Sunday, December 28, 2014

Kurt Andersen talking to Paul Thomas Anderson about Thomas Pynchon and Inherent Vice

If you have a spare 40 minutes, or if you want to listen to something interesting while watching football with no sound, you can do worse than listening to this extended interview that was condensed to 13 minutes on Studio 360:




Tuesday, December 23, 2014

North Korea can finally catch up on the latest cat videos

After nine or ten excruciating hours of internet failure, Kim Jong-un can finally share more moments of joy around the computer with his closest friends.
YouTube is the universal language.
If the United States really did have a hand in this outrageous outage, we may need another Congressional torture commission.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Joe Cocker, 20 May 1944 - 22 December 2014

This is one case where the Beatles' original version definitely came out second best:


This performance by Joe Cocker and the Grease Band is also one of the moments that will always define Woodstock. The YouTube version up above isn't the best, but if you have the DVD of the movie, watch this song with the subtitles on (if you don't have the DVD version of Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music, what's wrong with you?).

Rest in Peace Joe.

~~~~~~~~~
To lighten the mood, someone pointed me to this version with the misheard lyrics:



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hanukkah Miracles!

Along with New York banning fracking yesterday, and a U.S. President finally treating our Cuban policy with a modicum of common sense, we were also apprised of the following sign of divine intervention in human affairs, with god revealing his (or her) true face:


Even more surprising than the feline nature of God (which is actually not surprising at all), is the fact that God is female. Because, despite the "him" in Darth Skeptic's tweet, we know that Grumpy Cat (alias Tardar Sauce, alias God) is a girl.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Jon Stewart nails confessed torturer Dick "The Dick" Cheney

This is must-see TV from last night's The Daily Show. However, Dick Cheney and others responsible for "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" need to be asked these questions before an international court of law where "9/11-9/11-9/11-9/11!-9/11!!!-9/11!!!!!!" is not an acceptable defense for torture.


"George W. Bush, thank you for not dying while you were in office."
--Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, 14 December 2014

Happy Hanukkah

Matisyahu has convinced me on more than one occasion that if I weren't an atheist I'd have to be Jewish (or Rastafarian).


(But I still find it strange to see Matisyahu without his beard.)

TrueBlueLiberal.org turns ten years old today.


Started with its first post on December 16, 2004, in the dark days between the second election of Bush and Cheney (their first without the assistance of an antiquated electoral college, hanging chads, and a reactionary Supreme Court) and their second inauguration, this blog enters its double digits today much as it began, not with a bang but a whimper.

One of these days I'll need to start taking this blog seriously. Maybe I'll start giving out True Blue Liberal Blue Ribbons to other neglected blogs in 2015. Americans love awards.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Legal Strategy 101 for War Criminals

With the Senate report on CIA torture during the Bush/Cheney years being released today, it's important once again to remember that Administration's intense opposition to United States participation in the International Criminal Court as soon as they came into power in 2001 (long before September 11th of that year). It's almost as if they knew that there might be Americans committing war crimes in the near future.

I couldn't find any lengthy statements from George Bush or Dick Cheney about their principled opposition to a permanent Nuremberg-inspired war crimes court, but I did find an interesting video explanation from the Captain Kangaroo they placed as their recess-appointment ambassador to the United Nations. John Bolton puts the reason the Iraq Warriors objected to the ICC clearly in the following lines delivered about three minutes into this video:
"And yet, the threat of prosecution -- the threat of being accused of being a war criminal -- can have an inhibiting effect. And since there's no accountability for these institutions, it could pose a threat to the United States -- or to the will of American friends and allies -- to take actions that they should undertake for their own self defense." --John Bolton [Emphasis Added]
Isn't that the point of all police and prosecutors and courts? To have an inhibiting effect on potential criminals?



And without American participation in an International Criminal Court, shouldn't even Bolton agree that it's therefore incumbent on American judicial institutions to look into and possibly prosecute the people behind the numerous war crimes listed in the report released today?

Monday, December 08, 2014

Ken Weatherwax 1955-2014

I just heard the news that the actor known to us all as Pugsley in The Addams Family (the 1964-1966 small screen original, not any of its lesser, colorized, widescreen imitators) died today.

What better way to remember him than watching the first episode of one of the favorite shows from my childhood? I'm exactly Pugsley's age, and I was so jealous of his home in 1964.




"Why else would a grown man play with trains?" -- Gomez Addams




Friday, December 05, 2014

What the Fuck is Hillary Clinton Doing in a Commercial for Ford Pickups?

I may have to kill my television again before 2016 gets here. I actually couldn't watch this folksy g-dropping piece of dreck until the end, so don't feel that you need to either.


Tuesday, December 02, 2014

So, I did this map thing.

I have two areas I need to address. I need to visit the heart of Dixie and the home of the Mountain West football division, oh, and also Alaska, so I can get a good look at Russia.

Create Your Own Visited States Map


The map is actually more full than I thought it would be when I started this exercise, but some of these blocks were filled in during childhood drives.

Friday, November 14, 2014

"We thank you for your patience and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."

Is this the single most common sentence in office emails (and, possibly, in the English language) now that the computer age is well into middle age?


(We actually know of one person who worked in an office where there was a broadcast email that ended with this variation: "Thank you for your patients and apologize for any incontinence this may cause." We would like to believe that it may have been evidence of a sense of humor rather than another IT professional leaning too heavily on his or her email program's spell-checking capabilities.)


Wednesday, November 05, 2014

"sail on, sail on, o mighty ship of state"


You can watch cable news tonight and obsess over all the minutiae of yesterday's midterm election and its predictable Republican gains, or you can keep these swings in perspective by listening to the song from Montreal's favorite anglophone son up above, or reading this poem from 1850 down below, which probably had at least a little bit of influence on the chorus in Leonard Cohen's "Democracy."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“The Republic” from “The Building of the Ship”
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1850)


Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O UNION, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
We know what Master laid thy keel,
What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what a forge and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope!
Fear not each sudden sound and shock,
’T is of the wave and not the rock;
’T is but the flapping of the sail,
And not a rent made by the gale!
In spite of rock and tempest’s roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee,
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o’er our fears,
Are all with thee,—are all with thee!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Monday, November 03, 2014

Mark Your Calendars for September 16, 2015!

The participants in the 2016 GOP Clown Circus are being officially invited to set up their travelling circus tents and adorable little clown-car rodeos in the parking lot of Simi Valley, California's Ronald Reagan Library [sic, don't expect to see any books there] on that date.
Get you drinking games ready!

Monday, October 27, 2014

In the "news"...

I have been avoiding news channels lately, but I just surfed past Erin Burnett's show on CNN with my remote control and watched them deviate from the EBOLA HYSTERIA MONTH script for ten minutes (at about 7:50pm on 10/27/14) to warn us that ISIS might be preparing to use captured American shoulder-fired missiles to shoot down aircraft (followed immediately by a commercial for Northrop Grumman weaponry).

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Jack Bruce 3/14/1943--10/25/2014

Unfortunately, we'll never see another Cream reunion like this one in 2005.

Ginger Baker is pleased at the end of this version of "White Room." But here's a version from the 60s with more vocals from Jack Bruce and more Wah pedal from Eric Clapton.


I'll sleep in this place with the lonely crowd;
Lie in the dark where the shadows run from themselves.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Before This Afternoon's Rain . . .

...there were great clouds over Manhattan at lunchtime.
Click the image to embiggen this iPhone panorama.

Maybe it's a post-Sandy feeling, but I sometimes think that Manhattan Island looks so thin and vulnerable between the Hudson River and a cloudy sky.

Monday, October 13, 2014

I'm done watching the news for a little while...


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Nice to Know I'm Getting LESS Conservative with Age

I took this "Are You A Republican?" quiz back in 2011 and I was 2% Republican, "...a complete liberal, utterly without a trace of Republicanism. Your strength is as the strength of ten because your heart is pure..."

 I just took it again and my score improved to Negative 3% Republican:

I am:
-3%
Republican.
"You're a damn Commie!  Where's Tailgunner Joe when we need him?"

Are You A Republican?

Monday, October 06, 2014

I don't think that plant is going to survive.

If you liked Bill Murray singing Roxy Music at a Tokyo karaoke bar in Lost In Translation, you will love this video of him singing 'Shelter from the Storm' along with Bob Dylan in this video pulled from the upcoming St. Vincent:

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Fox News Training Film Exposed

A true blue liberal mole within Fox News HQ at 1211 Avenue of the Americas has, at a great risk to his or her safety, released this key video used to train all new Fox News reporters and talking heads:

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

* * ALERT * * FOX TO REVEAL ALL TONIGHT * * ALERT * *

In the moment all of America has been waiting a decade for, the fair and balanced Fox News Network will finally tie all its paranoia up in one bullet-proof Grand Unification Conspiracy Theory tonight, beginning with the story of how an evil young Kenyan infant invented a fictitious Hawaiian birth story and a chemical concoction he gave the name "Ebola" and proceeding through the nexus of the all-powerful Acorn-Alinsky-BlackPanther secret socialist power structure patiently pushing its Kenyan messiah and an agenda of marijuana and gay marriage to distract us from the real threat of Ebola-carrying Guatemalan children crossing the porous border and infecting the very last bastion of real Americans -- Texas. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

This might actually be good.

I hate to get my hopes up, but is it possible that Paul Thomas Anderson may actually succeed in bringing a Thomas Pynchon novel to the screen?
Here's the trailer released today:



And here's an interesting discussion on WNYC's Soundcheck in which John Schaefer and Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield talk about the music in the novel:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Joe Biden's prestige just rose inestimably in my eyes.

Joe Biden, at an event for Nuns on the Bus in Des Moines on Wednesday, quoted  from my favorite author's greatest novel, the most famous of the Proverbs for Paranoids that appear in Gravity's Rainbow -- number 3:
Proverbs for Paranoids:
1. You may never get to touch the Master, but you can tickle his creatures.
2. The innocence of the creatures is in inverse proportion to the immorality of the Master.
3. If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.
4. You hide, they seek.
5. Paranoids are not paranoid because they're paranoid, but because they keep putting themselves, fucking idiots, deliberately into paranoid situations.
--The Proverbs never appear in one place in Gravity's Rainbow, so these are collected from pages 237, 241, 251, 262,and 292
If I hear that he has started quoting Proverb 1, I'll turn TrueBlueLiberal.Org into a full-time dedicated Ready For Joe 2016 website.

arrrrrrrgh.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

As Long As We're All Writing About Presidents and Golf: "...now watch this drive..."

Earlier this week Maureen Dowd accidentally hit send on "The Golf Address," possibly the worst piece of prose ever to appear on the Op/Ed pages of The New York Times. However, she was only the latest in a long line of pundits and ideologues since 2009 who have been condemning President Obama for taking time to play the traditional sport of upper-middle-class white Anglo-Saxon businesscriminals when he should have been chaining himself to his desk.

Only Eisenhowers, Nixons, Fords, Clintons, and Bushes are allowed time on the links while serving as President. Starting in 2017, President (and golf course impresario) Trump will certainly benefit from the fresh air as he solves all the problems left behind by the current administration while hitting little white balls.

Now watch this drive:

Friday, August 22, 2014

Robert F. "Bob" McDonnell and his CBN University Thesis on the GOP and the Family

No one should be surprised that when you do a Google image search for "bland generic white guy" you get a page full of "Bob" McDonnell photos, should they? (And TBL readers don't need me to label this image as satire, do you?)

That, and the fact that he wrote the following in his 1989 thesis at Christian Broadcasting Network University (now Regent University) as a 34-year-old married man make it all the more surprising predictable that he is now in the process of throwing his wife under the bus to protect himself and whatever shreds may be left of his former political daydreams.
The family as an institution existed antecedent to civil government, and hence is not subject to being defined by it. It is in the law of Nature of the created Order that the Creator instituted marriage and family in Eden, where He ordained that "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." Family arises out of this divinely-created covenant of marriage between a man and woman, the terms of which can neither be originally set nor subsequently altered by the parties or the state.   --page 13 of "The Republican Party's Vision For the Family: The Compelling Issue of the Decade"
Another gem from the young Republican politician's CBN University thesis and wedge-issue playbook about the importance of paying lip service to marriage and the family.
 {NOTE: While the Google Image Search results may have been altered for satirical purposes, there actually was a university founded by Pat Robertson and named after his Christian Broadcasting Network in 1978. It changed its name to Regent University in 1989 when Bob McDonnell received his master's and law degrees from that institution of religious indoctrination. If you look at the first page of his thesis, you'll see that it was written at "CBN University", not Regent.}

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"...no faith teaches people to massacre innocents." Has Barack Obama read the Bible?

President Obama was perfectly correct today to condemn the Islamic State murderers who executed American journalist James Foley, but I have to take exception to some lines in his remarks:
... They [the group known as ISIS, ISIL, or The Islamic State] have murdered Muslims -- both Sunni and Shia -- by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can for no other reason than they practice a different religion. They declared their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people. So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day. ...
--Barack Obama, 20 August 2014 [emphasis added]

We don't have to search further than the unread books sitting in every American hotel room to find a "faith that teaches people to massacre innocents":
Deuteronomy 13:6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;
8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:
9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
11 And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you.
12 If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying,
13 Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known;
14 Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you;
15 Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword.
16 And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the Lord thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again.

17
And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the Lord may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers;

18 When thou shalt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the Lord thy God.
--King James Version [emphasis added]
We have to stop paying lip service to this god of the three Abrahamic faiths as if he were nothing but a benign and peaceful poltergeist.

Another August Anniversary : Joyeux Anniversaire AFP

When the Allied forces entered Paris in August 1944, eight French journalists took over the Office Français d'Information (OFI), which had been a tool of the Vichy regime and the Nazis.

On August 20, 1944 the Agence France Presse (AFP) we all know today sent out its first dispatch.
«À tous les journaux libres de Paris. Grâce à l'action des Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur, les premiers journaux libres vont paraître, à la veille de l'entrée des troupes alliées, dans Paris presque entièrement libéré. 
L'Agence Française de Presse leur adresse aujourd'hui son premier service. Au moment où des combats se livrent encore dans la ville, et où tombent de nombreux combattants de la liberté, nous saluons tous nos camarades de la presse, disparus, emprisonnés et déportés, et notamment nos 21 collaborateurs tombés dans les mains de la Gestapo. 
Au service de tous les journaux libres, l'Agence Française de Presse assurera, avec l'objectivité stricte qui est le devoir d'un organisme d'Information, la diffusion de nouvelles scrupuleusement contrôlées et recoupées, qui, en attendant l'installation d'une censure militaire, ne doivent en rien gêner la marche des opérations sur différents fronts.»
Happy 70th birthday to the AFP.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

R.I.P. Lauren Bacall 1924-2014, True Blue Liberal

Lauren Bacall passed away at the age of 89 in her apartment at the Dakota on August 12. This quote comes from the end of an article by Clancy Sigal I read on Salon this morning:
"All her life Lauren Bacall stayed a true-blue, New York, left-of-center, liberal Democrat lobbying for Adlai Stevenson and Bobby Kennedy. Or as she proudly boasted in a late interview, 'I’m anti-Republican. A liberal. The L-word!' "
I knew there was a reason other than her looks and "The Look" that I loved her in To Have and Have NotKey LargoSlick Hare, and The Big Sleep (and anything else she appeared in). I didn't have to dig too much deeper to find the transcript from "the L-word" interview with Larry King on CNN from May 6, 2005, when many liberals were renouncing that label.

KING: Have you always been politically motivated? 
BACALL: I have. I have. I come from a...
KING: You go back -- In fact, I saw you.
BACALL: I saw you? 
KING: I saw you speak for Adlai Stevenson. 
BACALL: You did? 
KING: In New York. I believe Bogey was with you. 
BACALL: Yes. 
KING: In '52. 
BACALL: '52. That's when my -- two of my greatest friendships began with Arthur Schlesinger and Alistair Cooke, 1952. 
KING: And what a man Stevenson was. 
BACALL: Oh, what a great man. (INAUDIBLE) you see this country. Please. Don't get me started, as they say. 
KING: So we missed a good opportunity. I think, even his critic was say that Adlai Stevenson was a great...
BACALL: He was a brilliant, brilliant man. But no one had heard anyone except Roosevelt speak with wit. You know, they couldn't figure out what that was all about. Couldn't be serious. 
KING: He had a great wit. 
BACALL: He was brilliant. 
KING: Are you big a "D" Democrat? Do you...
BACALL: I'm a total Democrat. I'm anti-Republican. And it's only fair that you know it. Even though...
KING: Wait a minute. Are you a liberal? 
BACALL: I'm a liberal. The L word! 
KING: Egads! 
BACALL: I love it. Being a liberal is the best thing on earth you can be. You are welcoming to everyone when you're a liberal. You do not have a small mind. Little picayune things. You want to welcome everyone. Liberal, little picayune thing. 
KING: You're open to...
BACALL: You want to welcome everyone. Liberal, I'm a Roosevelt. I'm a -- and I hear anyone say anything about FDR... 
KING: You're a new dealer, fair dealer. 
BACALL: I'm a total -- and I was a kid and I'm total, total, total liberal and proud of it. And I think it's outrageous to say "the L word". I mean, excuse me. They should be damn lucky that they were liberals here. Liberals gave more to the population of the United States than any other group. 
KING: Well, Social Security. 
BACALL: Everything.
*** 
KING: Very well said. Spoken as a true liberal.    BACALL: Don't knock the liberals.   KING: I'm not.    BACALL: Yes, you are. You secretly you do.   


Monday, August 18, 2014

The Quote of the Day: "Visit the Caliphate Before the Caliphate Visits You"

It's not just NPR, but NPR is what I listen to when I'm not listening to music, so I have to blame them for giving over much too much of their Iraq coverage to the experts who were part of the fuck-up of the last decade. Having a uniform and brass on one's shoulder should not automatically qualify a person for opinions about war and peace, but NPR has been interviewing a lot of officers lately.

Here's the one I heard on the ride home this evening. At the 3'45" mark of this interview, Marine Colonel Gary Anderson (ret.) disqualifies himself by using the forbidden jargon "Boots on the Ground," but ten seconds later when Audie Cornish asks him if those "Boots" should be worn by Americans, he gives us our quote of the day:
"Well, I know it's not a popular thing. The American people think that they're uh tired of war, but uh they're gonna be a lot less tired when some of his [Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's] American passport holders come back and start shooting up shopping malls and things like that. I think the watchword that I would use is 'Visit the Caliphate Before the Caliphate Visits You.'" 
This "watchword" (another suspect bit of jargon) would fit perfectly coming from a mouth of a Bush Administration cabinet member and could have been written as one the publicity tropes coming out of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) in 2002-2003.

Network News Sums Up Woodstock for the Nation on August 18, 1969

Here's Walter Cronkite and the CBS News team. Be sure to watch the John Laurence commentary after the commercials for Carnation Slender and Friskies dog food:


Here's Frank Reynolds' ABC broadcast, in which Howard K. Smith's commentary sees Woodstock as a precursor of future overpopulation:


And here's a young Lem Tucker reporting from the scene for NBC:

It's too bad that there was no such thing as cable news in August 1969 so that Fox News could tell us how awful it really was.

Friday, August 15, 2014

45 years ago this afternoon, this happened...

... Richie Havens was the first performer to take the stage at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, and he set the mood and theme for the next three days of peace and music.
Try to forget this summer's bad news for at least the next four minutes and fifty-two seconds as you watch this video:


John 'n' Hillary

Seeing eye to eye on foreign policy.


Mother Jones has a quiz online today asking you to decide whether a foreign policy quotation came out of the mouth of John McCain or Hillary Clinton.


I have to admit my complete failure to tell the two apart, scoring an impressively mediocre 5 of 10 correct (but that's the point, isn't it?).

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Let George Carlin Respond to Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh actually attributed Robin Williams' suicide to his liberalism:
"He had everything, everything that you would think would make you happy. But it didn’t. Now, what’s the left’s worldview in general? What is it? If you had to attach not a philosophy but an attitude to a leftist’s worldview, it’s one of pessimism and darkness, sadness. They’re never happy are they? They’re always angry about something. Not matter what they get, they’re always angry."

This vile nonsense doesn't deserve a reasoned answer about sadness and anger and clinical depression being totally different things; I feel better letting another gifted comedian who died too young reply to the stogie-sucking angry fat man hiding behind the radio microphone:
Sometimes a cigar isn't just a cigar.

Friday, August 08, 2014

In a week of significant anniversaries, here's another.

The day after Philippe Petit walked between the World Trade Center towers in New York City in 1974, Richard Nixon tried to distract our attention from that feat by calling a press conference in Washington.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

A Day to Remember Ernest Gruening and Wayne Morse

On this fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that pulled us deeper into Vietnam on false pretenses, I wasn't happy to turn on my computer at lunchtime to see this updated headline about Iraq on The New York Times' homepage:
"U.S. Weighs Iraq Airstrikes, Citing Crisis" The New York Times, 8/7/2014 at 1pm EDT
On August 7, 1964, the House voted unanimously and the Senate voted with only two exceptions to give President Johnson the authority to "take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force" in Vietnam after an incident between American warships and North Vietnamese patrol boats in the Gulf of Tonkin that turned out to be not at all what it was presented to be when Johnson and McNamara explained it to the press, the Congress, and the American people.

Members of Congress and the American people should always remember when they read a bellicose headline or watch a speech from a Secretary of Defense or State with professional-looking maps, that only two members of Congress took a correct action 50 years ago today.

All Vietnam is not worth the life of an American boy...
Alaska Senator Ernest Gruening, August 1964
I believe that history will record this resolution as a historic mistake. I am not going to go along with this kind of program, in South Vietnam … that in my judgment is going to kill needlessly untold numbers of American boys, and for nothing.
— Oregon Senator Wayne Morse, August 1964

If you want more details of the event itself, click here for the the Gulf of Tonkin excerpt from Daniel Ellsberg's Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.

40 Years Ago Today Above New York City.


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

69 Years Ago Today

Very few people alive today remember clearly what it was like to be a member of a species that never felt threatened with complete annihilation.



In the film above, as you can see from the curtains moving around the porthole behind him, President Truman is on a ship returning from the Potsdam conference, but here's the full text of the statement he's reading as it was released by the White House 69 years ago today, when the world was ushered into the nuclear age.

August 6, 1945

THE WHITE HOUSE Washington, D.C.

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British "Grand Slam" which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare.

The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. And the end is not yet. With this bomb we have now added a new and revolutionary increase in destruction to supplement the growing power of our armed forces. In their present form these bombs are now in production and even more powerful forms are in development.

It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East.

Before 1939, it was the accepted belief of scientists that it was theoretically possible to release atomic energy. But no one knew any practical method of doing it. By 1942, however, we knew that the Germans were working feverishly to find a way to add atomic energy to the other engines of war with which they hoped to enslave the world. But they failed. We may be grateful to Providence that the Germans got the V-1's and V-2's late and in limited quantities and even more grateful that they did not get the atomic bomb at all.

The battle of the laboratories held fateful risks for us as well as the battles of the air, land, and sea, and we have now won the battle of the laboratories as we have won the other battles.

Beginning in 1940, before Pearl Harbor, scientific knowledge useful in war was pooled between the United States and Great Britain, and many priceless helps to our victories have come from that arrangement. Under that general policy the research on the atomic bomb was begun. With American and British scientists working together we entered the race of discovery against the Germans.

The United States had available the large number of scientists of distinction in the many needed areas of knowledge. It had the tremendous industrial and financial resources necessary for the project and they could be devoted to it without undue impairment of other vital war work. In the United States the laboratory work and the production plants, on which a substantial start had already been made, would be out of reach of enemy bombing, while at that time Britain was exposed to constant air attack and was still threatened with the possibility of invasion. For these reasons Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt agreed that it was wise to carry on the project here. We now have two great plants and many lesser works devoted to the production of atomic power. Employment during peak construction numbered 125,000 and over 65,000 individuals are even now engaged in operating the plants. Many have worked there for two and a half years. Few know what they have been producing. They see great quantities of material going in and they see nothing coming out of these plants, for the physical size of the explosive charge is exceedingly small. We have spent two billion dollars on the greatest scientific gamble in history -- and won.

But the greatest marvel is not the size of the enterprise, its secrecy, nor its cost, but the achievement of scientific brains in putting together infinitely complex pieces of knowledge held by many men in different fields of science into a workable plan. And hardly less marvelous has been the capacity of industry to design and of labor to operate, the machines and methods to do things never done before so that the brainchild of many minds came forth in physical shape and performed as it was supposed to do. Both science and industry worked under the direction of the United States Army, which achieved a unique success in managing so diverse a problem in the advancement of knowledge in an amazingly short time. It is doubtful if such another combination could be got together in the world. What has been done is the greatest achievement of organized science in history. It was done under pressure and without failure.

We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan's power to make war.

It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam. Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth. Behind this air attack will follow sea and land forces in such number that and power as they have not yet seen and with the fighting skill of which they are already well aware.

The Secretary of War, who has kept in personal touch with all phases of the project, will immediately make public a statement giving further details.

His statement will give facts concerning the sites at Oak Ridge near Knoxville, Tennessee, and at Richland, near Pasco, Washington, and an installation near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Although the workers at the sites have been making materials to be used producing the greatest destructive force in history they have not themselves been in danger beyond that of many other occupations, for the utmost care has been taken of their safety.

The fact that we can release atomic energy ushers in a new era in man's understanding of nature's forces. Atomic energy may in the future supplement the power that now comes from coal, oil, and falling water, but at present it cannot be produced on a bases to compete with them commercially. Before that comes there must be a long period of intensive research. It has never been the habit of the scientists of this country or the policy of this government to withhold from the world scientific knowledge. Normally, therefore, everything about the work with atomic energy would be made public.

But under the present circumstances it is not intended to divulge the technical processes of production or all the military applications. Pending further examination of possible methods of protecting us and the rest of the world from the danger of sudden destruction.

I shall recommend that the Congress of the United States consider promptly the establishment of an appropriate commission to control the production and use of atomic power within the United States. I shall give further consideration and make further recommendations to the Congress as to how atomic power can become a powerful and forceful influence towards the maintenance of world peace.

Source: Harry S. Truman Library, "Army press notes," box 4, Papers of Eben A. Ayers.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Kidnapped?

This is a question about language and how it frames our debates. If Israeli defense forces and Hamas are at war in Gaza, how can the action of taking a prisoner of war by either side be described as a "kidnapping"?
And when will the United States return all those kidnap victims we've been holding in Guantanamo for over a decade?



Monday, July 28, 2014

2016 Clown Circus Preview -- Watch for the Cosplay at Republi-Con Cleveland 2016

Looking for a way to move from the 19th into the 20th Century (16 years too late), the Grand Old Party's media consultants couldn't help but look longingly at the successful Comic-Con San Diego 2014 that just wrapped up. Rebranding their convention as Republi-Con Cleveland 2016 is the easy and obvious first step, but they also see real possibilities suggested by nerdy cosplay. Having a stale brand name is only one part of the Republican problem; image consultants have also pointed out the poor optics of having a convention audience nominating Willard "Mitt" Romney in the summer of 2012 that was 98.7% white. Creative cosplay could radically change the look of those traditional monochromatic crowds in 2016.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Exposing the Other EPA, the "Environmental Policy Alliance"

It's important to look behind the curtains to expose the paid political consultants doing the bidding of corporate interests in ads like these:

Of course it's ridiculous to paint those concerned about the effects of fracking on the environment as the flat-earth science deniers when that crown belongs to those who stop their ears and scream to avoid hearing about climate change, but big lies repeated often, and broadcast on TV, have a way of working their way in the public conversation. So who are the people behind that other EPA, the "Environmental Policy Alliance," which created this ad about Colorado citizens who voted against fracking? It's a front group of a well-connected Washington PR firm, Berman & Co, which also operates front groups defending corporate interests in all areas from tobacco to liquor to dietary fat to oil and gas fracking. Here's its leader, Rick Berman, smirking his way through an interview with Rachel Maddow in 2010.


And here's a long list of Berman & Company's current list of front organizations polluting the public debate with corporate money.

Other Berman Front Groups



Thursday, July 24, 2014

"Turn Off, Unplug, Drop Out"

I'd like to present, as a gift to 21st-century youth, the slogan above modeled on Timothy Leary's advice  ("Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out") to those of my generation.



I was on a train this morning where everyone was either looking at or speaking into a phone and I thought once again about how much better the world was before those electronic leashes were invented. People in their teens and twenties today will never know the freedom of traveling for months with no one back in the States expecting any more than an occasional letter or postcard. Then a few minutes ago I stumbled upon this article about a device parents can now install in their teenagers' cars to keep track of them and all of their experiments with speed or other deviations from the norm. The article ends with a warning couched as a simple statement of fact:
"Teens, get used to it. This is America; someone is going to be spying on you for the rest of your life."
It's hard to imagine that some young people (and many of us older people) won't look for at least temporary escapes from corporate, governmental, and familial electronic tethers from time to time, but will we ever see a mass movement to Turn Off, Unplug, and Drop Out? And if that movement develops, will it take place entirely beyond the range of the social media and mass media radar?

Monday, July 21, 2014

"Use Your Voices or Hold a Light" : Eddie Vedder and 'the most powerful song ever written'

Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam had never played John Lennon's "Imagine" before last Friday night in Portugal when he picked up an acoustic guitar and sang a solo version (with a few thousand back-up singers). Here are the words he used to introduce the song (from Consequence of Sound) followed by the video.
 "You know if you are anti-war. If you're anti-war it doesn’t mean you are 'pro' one side or the other in a conflict. However it does make you 'pro' many things. We are not alone after all. ... Well, so anti-war makes you 'pro' many things. Pro-peace, pro-human, pro-evolution, makes you pro-communication, pro-diplomacy, pro-love, pro-understanding, pro-forgiveness. You know some people don’t understand how you can be pro-soldier. If you are anti-war you're pro-soldier because you don’t want the soldier to be put in harm's way. To sacrifice himself or herself for some reason that’s not…for no good reason. I have many, many…We have many, many friends of the group and through out our lives we’ve met incredible people and in the armed forces. We have an understanding and they listen our music and they get it so I’m not sure…You know sometimes if you speak out people are going to misunderstand and they take things a certain way or another. If you don’t speak out you don’t know. If someone doesn’t like it probably means it has some kind of meaning. It’s not just bullshit. It’s not just nothing. So this next song I always thought it was probably the most powerful song ever written. I think it is the most powerful song ever written. Which is why I have never played it. It seems like maybe there is a reason to play it. If you’d like join me or use your voices or hold a light there might be some people out there that need to know they are not alone.”

Eddie Vedder - Imagine (live in Portugal) by sheehanpaul-ie

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Language Matters: Jargon Equals Death

So, here's the quote of the day:
Last week in my email to you I synthesized our strategic direction as a productivity and platform company. Having a clear focus is the start of the journey, not the end. The more difficult steps are creating the organization and culture to bring our ambitions to life. Today I’ll share more on how we’re moving forward. On July 22, during our public earnings call, I’ll share further specifics on where we are focusing our innovation investments. 
--Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, in a memo with the subject line "Starting to Evolve Our Organization and Culture" on July 17, 2014 

That's the first paragraph of a memo sent to Microsoft staff early this morning. The second paragraph goes on to mention the 18,000 employees who are being severed from the corporate teat (it's reprinted in full HERE in this Wire article, "Slaughter at Microsoft as Tech Giant to Fire 14 Percent of Its Staff").

The moral: If someone in a suit starts talking about synthesizing the strategic direction of your office, start bringing cartons to work to clean the tchotchkes off your desk.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Quote of the Week Came from Phil Donahue

"I’d very much like you to see the behavior of the congressmen. They were summoned to the White House by WHIG, White House Iraq Group. This is a Karl Rove committee that included the advertising warriors who named our invasion “Shock and Awe,” and “Rolling Thunder,” like video games. And they gave them their talking points: “A smoking gun will become a mushroom cloud”; “The longer we wait, the more dangerous he becomes”; “Saddam has more weapons of mass destruction than Hitler ever had”; “I see Hitler in Saddam Hussein.” And they read this, they’re looking down at the piece of paper, in what was at most a shell debate, that led to the deaths of over 4,500 service people, men and women both, not to mention how many injuries, we’re not even sure, we’re not even sure how many Iraqis are dead, and the refugees are in the millions.
This is unbelievable. You’ve got to see this debate. It’s truly a very instructive piece on what you can do if you scare the people. George Bush took this nation, the mainstream media included, and led it right into this war. It was an amazingly executed, brilliantly executed, plan. The politics of fear. ..."
--Phil Donahue
This is from an interview with Elias Isquith in Salon that was published on July 10 with the title, "Phil Donahue’s vindication: Media icon unloads on Fox, Cheney and what happened at MSNBC; Legendary TV host was fired for opposing Iraq war. Here's how he feels seeing the return of those who got it wrong." I couldn't resist repeating this particular part of the interview because he again speaks about the pivotal role of the public relations team, the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG, that lied us into the war, and which I tried to beat the drum about on both trueblueliberal.org and whiggate.blogspot.com since 2005. Every time WHIG comes up in the news again, I make sure I check one thing; I search The New York Times to see if they have yet mentioned the White House Iraq Group in their news pages.  I may be missing something, but I still cannot find it mentioned outside the comments sections and opinion pages. If America's Paper Of Record (which gladly printed WHIG's aluminum-tube lies under Judith Miller's byline) doesn't recognize the existence of the WHIG, did it exist?

(This is being cross-posted on both the TrueBlueLiberal and Whiggate Update blogs)

Tommy Ramone (Erdélyi Tamás) 1952-2014

Following the singer Joey (2001), bassist Dee Dee (2002), guitarist Johnny (2004), the original Ramones drummer Tommy died earlier today at the age of 62. We still have two original Beatles and four original Rolling Stones, so it's hard to believe that every member of this energetic late-'70s band is already gone.

I don't know about you, but here's the song I always hear in my head and the time and place I always see in my mind's eye as soon as I see or hear the name of this band: "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" at CBGB in 1977.



"Well the kids are all hopped up and ready to go | They're ready to go now | They've got their surfboards | And they're going to the discotheque a go go | But she just couldn't stay | She had to break away | Well New York City really has it all"

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Facepainters on Facebook

In the random juxtaposition of the day on my Facebook timeline, the lesson is obvious: Paint a Belgian flag on your face and you'll get a contract with L'Oréal; paint your face like a clown and you'll be labeled a gang by the FBI and the Justice Department (or invited to say your peace at the 2016 GOP Presidential Debates).

Monday, June 30, 2014

Isn't Pride One of the Seven Deadly Sins?

Here's a headline in the Washington Post that hits home for someone who's been calling himself and his blog "True Blue Liberal" for the past ten years: "Proud to be an American? You’re probably not a true liberal."  
According to the Political Typology report of the Pew Research Center, only 40% of  "Solid Liberals" consider themselves "Often Proud to Be An American."

(Days like today show why we liberals often find it hard wrap ourselves in red white 'n' blue, crank up the Lee Greenwood, and exercise the cardinal sin of  pride.)

Why Is the Internet So Blue?

An article on Slate.fr this morning asks, "Pourquoi tous les sites Internet utilisent-ils le bleu?"
True Blue Liberal responds, "Pourquoi pas?"

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The 2014 Platform of Texas's Grand Ole Party -- The Comic Wingnut Gift That Keeps on Giving

As in 2012, the 2014 State Republican Party Platform of Texas continues to be a platform that calls for US withdrawal from the UN, World Bank, IMF, and World Trade Organization, an end to the Department of Energy and the ban on incandescent light bulbs, an Israel policy inspired by "God's biblical promise" and our "God-given right" to carry a firearm, an end to Social Security and the Environmental Protection Agency and more. Read it all if you want to see how far this supposedly mainstream political party has left the banks of the stream altogether. It also contains the headline-grabbing section about reparative therapy for gays because (of course) "Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that have been ordained by God in the Bible..."

But tonight I want to concentrate on the section on "HONORING THE SYMBOLS OF OUR AMERICAN HERITAGE" in which flag desecration (against it) and the Confederate Widow's Plaque (for it) are addressed and there is this more open-ended  section:
Symbols of American Heritage - We call upon governmental entities to protect all symbols of our American heritage from being altered in any way. 
Does that include protection of the Yellow Snake Teabag Cop-Killer Flag from alteration?

How about that battle flag flown by traitors defending slavery during the 1860s?