Thursday, May 26, 2011

Casey Anthony trial, Part I

I haven't been addicted to a good murder trial since Phil Spector's... and I blame my daughter for calling me on the phone to warn me I was missing Casey Anthony's crocodile tears (at left) and I'd surely regret it. So I turned it on and... yeah, you know what happened. I've been tuned in ever since opening arguments.

Typically, Casey is blaming daddy for her messed-up mind, and the defense is asserting that her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, drowned and the entire family covered it up. It's a stretch, but that's the story, and they are sticking to it.

All the Ann Rule books (particularly Small Sacrifices) that kept me entertained (for decades!) have prepared me for watching this sordid trial of mother-love gone berserk. For instance, I immediately noticed that Casey sobbed when opening arguments referred to her own bad treatment at the hands of her father. And yet she remains stoic and unemotional when witnesses say things like, "... and then a skull rolled out of the garbage bag"... excuse me, say what?! This is your baby, and you sit there like a stone when they talk about her skull rolling out of a bag? (Jesus H. Christ, that looks so bad.) But that very intense brand of narcissism is fairly typical in murderers, and was present in both Diane Downs and Debora Green. (For Casey's sake, I hope nobody on the jury has been reading Ann Rule.)

Anybody else watching? Opinions? What did you think of dad on the witness stand today?


Although thoroughly unemployed, I've been chugging along... reorganizing drawers, catching up on tarot readings for friends and fans, re-commencing hiking and yoga (I now need Yoga for Cynics more than ever!), repairing old jewelry and vintage clothing... and watching Casey Anthony sob over her sorry-ass life. I'm also reading Robert Stone's fabulous memoir PRIME GREEN, and it IS nice to have some time to read for a change.

Speaking of reading, if you have some free time, here you go:

The "Alternative" Female Actress, And Why Hollywood Has So Few Of Them (Jezebel)

Focus on the Family Head: "We've Probably Lost" on Gay Marriage (Mother Jones)

Stop the Execution of Roy Davis! (Amnesty International Alert)

Great American Patriots (Glenn Greenwald/Salon)

Required reading for movie fans: The Dying of the Light (by Roger Ebert), which addresses the fact that films are growing ever-darker due to the accompanying rise of 3-D. (Thanks to Erik Loomis at Alterdestiny for the link.) I recently noticed that THOR was somewhat dark (of course Mr Daisy forced me to go see THOR), even though we skipped on the 3D and went to the regular showing. We even talked about it afterwards; the film seemed darker than usual.

Ebert worries that the darkness is rapidly becoming the norm.


BTW, the wonderful Asheville-based blog ASHVEGAS linked my Fanaticon photos, and thank you!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Fanaticon 2 was today in Asheville, NC... phantastic, phantasmagorical photos below!

At left: Superheroes welcome us to the con.

1) A very nice ewok welcomed us too, although her friend seemed rather hostile and just pointed weapons at everybody.

2) Ashtoberfest table, the Asheville Zombie Walk.

3) T-shirt reads, "You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be eaten."

4) From 2nd floor of the Asheville Art Museum (at Pack Square).

5) and 6) Attractive con attendees.

7) The Joker.

8) More attractive con attendees.

9) Folks perusing the thousands of comics on display.

10) A very polite and sensitive reminder.

11) Kids making stuff.

12) Face painting.

13) DEAD AIR's choice for Queen of the Con. :)

14) Poster featuring heroine of Olde Towne Comix.

15) Bobby Nash, a favorite comics-writer of Mr Daisy's. HI BOBBY!

16) Who you gonna call?

17) Answer to question in #16.

18) Folks in costumes outside the con.

19) T-shirt reads, "Zombie. Eat flesh." (modeled on SUBWAY logo: Eat Fresh)

20) Another shot from 2nd floor of museum.

21) Look at her eyes! Some kind of contact lenses made em look like cat's eyes, really cool.

22) Woman in #21, with mask on and accompanied by monster partner. Awesome costumes!

23) I didn't see which table this was, my apologies! Another great costume.

24) and 25) Of course, since this was Rapture weekend, some folks outside the con decided to offer their opinions.

According to the fellow holding the "Oh crap" sign, 6 people in Asheville were Raptured. But only 6. Hardly anybody noticed, he said. I told him I was going back to Greenville, which would probably be vacant. He told us we should probably just stay in Asheville, in that case.

But when we got back, everything looked the same to me. I guess this place isn't the buckle of the Bible Belt after all, huh? ;)


Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday linkorama

Graphic comes courtesy of YELLOWDOG GRANNY!

:: Voter ID Bill made law in South Carolina -- If you have no photo ID, you can't vote. Obviously intended to sock it to certain groups of people; guess who?

:: Millions for Marriage Equality -- Everybody sign up!

:: Powerful and Primitive -- In light of recent events concerning Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Maureen Dowd poses the question of the hour: Why do powerful men insist on groping the help?


And a lil humor to carry you through the weekend:

:: Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex
(The Onion)

:: It's okay to be Takei! (Womanist Musings)

:: Geek Rap - Roll a G6 (Ezra Klein) -- This is priceless! Also, perfect accompaniment for our trip to Fanaticon tomorrow. :)

I'll post pictures!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Joe Bageant 1946-2011

I'm so behind in my reading, I didn't know Joe Bageant, patron saint of rednecks, had passed. (on March 26)

I can't improve on what others have already written about the amazing author of Deer Hunting with Jesus and Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir, so I will quote from them.

From Michael Loughnane:

"Poet", "prophet", "hillbilly revolutionary", "progressive redneck with a conscience" — these are some of the descriptive terms that have been conferred on Joe Bageant who died on March 26. Steve Austin of the Australian Broadcasting Company called him "The Woody Guthrie of the typewriter" for he championed the cause of the "redneck", a social group he saw as being one of the most marginalized and disenfranchised in America.
From Gary Coseri:
Deer Hunting is an excellent book. Rainbow Pie is even better. Rainbow Pie is about now; Deer Hunting laid the groundwork, sowed seeds of memory for this West Virginia-born sui generis intellectual. Rainbow Pie brings those seeds to fruition amidst our present devastation — the “financialization” of the “transactional economy.” Translation: outsourced jobs; debt and desperation in the homeland.

Before he died last month at age 64, Bageant’s witnessing was astute and acute; he had been there.
And now, I quote directly and at length from Joe's own introduction to Rainbow Pie, A Redneck Memoir:
The United States has always maintained a white underclass — citizens whose role in the greater scheme of things has been to cushion national economic shocks through the disposability of their labor, with occasional time off to serve as bullet magnets in defense of the Empire. Until the post-World War II era, the existence of such an underclass was widely acknowledged. During the Civil War, for instance, many northern abolitionists also called for the liberation of “four million miserable white southerners held in bondage by the wealthy planter class”. Planter elites, who often held several large plantations which, together, constituted much or most of a county’s economy, saw to it that poor whites got no schooling, money, or political power. Poll taxes and literacy requirements kept white subsistence farmers and poor laborers from entering voting booths. Often accounting for up to 70 percent of many deep-Southern counties, they could not vote, and thus could never challenge the status quo.

Today, almost nobody in the social sciences seems willing to touch the subject of America’s large white underclass; or, being firmly placed in the true middle class themselves, can even agree that such a thing exists. Apparently, you can’t smell the rabble from the putting green.

Public discussion of this class remains off limits, deemed hyperbole and the stuff of dangerous radical leftists. And besides, as everyone agrees, white people cannot be an underclass. We’re the majority, dammit. You must be at least one shade darker than a paper bag to officially qualify as a member of any underclass. The middle and upper classes generally agree, openly or tacitly, that white Americans have always had an advantage (which has certainly been the middle- and upper-class experience). Thus, in politically correct circles, either liberal or conservative, the term “white underclass” is an oxymoron. Sure, there are working-poor whites, but not that many, and definitely not enough to be called a white underclass, much less an American peasantry.

Economic, political, and social culture in America is staggering under the sheer weight of its white underclass, which now numbers some sixty million. Generally unable to read at a functional level, they are easily manipulated by corporate-political interests to vote against advances in health and education, and even more easily mustered in support of any proposed military conflict, aggressive or otherwise. One-third of their children are born out of wedlock, and are unemployable by any contemporary industrialized-world standard. Even if we were to bring back their jobs from China and elsewhere — a damned unlikely scenario — they would be competing at a wage scale that would not meet even their basic needs. Low skilled, and with little understanding of the world beyond either what is presented to them by kitschy and simplistic television, movie, and other media entertainments, or their experience as armed grunts in foreign combat, the future of the white underclass not only looks grim, but permanent.

Meanwhile, the underclass, “America’s flexible labor force” (one must be pretty flexible to get screwed in some of the positions we are asked to), or whatever you choose to call the unwashed throngs mucking around down here at the bottom of the national labor tier, are nevertheless politically potent, if sufficiently taunted and fed enough bullshit. Just look at the way we showed up in force during the 2000 elections, hyped up on inchoate anger and ready to be deployed as liberal-ripping pit bulls by America’s ultra-conservative political machinery. Snug middle-class liberals were stunned. Could that many people actually be supporting Anne Coulter’s call for the jailing of liberals, or Rush Limbaugh’s demand for the massive, forced psychiatric detention of Democrats? Or, more recently, could they honestly believe President Obama’s proposed public healthcare plan would employ “death panels” to decide who lives and who dies? Conservatives cackled with glee, and dubbed them the only real Americans.

But back in 2000, before the American economic implosion, middle-class people of both stripes could still have confidence in their 401(k)s and retirement stock portfolios, with no small thanks to the cheap labor costs provided by the rabble out there. And they could take comfort in the knowledge that millions of other middle-class folks just like themselves were keeping the gears of American finance well oiled and humming. Our economy had become fat through financialization. Who needed manufacturing? We were now a post-industrial nation of investors, a “transactional economy”. Dirty work was for ... well ... Asians. In this much-ballyhooed “sweat-free economy”, the white underclass swelled with every injection mould and drill press shipped across the Pacific.

Ten years later, with the US economy as skinny as the running gears of a praying mantis, the middle class — what’s left of it now — is having doubts about its traditional class security. Every day it gets a bit harder not to notice some fifty or sixty million people scratching around for any kind of a job, or working more hours than ever in a sweating, white-knuckled effort to hang onto the jobs they do have. With credit cards melting down and middle-class jobs evaporating, there is the distinct possibility of them slipping into the classes below them. And who are they anyway — those people wiping out the ramen noodle shelf at the supermarket, and looking rather surly as they are moved out of their repossessed houses?

True, with the right selection of lefty internet bookmarks, you can find discussions of the white underclass, and occasionally even a brief article in the New York Times about some scholarly book that asks, “Does a white underclass exist in America?” But most of the shrinking middle class pulls its blinds shut, hoping that if they don’t see bad fortune, perhaps bad fortune can’t see them and will not find their doors. Behind those doors, however, some privately wonder how the ranks of desperate and near-desperate American whites ever became so numerous. Where did all those crass people with their bad grammar and worse luck suddenly come from?
Seldom are such developments sudden, of course. It’s only the realization of them that happens overnight. The foundation of today’s white underclass was laid down in the years following World War II. I was there, I grew up during its construction, and spent half my life trapped in it.

When World War II began, 44 percent of Americans were rural, and over half of them farmed for a living. By 1970, only 5 percent were on farms. Altogether, more than twenty-two million migrated to urban areas during the postwar period. If that migration were to happen in reverse today, it would be the equivalent of the present populations of New York City, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, Boston, and Saint Louis moving out into the countryside at a time when the US population was half of its present size.

In the great swim upstream toward what was being heralded as a new American prosperity, most of these twenty-two million never made it to the first fish ladder. Stuck socially, economically, and educationally at or near the bottom of the dam, they raised children and grandchildren who added another forty million to the swarm.

These uneducated rural whites became the foundation of our permanent white underclass. Their children and grandchildren have added to the numbers of this underclass, probably in the neighborhood of 50 or 60 million people now. They outnumber all other poor and working-poor groups — black, Hispanics, immigrants.

Even as the white underclass was accumulating, it was being hidden, buried under a narrative proclaiming otherwise. The popular imagination was swamped with images that remain today as the national memory of that era. Nearly all of these images were products of advertising. In the standard depiction, our warriors returned to the land kept free by their valor, exhilarated by victory, and ready to raise families. They purchased little white cottages and Buick Roadmaster sedans, and then drove off into the unlimited horizons of the “land of happy motoring”. A government brochure of the time assured everyone that “An onrushing new age of opportunity, prosperity, convenience and comfort has arrived for all Americans.” I quoted this to an old World War II veteran named Ernie over an egg sandwich at the Twilight Zone Grill near my home in town. Ernie answered, “I wish somebody had told me; I would have waved at the prosperity as it went by.”

According to this officially sanctioned story of the great postwar migration, these people abandoned farm life in such droves because the money, excitement, and allure of America’s cities and large towns was just too great to resist. Why would anyone stay down on the farm when he or she could be “wearing ten-dollar shoes and eating rainbow pie”? One catches a whiff of urban-biased perception here; but then, the official version of all life and culture in America is written by city people. Our dominant history, analysis, and images of America are generated in the urban centers. Social-research institutions, major universities, and the media — such as ABC, HBO, PBS, and the Harvard University sociology department — are not located in Keokuk, Iowa; Fisher, Illinois; Winchester, Virginia; or Lubbock, Texas.

I grew up hard by the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and West Virginia, and am a product of that out-migration; and, as I said, grew up watching it happen around me. I’m here to tell you, dear hearts, that while all those university professors may have their sociological data and industrial statistics verified and well indexed, they’re way off-base; they’ve entirely overshot the on-the-ground experience. In fact, they don’t even deal with it. You won’t be surprised to hear that the media representation of the postwar era — and, let’s face it, more people watch The History Channel than read social history texts — it is as full of crap as an overfed Christmas goose.

My contemporaries of that rural out-migration, now in their late fifties and mid sixties, are still marked by the journey. Their children and grandchildren have inherited the same pathway. The class competition along that road is more brutal than ever. But the sell job goes on that we are a classless society with roughly equal opportunity for all. Given the terrible polarization of wealth and power in this country (the top 1 percent hold more wealth than the bottom 45 percent combined, and their take is still rising), we can no longer even claim equal opportunity for a majority. Opportunity for the majority to do what? Pluck chickens, and telemarket to the ever-dwindling middle class?
Ohhh my. When he pauses to say "dear hearts"--it takes my breath away. My mother's family, also from West Virginia, used that term in conversation in just that fashion. Thus, it's like a member of my family passing.

Who will say these things now? Who will write about us? (sobs) We have lost one of our precious scribes.

Goodbye Joe, and rest in peace.

Wordless Wednesday: Mimefield

Mimes at Artisphere on Sunday.

I don't know their names, because of course, they don't say anything.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Haley Watch: Transcript of Haley on ABC's THIS WEEK

Last Sunday, our very popular governor took time off from posing for magazine covers to talk to Christiane Amanpour on ABC's THIS WEEK. A mostly predictable interview, Governor Haley nattered on about what is appropriate and sounded like a veritable Mother Superior, whilst assuring us that she is NOT running for Vice President, like that other Lady-Tea Party-governor who didn't finish her term.

I figure I'll just give it to you straight; here is the transcript.


AMANPOUR: Governor, thank you for being with us.

GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It's great to be with you.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you first a big burning policy issue which is consuming a lot of time here in Washington and that is the raising of the debt ceiling. Do you think that this should happen or are you on the side of those who say hell no?

HALEY: Absolutely not. You know, we are seeing total chaos in D.C. right now. The very first thing they need to do is -- is make sure that they stop raising the debt. They need to make sure that they balance their budget like every other state in the country, and we've got to get control of our spending. It is chaos in D.C. and they need to stop.

AMANPOUR: So you say absolutely don't raise the debt ceiling. But what about the Fed? What about the treasury sector? What about Wall Street who's really worried that if this even goes down to the wire, it's going to really damage America's credibility and its ability to pay for doing its business.

HALEY: You know, government is notorious for saying the sky is falling. What I will tell you is every governor in the country has balanced their budget through very tough times. We have all had to make strong decisions. We have all had to go back to the basics and say what is the role of government? What do we have to have and work our way up?

AMANPOUR: So let's now then turn to the presidential race and the GOP candidates. Is Newt Gingrich an exciting candidate for you? You have said recently that there was a place and a time for him. Do you think he's the right candidate for the Republican party right now? Will he win the nomination?

HALEY: You know, I think the press always tries to paint a dark picture on everything. I think every candidate has their challenges. And I think that what we have seen with Newt Gingrich is he's had great ideas in the past, and what we are already starting to see is he's coming out and showing how his ideas today match the feelings of what we're dealing with today, whether it's the Medicaid mandates, whether it's food stamps, whether it's the unions. And he's come out and talked about the unions. That's what we want to hear about is the issues of the day. And I think that's what every candidate's going to have to do, and I was pleased to see him start to do that this week.

AMANPOUR: Well, but how do you square that saying that he did have a time and a place? Does he speak to the future to you?

HALEY: You know, I think that will remain to be seen. I think that's what he's got to tell. I think that the people of South Carolina and across this country are really going to push these candidates in a way that we've never pushed them before. And I think that Newt Gingrich has dealt with a lot of issues in the past, and I think now he's going to have to show that he's got those ideas to deal with the future.

AMANPOUR: So talking about policy debate, Mitt Romney gave a big speech this week about health care, about other issues, but primarily about health care. And he seemed to try to, again, put a square peg in a round hole saying that his health care for his state was great, but he would never do it for -- for federal health care.

The "Wall Street Journal" has called him compromised and not credible on this issue. Do you think that he's compromised and not credible? Could he be a nominee?

HALEY: You know, I think he absolutely could be a nominee. The interesting thing was he was one of the only governors that showed courage when it came to dealing with health care. I will tell you we do not want a Massachusetts health care plan in South Carolina. I think that he will have to continue to deal with that issue. I think he's going to have to talk about how that was not good for the country. That wouldn't be a good thing that we'd want to mandate on all of our states. And I think he'll have to respond to what his thought process was. But I think that we are looking for a leader that's willing to, one, make courageous stands, take strong policy decisions, but two, also admit when a mistake was made.

AMANPOUR: So do you think he adequately addressed that in his speech on Thursday? Has he laid that issue to rest?

HALEY: I think that issue's going to continue to be part of the debate. I think that every, like I said every candidate's going to have their challenge, I certainly think that's going to be his challenge.

AMANPOUR: So when it comes to social issues South Carolina is a pretty conservative state. What about Mitch Daniels who may or may not get in? Some are saying that he probably will. He has called for a truce on social issues and to be able to push the economy and other such issues forward. Do you agree with that?

HALEY: We're very conservative on maintaining family values, keeping our families strong. But also understanding the value of a dollar and that government is overspending in a time where we need to be cutting back.

AMANPOUR: Let's just take what you talked about family values and sort of make it about family. Mitch Daniels -- obviously there's been a lot of talk also about his wife, how sort of reluctant she is as a political spouse. Do you think there is enough, too much, not enough focus on the families, the wives of the candidates? How do you assess all of that?

HALEY: I think it's ridiculous. I think it's a terrible distraction to a campaign. I think what you need to be looking at and what I'm certainly looking at is what type of governor he was. He was an amazing reformer in his state. He brought great issues. He showed great courage at times that he needed to. Those are the issues we need to talk about. He needs to give his stance on where he stands with family values and what he'll do to make sure those stay strong in this country. But I think to go into a candidate's personal life and to try and attack them and distract the country, people are smarter than that.

AMANPOUR: You, of course, suffered your own attacks on that regard. Do you think that it's finished, that kind of smearing or do you think that that's going to be part of the race in 2012?

HALEY: We won't allow it in South Carolina. You know, the one thing about the people of South Carolina -- they showed it in my election, they will show it in the presidential -- is we will ask the hard questions, but we will show every candidate respect. And the second a political consultant tries to play dirty tricks, it will backfire and it will hurt that candidate. And so my warning to every candidate coming into South Carolina is come in, talk about the issues, that's what we want to hear about, but the distractions are not welcome in South Carolina.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about Donald Trump. What would you say to him, given that he has revealed himself, at least in one speech with women's group, to have a bit of a, I suppose what one might call a potty mouth, would you tell him that that was appropriate? What would you say about that? It offended a lot of women.

HALEY: That is not appropriate in South Carolina. We will give all of our candidates respect, and we certainly expect our candidates to come in and give the people of South Carolina respect.

AMANPOUR: You also said that it's time for Republicans to stop just attacking President Obama and look forward, look towards leadership, look towards their own positive ideas for government. Do you think for instance a politician such as Sarah Palin, who's a big supporter of yours, would her style, would her tone be the kind that you look for in a 2012 election since she really does spend a lot of time attacking President Obama's policies?

HALEY: You know, what we're saying is -- we're not saying don't attack his policies, that is what's gotten us into this policy debate that we're in today. What we are saying is we want to hear the solutions.

AMANPOUR: Do you think Sarah Palin would get in?

HALEY: I think she is amazing at getting people to know the power of their voice. I think that she woke up a lot of people in our country that just really thought that government was a waste of time and she got them to care again. And for that, I think that there will always be a place for her. But now it's time to talk about policy. And I think that if she chooses to get in, she'll understand that the policy issues of today are relevant and important right now too.

AMANPOUR: There have been a lot of suggestions that would make a great vice-presidential nominee, that you'd be great on any ticket. It's been discussed publicly. Where do you stand on that? Would you want to do that if you were asked?

HALEY: No. What I will tell you is it is -- I find it silly that it's being talked about, but I will tell you this. The people of South Carolina took a chance on electing me. It is my job and my family's job to prove to them that they made a good decision. I plan on committing to the people of this state my full four years in office, and I look forward to watching the 2012 and making sure those policy discussions are there, but I also plan on making the people of South Carolina very proud. I represent the best state in the country. There's no better job than that.

AMANPOUR: I heard a very strong commitment there. No waffle room. No wiggle room.

HALEY: No wiggle room at all. We are staying in South Carolina, and we're going to continue to lead it in a way that makes everyone proud.

AMANPOUR: Governor Haley, thank you very much for joining us from South Carolina.

HALEY: Thank you.


EDITED TO ADD: Nikki Haley muscles up for 2012 (Politico)

Love, Devotion, Surrender... and other stuff

The hits on Amanda Knox's infamous "Foxy Knoxy" photograph are coming in, so that's how I know there is something happening with Amanda... as I've said before, I don't even need Google alerts. And yeah, there sure is. The Italian police are suing her for slander, since she claimed they roughed her up during interrogation.

Cops can sue perps and convicts? Oh, wait, this is Italy. You know, where the Vatican is. Their justice system appears to be running on Vatican time.

If American cops could sue us simply for badmouthing them, well, there might not be anybody left to pay taxes and hence, their salaries. Italian police need to get a clue, grow up and stop being babies.

And since they had no case against Amanda (which, take note, does not mean I think she is innocent; it means the state did not prove their case), they need to TURN HER LOOSE. Let her go.

Italian "justice" ... now we see how the Mafia was born. Gotta get justice some kinda way, right?


Everybody is mad at Carlos Santana for standing up at Turner Field and letting them have it in no uncertain terms.

Balls, Carlos has em. Or should I say cajones? :)

Needless to say, here at DEAD AIR, there is NO personal criticism of Carlos Santana allowed in any form, just like there is no criticism of The Who or the Dead or the Beatles, or musicians of that stature who have played an important part in Daisy's life. Okay? So: Watch your mouths! (seriously) If you want to argue against his position, that's okay, but we will not allow Fox News androids to come here and trash the 6th (possibly 7th; I'll argue the point) greatest guitarist in the history of the world (yes, I do rank them). This is not permitted; show some respect please.

Fox has been trashing him all day... just came from the JIFFY LUBE, where I was subjected to Fox blather about how Carlos has grown rich off the USA, when any fool knows that whoever recorded Love, Devotion, Surrender has earned the right to do whatever the hell he wants and of course DESERVES to benefit.

Now, if you'd like to argue his points, feel free. But no unkind words about Carlos.

Here is what he said:

Saying he represented immigrants, the Grammy winner said at Turner field, “The people of Arizona, and the people of Atlanta, Georgia, you should be ashamed of yourselves.”

On Friday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill that requires many employers to check the immigration status of new hires and authorizes law enforcement officers to check the status of some suspects. The law, one of the toughest in the nation, is similar in some respects to one enacted last year in Arizona.

“This law is not correct. It's a cruel law, actually,” Santana, who emigrated to San Francisco in the 1960s, said after the ceremony. “This is about fear. Stop shucking and jiving. People are afraid we're going to steal your job. No, we aren't.
“This is the United States. This is the land of the free. If people want the immigration laws to keep passing, then everybody should get out and leave the American Indians here.”
If people want to have a respectful and intelligent conversation about immigration, I'm up for that. But we will not repeat the mistakes of THIS AWFUL THREAD. You must be able to account for the fact of the RICH hiring impoverished campesinos on the cheap. If you do not address that fact, it'll be the trap door for you. And no simple-minded bullshit like, "But it's already illegal to hire undocumented workers!" Yes, and monkeys might fly out of my ass... go to the rich golf course right next to my apartment building and try to strike up a conversation with one of the yard-caretakers. Just try it. Oh yeah, I'm sure they're all LEGAL as the dickens.

The rich vote for anti-immigrant Republicans, and without missing a beat, turn around and hypocritically hire illegal nannies and yard-workers. Then they watch Fox News and fuss over Carlos.

The nerve. The sheer nerve.

So, yes I'd like to have a discussion about the golfers and the other rich people like them, who say one thing and do another. Add up enough nannies, and you can see why poor Latinas climb fences to get here. It's not rocket science. If you are unable to address the DEMAND for immigrants as workers, do not attempt discussion.

But if you can, I'm listening.

More at Renee's!


Eminem, who can be a real misogynist and homophobic dolt, showed himself to be A HERO today, and DEAD AIR approves!!! (((applause))) At least he has himself some excellent CLASS AWARENESS, if nothing else... I assume it's because he comes from a good union town like Detroit. (My late father's license plate was the number of his UAW local, so yes, I am biased.)

Eminem took his millions and put his money where his mouth is. He has now earned the right (like the late Frank Zappa) to be politically incorrect and DEAD AIR will allow it, unless, you know, he turns into a serial killer or something:
Eminem Lawsuit May Result in Higher Royalties for Older Artists | Rolling Stone Music

The outcome of a lawsuit on behalf of Eminem against his record label Universal Music Group could radically change the way many artists are paid for digital sales. Eminem's suit argued that at least according to the language in his record contract, individual songs sold online count as a license rather than a sale. This may seem like a minor semantic argument, but according to Eminem's contract – and many others drafted before digital sales were realistic – it is the difference between the artist being paid 50 percent of royalties for a license or 12 percent for a sale.
And he WON, boys and girls!

I listened to a panel discussion on WNCW today, concerning the lawsuit and music licensing. This took years and teams of lawyers... only a multi-millionaire could even attempt such a thing. (Aside: It was so much fun to hear bluegrass artists praise Eminem... I imagine he is a star in all music communities today!) Short version: If your contract was drawn up before the dawn of the digital era, you are getting royally screwed. All of the older artists living off one or two hits, particularly. This means every time your song is sold online, they are keeping most/all of it, since it just wasn't covered in the original contract.

Old artists who started their careers before the days of computers? Record companies are stealing from them, basically. The resolution of this lawsuit creates a precedent and opens the doors for all of them to get what is rightfully theirs. Yeah!

Apparently this will also change the royalty-rules for other kinds of licensing, like for TV shows and movies... but I didn't hear all of that discussion. If anyone knows anything else, feel free to link in comments.


And finally, on a rather ominous note... Watermelons are exploding in China.

You think I could make that up?
Watermelons explode like 'land mines' in China thanks to chemical calamity

Chinese farmers discovered how science can go bad after fields of watermelons exploded like "land mines" after being over-pumped with growth chemicals.

The chilling chemistry calamity struck after a group of 20 farmers in Jiangsu Province used a growth accelerator for the first time during a period of heavy rains.

That caused hundreds of groaning melons to pop like balloons, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
See, this is why people eat organic.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Retro politicians

Listening to the Retro Rock channel on Music Choice, I am startled to learn what is considered Retro these days. Marilyn Manson is "Retro"? Holy shit, who knew. (The kids, I guess, knew.) And there is now "Hip-Hop Classics"... wait, what? Didn't hip-hop start, like, last Tuesday or something? How can there be classics already?

Yeah, aging can be perpetually culturally dislocating and ... sometimes, just plain weird. It certainly provides for perspective and ample opportunities for cynicism and skepticism.

Like, take Newt Gingrich. Please. (My photo is from our recent demonstration against Fox News.) Why do we have to put up with him AGAIN? My father-in-law is going to flip out over the simple fact that he has to look at Newt again, after his beleaguered congressional district was finally RID of his dopey, self-important, narcissistic neocon ass.

Conservative politicians never die, they just get jobs on Fox News.

Speaking of which, Mike Huckabee announced on Saturday that he is NOT running for president, for which small mercies we can be forever grateful.

His blather, however, was something else, all about his HEART and such. (Link to conservative Arkansas blog containing his complete statement here.):

When people asked me what it would take for me to run, I would tell them the same thing—pray for me to have clarity in the decision. I don’t expect everyone to understand this, but I’m a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. That relationship is far more important to me than any political office. For me, the decision is ultimately not a political one, a financial one, or even a practical one —it’s a spiritual one.

The past few weeks, the external signs and signals and answers to many of the obstacles point strongly toward running. When I am with people encouraging me to run, it’s easy to feel the strength of their partnership and commitment to help me to the finish line. Only when I was alone, in quiet and reflective moments did I have not only clarity, but an inexplicable inner peace—a peace that exceeds human understanding. All the factors say GO, but my heart says NO. And that is the decision I have made and in it have finally found resolution. I don’t fully understand it myself—but I’m sure the pundits will.
And the pundits understand that it's really about Huckabee leaving his lucrative Fox TV show (which he would be forced to do if he ran for president) whilst he is trying to build his pricey, nice new home in Florida.

I kept switching back and forth from Huckabee to America's Next Top Model... after engaging in a little herbal refreshment, I started thinking Tyra Banks will probably run for president herself some day. She's far more entertaining than Mike Huckabee!

Rob Zombie is Retro? (shakes head in old-lady amazement)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dead Air Church: Our Facebook era

Meditations today concern the rise of our social networking.

I was asked a question in response to my post about the late Ben Masel (in one of the comments later eaten by Blogger): Did I have any contact with Ben in recent years? And this made me think about The Rise of Facebook.

I had only re-established contact with Ben on FB rather recently. And far too soon, he passed away. It was painful, more painful than if I'd heard about his death at a remove. Hearing about memorial services, mourning friends and Ben's surviving daughter in "real time" was somehow more disturbing than if I hadn't.

I suddenly realized that Facebook has changed everything, including (most especially?) our interior landscape.

Remember how it was to "fall out of touch" with someone? To eventually lose contact completely? It just happened. In fact, let me be clear: it always happened, unless that someone was especially dear and precious. (And how many people are, really?) The meaning of the old-school Christmas card, for many of us, was what Facebook is now: a way to keep in touch and stay up to date. If you weren't on the Christmas card list--no known address, return to sender--well, that was that.

The funky guy who told the great jokes on your job; the pleasant lady who brought the children cookies at Sunday School; Ben Masel, who taught me to be a Yippie... teachers, co-workers, ex-spouses, ex-neighbors... whatever happened to ---? Now, we can keep in touch with them all.

So to speak.

And are we really "in touch"? I guess so, since we can look in on them and see what's happening, or at least see what they want us to know is happening. We can see how they look, where they live, and what they find important enough to mention.

Falling out of touch? Losing contact? Well, you never have to let that happen again.

That is... jarring, to those of us who grew up that way. And what does it mean, that future generations will never know what that is like?

Or will they? Will there always be the Facebook holdouts, the deleters of accounts? The people who simply 'disappear'? Such an act will now take on added significance; it is now deliberate. Before Facebook, it was just the way of the world. And now? It will seem suspicious, as if one is purposely, even determinedly, anti-social.

Maybe it's a sign of being an old fuddy-duddy, but I am glad the various addled twists and turns of my life are not available for public consumption. Certain periods of my life (hardline feminism, early sobriety, the dreaded pseudo-Opus Dei period) are somewhat embarrassing to me now, and I am glad I didn't (couldn't!) broadcast any of that stuff. How could I have explained it? Buddhism holds that there is no "I" or actual self, while Facebook enshrines that same nonexistent self to a fare-thee-well.

If I was unable to completely escape or obscure aspects of my past, would I instead embrace them with verve? Would I change as quickly and easily as I have changed so many times in my life, or would I be even more committed to a particular lifestyle as part and parcel of my identity?

If "hard-partying" became an iron-clad part of my identity, would I have entered recovery at the relatively young age of 24? Or would it be even easier, since a thriving online scene beckons from that corner also? (Do the hard-partiers defriend the people who enter recovery? Vice versa? Admittedly, I have no idea.) If I had totally ensconced myself with Opus Dei-like commandos, would I have ventured out to hear what the Buddhists have to say?

When my daughter moved to Texas, she didn't leave her friends behind. I often think back to what a comfort that would have been for me, those times I uprooted myself and nearly died from homesickness.

And then again, there is Gatsby, the quintessential American character. We re-create ourselves throughout our lives, in numerous ways, large and small. Is Facebook making Gatsby more or less possible and is that a good thing?

Just some random Sabbath thoughts. And what do you think?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ben Masel 1954-2011

Lots of other people have memorialized Ben Masel, most of them far better writers than I am. But I was unsatisfied. There is a word missing in these obituaries, from Daily Kos, to NORML, to TalkLeft and everyone in between.

That word is YIPPIE.

Ben was a YIPPIE.

Why are the lefty honchos avoiding the word in the obits? Because the "serious" leftists never liked us, that's why. But they loved Ben, who was extremely lovable. So, they avoid the word. It's their way of being polite.

Ben would say, hey, you gonna mention that I was a Yippie?

I can hear him now. And my reply to him, is to write this.

He sure was. He was THE Yippie.


At times like this, I wish I had a scanner, and I wish I was more organized. Somewhere in all the detritus, I have several photos of Ben, including one of us together on a skanky old couch, looking particularly wide-eyed and paranoid. This photo has someone's thumb in the corner of it, and I remember: peyote and lots of it. We are looking at the camera, but not really. I was wearing a Jeff Beck t-shirt, and Ben is holding a cigarette. (Now that we know his cause of death was lung cancer, I dearly wish he wasn't holding it.)

Ben looked exactly like Cat Stevens when he was young, and I had a ferocious crush on him. He was witty as the dickens, and I loved provoking him to see what kinds of funny things he would say.

I have a couple of Ben-stories to add to the collection.

The first one involves an endless journey, and I am not quite sure where it began and ended, but it took us through most of the Midwest, Madison and on into the Dakotas, to the Black Hills Alliance Survival Gathering in 1979. I do remember a van breaking down in the dead of night, leaving us stranded in what seemed like a vacant moonscape, as we had just left the Badlands. We walked or hitchhiked (a little of both?) to the rest area, which was designed as a giant cement teepee, appearing quite formidable from a distance.

After using the restroom, I come out of the giant cement teepee, and some clean-cut fellow approaches me out of nowhere. "Hey!" says this strange person good-naturedly, "Ben is already in the van!" The van? Which van? And so I follow the stranger to a gleaming new van with Missouri plates, where Ben is already sitting in the passenger seat, holding forth, talking to the other passengers about the Black Hills Alliance.

Okay, what!? Who are these people?

So, I go ahead and get in (glad they weren't serial killers or anything), and it comes together: these are friends of Ben's. Well, of course they are. But... damn, in the middle of South Dakota? He has friends at a rest stop in the middle of South Dakota????!!!

Yes, he did. Ben had friends everywhere, all over the place. When I told other Yippies this story, they just shrugged: "Ben knows everybody." And I think of all the other people I've known who supposedly "knew everybody"--and it usually meant they only knew a lot of people. I can't imagine them getting picked up by strangers at a rest stop in God-knows-where.

But Ben knew everybody. I mean, he really did.


Unfortunately, my next story is somewhat garbled, since the two principals are no longer with us.

I can't remember who was in jail, Steve Conliff or Ben. This was during the Republican National Convention in Kansas City in 1976, and one of the two (often known as the Glimmer Twins in Yippie parlance) was in jail for some silly traffic violation (and probable possession of marijuana) in Raytown, Missouri. If memory serves, it was Ben who was in jail, while Conliff took to local talk radio to threaten to bring a thousand Yippies to Raytown, to spring Ben. (Of course, there were never "a thousand Yippies"--which was the inside joke.)

"We aren't gonna let a punk town like Raytown get away with this!" Conliff bellowed over the airwaves.

And so, magically, the authorities let Ben go. That afternoon. And they specifically told him to tell his friend on the radio: "This is not a PUNK town!"

Ben assured them he would pass the word along. He then repeated the charge later that night to a reporter for the Kansas City Star: "I got busted last night in some punk town called RAYTOWN!" he pointedly said.

They quoted him, too.


A young photo of Ben; I told you he looked just like Cat Stevens!

And finally, THIS colorful and insane event, the Republican National Convention in 1980 in Detroit, wherein Ben was busted and Conliff miraculously avoided detection by shaving his head.

In the Detroit courtroom where about a dozen Yippies were arraigned, one Yippie was given 10 days for contempt of court. Ben spoke up: "Your honor, you have to give me 20 days, because I have twice as much contempt for your court as she has!"

They obliged.

Ben went to jail a lot, and sued them all later for arresting him. He won, too, frequently joking that it was a good living if you could wait forever to get paid.


This is the obit that gets quoted here on DEAD AIR, since it dares to use the dreaded word YIPPIE:

"Ben knew the laws better than the police did," explained his longtime friend Amy Gros-Louis, echoing a sentiment shared by judges, lawyers and the many police officers who came to regard Masel with a mix of frustration, awe and, eventually, respect.

So it was with Masel, whose death Saturday at age 56 robbed Madison, Wisconsin and the United States of one of the truest champions of the Constitution, the rule of law, and the founding faith that the freedoms outlined in the Bill of Rights are not just ideals; they are practical tools to be used on a daily basis to challenge the powerful, to offend the elites, to tip the balance toward some rough equivalent of justice.

These commitments made Masel a supreme annoyance to prickly policemen, prying prosecutors and pretenders to the presidency. Before he reached the age of 18, Masel made it onto the list of Nixon White House enemies, and he would later earn national headlines for mocking segregationist George Wallace and spitting at conservative Democrat Henry "Scoop" Jackson, who earned the wrath of Masel and his Yippie compatriots for his steady service to the military-industrial complex.
In later years, the exuberant agitator would express a measure of remorse for some of the more extreme acts of his youth. But he never apologized for exercising every right afforded a citizen.

No one pushed harder against the limits on dissent in what was supposed to be a free society. That pushing earned him dozens of court dates. But Bennett Masel, the New Jersey native who came to Madison as a UW undergrad and remained to become a local icon, was never merely a provocateur. He was, for all the theatrics, a serious believer in a left-libertarian analysis of the individual liberty that lawyers and judges came to understand as a credible extension of the thinking of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, the longest-serving justice on the high court and a hero to 1970s radicals such as Masel.

Goodbye Ben, and thank you for teaching me to be a Yippie. It was the major lesson in civil disobedience that I never forgot.



Ben Masel, an activist's activist

Activists and Visionarys

Ben Masel - Professional Activist

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fox News Republican debate in Greenville

... last night at the Peace Center, was rowdier than I expected.

I refer to the action outside the venue, where us scruffy anarchists and sign-carriers were assembled under the watchful eye of Greenville's Finest. In addition, it was Cinco de Mayo and downtown Greenville was packed with inebriated revellers.

I was verbally assaulted upon arrival, as a drunken right-winger asked me if I knew what L stood for????? He was leering/grimacing at me, and if there had been no cops around, I think there is an even chance he would have hit me.

I answered, "Love!"

He sneered. (I know he was thinking some variation of: Damned hippies!) He shouted in my face, stinking of beer, that it stood for LIBERAL and LIAR.

"I think it stands for love," I repeated. He wasn't having any.

"One reason! Just ONE! That you hate Fox News!"

I thought a second, "Glenn Beck," I answered.

"What about him?" he demanded, red-faced.

"He's insane," I answered.

"You just said A LOT about yourself just now!" he half-grimaced at me, yelling, "You just said A LOT!!!"

"I hope so!" I smiled, and backed away from him. In doing so, I nearly backed into Mark Sanford, about 3 feet away, babbling into a microphone. (((scream))) I turned in the other direction, as a low-country accented woman with hair piled high, accosted me. "You have NEVAH seen Fox News, if you believe that! NEVAH!" Republican onlookers offered some scattered applause, and I shouted, "I've seen far TOO much of it!"--the Ron Paul boys guffawed, as various other Republicans filing into the Peace Center offered some boos.

The overt hostility reminded me of the old days of you-know-who back in 1980, the last time a Republican screamed at me over a sign.

The Greenville News accounts of the Fox News debate are here and here, but the links may not work... as stated before, they usually nab me by the end of the day. A Republican account (warning, not safe for liberals, click at your own risk!) is here, in which Herman Cain (!), the black conservative former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, is regarded as the winner. The other participants were Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Gary Johnson and the redoubtable Ron Paul.

The Ron Paul people are just so likeable and INVOLVED, you can't help but get enmeshed in conversation with them. Most are respectful of all views, unlike the nutjobs who verbally assaulted me upon arrival. All stopped and complimented our anti-war signs. And I think it DOES matter that they seem like nice people.

When I heard that during the debate, Ron Paul had actually proposed legalizing prostitution, marijuana and even heroin and bringing all the troops home from God-knows-where, well, I was practically ready to sign on... even as I worry he would destroy the social-service safety net and Medicare. The sheer BALLS of talking this way on Fox News; you just want to reward him. Damn, why don't the other candidates (including the president and everyone on the left) TALK LIKE THIS??? They talk about money, money, save money, but where are they gonna GET that money? Dr Paul has figured it out; he doesn't talk about saving money without, you know, talking about where that money will actually come from, as Lindsey Graham and other pro-war neocon hacks do.

Suddenly, the hypocrisy of the Republican Party is shown in stark relief, and as I said, you just want to give the dude a medal.

Keep holding their feet to the fire, Dr Paul. It's fun to watch them squirm.

In fairness, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson also offered an anti-war line, so good for him.


Photos below:

1) Ron Paul supporter I talked to for about 15 minutes, very nice person.

2) Fox News people wait for their close-ups. (Those TV-lights are incredible; I need to take them with me from now on, particularly whenever I shoot photos at night!)

They deliberately backed their chairs up to a turn lane on the corner, so we couldn't get right in back of them with our signs. Cagey!

3) Herman Cain supporter. A Fox News poll at the end of the evening, declared Cain the winner of the debate.

4) Police.

5) Demonstrators.

6) Gregg Jocoy, my co-organizer and co-chair of South Carolina Green Party. Yeah! The anti-war sign got mentioned on TV, woot!

7) and 8) Rev. David Kennedy and his group Chimuranga, added some fire to the sidewalk action.

And more photos HERE.