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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Thursday, 11 August 2005

Topic: The Law

Legal Matters: Dealing with Canadians and Shoplifters

A long time ago the case of Maher Arar was discussed in Just Above Sunset here - December 21, 2003: Bitter Brits. Arar was the Canadian citizen we secretly deported to Syria. We don't do torture. They do. Torture is not US policy. And we thought he was a bad guy. We picked him up at the Newark airport when he was changing planes. But, damn, is seems he wasn't as bad guy. We had bad information. As the 2003 item points out, his crime was that his mother's cousin had joined the Muslim Brotherhood long after Maher Arar moved to Canada. And after ten months of torture and incarceration in a quite tiny cell in Syria, he was allowed to return to his home in Canada.

Oops. Now he is suing the US government. He is not happy.

Well, we were just being careful, and a bit overly enthusiastic. Understandable, of course.

Wonder of wonders, his case is finally being heard. You see there was rental lease agreement from 1997 which he had co-signed and that seemed to indicate he might have known someone who knew someone who… oh heck, the full details and all the supporting documentation are here if you're at all interested.

What's interesting now is the summary of our government's position, now that we're in court, as reported in the New York Times, Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - U.S. Defends Detentions at Airports (byline Nina Bernstein) -
Foreign citizens who change planes at airports in the United States can legally be seized, detained without charges, deprived of access to a lawyer or the courts, and even denied basic necessities like food, lawyers for the government said in Brooklyn federal court yesterday.

The assertion came in oral arguments over a federal lawsuit by Maher Arar, a naturalized Canadian citizen who charges that United States officials plucked him from Kennedy International Airport when he was on the way home on Sept. 26, 2002, held him in solitary confinement in a Brooklyn detention center and then shipped him to his native Syria to be interrogated under torture because officials suspected that he was a member of Al Qaeda.

Syrian and Canadian officials have cleared Mr. Arar, 35, of any terrorist connections, but United States officials maintain that "clear and unequivocal" but classified evidence shows that he is a Qaeda member. They are seeking dismissal of his lawsuit, in part through the rare assertion of a "state secrets" privilege.
You have to love the contentions here, especially the contention the suit should be dismissed because we know stuff we cannot tell even the judge. You have to trust us on this.

Judge David G. Trager of United States District Court of course prepared written questions for lawyers on both sides to address further, including one that focused on the fellow's accusations of illegal treatment in New York. Arar says he was "deprived of sleep and food and was coercively interrogated for days at the airport and at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn" - and he was, of course, not allowed to call a lawyer, his family or the Canadian consul.

Trager: "Would not such treatment of a detainee - in any context, criminal, civil, immigration or otherwise - violate both the Constitution and clearly established case law?"

Mary Mason, senior trial lawyer for the government, "it would not."
Legally, she said, anyone who presents a foreign passport at an American airport, even to make a connecting flight to another country, is seeking admission to the United States. If the government decides that the passenger is an "inadmissible alien," he remains legally outside the United States - and outside the reach of the Constitution - even if he is being held in a Brooklyn jail.

Even if they are wrongly or illegally designated inadmissible, the government's papers say, such aliens have at most a right against "gross physical abuse."
At most? Seems like she's saying he was lucky he didn't get the New York police broomstick up the ass treatment - but he was Canadian, not Haitian.

But here's a cool exchange:
Under immigration law, Ms. Mason asserted, Mr. Arar was afforded "ample" due process when he was given five days to challenge an order finding him inadmissible.

"The burden of proof is on the alien to demonstrate his admissibility," Ms. Mason said, "and he did not do that."

"Do you do this to all people on a connecting flight?" Judge Trager asked, raising his eyebrows.

"Yes, all have to show admissibility," Ms. Mason replied. …
The counterarguments came form David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University, representing Arar. His notion was that the government had denied Arar "a meaningful chance to be heard" - refusing to let him call a lawyer initially, and later by sort of lying to the lawyer about his whereabouts. You see, Arar, who had been told he would be deported to Canada, was not handed a final order sending him to Syria until he was in handcuffs on the private jet heading out over the Atlantic. And we told his lawyer that he had been sent to a jail in New Jersey. Fooled ya!

Cole - "We can't take a citizen, pick him up at J.F.K. and send him to Syria to be tortured. We can't hold against Mr. Arar the failure to file a motion for review when he's locked up in a gravelike cell in Syria."

Wanna bet?

Other issues?
Dennis Barghaan, who represents former Attorney General John Ashcroft, one of the federal officials being sued for damages in the case, argued that Congress and recent judicial decisions tell federal courts "keep your nose out" of foreign affairs and national security questions, like those in this case.

At several points the judge seemed to echo such concerns. He said he had refused to read a letter from the plaintiffs detailing testimony before a Canadian board of inquiry into Mr. Arar's case because he did not know how to deal with questions that might require the government to confirm or deny classified information.

"How am I going to handle that?" he asked, rubbing his forehead and furrowing his brow before adjourning the hearing.
That's a real good question.

Tresy, over at Sisyphus Shrugs (great name for a commentary site) suggests this is a little too Kafkaesque for her taste and wonders why this isn't get more play in the media:
You would think that our government kidnapping the citizen of a neighboring democracy and sending him to be tortured, by an official supporter of terrorism no less, simply because of a signature on a rental lease agreement, would have some newsworthiness. Too bad Arar wasn't a pretty white woman. …

I guess we shouldn't be surprised that a government that claims the right to imprison suspects without any due process on grounds of national security would claim immunity from legal process on the same ground when the tables are turned. Still, it takes a bit of chutzpah to claim "clear and unequivocal evidence" that the plaintiff, now walking around free, is a terrorist. Sending him to Syria to be tortured is just what you do with obviously guilty people, you see.

Welcome to America. Have a nice trip.
Our friend, the high-powered Wall Street attorney, commented all this cannot be good for tourism. Maybe it will improve sales of the collected works of that Czech-born German-speaking writer, Kafka - and we can all read "The Trial" (1914). Maybe it will revive interest in that 1967 television series The Prisoner. Not much else good will come of it all.

But finally, the guy is a Canadian, and we've been unhappy with the Canadians for a long time. In an April 27th 2004 radio debate with a Canadian journalist, Bill O'Reilly threatened to lead a boycott of Canadian goods if Canada didn't deport two American military deserters, saying that his previous boycott of French goods - the one he thought-up and championed - cost France billions of dollars in lost export business. (See this - it didn't.) And although they sent troops to fight beside us in Afghanistan, Canada took a pass on Iraq. Seems they weren't impress with the WMD argument, or felt the pressing need for an immediate war. And now those Canadian folks have approved gay marriage and made it all legal.

Like we care what happens to this Canadian?


Other legal matter for the week:

Answers sought in death outside Wal-Mart
Man accused of theft begged to be let up from hot pavement, witness says
Robert Crowe and S.K. Bardwell, Houston Chronicle, August 9, 2005, 8:49 PM
A man suspected of shoplifting goods from an Atascocita Wal-Mart - including diapers and a BB gun - had begged employees to let him up from the blistering pavement in the store's parking lot where he was held, shirtless, before he died Sunday, a witness said.

An autopsy for the man, identified as Stacy Clay Driver, 30, of Cleveland, was scheduled for Monday, but officials said results probably would be delayed by a wait for toxicology tests.

Driver's family, as well as one emergency worker, are questioning company procedure, including whether Wal-Mart workers administered CPR after they realized he needed medical attention.

When Atascocita Volunteer Fire Department paramedics arrived, Driver was in cardiac arrest, said Royce Worrell, EMS director. Worrell said Monday he heard from investigators that Wal-Mart employees administered CPR to Driver, but he was not sure that happened.

"When we got there, the man was facedown (in cardiac arrest) with handcuffs behind his back," Worrell said. "That's not indicative of someone given CPR."
Liability here? Or is the business of America business?

Wal-Mart has been getting a lot of bad press lately. There was the shooting-the-cats business (here) and the big class-action discrimination lawsuit (and by "big" we're talking about 1.6 million plaintiffs) - and now this death-to-shoplifters enthusiasm. Perhaps questioning company procedure is in order.

On the other hand, too much regulation of business hurts the economy. And we love those low prices.

Posted by Alan at 18:06 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 11 August 2005 18:07 PDT home

Wednesday, 10 August 2005

Topic: God and US

Trends: What Belief Buys You

Another one of those front-page "backgrounders" you run it the left column and continue inside - this one letting the folks in DC know what's up the heartland.

In Heartland, Stem Cell Research Meets Fierce Opposition
Peter Slevin, Washington Post, Wednesday, August 10, 2005; Page A01
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The moral debate over embryonic stem cells stretches far beyond Capitol Hill to state capitals and research parks across the country, where a fierce competition is underway from Maryland to California for cutting-edge research and the profits that could follow.

In Maryland yesterday, advocates began a campaign to secure state money for stem cell research. A House of Delegates effort to spend $23 million a year on research died in the Senate earlier this year after a filibuster threat by Republicans and conservative Democrats.

Here in Missouri, a similar battle is raging over the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, which has built a $300 million laboratory and stocked it with sophisticated machines for nearly 200 scientists recruited from as far afield as China and Argentina.

Yet social conservatives in the Missouri legislature are effectively blocking some of the most ambitious research envisioned by the Stowers staff, saying that research with embryonic stem cells is so immoral it should be a crime.
One thinks of Rogers and Hammerstein, Oklahoma! - "Everything is up-to-date in Kansas City" (1937). Ah, perhaps not.

Illinois? South Dakota? Same deal. They seems to be differentiating themselves from New York City (see below) and California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey -
… Just last month, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) announced that he had helped hide $10 million in the state budget that will now be used for embryonic stem cell research. Several leading Republicans criticized him for the move, and the Catholic Conference of Illinois said he "betrayed his own office, both morally and politically."

South Dakota forbids research on all embryos, yet New Jersey is bankrolling an embryonic stem cell program. In New York City, a private foundation recently gave $50 million to three medical institutions for early stem cell work to sustain the city's research credentials.

"The blue states have been rushing to embrace opportunities in stem cell research," said Patrick M. Kelly, vice president of state government relations at the Washington-based Biotechnology Industry Organization. "California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, now Illinois. That has not been a phenomenon that has swept through the red states."
Yeah, well, don't be so sure about California. Sure, Senate Majority Leader Frist may have changed his mind, the House may have already approved expanding stem cell research, but President Bush did restrict government funding to "a limited number of stem cell lines that existed in 2001" – and says he will veto any expansion.

And here is California? California's stem cell institute? Approved by a ballot initiative - but no progress yet. Can't sell the bonds to finance the thing. Problems.

Group files lawsuit to halt research at stem cell institute
Terri Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, August 6, 2005
A national anti-abortion group yesterday served the administrators of California's stem cell institute with a federal lawsuit seeking to stop their work on the grounds that the civil rights of frozen embryos are violated by stem cell research.

The lawsuit was delivered during a monthly meeting of the institute's oversight committee at the University of California San Diego. Around the same time it arrived, committee Chairman Robert Klein was announcing that several lawsuits filed in state court had been consolidated to be heard by one judge, in one county, on an expedited basis.

That litigation has blocked the sale of government-backed bonds to fund the institute, which is supposed to award $300 million annually for stem cell research.

The federal lawsuit, filed by the National Association for the Advancement of Preborn Children, could now further delay the sale of bonds.
National Association for the Advancement of Preborn Children? Who are these folks, and what exactly is a "preborn child?"

Over at Pandagon you'll find this -
The name of this group is both a way to mock the NAACP and an opportunity for wingnuts to pretend that their desire to control women's bodies puts them on the side of the angels. If they could only work in a way to claim the Islam is Satanic, it would be a trifecta of wingnuttery.

I say watch this group closely. If they open and close their meetings with a sincere-sounding rendition of "Every Sperm is Sacred" as if it were "Kumbaya," then we'll know for sure they are fucking with us.
No, they're real. As far as I can tell the old Monty Python ensemble is long gone. This is not an ironic skit, or some sort of performance art. The lawsuit is quite real.

And what does it claim?
The suit was filed on behalf of Mary Scott Doe, a fictitious embryo produced by in vitro fertilization and then frozen and put into storage. Some of these embryos, which people have decided not to use in attempts to have children, have been donated for use in stem cell research, which involves destroying them.

The lawsuit claims the embryo is a person who should be given equal protection under the Constitution, and her destruction violates her right to freedom from slavery.
What? Slavery? Most curious, if not Python-like it its contentions. But it happened.

Note: if an embryo is "a person" who should be given equal protection under the Constitution, then you must refer to it as either a "he" or a "she" - as Terri Somers of the San Diego Union-Tribune dutifully does here. Would the San Diego Union-Tribune also be sued if the writer referred to an embryo as an "it" in that last sentence? It would have been better had Somers put "her" in quotes, indicating the matter isn't yet settled. A minor point, perhaps.

As for stopping the California Stem Cell Institute now, before it gets off the ground, is that good for California? Kevin Drum in The Washington Monthly, who writes from Irvine - about halfway between Hollywood and San Diego - thinks blue states like California are so much richer and more culturally vibrant than red states -
Technological development is at the core of increasing productivity, and everyone benefits from it regardless of where the basic research is done. Still, the places that do the research get the lion's share of the benefit, and if you were a scientist, where would you rather be? UCLA or Stanford on the one hand, or someplace where the locals try to ban the teaching of evolution and think that biotech laboratories are symbols of moral degeneracy? Seems like an easy choice.
Yeah, this isn't Kansas with its Son-of-Scopes Trial - those hearings to counter the teaching of evolution in the schools (last covered in these pages here in May).

But the rest of the country may have some misconceptions about the actual "blueness" of California. A bunch of Hollywood, liberal nuts down south, and up north - Berkeley and Santa Cruz - a bunch of ex-hippies who still live in the sixties, smoking dope and grinning. No. We gave the nation the John Birch Society, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan - and we happily elected the Austrian muscleman and movie star, the son of a Nazi, a man who doesn't like nuance or girlie-men - as our governor. He's no leftie Democrat - and he's not much of a governor, but that's another matter.

The other California? Shwarzenegger loves the armed citizen volunteers, the Minutemen - these vigilantes watching the border, taking care of those who would sneak in here illegally from Mexico, taking the law into their own hands.

What about that? If you travel a few miles west from Kevin Drum's Irvine, you end up in Laguna Beach. Arts colony, big art festival each year - and that silly "Pageant of the Masters" thing. It seems that on Saturday, July 30, in Laguna Beach, twenty-five Minutemen and Save Our State folks - and some neo-Nazis - put on a display of US, Confederate and Nazi flags in a protest of one of those sites where day laborers gather hoping for some work. According this account these Minutemen guys were there for some good-natured harassment of the probably illegal day laborers - spitting on them and such - and more than a hundred of the locals thought that wasn't very nice, and it got ugly. (A good picture of the guys waving the flags here.)

That's California too.


Well, putting aside this Minutemen business, this stem cell research issue is presenting difficulties all over the place - from Frist and Bush disagreeing to this California suit.

Is there some middle ground? Since the Democrats don't matter in the discussion - as they control no part of the government and may never again control anything - is there a Republican middle ground? See this from Morton Kondracke:
Political moderates predominate in the U.S. electorate, but the two parties are increasingly captives of their extremes. Will the moderates ever rise up and assert themselves?

In the Republican Party, they ought to do so by defending Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.) against right-wing attacks for bucking President Bush (and Christian conservatives) over embryonic stem-cell research.

Republican moderates also ought to start speaking up for "emergency contraception" before the right makes banning it a litmus test of party loyalty. Someone in the GOP ought to tell Bush that "intelligent design" is not a true scientific theory on a par with evolution. And moderates need to fight at the state level to prevent "ID" from being required teaching in biology classes. ...
Someone tell Mort he isn't going to get his Party back.

And Kondracke also hints at something else that might be an issue - sex: "... there's ground for suspicion that some religious conservatives are as much about punishing illicit sexual activity as they are about saving 'life.'"

Yep. Bush may be a dim-witted mean-spirited frat-boy who got us into a pointless war, but at least he wasn't messing around with chubby White House interns. Sex matters.

A counter to that? From Ramesh Ponnuru in the conservative National Review this objection: "It's the bit about sex where he [Kondracke] makes no sense at all. If punishing illicit sexual activity were the point, why would these religious conservatives care about embryonic stem-cell research at all? We're not talking about embryos created the old-fashioned way."

Kevin Drum -
Exactly. And guess what? It turns out that embryos created in vitro and then discarded - as most of them are - cause no heartburn for religious conservatives. But if those embryos are genuine human lives, shouldn't the Christian right be picketing outside IVF clinics the same way they picket outside abortion clinics?

In fact, even stem cells themselves help make Mondracke's case. Religious conservatives are universally opposed to abortion, but stem cells are divisive even within the pro-life ranks, a division that's only growing with time. This is why George Bush had to fudge his original stem cell decision in 2001 and it's why Bill Frist decided to come out in favor of expanded stem cell research last week. If the embryo debate were really only about "life," opposition to stem cells among religious conservatives would be as monolithic as opposition to abortion.

So yes: illicit sexual activity is at the core of the abortion debate, and it's at the core of a lot of other conservative hot buttons too.
But not this one:

Evolution vs. Religion
Quit pretending they're compatible.
Jacob Weisberg - Posted Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2005, at 12:30 PM PT SLATE.COM

President Bush used to be content to revel in his own ignorance. Now he wants to share it with America's schoolchildren.

I refer to his recent comments in favor of teaching "intelligent design" alongside evolution. "Both sides ought to be properly taught ? so people can understand what the debate is about," Bush told a group of Texas newspaper reporters who interviewed him on Aug. 1. "Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought."

The president seems to view the conflict between evolutionary theory and intelligent design as something like the debate over Social Security reform. But this is not a disagreement with two reasonable points of view, let alone two equally valid ones. Intelligent design, which asserts that gaps in evolutionary science prove God must have had a role in creation, may be? creationism in camouflage. Or it may be? a step in the creationist cave-in to evolution. But whatever it represents, intelligent design is a faith-based theory with no scientific validity or credibility.

If Bush had said schools should give equal time to the view that the Sun revolves around the Earth, or that smoking doesn't cause lung cancer, he'd have been laughed out of his office. The difference with evolution is that a large majority of Americans reject what scientists regard as equally well supported: that we're here because of random mutation and natural selection.
Of course this is followed by lots of polling data showing people here just don't believe the Darwin business, by and large. Scientists do. Most folks believe in God doing the heavy lifting, not random mutation over time eliminating the useless and things changing. And that's the problem. Darwinian science just can?t coexist with religion.
? let's be serious: Evolutionary theory may not be incompatible with all forms of religious belief, but it surely does undercut the basic teachings and doctrines of the world's great religions (and most of its not-so-great ones as well). Look at this 1993 NORC survey: In the United States, 63 percent of the public believed in God and 35 percent believed in evolution. In Great Britain, by comparison, 24 percent of people believed in God and 77 percent believed in evolution. You can believe in both - but not many people do.

That evolution erodes religious belief seems almost too obvious to require argument. It destroyed the faith of Darwin himself, who moved from Christianity to agnosticism as a result of his discoveries and was immediately recognized as a huge threat by his reverent contemporaries. In reviewing The Origin of Species in 1860, Samuel Wilberforce, the bishop of Oxford, wrote that the religious view of man as a creature with free will was "utterly irreconcilable with the degrading notion of the brute origin of him who was created in the image of God." (The passage is quoted in Daniel C. Dennett's superb book Darwin's Dangerous Idea.)

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, the archbishop of Vienna, was saying nothing very different when he argued in a New York Times op-ed piece on July 7 that random evolution can't be harmonized with Catholic doctrine. To be sure, there are plenty of scientists who believe in God, and even Darwinists who call themselves Christians. But the acceptance of evolution diminishes religious belief in aggregate for a simple reason: It provides a better answer to the question of how we got here than religion does. Not a different answer, a better answer: more plausible, more logical, and supported by an enormous body of evidence. Post-Darwinian evolutionary theory, which can explain the emergence of the first bacteria, doesn't even leave much room for a deist God whose minimal role might have been to flick the first switch.
No sex here. But just as threatening.

And you might consider the implications. The Korean cloned dog and all their research. What we give up by undermining science. Is it time "to focus more strongly on the practical consequences of resisting scientific reality?"

Well, California won't have its stem cell research center anytime soon now. Don't want embryos forced in slavery and death, as they are citizens with rights too. Don't want science showing that what is in this "good book" or that is flat-out wrong, or at best, metaphor. Most folks won?t stand for that.

And we have those Confederate and Nazi flags in the streets here in Southern California.

The country is heading in an interesting direction.

Posted by Alan at 19:49 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 10 August 2005 19:58 PDT home

Tuesday, 9 August 2005

Topic: Breaking News

Breaking News: A Hollywood Fire

Sometimes the news just comes to you. Tuesday, August 9, just before six in the evening here in Hollywood, as the light got long, the neighborhood was filled with the sound of helicopters in the air and sirens on the ground. Here, one block below Hollywood Boulevard and one block above Sunset Boulevard, one gets used to a low-flying helicopter now and then, hanging around for fifteen or twenty minutes, fifty feet up and making lots of noise. (There is a bit of crime here.) But six helicopters?

Glancing out the window, I see we have a serious brushfire up in Nichols Canyon, less than a mile away. The red and whites are dropping water, and the news choppers are grouping themselves a few thousand feet above them.

By the way, Don Smith sent same-day breaking-news photos from that metro fire in Paris - see last weekend's Just Above Sunset here - and now there are these from this fire in the Hollywood Hills.

A collection of nineteen Hollywood Hills fire shots is in a photo album here. The fire was pretty much out by eight, as it got dark.


The start of the fire as seen from balcony off the living room...

From the second bedroom (office) window, using the telephoto lens ...

Dropping water ...

Another spectator ...

Posted by Alan at 21:11 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 10 August 2005 09:15 PDT home

Topic: Couldn't be so...

Changes: Attempting Significance

As mentioned elsewhere there was that poll to find the one hundred songs, movies, television shows and books that "changed the world" - in the opinion of musicians, actors and industry experts. In the poll, conducted by the UK magazine Uncut, Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" (1965) won, Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" came in second, third was the Beatles' "She Loves You" and the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" was fourth.

But the Stones are roaring back in some sort of attempt to change the world, or at least to be engaged in the world. In a Newsweek puff piece in the August 15 issue - Satisfaction Guaranteed: They're not exactly a boy band, but there's no denying the bad-boy appeal of the Rolling Stones. Now they're back - again - with a new CD and tour… - we get a human-interest insider profile of what they're up to. On the surface that would be a new album, A Bigger Bang, to be released on September 5 - proceeded by the single, "Streets Of Love" on August 22. The tour begins in Boston on August 21.

This is newsworthy? One paragraph seems to be. This one has a whole lot of folks on the right up in arms -
Jagger and Richards say they worked together more closely on "A Bigger Bang" than they have in years, partly because Watts, the only other original Stone, was battling throat cancer. "We were sitting across the table looking at each other," says Richards, "like, 'You. Me. That's all there is.' It was all built on two acoustic guitars, and in such a sparse and stripped-down way that if you tried to elaborate on it later you'd lose the whole essence of it." The Stones' new music sounds more spontaneous than most of their recent efforts, and Jagger sounds angrier than he has in years. Since the band's last studio album, Jagger has ended his 23-year relationship with wife Jerry Hall, and was taken to court over an illegitimate child he fathered with a Brazilian model, which may explain such lyrics as "Oh no! Not you again, f---ing up my life/It was bad the first time around/Better take my own advice." But the most searing moment, on a song called "Sweet Neo Con," isn't personal but political. "You call yourself a Christian, I call you a hypocrite/You call yourself a patriot, well I think you're full of s--t." "It is direct," Jagger says with a laugh. "Keith said [he breaks into a dead-on Keith imitation], 'It's not really metaphorical.' I think he's a bit worried because he lives in the U.S." Jagger smiles. "But I don't."
It's not really metaphorical? Oh crap.

Of course the tabloid-right site Drudge Report has a full page headline: "JAGGER ROCKS BUSH, RICE: 'HOW COME YOU'RE SO WRONG, MY SWEET NEO-CON'" - yes, in all caps, in black, thirty-six point bold Ariel font. Matt is upset:
Ready to drop in the coming weeks, a new Bush-bashing tune from the ROLLING STONES: "Sweet Neo Con."

"It is direct," Mick Jagger says with a laugh to fresh editions of NEWSWEEK.

The full lyric also mocks National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

News about the song surfaced a few weeks ago with many expecting that it would not make the finally cut on the new CD, A BIGGER BANG.

... Jagger once vowed not to comment on the political process in the United States.

"I feel very much at home in America. I've spent half my adult life here. I have many personal feelings. But I'm from the school that considers it impolite to comment on other people's elections. Now if I had the vote - and I should have, as I pay so much in taxes - I would have a lot to say."

Now with the elections long over, the tongue is unleashed!
Yep, Jagger is an ungrateful fraud, says Matt. How could he do this?

As you recall, Matt Drudge is the fellow who broke the Monica Lewinsky story. He has a nose for what outrages the moral right. The kinds of things he's recently noted? AGUILERA: 'PREGNANT SPEARS' CAREER IS DOOMED', 'Let's safeguard socialism': Karaoke Craze in N. Korea, Poll: Western Canadians considering separation... (it's that gay marriage thing), Giant Blue Statue Of 'Sesame Street's' Big Bird On Man's House Upsets Neighborhood... and so on.

Matt is an excitable fellow. And who knows what he will make of this:
The worlds of music and football will collide this year as the legendary Rolling Stones will partner with the NFL and ABC for a season-long campaign, it was announced today. The Rolling Stones will help kick off the 2005 season from their "A Bigger Bang" world tour with footage from their concert in Detroit as part of the "NFL Opening Kickoff 2005" - a one-hour pre-game special on ABC at 8:00 p.m., ET/PT, Thursday, September 8.

ABC will feature music and video footage of The Rolling Stones throughout the 2005 season in its "Monday Night Football" promotional campaigns and in-game highlight and tease packages. The campaign will feature new music from their highly anticipated CD, "A Bigger Bang," to be released on Virgin Records on September 6, along with hits from their incredible catalog.
Yes, NFL football is right up there with NASCAR in the cultural pantheon of "what is really significant" in the red states. ABC is owned by the Disney Corporation, as in Disneyland, Disney World and all that - the essence of what America is about. Just walk down the flawless Main Street USA at the original Disneyland in Anaheim for sense of that. And they hired Jagger to do promos? Did they know about the new album and that one new song?

Monday evening I found myself in Anaheim with friends at "Downtown Disney" - fake New Orleans food at a fake New Orleans restaurant. A giant complex with everything from a massive Lego store to a giant ESPN sports bar (ESPN is part of Disney too). Thousand of families milling about under the monorail to Disneyland - little kids with their new toys, street musicians hired by the Disney folks (the solo guitarist with his Gypsy-Kings-in-a-box synthesizer was amusing), fireworks at dusk, and wholesomeness everywhere. I cannot imagine Mick Jagger's new tune about Bush and the crew piped in, come September.

Someone at Disney-ABC wasn't paying attention.

But then, perhaps in the next Uncut poll The Stones will rank higher in the listings.

The Rolling Stones seem to have finally gone political.

Well, things change. Specifically, things very British change, as in this noted in the New York Daily News:
James Bond's new ride in his next movie, "Casino Royale," is likely to leave fans feeling a bit like the superspy's favorite vodka martini - shaken, not stirred.

That's because Bond will be at the wheel of a cheap Fiat Panda, a Polish-made econo-box that sells for about $15,000 and goes from zero to 60 mph ... eventually.

Not only is it a far cry from the luxurious - and fast - sports cars 007 typically favors (the Aston Martin V-12 Vanquish is just one example), a Fiat flack said the Panda signals a stunning lifestyle change for the skirt-chasing secret agent.

"We've seen James Bond always with beautiful women and luxury cars," Lapo Elkann said. "But maybe now he will get married, have children ... and will need a Panda!"

While Pierce Brosnan, who has played Bond since 1995, hasn't officially signed on for "Casino Royale," he apparently digs the Panda. "Pierce Brosnan was so enthusiastic about the car that he immediately bought one," Elkann said. Of course, Bond's Panda will be tricked out with deadly high-tech gizmos not found on the popular proletarian model in Europe ...
Oh no!

Pierce Brosnan lives just up the way in Malibu. Just Above Sunset has been doing photography there recently (see this, this and this) and we saw no Fiat Panda anywhere, but we do note here you can rent Pierce Brosnan's beach house in Malibu for July or August. Perhaps the Fiat Panda is in the garage, but at a hundred grand a month, it's hard to be that curious.

So James Bond will now drive a Fiat, and Mick Jagger gets all left-wing political. What a world.

Posted by Alan at 15:00 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 9 August 2005 15:03 PDT home

Monday, 8 August 2005

Topic: Announcements

Nothing Monday

A day off from commentary, as the day was spent with and out-of-town visitor, and dinner down in Anaheim and and a long drive back.

A big zero -

Posted by Alan at 23:36 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

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