Friday, January 27, 2012


I've been busy with work, so this is kind of late. My take on SOTU: Obama drones or The Voice of the Hypocrite is Heard Across the Land.
Ralph Nader did an interview this week on DN! - talking with Amy Goodman about the president's speech. I still like this guy, I don't care what other people say.
Imagine Obama never mentioning the Occupy movement. Imagine Obama never mentioning the Occupy Wall Street movement, the main citizen awareness movement to be coupled with his alleged concern with Wall Street abuses. And yet he talks about advancing human dignity for all people abroad, and he never talks about a major human dignity initiative, the Occupy initiative, based on peaceful resistance to oligarchy and plutocracy. He’s a political coward. He’s got to repair back to the Oval Office and ask himself why he can’t stand for the people in this country who are really aware and trying to improve our democracy and advance justice and make government and corporations accountable.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Today, January 17, is the 51st anniversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's famous farewell address in which he warned of the rising power of the military...

Monday, January 16, 2012

On This Day II

Different from the previous post on this day, but an admirable woman all the same. Last week I brought you the inimitable Sophie Tucker. Today we honor another loud mouth artiste.

Ethel Agnes Zimmermann was born 16 January 1908 at 26-5 4th Street in Astoria, Queens. She is better know as Ethel Merman. I had no idea about this bit of trivia about her: Though her father had grown up in the Dutch Reform tradition, she grew up in a strict Episcopalian household.
"Let's go on with the show...."

And what a team The Muppets and Merman make in this video clip!

On This Day

O Taste and See

The world is
not with us enough
O taste and see

the subway Bible poster said,
meaning The Lord, meaning
if anything all that lives
to the imagination’s tongue,

grief, mercy, language,
tangerine, weather, to
breathe them, bite,
savor, chew, swallow, transform

into our flesh our
deaths, crossing the street, plum, quince,
living in the orchard and being
hungry, and plucking
the fruit.

Denise Levertov was born in 1923 in suburban London. Her father, an Anglican priest, had grown up and been educated in the Hassidic tradition. Her mother was Welsh. Levertov began writing at a young age; she sent some of her poems to T.S. Eliot when she was just 12 years old--and received a letter of encouragement in reply. She moved to the US in 1947 and became a citizen in 1955. She was greatly influenced by the Black Mountain poets. Levertov became Christian in 1984, converting to Roman Catholicism in 1989. She died in 1997.

I still have the original copy of my senior year high school English paper, a critique of O Taste and See, my favorite of all the poems by Denise Levertov. Many more of her poems may be found here.
Photo of Denise Levertov by The Luce Studio, courtesy of New Directions.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Some of These Days

Sonya Kalish (Соня Калиш), better known as Sophie Tucker, was born 13 January 1886 in Tulchyn, Ukraine. Her family immigrated to the US when she was an infant, where they opened a restaurant. She was singing for tips by 1903. You'll enjoy all of these:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The puppeteers are starting to squrm

Chris Wallace interviews Mitch McConnell about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director.
WALLACE: What’s your problem with an agency that would protect consumers from mortgage lenders, from debt collectors and student lenders?
MCCONNELL: Yes, here’s the problem: this new agency answers to no one, absolutely no one — another unelected czar. We’ve got a bunch of those in the White House. We don’t need any more of them. And the only way we can incentivize the administration to change this agency which isn’t subject to oversight by Congress, doesn’t get its money from Congress, answers to literally to no one — it’s one individual who could bring down the banking system in this country if he chose to, has unlimited power. No one has that kind of power.

I doubt Wallace corrected McConnell -- such is the state of our lazy MSM; Talking Points Memo did. The CFBP was created by congress, which stipulated that it have a director. TPM goes on to say
...[I]t’s simply a lie to say that the CFPB director has unlimited power and is subject to no oversight. As we explained last week, the CFPB, unlike any of the other federal financial system regulators, can have it’s rules struck down by a vote of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), a panel composed of the heads of the bank regulatory agencies, the Treasury Secretary, and the Federal Reserve Chairman. No other financial regulator is subject to this sort of check. Theoretically, the FSOC could veto each and every rule that the CFPB makes.

Michael Hastings on war journalists

‎"I went into journalism to do journalism, not advertising. My views are critical but that shouldn’t be mistaken for hostile – I’m just not a stenographer. There is a body of work that shows how I view these issues but that was hard-earned through experience, not something I learned going to a cocktail party on fucking K Street. That’s what reporters are supposed to do, report the story." -- Michael Hastings

Read about Michael Hastings and his new book on the Afghan war in Glenn Greenwald's latest.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Charles Addams' Hundredth

Charles "Chas" Samuel Addams was born 7 January 1912 in Westfield, New Jersey.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

UPDATED: Stephen Lawrence murder verdict

UPDATED 4 January: The murderers Dobson and Norris have been sentenced today: story in the Guardian.

The racist murder of Stephen Lawrence happened 18 years ago. I remember the news reports - this was before internet - I had followed it via my subscription to the mailed edition of the Guardian Weekly. The Guardian today reports that finally there is a conviction and two men have been found guilty.
The case was one of the most famous unsolved murders in Britain. An 18-year fight for justice by Lawrence's parents led to a public inquiry which uncovered blunders by the Metropolitan police, blamed on institutional racism, which allowed his killers to escape justice.

Lawrence, 18, was murdered on 22 April 1993, as he and a friend waited for a bus in Eltham, south-east London.

They were attacked by a group of five to six white youths who shouted: "What, what, nigger?" and then rushed towards them.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

"To celebrate the glories of this day."

Happy New Year!
From a recent concert in Paris, Philippe Jaroussky and Pascal Bertin sing Purcell with some additional musical assist.
Pure delight for today!