The Skunk and Tiger

"Ignorance breeds monsters to fill up the vacancies of the soul that are unoccupied by the verities of knowledge."-Horace Mann

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

From this morning’s Jerusalem Post:

The parent company of a Dubai-based firm at the center of a political storm in the US over the purchase of American ports participates in the Arab boycott against Israel, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The Jerusalem Post notes that “US law bars firms from complying with such requests or cooperating with attempts by Arab governments to boycott Israel.” Once upon a time, opposing such boycotts was important to the Bush Administration. From the BBC, 5/11/02:

“The US government is strongly opposed to restrictive trade practices or boycotts targeted at Israel,” said Undersecretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Kenneth Juster.

“The Commerce Department is closely monitoring efforts that appear to be made to reinvigorate the Arab boycott of Israel and will use all of its resources to vigorously enforce US anti-boycott regulations.”

…The Department of Commerce has issued more than $26m in fines and turned down export licenses to those found violating the law.

The boycott against Israel is an important distinction between P&O, the British company that currently operates 21 U.S. ports, and Dubai Ports World.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

"Good Night, And Good Luck." takes place during the early days of broadcast journalism in 1950's America. It chronicles the real-life conflict between television newsman Edward R. Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. With a desire to report the facts and enlighten the public, Murrow, and his dedicated staff - headed by his producer Fred Friendly and Joe Wershba in the CBS newsroom - defy corporate and sponsorship pressures to examine the lies and scaremongering tactics perpetrated by McCarthy during his communist 'witch-hunts'. A very public feud develops when the Senator responds by accusing the anchor of being a communist. In this climate of fear and reprisal, the CBS crew carries on and their tenacity will prove historic and monumental. (source: Warner Independent Pictures)

Anne and I viewed this movie last night. I was pleasantly surprised to see the theatre completely full. People, hopefully, are very interested in this film's message and significance. The film makes one nostalgic for the early days of television news. This year has changed my opinion of George Clooney with his two directorial accomplishments, this film and Syriana.

"A fire-and-brimstone essay on false consciousness on the Great Plains. 'The poorest county in America . . . is on the Great Plains, a region of struggling ranchers and dying farm towns,' writes native Kansan and Baffler founding editor Frank, 'and in the election of 2000 the Republican candidate for president, George W. Bush, carried it by a majority greater than 80 percent.' How, Frank wonders, can it be that such a polity -- honest toilers descended from free-soil, abolitionist progressives and prairie socialists -- could back such a man who showed little concern then and has showed little concern since for the plight of the working class? And how can it be that such a place would forget its origins as a hotbed of what the historian Walter Prescott Webb called 'persistent radicalism,' as the seedbed of Social Security and of agrarian reform, to side with the bosses, to back an ideology that promises the destruction of the liberal state's social-welfare safety net? Whatever the root causes, many of which seem to have something to do with fear and loathing of big-city types and ethnic minorities, Kansas voters -- and even the Vietnam vets among them -- seem to have picked up on the mantra that the 'snobs on the coasts' are the enemy, and that Bush ('a man so ham-handed in his invocations of the Lord that he occasionally slips into blasphemy') and company are friends and deliverers . . . Even so, he sees the tiniest ray of hope for modern progressives: after all, he notes, the one Kansas county that sports a NASCAR track went for Al Gore in 2000. A bracing, unabashedly partisan, and very smart work of red-state trendspotting." --Kirkus Reviews

While the book's focus is on Kansas it identifies a nation of working poor and middle class who have been fooled into voting against their own interests. Uninformed or misinformed Americans have allowed corporations to set the economic clock back to the nineteen-twenties and dismantle the safe guards that once helped create and protect their farms and jobs. I was not surprised by the hostility of impoverished Kansas towards intellectualism and reason but it is painful to see hatred manifested in their own folk art. Check out the misogynous and paranoid artwork of M. T. Liggett. His work decorates an area of Kansas that has 22% unemployment, but non of his welded anger is directed at the laissez-faire capitalism that is a root cause. Instead he choses to demonize Democrats as Nazis. How very original.
It is a compelling read, and I look forward to reading more of Thomas Frank.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

NEW YORK-February 20, 2006 - Richard Bright, a character actor who appeared in all three “Godfather” movies and in films like “The Getaway” and Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in America,” was struck and killed by a bus in his Manhattan neighborhood, police said.

Bright, 68, was hit by a private Academy Bus as he crossed Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, said Detective Bernard Gifford, a police spokesman. The actor was taken to Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
The bus continued on to the Port Authority bus terminal, where the driver told police he was not aware that he had hit anyone. There were no arrests as of Sunday, but police said the investigation was continuing.

Bright played mob enforcer Al Neri, a bodyguard to the Corleone family patriarchs played by Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, in the “Godfather” movies. He played a con artist hustling Ali MacGraw in 1972’s “The Getaway” and acted in dozens other films such as “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” and “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” and in TV shows including “Hill Street Blues” and “The Sopranos.”

“He always said it was the work that was the reward,” said Brett Smiley, a friend and fellow actor.

Bright was arrested in 1965 on an obscenity charge for language he used in a San Francisco production of poet Michael McClure’s two-person play “The Beard,” which was shut down. The American Civil Liberties Union took up the case, and the charges against Bright were later dismissed in what was considered a precedent for artistic expression rights.

....I was sad to hear this news. Richard Bright's character Al Neri is my favorite to point out in the back ground of all three Godfather movies. I often annoy my wife by pointing him out in each installment of the Godfather trilogy. He had a much larger role in the last and less successful film. I have been impressed by his acting in other films and television as well. He will be missed.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Date: 03/16/06

Time: 5:30pm

Location: Corner of Pearl and Monroe Grand Rapids, Michigan.

On March 16th the extremist speaker Ann Coulter will give a keynote address to Kent County Republicans at DeVos Place Steelcase Ballroom. The general public is invited to protest Coulter's presence. We will assemble at the SE corner of Pearl and Monroe (next to the "big man" statue) around 5:30pm. Please bring signs. Media Mouse will have materials to hand out. Read some of Coulter's quotes.

Richard DeVos, Jr. is an American businessman and politician, currently a candidate for Michigan Governor as a Republican. He is a son of billionaire Amway founder Richard DeVos. DeVos Jr.'s wife, Betsy DeVos, is the former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party.
Until 2002, DeVos was the head of Alticor, where DeVos pioneered the nearly $5 billion company’s expansion into dozens of markets around the world, a decision that has made Alticor a global powerhouse. In 2000, DeVos oversaw a corporate restructuring that created Alticor, the new parent company of predecessor Amway Corp., Access Business Group LLC, and Quixtar Inc. Amway has been investigated by the FTC for pyramid scheme violations and is continually flagged by groups as preying on the poor.

Living most of my life in west Michigan I was approached by friends and strangers on several occasions trying to recruit me into the brainwashing and bank breaking cult that is Amway. One friend even suggested I quit college and begin the noble quest of selling crap to other friends. Many are hooked into joining Amway/Quitar/Alticor with the lie that it will help them further their ministry. Yes, the ranks of this elite shakedown are filled with "Corporate Kris-Shuns" selling a false hope of a closer relationship with Jesus and the all mighty dollar.

The voracious and criminal actions and of the DeVos family should not be further rewarded with our votes and taxes. Dick DeVos Jr. can only promise corruption to our industries and poverty to our working class.

If you don't believe me, please join Amway/Quitar/Alticor for six months and see how far you get. Just don't call me on the phone and invite me to a new exciting oppertunity to make millions and spead God's love and merchandise.

For More Information and Resources Click Here

Also Check Out Michigan Liberal

Saturday, February 18, 2006

My wife and I got to see The Lion King at MSU Wheton Center. I have to admit I was skeptical but it was more entertaining than I expected. I hear it is even better on a bigger stage, they were limited with a smaller area but with some remodeling and innovation the performance had a fluid execution.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

There's many a strange impulse out on the plains of West Texas;
There's many a young boy who feels things he don't comprehend.
Well small town don't like it when somebody falls between sexes,
No, small town don't like it when a cowboy has feelings for men.

Well I believe in my soul that inside every man there's a feminine,
And inside every lady there's a deep manly voice loud and clear.
Well, a cowboy may brag about things that he does with his women,
But the ones who brag loudest are the ones that are most likely queer.

Cowboys are frequently secretly fond of each other
What did you think those saddles and boots was about?
There's many a cowboy who don't understand the way that he feels towards his
Inside every cowboy there's a lady who'd love to slip out.

Ten men for each woman was the rule way back when on the prairie,
And somehow those cowboys must have kept themselves warm late at night.
Cowboys are famous for getting riled up about fairies,
But I'll tell you the reason a big strong man gets so uptight:

Cowboys are frequently secretly fond of each other
That's why they wear leather, and Levi's and belts buckled tight.
There's many a cowboy who don't understand the way that he feels towards his
There's many a cowboy who's more like a lady at night.

Well there's always somebody who says what the others just whisper,
And mostly that someone's the first one to get shot down dead:
When you talk to a cowboy don't treat him like he was a sister
Don't mess with the lady that's sleepin' in each cowboy's head.

Cowboys are frequently secretly fond of each other
Even though they take speed and drive pickups and shoot their big guns;
There's many a cowboy who don't understand the way that he feels towards his
There's many a cowboy who keeps quiet about things he's done.

"Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other)" may be the first gay cowboy song by a major recording artist. But it was written long before this year's Oscar-nominated "Brokeback Mountain" made gay cowboys a hot topic. (The song was recorded by the band Pansy Division in 1995.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Wow, our vice President is so brave to allow Fox news to air a prerecorded and edited interview of him by Brit Hume. It was all so helpful that Mr. Hume narrated over parts of the interview to help fill in the giant gaps in Cheney's story. I try my hardest not to watch the Effe News Channel, but sometimes I just love a dose of pure self-serving propaganda. It is interesting that in Texas you can just take a 15 hour break before talking to the police after shooting a buddy in the face. Somehow, I don't think that is the usual protocol.
With all the negative information coming out about the war, new torture photos, and the hurricane aftermath disaster, this accident is serving as a perfect distraction.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Sunday morning talk shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC are where policy makers state their case, the conventional wisdom takes shape, and the left and right in American politics debate the pressing issues of the day on equal ground. Both sides have their say and face probing questions. Or so you would think. In fact, as this study reveals, conservative voices significantly outnumber progressive voices on the Sunday talk shows. Read The Complete Report

1996-Boys For Pele/Tori Amos: Yes, I admit it I was once a Tori fan (and deep down I still am). I bought this album the day it came out, I remeber it snowed that day while I listened and folded laundry. My taped copy got stuck in the player of my Chevy Nova that summer and Tori became the permanent soundtrack for the rest of that car's life. 1996 was the year I met some of my closest friends at my college and it was through these friends I would ultimalty meet the love of my life and my future wife, who also loves these classic Tori songs.

1997-Time Out Of Mind/Bob Dylan: 1997 Blew!-for a thousand reasons, but Mars was cool! The place I worked at for four years was liquidated which was a good thing in the long run (for me). I could have chosen to work there forever, because it would have been easy. I would be insane by now. Time Out of Mind won a grammy. Yo Soy Bomb!

1998-Is This Desire?/PJ Harvey
The year of two awesome road trips. I visited Panama City Beach in Florida and the best city in the world Toronto, Canada each with a different group of friends. This is Harvey's best album in my opinion but others would argue her 2000 release is the best, they may be right. I recall hearing this music in the streets of both cities.

1999-Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department/Robert Pollard & Doug Gillard:The year of my freedom. This has to be the ugliest album cover ever but has the coolest name. The songs are the best of any Pollard side project.

2000-All Hands on the Bad One/Sleater-Kinney: Bad year for music but there were some gems like this one. Finished my degree and met my future wife.

2001-Amnesiac/Radio Head: Moved to Kentucky. 9/11. Difficult transition but Radiohead has always made a great escape from reality.

2002-When The Man Comes Around/Johnny Cash: Tied the knot.

2003-Lost Planets and Phantom Voices/Tobin Sprout: I remember smoking while driving through beautiful rural Kentucky listening to Tobin.

2004-Funeral/Arcade Fire: Our son, Sam, was born and our lives have never been the same. He amazes us everyday. Don't let the title of this album fool you. It is positive, loud and alive music.

2005-Get Behind Me Satan/White Stripes: I returned to Michigan a husband and a father. It is like that line in Death of a Salesman "I went into the jungle a young man and when I returned, by God, I was ritch" or something like that. That is how I feel about my last four years in the Bluegrass state. Miss Kentucky and my friends there, but glad to be back with old ones here. Sam loves this band and dances to every song.

2006-? To early to decide whatr the significant album of '06 will be. But its going to be a good one

Happy Valentines Day.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Check out this cool Blog from Auckland, North Island, New Zealand.
21 21 21 is counting down from 999 interesting blogs from around the world.

Michael W. Smith interveiw on Larry King.

Those who know me, know I love to rant about the mundane and useless. So now I have decided to start cataloging them on my blog.

I hate to call Larry King (in general) irrelevant, I have nothing against him, except that he is not good at his job. I don't know if he just stopped caring, or if he just wants to get home to enjoy that inter-generational marriage of his. Larry asks questions and never listens to the answers. You can tell he is so uninterested in many of his guests because he rarely asks any follow up questions. And when he is talking to anyone of importance (like, say, a vice-president who is the real president) it is totally pointless because his questions so soft they are practically served on a cone.

But I can't help watching his show to see what interview he will butcher next.

Anyway, Michael W. Smith was on last night promoting his new irrelevant movie with new irrelevant music. If you don't know who Smith is he is the christian pop artist who also writes an occasional love song for George W Bush. I think he may be related to the President by initial. I can always identify Smith by that weird smirk on his mug, like he just farted and he doesn't think you know. (If you are unfamiliar with his songs they are the ones that sound like someone's whining through their nostrils while hammering on a piano with a cat.)

The interview reached its peak of pointlessness when Larry showed Michael a copy of this month's Rolling Stone with Kanye West dressed as Jesus. King asked for Smith's opinion, and Micheal stated, "It definitely crosses the line".


How does it cross a line? I don't know because Larry never asks anyone to explain themselves. Is Smith offended by a black Jesus? Is it wrong for Rap artists to dress as Jesus? Why? Was the Jesus on Rolling Stone not bloody enough for his taste? I know Smith is a fan of the Passion. Smith was praising the overrated Jim Caviezel's portrayal of Jesus just prior to his comments on West's photo. Perhaps Smith is just offended by any type of symbolism or hubris.

I see that cover and think:

Wow! Rolling Stone is so hard up for attention they are willing to dress Kanye up like Jesus and then bask in all the free advertising they get from FauxNews and continously enraged Christians.

Thanks for taking the bait, Cable News Network, Larry King, and most of all, Michael W. Smith and his audience.

Friday, February 10, 2006

"I wanted to do something to help the displaced people of the gulf coast. So many people feel that we are living in divisive times, and I wanted to do something that might help unite all Americans to recognize that these are our people who are victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I believe that in joining together we can begin to heal the trauma that has changed so many of their lives forever. We are a great people, and it is in unity that we reach greatness. I hope that this song helps."

- Michael Stipe

(All versions of the song are worth the $4)

Check it out at In The Sun

is awarded to Glenn Beck and so hate filled I refuse to post it here but you can check it out at Media Matters.

My friend Freddy Fan has a insightful post about the Coretta Scott King funeral. Watched a rerun of the funeral on C-span and it was nice to see President Bush outside of his protective bubble. It is sad that the only access dissenting voices have to the President is at a funeral. As someone who attends funerals often, I can say there was nothing distasteful or wrong with the political statements. It was expected that such statements would be made when celebrating the life of a political figure.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Army demanded $700 from city man who was wounded

By Eric Eyre
Staff writer
The last time 1st Lt. William “Eddie” Rebrook IV saw his body armor, he was lying on a stretcher in Iraq, his arm shattered and covered in blood.

A field medic tied a tourniquet around Rebrook’s right arm to stanch the bleeding from shrapnel wounds. Soldiers yanked off his blood-soaked body armor. He never saw it again.

But last week, Rebrook was forced to pay $700 for that body armor, blown up by a roadside bomb more than a year ago.

He was leaving the Army for good because of his injuries. He turned in his gear at his base in Fort Hood, Texas. He was informed there was no record that the body armor had been stripped from him in battle.

He was told to pay nearly $700 or face not being discharged for weeks, perhaps months.

Rebrook, 25, scrounged up the cash from his Army buddies and returned home to Charleston last Friday.

Read whole Article at WVGazette

Monday, February 06, 2006

"Oh No, They Got me the Abridged Version!"

"I Make This Look Good"

Sunday, February 05, 2006

from Political Cortex

In a January 6 press release issued three days after Abramoff's indictment, Dobson declared, "If the nation's politicians don't fix this national disaster, then the oceans of gambling money with which Jack Abramoff tried to buy influence on Capitol Hill will only be the beginning of the corruption we'll see." He concluded with a denunciation of vice:
"Gambling--all types of gambling--is driven by greed and subsists on greed."
What Dobson neglected to mention--and has yet to discuss publicly--is his own pivotal role in one of Abramoff's schemes. In 2002 Dobson joined a coterie of Christian-right activists, including Tony Perkins, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, to spearhead Abramoff's campaigns against the establishment of several Louisiana casinos that infringed on the turf of Abramoff's tribal clients. Dobson and his allies recorded messages for phone banking, lobbied high-level Bush Administration officials and took to the airwaves. Whether they knew it or not, these Christian soldiers' crusade to protect families in the "Sportsmen's Paradise" from the side effects of chronic slot-pulling and dice-rolling was funded by the gambling industry and planned by the lobbyist known even to his friends as "Casino Jack."

Got myself Robert Pollard's new album From a Compound Eye. It is his first since the break-up of Guided By Voices. If you don't like GBV you will hate this album. I've always preferred the GBV albums to Pollard's many many side projects, but Compound Eye could almost be a GBV album. Not as cohesive as Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department the Pollard and Gillard collaboration that is my all time favorite, and much more satisfying than recent Pollard misses (the first Circus Devils album and his Fiction Man solo). Looking forward to hearing Music For Bubble EP. Pollard's compilation for the film Bubble. Also need to check out Zoom! It Happens All Over the World EP.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

in response to

Dear Mr. Wildmon,

I have been aware of your organization for many years, and have never bothered to write. As a Christian and a happily married father I have grown more and more embarrassed and appalled of your organization and can not remain silent any longer.
We are only one month into 2006 and Pat Robertson has twice called for the assassination of a democratically elected world leader. Our country is involved in an unjustified war where children, women, and other civilians are being killed in the crossfire or unfairly imprisoned and or tortured. Our military is being mismanaged and our troops are paying the price. Our President, whom you supported, has placed himself above the law, and his administration continues chip away at the divisions of power. Poverty is rising and the middle class is shrinking which will only enkindle more abortions (something your organization is against but continue to fail to identify its true root causes)
All of these issues are ignored or grossly misrepresented by your organization.
Rather the AFA has found something they feel is much more important and demands immediate attention; A Joke on a Sit-Com that also involves "gasp" homosexuals.
No religion or belief is above criticism and satire should not be left for the humorless to judge. Unlike the AFA, I no-longer have the time or interest in the happenings of TV shows that I never watched or plan to watch. I suggest you and your organization turn off the television and pick up a newspaper. Unless you focus on the crucial issues and crimes of our time, you will continue to execute a giant disservice to God, Christians, "The American Family" and the rest of the World.
I will continue to rebuke your organization. I am also reaching out to those I know who support you financially to inform them of your fallacious claims and actions.
With prayers,


(I know this will not change the minds of the AFA, but it is time to make a stand!)

Friday, February 03, 2006

From Media Matters

During the February 2 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Christian Coalition founder and 700 Club host Pat Robertson reiterated his call for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

When co-host Alan Colmes asked Robertson, "[I]f he [Chavez] were assassinated, the world would be a safer place?" Robertson answered, "I think South America would." When Colmes later pressed Robertson, asking, "Do you want him [Chavez] taken out?" Robertson retorted, "Not now, but one day, one day, one day." Earlier, Colmes had asked, "Should Chavez be assassinated?" Robertson explained that "one day," Chavez will "be aiming nuclear weapons; and what's coming across the Gulf [of Mexico] isn't going to be [Hurricane] Katrina, it's going to be his nukes." Co-host Sean Hannity agreed that "the world would be better off without him where he [Chavez] is, because he is a danger to the United States."

(Fox News along with other cable news outlets continue to present this dangerous theocratic crook as an expert in foreign policy and even worse Christian theology. Every accusation Fox News allowed Hannity and Robertson to throw at Chavez is false. Robertson is obviously so threatened by Venezuela's nationalized Oil, that he is willing to propagate war. Why? Robertson owns several diamond mines in African countries. It is not in Robertson's interest for these third world nations to follow Chavez's lead. For more on Robertson's business practices click Here )