August 30, 2007

happy songs sell records
sad songs sell beer

Georganne Deen, Persephone

* Joan Walsh on Alberto Gonzales:

"The tragedy of Alberto Gonzales came to an almost farcical end Monday with his self-pitying speech announcing his resignation. It's terrible that the country's top Latino leader is going down amid scandal and a hot debate about the nature of his wrongdoing -- is he a serial lawbreaker or just an incompetent Bush crony? But it's appalling the way Gonzales and his supporters have made him a symbol of the American dream, and implied that it's his Democratic critics who've turned the dream into a nightmare. 'It's sad we live in a time when a talented, honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeding [sic] from doing important work because his name has been dragged through the mud for political reasons,' President Bush said Monday, after describing Gonzales' climb from humble origins.

"Gonzales' rise -- from the son of an alcoholic millworker in, yes, Humble, Texas, to the top of the American justice system -- is a fascinating psychological study, especially when you remember that Bush, his patron, also had a drinking problem, and that one of Gonzales' early key accomplishments for Bush was hiding a 1976 drunken-driving arrest. But Gonzales may have reached a new low when he invoked his father in his resignation speech. 'Even my worst days as attorney general have been better than my father's best days,' he said Monday morning.

"I can't judge whether that's true, but I'm not sure Gonzales can either. Gonzales could go down in history as the worst attorney general ever, accused of ginning up legal rationales for torture, spying on U.S. citizens and trying to turn the Department of Justice into an arm of the Republican National Committee. The man biographer Bill Minutaglio credits with having a "mortician's calm" attempted to embalm the department he was supposed to lead. Sen. Patrick Leahy wants to charge him with perjury for his many likely lies to Congress. (Paul Kiel has six of the best lies here.)

"I know his father had a difficult life and that, according to Minutaglio, young Alberto was ashamed of him, but the comparison seems self-serving and unfair to me. According to the values of Gonzales' elite patrons, a scandal-ravaged day serving Bush as attorney general might well rank higher than the best day of an alcoholic manual laborer, but it's a shame to see Gonzales say the same thing -- and deeply revealing of Gonzales' scars. Maybe it's time that he go home and deal with them.

"Glenn Greenwald has said everything there is to say about the need for Democrats to block the next Bush appointee unless he or she is a person of uncommon character and experience. In War Room Tim Grieve shows how everything about Gonzales' tenure as attorney general was foreshadowed in his Senate confirmation hearings, and yet six Democrats voted for him -- Joe Lieberman, Mary Landrieu, Bill Nelson, Ben Nelson, Mark Pryor and Ken Salazar. And even Joe Biden, in asking Gonzales for more candor, felt compelled to say, 'I love you, buddy.' Let's hope the Democrats don't buddy up to the president's buddies yet again."

* List of Republicans who say one thing regarding family/sex issues, and do another.

* 1985 interview of the minutemen. excerpt:

Interviewer: The last time you were through, you were handing out "U.S. Out Of Central America” stickers. It’s obvious there’s a political emphasis to a lot of your lyrics. Do you really think you’re reaching the audience?

Boon: Yeah. They took ‘em, they grabbed ‘em. This one girl grabbed one and said, 'I love it. My father works for the CIA and he’ll love this.' Then I had one guy come up to me as I was passing them out and I give him one and he goes, 'I don’t want one – I’m stationed in Andreas.' I have a lot of people come up to me and they ask me about it and tell me they’re happy to hear me say it. I wrote a really good song about that on the next record, 3 Way Tie For Last.

Interviewer: Where did you get Brother Awest from? He said in one place they got shot at or something.

Boon: He baptized a whole audience of punkers and they bombarded him with horse manure...Used condoms…

Interviewer: About how many songs do you guys think you know at this point?

Boon: Maybe 80. We’re going to do a triple album during the summer. 3 dudes doing 6 sides, 3 live, 3 studio and we’re passing out this ballot where our compatriots in music can vote on what songs to put on the live records.

Interviewer: What’s the inspiration behind Brother Awest?

Mike: The MINUTEMEN‘s kind of a dry, one-dimensional thing. Covers, different styles of music, but, as far as our political stance, it’s pretty cut and dried so Brother Awest has a sarcastic point of view to get people thinking another way. We’re all trying to tell the same story, just from different angles. We use rock; he uses, uh, subversion.

Interviewer: You said punk rock changed your life (on History Lesson, part II). Do you still believe in it bringing about any sot of social change?

Boon: In that song, it didn’t really mean social change. In the song, it means, here I was working a job, going to college 2 or 3 years ago, and now I’m traveling around the country in a band, playing music, something I never thought I’d do. It changed my life. I don’t know about punk music trying to change society. Society has to change and music should be one of the means. What rock music has done for me is show me that people could actually not hate each other.

Mike: We want people confronting issues, whatever they’re going to pick. At least they’re confronting them. Me and Boon are very personal about our beliefs. We just want to point out the issue more than our opinion. A lot of people believe things because they’re told to. We’re not into brainwashing.

SV: I remember reading that you guys believe in the Democratic Party. Do you think they can get the momentum going again?

Boon: Well, they’d better. I don’t want to have Bush as president!

* "The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron." -- H.L. Menken


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