Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Paris - Sonic Jihad
David Bazan - Fewer Moving Parts
Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere - Heartbreak and Duct Tape
Starflyer 59 - Leave Here a Stranger
Mustard - Eureka Grande
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Location: Illinois, United States

The peaches, apples, plums and pears are guarded by ferocious bears.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
My Secret - Frank Warren
Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi

30 June 2006

Friday Random Ten:

Emmylou Harris – Green Pastures
U2 – Beautiful Day
Smashing Pumpkins – Bullet with Butterfly Wings
My Brightest Diamond – Golden Star
Ida – Blizzard of ‘78
Johnny Cash – A Boy Named Sue
Iron & Wine – Such Great Heights
Pedro the Lion – Political Science
Rosie Thomas – Let Myself Fall
John Vanderslice - Angela

Cleaning Out My Desk Part 2

Anyone know an easy way of converting audio cassettes to MP3s? Cheap is preferable to not cheap.

Cleaning Out My Desk

So I'm a pack rat, a character trait I seem to have inhereted from my mother. It's a bit ironic, because her tendency to hoard things she doesn't need drives me bat shit. Yet I have a desk crammed full of stuff I will probably never look at, magazines, newspapers, little snippets of things. Needless to say, my wife is making me clean out my desk this week. In doing so, I came across this piece written by Metro Pulse writer Jack Neely. It was written last year about gay marriage. Not much has changed since then.

An excerpt:

Americans struggle with the Bible. At the root of our distress is the fact that we like some commandments much better than others.

The American Ten Commandments are different from the Biblical ones. The one about keeping the Sabbath is so tough that we actually delete most of it. In most photocopied versions of the Ten Commandments, and on those engraved for courthouse purposes, there's a handy shortened version: "Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy." Americans like room for interpretation. The real Ten Commandments are more specific. You're not supposed to work at all on the sabbath. You're not supposed to allow any of your servants to, either. It's easy to explain why our ancestors didn't ever go out to eat on Sunday, or shop for anything at all, because those activities would call for others working on our behalf. Their attitude is logical and consistent, a literal interpretation of that commandment. It would be hell on business, though, so we skip it.

Maybe because we feel guilty about ignoring so many large parts of the Bible, the hard parts, when we find a rule in there that we think we can follow, we take the opportunity to make a great big deal of it.

You have to hunt around for the bans on homosexual behavior; for some, the search is worthwhile. For the 96 percent of us who are heterosexual, avoiding sex with members of the same gender is easy. In fact, most would agree that it's actually pleasant to avoid sex with members of the same gender. We enjoy following that commandment so much that we actually legislate it.

Even Jesus said a few things that Americans don't like much. The parts about giving all your money to the poor and turning the other cheek are famously tough ones.

Jesus never spoke about gay marriage. But he was pretty stern about heterosexual marriage. He said divorced people should never remarry. Marriage after divorce, he said, is adultery. The Catholic Church still forbids it. Yet marriage after divorce is legal in Tennessee and always has been. Tennesseans like Andrew Jackson and John Houston indulged. I don't know whether our legislators know anyone who might be affected by a Biblically justifiable ban on marriage among divorced people.

In his entire ministry, Jesus never mentioned gays at all. He was, however, especially tough on hypocrites. Maybe the next order of business is to constitutionally ban them from public office.

27 June 2006

Does Whatever A Spider Can

The first trailer for Spider-man 3 is up. This is going to be a long wait.

h/t: Looking Closer

Snapes On A Plane

Word on the street is that a couple of characters won't survive the final Harry Potter book. J.K. Rowling is also hinting that young Potter himself might not make it out alive. Hmmm. Any guesses? And am I the only one who still trusts Severus Snape?

23 June 2006

Friday Random Ten

The Royal Bangs - Greenwich Mean Time
The Advantage - Solar Jetman Braveheart Level
Sandra McCracken - Age After Age
Milemarker - Pornographic Architecture
Half-Handed Cloud - Once, Twice, Seven Times a Werewolf
Cue - Handful Savants
Sufjan Stevens - Amazing Grace
Johnny Cash - I Hung My Head
Mars Ill - You Can't Stop
Jag Star - Home

21 June 2006

Bands With Managers

Bradley's Almanac has posted David Bazan's recent Cambridge concert at his site, in its entirety. It's a great set, with songs spanning most of Bazan's musical career, from It's Hard to Find a Friend up through the recently released Fewer Moving Parts EP. In between songs there's a lot of banter and Q & A with the crowd, for which Bazan is famous, and, as Bradley's Almanac notes, is often worth the price of admission alone. Get it while it's hot.

20 June 2006

Ralph Lauren Campolo

Like the folks over at Stupid Church People, Baptist Minister Tony Campolo is a person I hold in high regard. He's not afraid to talk about issues that the church is dangerously silent on, nor is he afraid to be on the supposed wrong (i.e. liberal) side of those issues. Several years ago he famously began sermons about poverty by saying, "I have three things I'd like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night." It's hard not to like someone like that.

Tony, alongside his wife, Peggy, is also known for participating in public discussions about the place of gays and lesbians within both the church and society. Their views are very different on the subject. Tony's stance is a bit more conservative. He argues that homosexuality is a sin in practice (though not in orientation), but does not support the church's attempts to change homosexuals into straight people. Peggy, in contrast, argues that the church's traditional teaching on homosexuality is mistaken, much like the church's traditional teaching on slavery and the role of women was mistaken.

At any rate, Stupid Church People have posted a two part discussion between Tony and Peggy on the issue of homosexuality, from a recent meeting hosted by The Shepherd Initiative. You can download both parts here.

Here's a nice quote from Tony from the discussion:

My empathy for the suffering of gay and lesbian people came a hard way. I was in high school and there was a boy in our high school who was gay. We’ll call him Roger. We really made life difficult for Roger. A large city school, West Philadelphia High, we ridiculed him, we mocked him, we humiliated him in every way we knew how. On Fridays after PhysEd when we all went into the showers, Roger would never go in with us because he was afraid. When he did take his turn we waited for him and when he came out of the showers we had our wet towels ready and we would whip them at his little naked body and sting him. And we thought that was funny.

I wasn’t there the day they grabbed Roger and they took this screaming, naked little kid and shoved him into the corner of the shower. And as he screamed and cried, five guys urinated all over him. I wasn’t there when it happened. But he went home that night, went to bed I think at about 10 o’ clock. They say he got up at about 2 o’ clock in the morning, went down to the basement of his house, and he hung himself.

And I knew I wasn’t a Christian. Oh, I believed all the right things. I was orthodox. I was evangelical to the core. But I wasn’t a Christian, because if I had been a Christian I would have been his friend. I would have stood up for him and I would have defended him. And when they came to pick on him I would have said, “Lay off. This is Roger, my friend.” But I was afraid to be Roger’s friend because I knew what happened to people who were friends with those like Roger. I knew what would happen to me. I didn’t want them talking about me. If I was Roger’s friend they would talk about me.

I wish I could go back and relive that particular period of my life, because then I would know on that day that I stand for judgment, Jesus would say, “Blessed are ye, when they reviled you and when they said terrible things against you falsely, for my sake, because you loved the wrong people.”

Christianity at its best has always been about loving people that society says are the wrong people to love.

16 June 2006

The Ties That Bind

For God's Sake Shut Up! notes that a couple of days ago the Southern Baptist Convention voted to approve a resolution condemning alcoholic beverages:

WHEREAS, Years of research confirm biblical warnings that alcohol use leads to physical, mental, and emotional damage (e.g., Proverbs 23:29-35); and

WHEREAS, Alcohol use has led to countless injuries and deaths on our nation's highways; and

WHEREAS, The breakup of families and homes can be directly and indirectly attributed to alcohol use by one or more members of a family; and

WHEREAS, The use of alcohol as a recreational beverage has been shown to lead individuals down a path of addiction to alcohol and toward the use of other kinds of drugs, both legal and illegal; and

WHEREAS, There are some religious leaders who are now advocating the consumption of alcoholic beverages based on a misinterpretation of the doctrine of "our freedom in Christ"; now, therefore...
There are many reasonable responses to this nonsense. Years of research have also confirmed the Bible's warnings against gluttony and overspending, yet I don't believe the SBC has ever voted to condemn fast food or credit cards. Guns have also led to countless injuries and deaths, but the SBC hasn't condemned those. The breakup of families can be attributed to a hell of a lot of things. My psychologist wife can say for sure, but I'm betting there are a few things higher on the family breakup list than alcohol (and gayness for that matter). I'm betting any connection between recreational alcohol drinking and drug use says more about American culture than it does about alcohol. And our President has misinterpretated his freedom in Christ to include lying, advocating torture, fearmongering, a few felonies, and a whole laundry list of other misdeeds (yeah, that was a cheapshot on a couple of levels, but it's so easy sometimes).

Perhaps highest on the list, though, is that, as For God's Sake Shut Up! points out, Jesus was known to throw back a few from time to time. Hell, he even made the stuff:

Only drinking in excess is condemned in the Bible. In addition to the numerous accounts of godly people drinking, we must remember that Jesus's first miracle was turning water into (wait for it) wine, and Paul told Timothy to (dramatic pause) drink wine! Oops. Thus to condemn all drinking as a sin is to go beyond the Bible and attack not only early church leaders like Paul and Timothy but even our Lord and Savior (and that's a dangerous thing to do).

The resolution even went as far as urging the body not to elect anyone who drinks alcoholic beverages. So apparently Jesus and the apostles would be unacceptable for SBC leadership. Jesus has just been voted out.
Not that hypocrisy is anything new for the SBC. On the very same day it voted to condemn alcohol, the SBC adopted a resolution condemning the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. While that's commendable, it fails to consider that the SBC's annuity board (GuideStone Financial Resources) is heavily invested (to the tune of $72 million) in companies that do business in Sudan. Those business operations help the Sudanese government, which is in turn financing the militias responsible for the genocide. So the SBC, while condemning genocide, is actually helping fund it.

But, hey, at least they're sober.

14 June 2006

Like A Rolling Stone

Power can be such a tease. You're always wanting more. It's good to know that just like sex it can be paid for. - Pedro the Lion

The latest issue of Rolling Stone features a lengthy article by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., asking the question, "Was the 2004 election stolen?" I'm sure you know that. After all, since the issue hit the newsstands nearly two weeks ago the news has talked about nothing else. It's been on the front page of nearly every newspaper in the country. You can't spend more than a couple of minutes watching a cable news station in the States without hearing seeing hard-nosed investigative reporters following up on leads related to the story. It's just one more example of how the liberal media will pounce on anything to discredit the Bush administration.

Oh wait. Sorry. That didn't happen, except for the bit about the article in Rolling Stone. Kennedy's piece is quite thorough, and required reading, assuming you actually care about things like justice and fair play. Then again, if you're white, your vote stands a much better chance of being counted, so maybe you should just count your blessings.

Anyways, some excerpts:

Like many Americans, I spent the evening of the 2004 election watching the returns on television and wondering how the exit polls, which predicted an overwhelming victory for John Kerry, had gotten it so wrong. By midnight, the official tallies showed a decisive lead for George Bush -- and the next day, lacking enough legal evidence to contest the results, Kerry conceded. Republicans derided anyone who expressed doubts about Bush's victory as nut cases in ''tinfoil hats,'' while the national media, with few exceptions, did little to question the validity of the election. The Washington Post immediately dismissed allegations of fraud as ''conspiracy theories,'' and The New York Times declared that ''there is no evidence of vote theft or errors on a large scale.''

But despite the media blackout, indications continued to emerge that something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004. Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad never received their ballots -- or received them too late to vote -- after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations. A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states, was discovered shredding Democratic registrations. In New Mexico, which was decided by 5,988 votes, malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots. Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment -- roughly one for every 100 cast.

The reports were especially disturbing in Ohio, the critical battleground state that clinched Bush's victory in the electoral college. Officials there purged tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, neglected to process registration cards generated by Democratic voter drives, shortchanged Democratic precincts when they allocated voting machines and illegally derailed a recount that could have given Kerry the presidency. A precinct in an evangelical church in Miami County recorded an impossibly high turnout of ninety-eight percent, while a polling place in inner-city Cleveland recorded an equally impossible turnout of only seven percent. In Warren County, GOP election officials even invented a nonexistent terrorist threat to bar the media from monitoring the official vote count.


But what is most anomalous about the irregularities in 2004 was their decidedly partisan bent: Almost without exception they hurt John Kerry and benefited George Bush. After carefully examining the evidence, I've become convinced that the president's party mounted a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in 2004. Across the country, Republican election officials and party stalwarts employed a wide range of illegal and unethical tactics to fix the election. A review of the available data reveals that in Ohio alone, at least 357,000 voters, the overwhelming majority of them Democratic, were prevented from casting ballots or did not have their votes counted in 2004 -- more than enough to shift the results of an election decided by 118,601 votes. In what may be the single most astounding fact from the election, one in every four Ohio citizens who registered to vote in 2004 showed up at the polls only to discover that they were not listed on the rolls, thanks to GOP efforts to stem the unprecedented flood of Democrats eager to cast ballots. And that doesn't even take into account the troubling evidence of outright fraud, which indicates that upwards of 80,000 votes for Kerry were counted instead for Bush. That alone is a swing of more than 160,000 votes -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House.


Indeed, the extent of the GOP's effort to rig the vote shocked even the most experienced observers of American elections. ''Ohio was as dirty an election as America has ever seen,'' Lou Harris, the father of modern political polling, told me. ''You look at the turnout and votes in individual precincts, compared to the historic patterns in those counties, and you can tell where the discrepancies are. They stand out like a sore thumb.''

The first indication that something was gravely amiss on November 2nd, 2004, was the inexplicable discrepancies between exit polls and actual vote counts. Polls in thirty states weren't just off the mark -- they deviated to an extent that cannot be accounted for by their margin of error. In all but four states, the discrepancy favored President Bush.

Over the past decades, exit polling has evolved into an exact science. Indeed, among pollsters and statisticians, such surveys are thought to be the most reliable. Unlike pre-election polls, in which voters are asked to predict their own behavior at some point in the future, exit polls ask voters leaving the voting booth to report an action they just executed. The results are exquisitely accurate: Exit polls in Germany, for example, have never missed the mark by more than three-tenths of one percent. ''Exit polls are almost never wrong,'' Dick Morris, a political consultant who has worked for both Republicans and Democrats, noted after the 2004 vote. Such surveys are ''so reliable,'' he added, ''that they are used as guides to the relative honesty of elections in Third World countries.'' In 2003, vote tampering revealed by exit polling in the Republic of Georgia forced Eduard Shevardnadze to step down. And in November 2004, exit polling in the Ukraine -- paid for by the Bush administration -- exposed election fraud that denied Viktor Yushchenko the presidency.

But that same month, when exit polls revealed disturbing disparities in the U.S. election, the six media organizations that had commissioned the survey treated its very existence as an embarrassment. Instead of treating the discrepancies as a story meriting investigation, the networks scrubbed the offending results from their Web sites and substituted them with ''corrected'' numbers that had been weighted, retroactively, to match the official vote count. Rather than finding fault with the election results, the mainstream media preferred to dismiss the polls as flawed.

''The people who ran the exit polling, and all those of us who were their clients, recognized that it was deeply flawed,'' says Tom Brokaw, who served as anchor for NBC News during the 2004 election. ''They were really screwed up -- the old models just don't work anymore. I would not go on the air with them again.''

In fact, the exit poll created for the 2004 election was designed to be the most reliable voter survey in history. The six news organizations -- running the ideological gamut from CBS to Fox News -- retained Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International, whose principal, Warren Mitofsky, pioneered the exit poll for CBS in 1967 and is widely credited with assuring the credibility of Mexico's elections in 1994. For its nationwide poll, Edison/Mitofsky selected a random subsample of 12,219 voters -- approximately six times larger than those normally used in national polls -- driving the margin of error down to approximately plus or minus one percent.

On the evening of the vote, reporters at each of the major networks were briefed by pollsters at 7:54 p.m. Kerry, they were informed, had an insurmountable lead and would win by a rout: at least 309 electoral votes to Bush's 174, with fifty-five too close to call. In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair went to bed contemplating his relationship with President-elect Kerry.

As the last polling stations closed on the West Coast, exit polls showed Kerry ahead in ten of eleven battleground states -- including commanding leads in Ohio and Florida -- and winning by a million and a half votes nationally. The exit polls even showed Kerry breathing down Bush's neck in supposed GOP strongholds Virginia and North Carolina.(30) Against these numbers, the statistical likelihood of Bush winning was less than one in 450,000. ''Either the exit polls, by and large, are completely wrong,'' a Fox News analyst declared, ''or George Bush loses.''

But as the evening progressed, official tallies began to show implausible disparities -- as much as 9.5 percent -- with the exit polls. In ten of the eleven battleground states, the tallied margins departed from what the polls had predicted. In every case, the shift favored Bush. Based on exit polls, CNN had predicted Kerry defeating Bush in Ohio by a margin of 4.2 percentage points. Instead, election results showed Bush winning the state by 2.5 percent. Bush also tallied 6.5 percent more than the polls had predicted in Pennsylvania, and 4.9 percent more in Florida.

According to Steven F. Freeman, a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in research methodology, the odds against all three of those shifts occurring in concert are one in 660,000. ''As much as we can say in sound science that something is impossible,'' he says, ''it is impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote count in the three critical battleground states of the 2004 election could have been due to chance or random error.''

Puzzled by the discrepancies, Freeman laboriously examined the raw polling data released by Edison/Mitofsky in January 2005. ''I'm not even political -- I despise the Democrats,'' he says. ''I'm a survey expert. I got into this because I was mystified about how the exit polls could have been so wrong.'' In his forthcoming book, Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count, Freeman lays out a statistical analysis of the polls that is deeply troubling.

In its official postmortem report issued two months after the election, Edison/Mitofsky was unable to identify any flaw in its methodology -- so the pollsters, in essence, invented one for the electorate. According to Mitofsky, Bush partisans were simply disinclined to talk to exit pollsters on November 2nd -- displaying a heretofore unknown and undocumented aversion that skewed the polls in Kerry's favor by a margin of 6.5 percent nationwide.

Industry peers didn't buy it. John Zogby, one of the nation's leading pollsters, told me that Mitofsky's ''reluctant responder'' hypothesis is ''preposterous.'' Even Mitofsky, in his official report, underscored the hollowness of his theory: ''It is difficult to pinpoint precisely the reasons that, in general, Kerry voters were more likely to participate in the exit polls than Bush voters.''

Now, thanks to careful examination of Mitofsky's own data by Freeman and a team of eight researchers, we can say conclusively that the theory is dead wrong. In fact it was Democrats, not Republicans, who were more disinclined to answer pollsters' questions on Election Day. In Bush strongholds, Freeman and the other researchers found that fifty-six percent of voters completed the exit survey -- compared to only fifty-three percent in Kerry strongholds. ''The data presented to support the claim not only fails to substantiate it,'' observes Freeman, ''but actually contradicts it.''

What's more, Freeman found, the greatest disparities between exit polls and the official vote count came in Republican strongholds. In precincts where Bush received at least eighty percent of the vote, the exit polls were off by an average of ten percent. By contrast, in precincts where Kerry dominated by eighty percent or more, the exit polls were accurate to within three tenths of one percent -- a pattern that suggests Republican election officials stuffed the ballot box in Bush country.

''When you look at the numbers, there is a tremendous amount of data that supports the supposition of election fraud,'' concludes Freeman. ''The discrepancies are higher in battleground states, higher where there were Republican governors, higher in states with greater proportions of African-American communities and higher in states where there were the most Election Day complaints. All these are strong indicators of fraud -- and yet this supposition has been utterly ignored by the press and, oddly, by the Democratic Party.''

The evidence is especially strong in Ohio. In January, a team of mathematicians from the National Election Data Archive, a nonpartisan watchdog group, compared the state's exit polls against the certified vote count in each of the forty-nine precincts polled by Edison/Mitofsky. In twenty-two of those precincts -- nearly half of those polled -- they discovered results that differed widely from the official tally. Once again -- against all odds -- the widespread discrepancies were stacked massively in Bush's favor: In only two of the suspect twenty-two precincts did the disparity benefit Kerry. The wildest discrepancy came from the precinct Mitofsky numbered ''27,'' in order to protect the anonymity of those surveyed. According to the exit poll, Kerry should have received sixty-seven percent of the vote in this precinct. Yet the certified tally gave him only thirty-eight percent. The statistical odds against such a variance are just shy of one in 3 billion.

Such results, according to the archive, provide ''virtually irrefutable evidence of vote miscount.'' The discrepancies, the experts add, ''are consistent with the hypothesis that Kerry would have won Ohio's electoral votes if Ohio's official vote counts had accurately reflected voter intent.'' According to Ron Baiman, vice president of the archive and a public policy analyst at Loyola University in Chicago, ''No rigorous statistical explanation'' can explain the ''completely nonrandom'' disparities that almost uniformly benefited Bush. The final results, he adds, are ''completely consistent with election fraud -- specifically vote shifting.''


But in the battle for Ohio, Republicans had a distinct advantage: The man in charge of the counting was Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of President Bush's re-election committee. As Ohio's secretary of state, Blackwell had broad powers to interpret and implement state and federal election laws -- setting standards for everything from the processing of voter registration to the conduct of official recounts. And as Bush's re-election chair in Ohio, he had a powerful motivation to rig the rules for his candidate. Blackwell, in fact, served as the ''principal electoral system adviser'' for Bush during the 2000 recount in Florida,(45) where he witnessed firsthand the success of his counterpart Katherine Harris, the Florida secretary of state who co-chaired Bush's campaign there.

Blackwell -- now the Republican candidate for governor of Ohio -- is well-known in the state as a fierce partisan eager to rise in the GOP. An outspoken leader of Ohio's right-wing fundamentalists, he opposes abortion even in cases of rape and was the chief cheerleader for the anti-gay-marriage amendment that Republicans employed to spark turnout in rural counties. He has openly denounced Kerry as ''an unapologetic liberal Democrat,'' and during the 2004 election he used his official powers to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Ohio citizens in Democratic strongholds. In a ruling issued two weeks before the election, a federal judge rebuked Blackwell for seeking to ''accomplish the same result in Ohio in 2004 that occurred in Florida in 2000.''

''The secretary of state is supposed to administer elections -- not throw them,'' says Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Cleveland who has dealt with Blackwell for years. ''The election in Ohio in 2004 stands out as an example of how, under color of law, a state election official can frustrate the exercise of the right to vote.''

The most extensive investigation of what happened in Ohio was conducted by Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. Frustrated by his party's failure to follow up on the widespread evidence of voter intimidation and fraud, Conyers and the committee's minority staff held public hearings in Ohio, where they looked into more than 50,000 complaints from voters. In January 2005, Conyers issued a detailed report that outlined ''massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies in Ohio.'' The problems, the report concludes, were ''caused by intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell.''

''Blackwell made Katherine Harris look like a cupcake,'' Conyers told me. ''He saw his role as limiting the participation of Democratic voters. We had hearings in Columbus for two days. We could have stayed two weeks, the level of fury was so high. Thousands of people wanted to testify. Nothing like this had ever happened to them before.''

When ROLLING STONE confronted Blackwell about his overtly partisan attempts to subvert the election, he dismissed any such claim as ''silly on its face.'' Ohio, he insisted in a telephone interview, set a ''gold standard'' for electoral fairness. In fact, his campaign to subvert the will of the voters had begun long before Election Day. Instead of welcoming the avalanche of citizen involvement sparked by the campaign, Blackwell permitted election officials in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo to conduct a massive purge of their voter rolls, summarily expunging the names of more than 300,000 voters who had failed to cast ballots in the previous two national elections. In Cleveland, which went five-to-one for Kerry, nearly one in four voters were wiped from the rolls between 2000 and 2004.

There were legitimate reasons to clean up voting lists: Many of the names undoubtedly belonged to people who had moved or died. But thousands more were duly registered voters who were deprived of their constitutional right to vote -- often without any notification -- simply because they had decided not to go to the polls in prior elections. In Cleveland's precinct 6C, where more than half the voters on the rolls were deleted, turnout was only 7.1 percent -- the lowest in the state.

According to the Conyers report, improper purging ''likely disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters statewide.'' If only one in ten of the 300,000 purged voters showed up on Election Day -- a conservative estimate, according to election scholars -- that is 30,000 citizens who were unfairly denied the opportunity to cast ballots.
Read the rest...

13 June 2006

Fewer Moving Parts

If crushing truths perish by being acknowledged, David Bazan is the grim-news reaper. As the principal player in Pedro the Lion and Headphones, his music summons up an atmosphere of absolute candor and first-thought confession. On the occasion of a baby being born, if the father's initial feeling is one of dread and regret, Bazan's song will say so. His lyrics puncture all forms of defensive optimism and unmask the ways our use of words (winners, success, progress, going places) often appear engineered to avoid perception. He chronicles the subtle forms manipulation assumes, and the moving target of his satire is the brainwash we often administer unto ourselves. Like a Dostoevsky for our all-at-once world, Bazan tells the truth and tells it slant. - Paste Magazine

The new David Bazan EP came out today, cementing Bazan's decision to disband Pedro the Lion and go it alone. Sadly, I forgot to pre-order the album. Fortunately the entire disc is streaming online over at Pure Volume. That should tide me over until Thursday, when Bazan is playing at Schubas. Beautiful.

Backwoods Nation (yes, that's a free and legal download, courtesy of Riot Act Media)

Calling all rednecks to put down their sluggers
Turn their attention from beating the buggers
Pick up machine guns and kill camel fuckers

Backwoods nation...

Calling all doctors of spin and the smoke screen
To whip the new hate-riots into a frenzy
Of good versus evil ignoring the history
Of the backwoods mation

Ain't it a shame
When due process
Stands in the way of swift justice

Calling all frat boys
To trade in their hazing
Their keggers and cocaine
And casual date raping
For cabinet appointments
And rose garden tapings

Backwoods, backwoods, backwoods......nation

12 June 2006

I'm Playin' It

Think you're soulless enough to run a fast food corporation? Try your hand at controlling the McDonald's empire. You'll have to bulldoze rainforests, inject cows with growth hormones and overtake third world countries. See if you've got what it takes.

Let Them Eat Paste

The latest issue of Paste Magazine compiles tha magazine's 100 best living songwriters. As is typical with these sorts of lists, it's bound to provoke discussion and debate. Paste has better taste than most, so their list is better than most.

A lot of the songwriters you'd expect to be here are: Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, Paul Simon, and so on.

Of course, the good thing about Paste is how in tune they are with independent music. So you'll also find the likes of Sam Beam (Iron & Wine), David Bazan (Pedro the Lion, Headphones), Over the Rhine, Sufjan Stevens, Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), and others.

If I'm disappointed about anything (other than Bazan not being higher up the list), it's the serious lack of Hip-hop. No Lauryn Hill? No members of N.W.A.? No Eminem or Kanye West? Sage Francis? Sol*illaquists of Sound?

There are several other folks missing, many of which make it to the readers poll version of the list.

Anyways, as I said, it's an interesting list:

100. T-Bone Burnett
99. Andre Benjamin & Antwan Patton (Outkast)
98. Jay Farrar (Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo)
97. Josh Ritter
96. Jimmy Cliff
95. Patti Smith
94. Sam Phillips
93. Joseph Arthur
92. Alejandro Escovedo
91. Drive By Truckers (Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, Jason Isbell)
90. Nick Cave
89. Victoria Williams
88. Parliament (George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell)
87. Lyle Lovett
86. Sam Beam (Iron & Wine)
85. David Bazan (Pedro the Lion, Headphones)
84. John Linnel & John Flansburgh (They Might Be Giants)
83. Fleetwood Mac (Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie)
82. John Darnielle (Mountain Goats)
81. Wayne Coyne & Steven Drozd (Flaming Lips)
80. Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright, Nick Mason)
79. Stephen Malkmus (Pavement, Silver Jews)
78. Robert Pollard (Guided By Voices)
77. Bruce Cockburn
76. Will Oldham (aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Palace Music, etc.)
75. Ron Sexsmith
74. Linford Detweiler & Karin Bergquist (Over the Rhine)
73. Julie Miller
72. Michael Jackson
71. Vic Chesnutt
70. Alex Chilton (Big Star, The Box Tops)
69. Merle Haggard
68. Allen Tousaint
67. Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes)
66. Charles Thompson (aka Frank Black, Black Francis) (Pixies)
65. Bill Mallonee (Vigilantes of Love)
64. Andy Partridge (XTC, Dukes of Stratosphear)
63. Richard Thompson (Fairport Convention)
62. Sting (The Police)
61. John Hiatt
60. Jimmy Webb
59. Jack White (White Stripes, Raconteurs)
58. Sly Stone (Sly & the Family Stone)
57. Morrissey (The Smiths)
56. James Brown
55. Dolly Parton
54. Aimee Mann
53. James Taylor
52. Paul Westerberg (The Replacements)
51. Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham
50. Public Enemy (Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Hank Shocklee, Eric Sadler, et al)
49. Cat Stevens
48. Gillian Welch & David Rawlings
47. Sufjan Stevens
46. David Byrne (Talking Heads)
45. Jackson Browne
44. Al Green
43. Ryan Adams (Whiskeytown)
42. Loretta Lynn
41. Ray Davies (The Kinks)
40. Burt Bacharach & Hal David
39. Led Zeppelin (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, John Bonham)
38. Kris Kristofferson
37. Smokey Robinson
36. Beck Hansen
35. Steve Earle
34. John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
33. Pete Townshend (The Who)
32. Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller
31. Carole King
30. John Prine
29. Tom Petty
28. Robbie Robertson (The Band)
27. Radiohead (Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Phil Selway)
26. R.E.M. (Peter Buck, Bill Berry, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe)
25. Chuck Berry
24. Jeff Tweedy (Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, Golden Smog, Loose Fur, etc.)
23. Elton John & Bernie Taupin
22. Lucinda Williams
21. Lou Reed (Velvet Underground)
20. Van Morrison
19. Patty Griffin
18. U2 (Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr., Adam Clayton)
17. Holland-Dozier-Holland
16. David Bowie
15. Willie Nelson
14. Stevie Wonder
13. Paul Simon
12. Mick Jagger & Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones)
11. Randy Newman
10. Prince
9. Joni Mitchell
8. Elvis Costello
7. Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys)
6. Leonard Cohen
5. Paul McCartney (The Beatles, Wings)
4. Tom Waits & Kathleen Brennan
3. Bruce Springsteen
2. Neil Young (Buffalo Sprinfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
1. Bob Dylan

04 June 2006

BiPolar Colbert Hug

Prophet Stephen Colbert is up to it again, this time speaking at a commencement ceremony at Knox College in Illinois.

Here's a sound bite:

And when you enter the workforce, you will find competition from those crossing our all-too-poorest borders. Now I know you’re all going to say, “Stephen, Stephen, immigrants built America.” Yes, and here’s the thing—it’s built now. I think it was finished in the 70s sometime. From this point it’s only a touch-up and repair job. Essentially if Congress enacts it, soon English will be the official language of America. Because if we surrender the national anthem, the next thing you know, they’ll be translating the Bible. God wrote it in English for a reason! So it could be taught in our public schools.

So we must build walls. A wall across the entire southern border. That’s the answer. Obviously that may not be enough, maybe a moat in front of it, or a fire-pit. Maybe a flaming moat, filled with fire-proof crocodiles. And another across our northern border as well. Keep those Canadians with their socialized medicine and their skunky beer out. And because immigrants can swim, we’ll probably want to wall off the coasts as well. And while we’re at it, we need to put up a dome, in case they have catapults. And we’ll punch some holes in it so we can breathe. Breathe free. Time for illegal immigrants to go—right after they finish building those walls.
You can read the entire speech here.

There's also some low quality footage from the speech up at YouTube.