October 18, 2007

You've got no time to play
with what you've bought

Alexander Kluge, Die Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: Ratlos (Artists Under the Big Top: Perplexed), 1968, still from a color and black-and-white film

* New York Times. excerpt:

"Mr. Mukasey spoke, in a way that Republicans rarely do these days, about the importance of civil rights and of the Justice Department’s civil rights division. He said that torture was illegal and not what America stands for, and that holding people seemingly without end is hurting America’s reputation.

"There were, however, some troubling statements and gaps in his testimony. He said little about what he would do to determine whether the Justice Department had acted improperly in firing United States attorneys. Congress has been holding hearings, but getting to the bottom of what happened should be a core Justice Department concern. He also needs to be clearer about where he stands on executive privilege. Karl Rove, Harriet Miers and other officials have made outrageous claims of privilege that are nothing more than an attempt to stonewall important investigations.

"Mr. Mukasey spoke of the importance of voting rights, but seemed unduly focused on the nonexistent problem of voter fraud and not focused enough on the real problem of eligible voters being prevented from casting ballots.

"Mr. Mukasey’s discussion of torture was good as far as it went, but it was too general. The administration has said that it opposes torture, but what matters is how it defines torture. It is important for Mr. Mukasey to oppose not only the word torture, but acts that properly fall under the label.

"Mr. Mukasey was a marked improvement on the terrible lineup of Justice Department officials who have testified before Congress in recent months, from Alberto Gonzales on down. We hope today’s second round of questions will show whether he would be an attorney general who looks good by the impoverished standards of the Bush administration or one who would actually be worthy of that powerful, and once honorable, office.

* John Updike reviews Schulz and Peanuts, a biography of Charles Schulz by David Michaelis. Worth a read. In 2001, when Michaelis was starting research on the book, I helped him obtain some important primary source documents. Michaelis kindly included me in the book's acknowledgements, stating I "deserved sleuthing credit." Thanks, David!

* Reminders:

The Caribbean, October 19, 2007 at Mo Pitkins (NY), as part of the Hometapes showcase.

The Caribbean also have a show in DC, Tuesday October 23, at DC9.

The Foreign Press, October 24, 2007 @ DC's Velvet Lounge, with Koshari and Cristy and Emily. 9pm.

Also, last I heard, the rumor was that Foreign Press drummer, JohnHoward will be playing with the DC psyche/improv collective Kohoutek, backing the legendary Damo Suzuki. Monday October 22, 2007 at the Velvet Lounge.

* "It would not have been possible for me ever to trust someone who acquired office by the shameful means Mr. Bush and his abettors resorted to in the last residential election. His nonentity was rapidly becoming more apparent than ever when the catastrophe of Sept. 11, 2001, provided him and his handlers with a role for him, that of 'wartime leader,' which they, and he in turn, were quick to exploit. This role was used at once to silence all criticism of the man and his words as unpatriotic, and to provide the auspices for a sustained assault upon civil liberties, environmental protections, and general welfare. The perpetuation of this role of 'wartime leader' is the primary reason--more important even than the greed for oil fields and the wish to blot out his father's failure-- for the present determination to visit war upon Iraq, kill and maim countless people, and antagonize much of the world of which Mr. Bush had not heard until recently. The real iniquities of Saddam Hussein should be recognized, in this context, as the pretexts they are. His earlier atrocities went unmentioned as long as he was an ally of former Republican administrations, which were happy, in their time, to supply him with weapons. I think that someone who was maneuvered into office against the will of the electorate, as Mr. Bush was, should be allowed to make no governmental decisions (including judicial appointments) that might outlast his questionable term, and if the reasons for war were many times greater than they have been said to be I would oppose any thing of the kind under such 'leadership.' To arrange a war in order to be re-elected outdoes even the means employed in the last presidential election. Mr. Bush and his plans are a greater danger to the United States than Saddam Hussein." -- W. S. Merwin


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