America, fuck no

I don’t have much commentary on the Patriot Act vote yesterday (I have written an upcoming article on the subject already), but it’s interesting to look at how support for the Act – watered down by amendments by Bernie Sanders and Jeff Flake – has fallen.

The Patriot vote in 2001, in a House with 218 Republicans, was 357-66. Yesterday’s vote, in a House with 231 Republicans, was 257-171. GOP support fell from 98.6% to 93.5%, and Democratic support plummetted from 67.2% to 21.6%. This wasn’t a big enough sea change to defeat the bill, but it was a sea change nonetheless. And the Sanders and Flake amendments kicked ass.

Asgard, bitches

Oh hell yes. One of my favorite childhood books, the long-of-print D’Aulaires’ Norse Gods and Giants, is being reprinted.

No amount of hyperbole can do justice to this book. I literally eroded my copy from overuse back when I was 11 or 12, and have been angsting at the sight of $150+ used copies since checking for them in 2000.

10 Favorite Guitarists

The saga continues.

Steve Howe (Yes)

Recommended: “Heart of the Sunrise,” Close to the Edge, “Onward”

Bernard Sumner (New Order, Joy Division)

Recommended: (in Joy Division) “Disorder,” (in New Order) “Temptation,” “Regret”

Dr. Know (Bad Brains)

Recommended: “At the Movies,” “I Against I,” “She’s Calling You”

Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)

Recommended: “Into the Void,” “Supernaut,” “Symptom of the Universe”

Robert Fripp (King Crimson)

Recommended: “21st Century Schizoid Man,” “Starless,” “Matte Kudasai”

George Harrison (The Beatles)

Recommended: (in The Beatles) “Within You Without You,” “Here Comes the Sun” (solo) “Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long”

Johnny Marr (The Smiths, Electronic)

Recommended: (in The Smiths) “Hand in Glove,” “How Soon Is Now?,” “Bigmouth Strikes Again”

Pete Townshend (The Who)

Recommended: “Substitute,” “Armenia City In The Sky,” “I’m One”

Richard Thompson (Fairport Convention)

Recommended: (solo) “Turning of the Tide,” “King of Bohemia”

Bob Mould (Husker Du, Sugar)

Recommended: (in Husker Du) “Divide and Conquer,” “Standing in the Rain” (Sugar) “Helpless”

10 Favorite Songwriters

Part two of a five part series. Of course, my finger slipped on the mouse and gobbled six of my artist bios, so I’m not retyping them. You’ll have to be satisfied with my recommendations and assume what I like about the other artists.

Jimmy Webb

A prodigy from West Texas and Oklahoma who became a major pop songwriter in his early 20s before trying to make it as a country-tinged solo artist, and failing miserably. This makes some sense, as Webb’s voice could make milk go sour. But even when he failed, Webb was tossing off literate, melodically layered songs with tricky key changes and startling lyrics. And yet his most famous song is “MacArthur Park.” Oh, well.
Recommended: “Adios,” “P.F. Sloan,” El Mirage, Tunesmith: The Songs of Jimmy Webb

Brian Wilson

Pretty much peerless arranger of harmonies and “pop symphonies” – around 1965, he developed an ear for placing very strange, seemingly untuned instruments on the fringes of an arrangement, and then playing them back to discover they perfectly enhanced the piece. Equally adept at portraying maximum fun and maximum, wrist-slashing misery.
Recommended: “Surf’s Up,” “This Whole World,” Pet Sounds

David Bowie

Not a particularly inventive writer, but an expert poacher of styles. From 1969 to 1983 I don’t think he recorded two albums that sounded alike, and he was able to come up with catchy songs in every style – folk-pop, glam, soul, krautrock, 80s synthpop.
Recommended: Aladdin Sane, Low, Scary Monsters

Prince

He’s declined sharply since 1995, but even since then he’s excellent at maximizing the space in songs – building endlessly catchy melodies off a keyboard riff or a bassline. And when he wants to write a complex pop song, he excels even more.
Recommended: Dirty Mind, Purple Rain, “My Name Is Prince”

Stevie Wonder

Recommended: Innervisions, “As,” “Overjoyed”

Bob Dylan

Recommended: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks, Desire

Robert Pollard

Recommended: (as GBV) Bee Thousand, Isolation Drills (as Bob Pollard) Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department

Neil Tennant/Chris Lowe

Recommended: “Always on my Mind,” Very, Bilingual

Alice Cooper

Recommended: “The Ballad of Dwight Fry,” Billion Dollar Babies, Welcome to my Nightmare

Lou Reed

Recommended: (as The Velvet Underground) The Velvet Underground and Nico (as Lou Reed) Berlin, The Blue Mask

Actin’ like life is a big commercial

I don’t suppose anyone will actually know this, but who is the husky-throated announcer who narrates Progress For America’s TV ads? I just saw a new “Give Judge Roberts a FAIR Up or Down Vote!” commercial by the right-wing 527, and the narrator is the same guy who flogged their *cough* *ahem* Social Security ad campaign.

He’s got to have an interesting job. In the Social Security campaign he was given progressively darker and darker scripts, and went from sounding like Dave Thomas (“President Bush has a plan!”) to Darth Vader (“Fucking Democrats!”).

Not everyone can be Norbizness*

Often the question is asked, why does Dave keep bashing conservatives and linking to liberals?

Good question. I definitely disagree with conservatives and the Bush administration on large swathes of important issues. But I don’t exactly love liberals. There are some great liberal blogs, but some that still irritate me and send me running for the nearest Kristol. Keep in mind, I have nothing against these people – they’re probably very cool in person. But their blogs rank are beloved by all the lefty blogosphere, and to that I must object.

Steve Gilliard. I like James Wolcott, and he loves Gilliard, but the transitive property clearly has loopholes. This is a terrible blog.

Gilliard has three kinds of post. The first, and seemingly most frequent, is the kitchen sink post. IE, he grabs the entirety of a blog post or news article, posts it in a blockquote, and then adds some obvious, pithy aside. The example I link to is a long, very good NYT article about the difficulty of keeping a relationship together while a soldier is serving in Iraq and his wife is at home. Gilliard posts the whole thing and then adds: “Gee, you mean it’s not all loyal, waiting wives? Jesus, people forget about this, but war doesn’t just ruin lives, it corrodes marriages as well.” Which is EXACTLY WHAT THE ARTICLE SAID, except without the work of travelling, interviewing, reporting, thinking, and editing. This kind of post reached its nadir last week, when Gilliard posted a lengthy article about gourmet coffee and commented – I quote in full – “Good coffee is really good.”

The second kind of post is the rant – a blog classic, dipped in shit and swirled around by Gilliard. Sometimes there’s a link to a small chunk of another article, and sometimes it’s just a rant. 90% of these posts concern either the war in Iraq, “chickenhawks,” or black people – black conservatives or black preachers, usually. They’re typically unreadable. A recent Iraq post began: “The US Army cannot control anyplace where their troops are not. The Iraqi Army is useless and inefficent. More importantly, they have no one to fight for. There is only the thinnest of reasons, a paycheck, to continue fighting.” Wow, what insight. The chickenhawk and black people posts are usually worse, since Gilliard has some expertise (apparently gleaned from books) on warfare, but mostly just anger about the latter subjects. Typically, if he finds an article about a black conservative – Ken Blackwell, Armstrong Williams – Gilliard mocks him with slave talk.

The third kind of post is the aimless travelogue or collection of thoughts. To wit, a recent post detailing a weekend outing with his girlfriend and niece and nephew climaxed with this hot action.

Then we went to Amy Ruth’s for dinner. Jen, my nephew and I ordered chicken and waffles, my niece had chicken fingers and fries. Oddly enough, Jen took my niece to the bathroom and the staff was wondering what the fuck was up. Which amused me. The food there is incredible. I brought my mother the same things. For five dinners, it was only $61 overrall, which isn’t bad.

Yawn.

DC Media Girl. Because she’s a “DC media girl” who doesn’t blog about DC MEDIA. Like Confucious said (I’m paraphrasing), names are important. You can’t be a DC media girl if your last 5 posts (as of this morning) concern 1)a diplomats’ press release about Joe Wilson, 2)an advertisement for “the Rude Pundit’s” live performance in New York, 3)an article from the Washington Blade about anti-gay reverend Willie Wilson (Ok, that’s DC media), 4)a Matt Cooper article from Time and 5)news of an upcoming Chow Yun Fat movie.

This is bull. Any blog can write about that stuff. A “DC media” blog should, I don’t know, flood the zone on the kind of stories that Howard Kurtz writes about, and cover them better than he does. Also, the actual writing on DCMG is lame. To wit.

Exactly how many wives does Joseph Wilson have? How many did he have in 2003? How hard could it have been for Cooper to figure out that Rove was referring to Valerie Plame, given the clues? Talk about squabbling over what the meaning of the word “is” is.

Wow. For punishing insight like this, you used to have to go to Alan Colmes.

Amanda Marcotte. Years ago Jesse Taylor founded Pandagon, a very funny politics’n’stuff blog, and late in the game he got Ezra Klein to be a co-blogger. The result was a pretty hilarious and on-point blog that I checked frequently. After the election, Ezra quit for his own site, and Taylor asked Amanda Marcotte to be his new co-blogger. Marcotte was a graduate of her own blog, called “Mouse Words.” Oh, good.

Marcotte was a tolerable blogger on her lonesome, but holy hell does she pale compared to the hilarious Taylor. Whereas you could get Ezra and Jesse posts mixed up – both guys were punchy and prolific – Marcotte grinds out the same topics again and again on a rusty organ. Blah blah, animals. Blah blah, Texans. Blah blah, feminism. Blah blah, my boyfriend. It’s just not as fun as the rest of Pandagon has historically been.

Yes, I hate women.

Michael Totten. Lefty bloggers have excommunicated him, so he may not be a perfect fit for this list, but he certainly passed the “bloggers who piss me off” test. Totten plays a two-string guitar and thinks he’s Jimi Hendrix. He writes about two topics: the suckness of “the Left” and why he’s left it, and the “Terror War.” (Sorry for the scare quotes, but that neologism annoys me. It’s like calling World War I the “Kaiser War.”) He also posts occasional photos from nice trips he’s taken, which leads to the interesting possibility that one day Justin Raimondo will hysterically accuse him of taking dirty Jewmoney from Likud to finance a lifestyle beyond the means of a freelance writer, but as amusing as this is it doesn’t save Totten.

His topics are not inherently boring, but Totten’s solipsistic anguish over them is just painful to read.

It seems to me that conservatives in general are more comfortable with centrists than are liberals in general. And I’m not just talking about myself here. I write far more about foreign policy (where my views are hawkish and “conservative”) than domestic policy (where my views are usually liberal) so I’m not an ideal test case. It’s not just me, though. I see a lot more denunciations of the center-left New Republic magazine on the left than I see on the right – and I don’t know what else could explain it except for a loathing of heretics.

Blather, rinse, repeat 3000 times. We get it, Michael. You think the US should liberate the Middle East by Any Means Necessary and left-wingers (with whom You Used To Identify Until The Global Terror War) don’t. Word up. Now get over yourself.

*(This post’s original title was “America-hating Liberals of the Left,” but people weren’t getting the joke, so I changed it. The joke was, I was trying to save face with my conservative friends by imitating a WorldNetDaily headline writer.)