April 25, 2005

sunlight on the water sets a switch off in your brain

* The Mountain Goats new record, The Sunshine Tree is out tomorrow. Amazon has a new Darnielle interview posted. excerpt:

Amazon: So since you're about ready to start [touring], what are the best and worst parts of touring?

Darnielle: Well, this sounds corny, but it's true. The best part of touring [is when] you come out on stage and there's 400 people completely pumped to see you. It sounds like it's an ego stroke, but it's less ego than a communal thing. To use a hippie term, you sort of honor that energy by pouring as much of your blood into it as you possibly can. That's the best thing in the world. And then the worst part is it's hard to get good vegetarian food.

Amazon: That's right, you’re a vegetarian.

Darnielle: I encourage all your readers to visit farmsanctuary.org and give them as much money as they possibly can.

* Top ten conservative idiots. Bush has regained the top spot. excerpt:

"2. Frank Luntz

"It's a mystery to me why the presumably-savvy media spinmeister Frank Luntz would ever agree to be interviewed by The Daily Show - but it happened last week. Luntz was caught with his pants down by TDS's Samantha Bee, who enlisted his help setting up a fake town hall meeting. At one point in the interview Bee provided Luntz with several words and phrases and asked him to put his own brand of spin on them. So 'drilling for oil' became 'responsible exploration for energy,' 'logging' became 'healthy forests,' and 'manipulation' became 'explanation and education.' That's right - he actually said that. (Luntz was apparently stumped by Bee's next word, 'Orwellian.') So there you have it folks - the next time you hear George W. Bush attempt to 'explain' Social Security reform, or 'educate' you on the reasons for eliminating the estate tax, you'll know exactly what he's talking about.

"3. Tom DeLay

"For the last several weeks Tom DeLay has been loudly proclaiming his innocence while simultaneously obfuscating the real facts of the case behind a smokescreen of partisan buffoonery. The way Tom tells it, he's completely innocent of all the charges against him and the only reason he's in trouble is because of the evil liberals plotting against him. Well, the evil liberals over at the Washington Post turned up some interesting information last week that makes the hole Tom has been digging look just a little bit deeper and darker. According to the Post, when DeLay took a trip to England and Scotland in 2000, he 'said that his expenses on this trip were paid by a nonprofit organization and that the financial arrangements for it were proper.' I should think so - because 'House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists.'

"Unfortunately for Tom, the Post turned up documents last week which showed that the airfare for the trip was charged to a credit card issued to one Jack Abramoff - a lobbyist, and one of DeLay's best buddies, who also happens to be right in the middle of a federal criminal and tax investigation as we speak. And in case Tommy Boy wants to play the 'I didn't know' game, the Post also notes that, 'The invoice for DeLay's plane fare lists the name of what was then Abramoff's lobbying firm, Preston Gates & Ellis. Multiple sources, including DeLay's then-chief of staff Susan Hirschmann, have confirmed that DeLay's congressional office was in direct contact with Preston Gates about the trip itinerary before DeLay's departure, to work out details of his travel. These contacts raise questions about DeLay's statement that he had no way of knowing about the financial and logistical support provided by Abramoff and his firm.' Oops."

* Krugman on the oblivious right. excerpt:

"Is the administration's obliviousness to the public's economic anxiety just partisanship? I don't think so: President Bush and other Republican leaders honestly think that we're living in the best of times. After all, everyone they talk to says so.

"Since November's election, the victors have managed to be on the wrong side of public opinion on one issue after another: the economy, Social Security privatization, Terri Schiavo, Tom DeLay. By large margins, Americans say that the country is headed in the wrong direction, and Mr. Bush is the least popular second-term president on record.

"What's going on? Actually, it's quite simple: Mr. Bush and his party talk only to their base - corporate interests and the religious right - and are oblivious to everyone else's concerns.
"It all makes you wonder how these people ever ended up running the country in the first place. But remember that in 2000, Mr. Bush pretended to be a moderate, and that in the next two elections he used the Iraq war as a wedge to divide and perplex the Democrats.

"In that context, it's worth noting two more poll results: in one taken before the recent resurgence of violence in Iraq, and the administration's announcement that it needs yet another $80 billion, 53 percent of Americans said that the Iraq war wasn't worth it. And 50 percent say that 'the administration deliberately misled the public about whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.'

"Democracy Corps, the Democratic pollsters, say that there is a 'crisis of confidence in the Republican direction for the country.' As they're careful to point out, this won't necessarily translate into a surge of support for Democrats.

"But Americans are feeling a sense of dread: they're worried about a weak job market, soaring health care costs, rising oil prices and a war that seems to have no end. And they're starting to notice that nobody in power is even trying to deal with these problems, because the people in charge are too busy catering to a base that has other priorities."

* "Europe is far less susceptible than the United States to the religious wars that Ratzinger will incite. Attendance at church is negligible; church teachings are widely ignored; and the younger generation is least observant of all. But in the United States, the Bush administration and the right wing of the Republican Party are trying to batter down the wall of separation between church and state. Through court appointments, they wish to enshrine doctrinal views on the family, women, gays, medicine, scientific research and privacy. The Republican attempt to abolish the two-centuries-old filibuster -- the so-called nuclear option -- is only one coming wrangle in the larger Kulturkampf." -- Sidney Blumenthal, from Holy Warriors.


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