints? The surplus economy? A way to earn pocket money? A living?

Within the confines of the public/private (more on this later) space at the KC Live! were two views of art. One, a work by Marcus Cain for Project Billboard, and the other, a Cordish Entertainment commissioned piece, artist unkown. These works seemed to be offering two distinct visions for the future of our city - one abstract, unsure, and mysterious, and the other, cartoonish, over-sized, and stereotypically sexy.

Can they peacefully coexist?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

the last sex scandal story

There was a funny, little story lost this week amid the OTHER scandal about an Arkansas State Trooper who was fired from his job for soliciting a 3-way between two women he stopped for speeding and his wife. Apparently he was just planning on watching, otherwise, it would have been... a 4-way stop!

Sounds like he should be fired right? Here's were the story gets a little Arkansan if-you-will.

The fired trooper, Roderick L. Trotter Sr., let's call him Trooper A, appealed his firing to the state board. Trooper A's defense was that he shouldn't have been fired because other troopers who also solicited sex weren't fired. In other words, "Hey Trooper B got to have sex, why not me?" [Perhaps they were wearing a police protective device?]

The appeals board upheld the firing of Trooper A. His wife was not at his side.

Friday, March 14, 2008

eliot sptizer's friends and family plan

With this new service, Gov. Spitzer can make unlimited calls and wire transfers.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

daniel schorr comtemplates sex

Nonagenarian Daniel Schorr was heard recently on NPR grasping for a common thread about recent, and recurring, sex scandals in politics. Don't look too far Mr. Schorr, it's really not very complicated; the common thread is sex.

Photo by Jacques Coughlin

bush wows 'em with lounge act

El Presidento Bush prepares for life after the White House by working on his lounge act at the Gridiron Club.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

lightspeed champion @ sxsw festival

Good news for music fans locked into working FOR THE MAN when they should be out celebrating the advent of spring and some of the hundreds of bands appearing at the SXSW festival in Austin, TX. NPR, yes those staid NPR folks, are broadcasting LIve! from Austin. Venues like this are in part what took the NPR head out earlier in the week, but I say go for it. Puzzles are fun and all, but they don't make you want to dance.

What's nice about this coverage is that it's full of all the defulgities of a live show, including, not knowing when the next act is coming on stage, dealing with amp problems, wavering volume levels, and announcers who sound more like fans than pinheads.

So point your browser to npr music, crank up the speakers, and enjoy what you can. Local NPR affiliates are picking up where the national feed drops off. Right now we're enjoying the rocking sounds of Jonhathan Rice who says,
"We're all stuck out in the desert
and we're going to die!
Wipe that sand and salt
from your blistering eye."

Update 3/30/2008:You can read about what sxsw is really like from a musician who was there at the Wilder's On Tour blog.
brother phil testifies on sxsw

Photo by Jessica Byme

high and low cotton

Bill Steber, Pick Jesus, Belen, MS, 1994

They don't make cotton bales like they used to. A cotton bale today is the size of about 16 bales of the old 500 lb. burlapped-wrapped ones. They are the size of a tractor-trailer bed. They pick the cotton, compress it in layers, drop it at the end of the field and there it sits till the truck picks it up. No more trailers full of just picked cotton gong down the road to the compress. The reason behind the large bales is the same concept as the very large hale bales. Less surface area is exposed to the elements, therefore less spoilage of the product.

Folks are still poor in Mississippi, although casinos have brought new money in the state, largely figuring out a way to further tax the lower- and middle-income citizens while suggesting that the prize is still within the grasp. Hanging out in casinos, is sorta like a sub-prime balloon mortgage. In theory it can pay off; the reality, it almost never does. You don't imagine you'll get struck by lightning, why do you think you'll win the lottery? Only the house walks away from the table while they're ahead.

How poor is Mississippi? According to U.S. Census data more than a third (34.7 percent) of rural children in Mississippi live in poverty. The problem? Education and jobs. Without a good education, there are no good jobs. There are largely unskilled jobs in the service industry and casinos and many of those won't take you from poverty.

Elvis is still alive. At least in Tupelo. At least for a day. Hillary Clinton, who carried only a few counties in Mississippi, did carry those surrounding Tupelo. The power of Bill speaks once more.

But in Clarksville, just a short driver from the birth of the blues and the most famous road crossing in the world, voters went solidly for Barack Obama, as did the rest of the state. Clintonites are suggesting that the reason Obama won in Mississippi was because of the black vote. However, 100,000 more votes were cast for Obama as for Clinton. Although Mississippi has the highest percentage of blacks in the country, they account for only 37 percent of the population. Therefore, of Barack's total, if he got, as some suggested 90 percent of the black vote, this still accounted for only about half of his total votes. The rest. From whites and Hispanics.

So if HRC could have mobilized voters in her favor she would have been able to win the state. Isn't this how it's supposed to work? You convince the voters to vote for you, and if they do, then you win? Apparently a lot of those white folks went and voted for McGruff the Crime Dog.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

romney delighted to be hillary's vice-president

Nitt Nomey, who's disappeared from the public eye for almost as long as Eliot Spitzer, emerged today to say that he'd be honored to be HRC's running mate and serve as Vice-President. No word yet from the Clinton campaign as to whether or not this is something they'd be interested in pursuing.

OH, right, there is that whole thing about delegates that the Clinton campaign needs to overcome but they're working the backrooms pretty hard on that one. Then there's this other problem. According to Steven Waldman, founder of, who was on Fresh Air today discussing his book Founding Faith this afternoon, there are two religions that you can still use to smear a political candidate in this country. Mormonism, and if you want to really turn off voters, then call them a Muslim.

Considering that the Clinton campaign has tried to taint Obama as a follower of Islam, this would seem to pose a problem with the whole "why don't you be my running-mate" idea they also floated. An idea, which really stinks of bigotry if you think about it. "Boy's got some learn' to do 'fore he's ready for the White House."

Another, as yet, un-floated trial balloon, but we've got weeks before Pennsylvania primary, is that Bill could serve as her Vice-President. An unbeatable ticket!

Monday, March 10, 2008

what’s on tv tonight? humiliation to the point of suicide

That was the title of an opinion piece by Adam Cohen published in the March 10, 2008 edition of the NYTimes.
Later in the day, shortly after 1 pm Eastern time, the Times broke the story about the Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer having been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute.
Guess they were right.

seven deadly sins update

Just in time for Easter but not in time to help the soon-to-be former governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, Vatican officials have updated the deadly sin list to be more, in their words, "global".

Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti's not-to-do list.

1. “Bioethical” violations such as birth control
2. “Morally dubious” experiments such as stem cell research
3. Drug abuse
4. Polluting the environment
5. Contributing to widening divide between rich and poor
6. Excessive wealth
7. Creating poverty

Forgive me father, but wouldn't using birth control help to deal with sins 4,6 and 7?

millions exiled to stone age

The attempted manipulation of the Florida and Michigan primary contests by the Clinton campaign, with ample help from devious Republicans who wish to fragment the party's hard drive and a serendipitous boost from the networks who love the bloody battle, threatens to pollute the Democratic party with rancor and disillusionment. For a long time to come.

Millions of young Americans, primarily energized to the party by Barack Obama, will not get behind HRC if she succeeds in wresting the nomination by strong-arm tactics, deceit, and midstream rule changes brought under a faux call "to not disenfranchise the voters of Florida and Michigan". As her husband, Bill, was fond of saying, "that dog don't hunt".

Party nominations have always played to the insiders and the party insiders made the rules (this would include members of the Clinton camp) and now they are desperate to figure out a way to cry foul and get some votes by hook or crook. Actually, they prefer to have others cry foul, and once fed a punch line, many pundits are only too eager to play along. But we digress.

Back to those young, newly christened party members. If this plays out as a nasty comeuppance to the Obama campaign "he's too young and inexperienced to play the dirty game like we (and the Republicans) play it", then come November, a large chunk of them won't vote for HRC or McGruff the Crime Dog, who just attached himself to a President who believes in torture and wants Congress to make it legal again. The also won't vote for Ralph Nader, nor Ron Paul, nor the billionaire from NYC should he decide to jump out of the cake and make it rain. No, they'll walk away from what they will now perceive, as many of them perceived before, the bullshit arena of cow-shit politics. And this will send McGruff the Crime Dog to the White House where he can extract the revenge of the people (which includes himself). My friends, five years of solitude, one hundred years of war.

If these shenannigans do come to pass then to HRC's and/or McGruff's chagrin, they'll discover that the neophytes won't go away forever. They may go away quietly. THIS TIME. But when they do come back, and THEY WILL COME BACK, it'll be to take America away from the party neanderthals and make the process more transparent and fair to those who choose to play the game.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

bush attempts to regain torture momentum

Cowboys just weren't meant to be happy.

For your consideration we offer a portion of El Presidento Bush’s message To the House of Representatives:

I am returning herewith without my approval H.R. 2082, the “Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008.”

*The Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) must be allowed to maintain a separate and classified interrogation program.

*While details of the current C.I.A. program are classified, the attorney general has reviewed it and determined that it is lawful under existing domestic and international law, including Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

*I remain committed to an intelligence-gathering program that complies with our legal obligations and our basic values as a people. The United States opposes torture, and I remain committed to following international and domestic law regarding the humane treatment of people in its custody, including the “Detainee Treatment Act of 2005.”

*In accordance with a clear purpose of the “Military Commissions Act of 2006,” my veto is intended to allow the continuation of a separate and classified C.I.A. interrogation program that the Department of Justice has determined is lawful and that operates according to rules distinct from the more general rules applicable to the Department of Defense.

*I cannot sign into law a bill that would prevent me, and future presidents, from authorizing the C.I.A. to conduct a separate, lawful intelligence program, and from taking all lawful actions necessary to protect Americans from attack.

Other provisions of the bill purport to require the executive branch to submit information to the Congress that may be constitutionally protected from disclosure, including information the disclosure of which could impair foreign relations, the national security, the deliberative processes of the executive, or the performance of the executive’s constitutional duties.

George W. Bush

The White House,

March 8, 2008.

Bush's objections stem from this Administration's need that the Executive Branch of the government be allowed to operate in secret and wholly separate from any meaningful oversight by other branches of the government. Trust us, we will do the right thing.

Better not, given the history of this Adminstration. If they won't bungle it, they'll just make it up, or lie about it.

More importantly though, is now, can the Democrats offer another solution to this veto? Can they garner the votes to over-ride it? In short, and most importantly, CAN THE DEMOCRATS LEAD?

Let's hope so.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

visual reviews of aural entertainment: pat metheny trio

Pat Metheny Trio w/ special guest Mike Metheny.
Unity Village, Missouri; March 7, 2008
Attendance ~1500

warrior ant press receives death threat

moi received the following email yesterday, from of all people, a Kansas City police officer. We are not making this up.

I am very sorry for you, is a pity that this is how your life is going to end as soon as you don't comply. As you can see there is no need of introducing myself to you because I don't have any business with you, my duty as I am mailing you now is just to KILL you and I have to do it as I have already been paid for that.

Someone you call a friend wants you Dead by all means, and this person have spent a lot of money in this venture,This person came to us and told me that he wanted you dead and he provided us with your name ,picture and other necessary information's we needed about you. So I sent my boys to track you down and they have carried out the necessary investigation needed for the operation on you, and they have done that but I told them not to kill you that I will like to contact you and see if your life is important to you.I called my client back and ask him of your email address which I didn't tell him what I wanted to do with it and he gave it to me and I am using it to contact you now.

Now do you want to LIVE OR DIE? Since all program ahs be made and draw to kill you. Get back to me now if you are ready to pay some fees to spare your life, $15,000 is all you need to spend in this process you will first of all pay $8,000 then i will send a tape to you which i recorded every discusion i had with the person who wanted you dead and as soon as you get the tape, you will pay the remaining balance of $7,000. If you are not ready for my help, then I will carry on with my job straight-up.


Wow! I'm still alive this morning. That's a good thing. The other good thing, I suppose, given the grave tone of the email is that it's an internet scam. So if you get an email like this you should contact the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.

fbi internet crime complaint center

urban legends death scam

giving a damn about the grand canyons

The Bush Administration and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne's attempts at multi-purpose management of our great environmental resources are like SUVs - neither sport, nor utilitarian. It's a bloated, out-dated, and wasteful approach to environmental management. But that's never kept them from celebrating a brief tap-turning by holding press conferences and calling it a good day. Pass the cigars and the lite beer. Now eat my cake.

This same approach is played out all over the country, notably on the Missouri River, where a handful of powerful farm and barge lobbyists continue to extort millions of tax dollars annually from citizens using hijinks and buzz words about feeding the world and homeland security. It's bunk.

The science has, and continues to prove that alluvial farmland created and nourished by a riverine system isn't harmed by more natural-like flows. Even a middle-school science student understands this connection. As do farmers. Businesses masquerading as farmers, choose to ignore this function, because they want the taxpayer to continue to support them. The irony of the laissez-faire approach touted by Republicans is that it's just the opposite, it's completely hands-on, and leveraged on the side of the money-changers.

Eliminating the natural flows on the Missouri River have set in place an unsustainable agricultural economy, especially where twice-subsidized corn is grown for ethanol production which uses more foreign oil to produce than it offsets and serves to toxify another vital resource, the Gulf of Mexico, in the process. There are more canoes now on the river than barges but recreational users don't have the myopia or checkbooks of greedy corporations.

But when confronted by the facts, lobbyists cry science foul and distort the facts to line their pocketbooks as well as the campaign coffers of Republican Senators like Kit Bond who push millions in earmarks through Congress every year to keep themselves and the system bloated. Everyone profits but the American people.

When will it end? When the public says "Enough. Stop. You're out, this is the nation's resource, not that of the special interests."