Friday, December 22, 2006

Philadelphia Says No Thank You to Wal-Mart

In a pathetic attempt to buy "class" Wal-Mart heirs (the ones who keep all the money they are not paying their employees, the ones who pave their homes with marble and install swimming pools, the ones who own acres, and acres of land, the ones who write fat, fat checks to the hard right pseudo Christians vying for power in the Federal government, the ones who do all this while exploiting children and using child labor) tried to quietly pirate a priceless heirloom out of this country's founding city. When the citizens of Philadelphia realized Wal-Mart was shopping for a piece of their history and heritage the good citizens of Philadelphia privately pulled together and said no to the kings of polyester and the China trade deficit. Wal-Mart released this statement;

"We are disappointed that Eakins' Gross Clinic will not be coming to the nation's capital or America's heartland. However, we are pleased for the city of Philadelphia."

This statement struck me as disingenuous and typical lobby spin speak.
Wal-Mart is good at that. I've got three words for that statement - Go F*** yourself.

Here's why...
Americas heartland as embodied by Wal-Mart has given us a trade imbalance with China - senior citizens being exploited, hellish working conditions and draconian attitudes about people, and profit, the exploitation of children and child labor is their business model, employees forced onto federal welfare because zero health care is provided. Their business model has given us the homogenization of culture and is a reflection of a classless, crass, dictatorship that values money above everything else. Everything about Wal-Mart is pathetic and wrong. The jobs they provide suck and as an investment their stock is falling. They specialize in dis-information campaigns and want to become a banking institution. That's right they have petitioned the Federal government to become a member of the banking community. They have Hitler like tendancies and want to drive everyone else out of business. Because as we all know monopolies are how the free market system thrives (sarcasm).

If Wal-Mart is America's heartland - then it's heart is made of coal and doomed to dress the same, act the same and be horribly exploited across generations.

How dare they align themselves politically with the good people who would never exploit their grandmothers and grandfathers or the children of the planet. Their attempt to acquire respectability through a museum and to try and quietly pirate priceless pieces of art is a one shot attempt at having some class.

They could have a museum that rivaled the MET but because they put profit over people and consolidate wealth in the hands of the few Wal-Mart is a heartless, classless, blight on this country - trying to pull the traffic congested, self impressed, corrupt and bloated District of Columbia into the dialog overflowing with wannabes and political hacks to shore up the Wal-Mart image is laughable.

Philadelphia has the heart, Philadelphia has the class and the vision. Philadelphia is the founding city of this nation! Bravo City of Brotherly Love who's Quaker citizens lived in harmony with the indigenous Natives, bravo William Penn and the first home of religious freedom, Bravo Ben Franklin visionary, innovator and first American and bravo Thomas Eakins world renowned artist and teacher who called Philadelphia Home. These were men with vision and drive for the good of all. These were men who reflected our better nature as human beings. These were men who were great and good citizens. These men are the true Americans, what America is supposed to be and those that run Wal-Mart should take a closer look and then they would understand - you can not buy greatness!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Junk Mail

There are over three hundred million Americans flushing toilets, running water, using electricity, driving cars and getting junk mail. Eliminating junk mail across the board would save millions of trees and lessen air and water pollution significantly. There is legislation that is being introduced but instead of waiting here is what you can do now - today!

Here are some facts:

Junk Mail as it Affects You

  • Each person will receive almost 560 pieces of junk mail this year.
  • More than 4 million tons (62,000,000,000 (billion) pieces) of junk mail are produced yearly.
  • The majority of household waste consists of unsolicited mail.
  • $320 million of local taxes are used to dispose of unsolicited mail each year.
  • It costs $550 million yearly to transport junk mail.

Junk Mail as it Affects the Environmental

  • The production and disposal of junk mail consumes more energy than 2.8 million cars.
  • 100 million trees are ground up each year for unsolicited mail.
  • 42% of timber harvested nationwide ends up as pulpwood for paper.
  • It wastes 28 billion gallons of water for paper processing each year.
  • If you cut your bulk mail for 5 years, you’ll conserve 1.7 trees, 700 gallons of water and prevent 460 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the air.
  • 40% of the solid mass that makes up our landfills is paper and paperboard waste. By the year 2010, it is predicted to make up about 48%.
  • Scarce landfill space disfigures rural areas and pollutes ground water.
  • It is difficult to recycle, as the inks have high concentrations of heavy metals.
Before you cry for the businesses who will loose this outlet keep in mind that the majority of junk mail goes right into the trash unopened. No one is seeing their offers or ads. This is a complete waste of resources, time, money and lays waste to the environment. I have seen the satellite pictures of pollution coming off of the pulp mills. It's sad and unnecessary. We are destroying our fishery's for junk mail. It's time to put an end to it today. Take action now!

Three reasons why I have gone with 41 pounds.

1. It's simple.

2. Over half the profits from each sale go to not for profit organizations such as environmental organizations, local schools and youth groups. If for whatever reason your name gets back on these bulk mailing lists within 5 years you can contact us and we will go through the entire procedure again at no cost to you.

3. There are other companies out there that advertise similar services. If you read the fine print; most will tell you they will not stop mail addressed to “Occupant” or “Resident” (this included Penny Savers, ValPak, etc…). Also they do not contact catalog distributors or other bulk mailers that are not members of the DMA (including most credit card offers). Our goal is to remove you from these lists; as “Occupant” and “Resident” mailings are responsible for the majority of what you are trying to eliminate.

Information and facts re-printed from

Monday, December 04, 2006

WAKE UP - Grand Oil Party at it right now Today!

While visions of holiday shopping and what to get Mom and feeling fat after Thanksgiving occupy our mind, and I've got to get the decorations out and when to buy the tree the Grand Oil Party is at it again. They are secretly trying to pass laws to drill everywhere up and down our coastal waterways during this very moment during their last "throes" of power.

They are continuing to ignore the need of a healthy environment, ecosystem and food chain. Their reckless greed driven actions are treason against our nations sovereignty, our collective health as a nation and the will of the people. These oil drillers from Texas who this Country elected because they draped themselves in the cloak of the Flag and the Wooden Cross of Christianity are showing their true colors once again. Greed, greed, greed resulting in a drill everywhere policy because that is where their personal stock portfolios are invested.

Not once have they increased gas mileage efficiency so we know their concern isn't using less oil from the Middle East or energy independence. If they increased fuel efficiency these oil men in the White House would sell less oil and their personnel portfolios would loose money. Foisted on the voters as the only ones who can save America the Bush family has disgraced itself repeatedly by it's incompetence and lack of understanding. They are a corrupt family who only cares about their own ill gotten gains and have destroyed America's name and wilderness and God's very own creation Earth at home and abroad. What's so patriotic about that, what's so Christian? Tell me again who the evil doers are?


Contact Your Representative Using This Easy To Use Form From True Majority
From the NY Time article linked above:

Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, said in a statement Sunday that “executive withdrawal on oil and gas leasing in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, one of our nation’s most sensitive fisheries, combined with House Republicans scheduling a vote next week to expand offshore drilling off Florida’s coast, only underscores that G.O.P. stands for Gas and Oil Party.”

Mr. Markey added, “The administration should be leading efforts to increase fuel economy standards, which would dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Blame the Hippies

Sorry gang the hippies aren't going anywhere. The issues are much more complex than the usual dribble they are boiled down to, and no one really thinks evil doesn't exist.

The reason there are hippies is because there is enlightenment, there is knowledge and there is awareness that there is more than one way to skin a cat (with apologies to PETA and my animal rights friends). Being a hippie has absolutely nothing to do with bong hits. That's a facade people put on for a while and a convenient take down of some very inconvenient truths (pun intended). At the heart of hippies is a strive for knowledge, looking high and low for things to see and learn – exploring the unknown and thinking outside of the box as well as an interest in the past and the future, exploring ancient religions, looking for philosophies, and enlightenment, and a belief that there are larger forces at play than meets the eye.

The miss-conception that love is weak and so is kindness is the downfall of mankind. Anybody can be a jerk. Look at where the revenge tit for tat has gotten the mid-east. They just keep killing each other because yesterday someone from the other side killed someone from their side. There is no end to that except through enlightenment. So it's easy to make excuses for your savage acts, and harder to turn the other cheek, and to be tolerant, and to look for avenues of agreement. But that's what hippies do. They do the hard stuff. Anybody can be a jack-booted - go along with the crowd - knee jerk reactionary - unthinking and unfeeling - that's easy. Being unmovable and arrogant, tone deaf to reason and threatened by what you don't understand – and not even exploring other modes and ways of living or looking at things, blind acceptance to the status quo or standardized modes of behavior – that’s just chicken shit. Variety is the spice of life and there is much wisdom in contemplating all points of views before reaching your individual conclusions. This has nothing to do with the fragrance of patchouli or the clothes you wear or the music you listen to but everything to do with your attitude.

The hard stuff is caring about something outside of you. Our government and people should be doing positive things and saying positive things. Yes deal with the realities on the ground - fight fire with fire but also - rebuild the inner city school systems, provide real opportunity to the have nots - if we are going to get biblical lets at least try to help the poor and keep gods creation the earth intact and they way we found it. Giving tax cuts to the uber wealthy isn’t cutting it - fostering hatred to minorities and driving wedge issues between people just to seek office isn’t cutting it - tough guy talk while not listening to your military advisors isn’t cutting it - going into Iraq under false pretenses just to try and secure the oil fields for Exxon isn’t cutting' it, but being truly concerned about the poor and afflicted - that’s the real deal - that's when we are at our best and that's when the human experience inches towards enlightenment and utopia.

The hippies aren't the problem –peace, love and understanding isn’t the problem, the problems are much too complex for scape goats and pat answers. A closed mind towards a myriad of possible solutions to the problems that plague us is not the answer either. So the progressives are on the right track. They are the ones who are not afraid to talk to Syria or Iran. Why are we not talking directly to Syria and Iran and North Korea – that’s childish. It doesn’t mean we talk to them naively. But talking directly is the only way to foster understanding. Remember the cultural exchanges of the cold war and Nixon and China. That stuff works! Yeah Nixon I said Nixon. A hippy said Nixon because hippies know that no one nation, race or person is either all good or all bad. To over simplify and not see the truth even when put forth by such a sad fixture as Nixon is not very enlightened. There's a balance that needs to be achieved to reach our global potential and the sooner we all come to some sort of understanding the better. Your mom taught you to share. The US better figure that out both with its citizens, its international partners and enemies. That doesn't mean roll over and have your lunch money taken but it also doesn't mean being a blow hard either and taking someone else’s lunch money. Hippies go by the credo of live and let live. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There is much wisdom there and the path to utopia lies in those words. We can do it! Any other thought is self defeatist.

Peace Out

Thursday, November 16, 2006

John Hammond - American Masterpiece

Back to music - I had the great, great opportunity to spend time with John Hammond. Not only is he a tremendous talent, inspiring player and heartfelt singer but he works pretty damn hard on stage. His foot stomping blues picking, slide shredding, harmonica wailing is a time machine back to the authentic days of Sonny Boy Williamson, Willie Dixon, Melvin Jackson and Blind Boy Fuller. Never heard of those guys? That's okay John Hammond is not the type to lord that over you. He just wants to share their music and lyrics as the legacy of knowledge and power it is and present it authentically.

Well what do I mean by authentically, note for note? Nope. More like from the heart. It doesn’t get anymore authentic than that. We are speaking true love here people, true love of his craft, of the performers that went before, and of playing.

John Hammond is a must see. I've played his music on the air before but never saw him perform. Let me tell you I will never listen to his music the same way again. His live performance enhances his recordings three hundred fold. You get an understanding, a clearer understanding of what the John Hammond experience is all about. I was fortunate enough to sit twenty feet away - right down front in a cozy listening room and just was amazed at the energy and passion he brought to bear on the audience. Touring and recording for almost 35 years you might have thought this was his first gig. Even to a small crowd he let us have all that he had to offer. I got the feeling that this is how he would have played for one person. In fact that may be the point; John Hammond loves what he does so much that he just closes his eyes and plays transporting himself and those lucky enough to be there back to (not in time) but back to the vibe (complete and intact) of the rawest of blues, piedmont or otherwise.

Versatile, informed, educated and a man who bore witness to the 60's revival of the Country Blues tradition John Hammond met, studied and experienced the originators of the blues. John is an American treasure and living history book, a re-enactor who makes the blues his own. In so doing lays his own claim to authenticity that can not be denied. On top of all that he is a wonderfully unassuming guy, a complete gentleman, soft spoken and wise. I witnessed him nurture the 21 year old opening act taking time to converse as an equal to this young man. The poor guy was obviously stunned and intimidated to be opening for John Hammond. I learned a lot from watching John and how he handled himself as the elder statesman of the blues in his own right. He spent ample time with everyone sincerely conversing about our collective passions and histories. He actively listened and that may be the key to his success, and why he can stand in the shoes so accurately of those who went before him. It is his ability to listen actively and see things from your point of view. It's a skill in short supply these days.

On that note new recordings (his back catalouge is enormous) of John's that are worth listening to and buying include: Wicked Grin where he sits down with Tom Waitts and records Tom's material by blending the blues folk style with whatever the hell you call what Tom is doing (New Orleans Wash Tub Street Jazz and Fog Horn, Mumble Grunge) (Hey I gave it a shot). Another current disc recorded with Little Charlie and the Night Cats bounces and rocks right along and I think I like it better than Wicked Grin. It is called Long as I Have You and has been living in my CD player this week. There's an album that he did with Duke Robillard called Found True Love that is on my buy list. Other favorites include Frogs for Snakes, I Can Tell and So Many Roads. He also did the Matewan Soundtrack (great movie). John Hammond is all that is right in this Country. Check his schedule and go listen to him play his blues!

Hey Kennedy Center I have another nomination for you – get with the program already!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Plan For Iraq!

Military action is only going to secure infrastructure up to a point. Getting to the root cause of the violence is the most effective way of maintaining peace and co-existence. With that in mind I pass onto you the following two links Plan for Iraq:

...and American Respect a not-for-profit organization that believes invading Iraq has increased global terrorism, is costing thousands of lives, (and literally trillions of tax dollars) and is increasing energy costs.

Their different approach to addressing Iraq and their principles for reducing terrorism are:

  • Pursue true terrorists such as al Qaeda by eliminating training camps, preventing arms smuggling, freezing financial assets and apprehending terrorist leaders.
  • Find balanced solutions in sensitive areas which foment terrorism by rebuilding international coalitions. Violence in regions like Chechnya, Kashmir and especially Palestine directly and adversely affects the entire Muslim world.
  • Decrease our profile in Iraq and use international coalitions to lead a march toward guaranteed rights, limited government and democratic representation. Further recognize that Iraq was arbitrarily assembled in 1919 from three ethnically and religiously different Ottoman provinces, and that a peaceful solution may require a return, either partly or fully, to this pre-1919 arrangement.
  • Build up the economies of Muslim countries with the goal of creating a larger middle class in each. If abject poverty is a breeding ground for terrorism, then creating broad prosperity is a key part of the solution--especially in the areas of trade and land reform. And success in the economies of any Muslim country--from Morocco to Indonesia--is positive for stability and peace throughout the region.
  • Establish a tone of goodwill in policies and actions toward these nations and their growing and increasingly global populations.
Learn More and Get Involved By Visiting The Links

Monday, November 06, 2006

Evil Liberals!

Here's the definition of Liberal below.

lib·er·al (lbr-l, lbrl) adj.
Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.

Tending to give freely; generous: a liberal benefactor. Generous in amount; ample: a liberal tip. Not strict: a liberal translation.

Liberal is a beautiful world! A conservative is narrow minded, doesn't favor reform or new ideas adheres to a strict dogma, not tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others, not generous. I am a proud open minded, tolerant liberal who demands accountability in wasting our tax dollars in subsidies and give aways to the super rich both as individuals and as corporations. Enough already. Our tax dollars are not being optimized for the maximum profit to the broad interest of society. They should be pulled back from the bridges to nowhere and plowed into education and healthcare. Our tax dollars should ensure and promote a healthy environment and bring online clean energy solutions, and update and bring into compliance the dirty energy industry.

The National Environmental Scorecard for Tuesday's Election

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bush, Oil, Thomas Jefferson and The California Energy Crisis

Clay Jenkins the host of the Thomas Jefferson Hour is fond of saying that he thinks George W. Bush "has" our best interest at heart. I think Clay is being naive on purpose as to not offend, and to make a larger point about political discourse (of which I agree - love his show) and that W. is not scheming against us. Well that may be the truth specifically but when the man says - out of his own mouth - that his real constituents are not the have nots, or the haves, but the have mores - we are all in trouble. From Cheney's secret commission on energy policy to Karl Rove's gutter campaign tactics this man has been bad for America at home and across the globe. They liken him to Hitler in Europe.

A word on gasoline prices - they have mysteriously gone done. Now before you snap back at me - as a conspiracy nut - the excuses for them being so high in the first place were China's consumption and the lack of refineries (not oil) - well those scenarios haven't changed. Oil pricing shouldn't be a mystery that we just accept. These companies are in business to sell oil so we won't see higher mileage standards on cars as long as their minions run the legislative body. That's bad for the environment, bad for our pocket books, bad for the economy (overall) and bad for national security. Inaction on this issue is bad for America. With full control of the legislative agenda this should have been done 9/12/01 and should have been a top priority because of it's national security implications. If it wasn't for oil we wouldn't be in the mideast and would be drawing up the final borders of Isreal and Palestine by now.

Is it beyond imagination that powerful men "game" the market to control the political landscape and keep power to maximize their profits? I think back to the California energy crisis and how that was foisted on the citizens of California in fraudulent ways. Out of petulance the Republican President hung California out to dry with weeks of inaction because they didn't vote for him or because his Enron stock was skyrocketing. That was another poor decision by a short sighted man who knows how to win ugly and lie to get his way but not how to govern with wisdom or lead with dignity and precision. The waste of tax payer money in subsidies to big oil, bridges to nowhere, and the unforgivable transgressions on the Separation of Church and State doom this fool son of a Presidential father to the dust bin of history. Hopefully James Baker will reel him in and prevent him from doing further damage and making a real mark on human history by invading another country.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Stem Cell Research, Michael J. Fox, and Fatso

The - "there are no results" - so don't federally fund argument is pathetic - it takes decades upon decades to advance medical knowledge. Should we stop looking for the cure for cancer? We haven't found it yet (going on fifty years now if not more)

I feel strongly that tax payer money should be used wisely and that the current congress and administration is just throwing our money in the street. How many Iraqi nationals have bolted the Middle East with millions of our tax dollars and no one is even talking about it - how about the millions in subsidies to Exxon/Mobile who ran gas prices up to $3.50 a gallon claiming China was using too much oil? Did China stop using oil -all of a sudden - oh no wait there's an election. But we all know how honorable our Captains of industry and political leaders are they wouldn't use price controls to manipulate the market and political landscape. Come on how naive do you have to be. Business is ruthless and the law is bent, ignored and disgraced in order to get away with what you can get away with.

We waste tax payer money on bridges to nowhere but don't federally fund stem cell research because why - we are compassionate conservatives, or because we are courting a certain voter block that has above average fanaticism to vote than the general middle class. Let's think long and hard about that. Stem cell research like abortion, welfare reform, activist judges, immigration are "wedge" issues meant to get out the vote. It has nothing to do with science, the validity of the science or the intelligent use of tax payer money. It's about staying in power to further game the system to your advantage. Rush is a stooge because he thinks his lock step pandering gets him favor with those higher up gaming the system. No one respects him except the gullible he manipulates on the powerful's behalf. They used to call "wedge issues" political footballs. Because the religious zealots (who are ruining the world everywhere as per usual) are more passionate about voting they get lip service from the frauds in the White House. The biggest problem for the republican grip on power is that this voting block now understands that Bush isn't the "Pastor in Chief" but a reformed drug and alcohol abuser who has built his life and career on a series of lies and used them (they allowed themselves to be duped).

Except for the most devout Bush has lost the flock so to speak. But don't worry their irrational agenda of dumbing down the Constitution won't go away. They'll continue to seek a national religion to reaffirm their beliefs, and strip us of our freedoms all in the name of some board of governors sitting at the hierarchy of the political Church and their individual quest for power and control.

None of this has anything to do with god or Jesus because "what would Jesus do" he would help people and the Republican Party is way short on that one. The goal is power people - that's what they are all fighting for in the mid east and why gutter politics is the norm. The citizens must stop aligning themselves blindly to either party or candidate or personality or even news source and start thinking about electing the best people, not the best, wealthiest campaigners. I would shy away from them as obviously they have more people to answer to before they get to our concerns (the working stiffs).

Watch Rush here it's just plain ugly and classless.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

George Bush Liar in Chief

This from Dick Pollman's Blog Yesterday.

...Conservative columnist David Brooks, assessing the mood of moderate northeastern Republicans in The Times yesterday, said it well: “The core problem with suburban voters is not the decision to go to war; it’s the White House’s reaction to the mess afterward…The people in (suburban) offices manage information for a living, and when they see Republicans denying obvious trends, or shutting out relevant data, they say to themselves, ‘Those people are not like me.’ So there goes your majority.”...

My response -
Bingo - the last paragraph say's it all - you can not mange anything successfully with that kind of an arrogant, flat out stupid attitude. New information comes daily. Yes have a core set of ethics, and values but when denial is one of them you are in big trouble. I find it interesting that a President with a past history of abusing cocaine and alcohol has a denial problem. Go figure!

Most addictive personalities have this problem. We by ignoring his past alcohol and drug abuse - which he had to turn to religion (another opiate of the people) to cure - have elected (twice now) a man who is not honest and worst of all for all of us and worse for him personally - not honest with himself.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Wake Up America

The problem with America is that we treat the Democratic Party and the Republican Party like two football teams we are rooting for based on very loose campaign slogans or cheers.

As if the Democratic Party is really for high taxes - that's a heck of a campaign slogan but not reality just as if all Republicans are fiscal conservatives. If that were the case we wouldn't have the largest deficit in history. This one is good "the liberal media" If the media is so liberal how come Air America Radio went in bankruptcy? Sorry the airwaves are overwhelmingly radicalized by Rush and Fox. There is no parallel on the left even PBS is corporate and under represents the left.

So until we as the citizens wise up and stop thinking about the two party system as teams we belong to and gosh aren't I so smart listen to me parrot the talking points, and until we stop falling for the rhetoric and swift boating tactics of the Karl Roves of the world ... and until we realize we have turned the country over to a bunch of elitist frat boys we are stuck with their arrogant, above the law behavior.

They take care of the "have mores" and leave the rest of us out of the dialogue. Please this year ignore the (d) or (r) after the politicians name and elect the best man or woman for the job. Elect leaders of merit, or we will be stuck with political hacks, featherbedding their own portfolios and greedily taking money from whomever.

Their votes to build bridges to nowhere, to give uber wealthy citizens tax cuts and not the middle class and giving the oil companies who made record profit subsidies (more of our tax dollars) is evidence of our politicians taking care of those that take care of them. The voters are an inconvenience. We are being righteously ripped off people. How about a reduction in the payroll tax? Is anybody talking about that? No! Why not? Because it doesn't affect the uber wealthy and their politicians it affects us Joe Six Packs only. It's not even thought about on the Hill. Imagine the boost to the economy and retirement savings if we all got to keep more of our take home pay. If the Republicans are such aggressive tax cutters why not start there? Because we don’t write the big checks. People – please, please wake up! They don't vote on what’s best for the country at large they vote on what’s best for the people giving them campaign dollars and to keep that money flowing into their accounts so they can keep their jobs.

Come on people stop debating the smoke screens and political footballs (illegal immigration, gay marriage, activist judges). Would you rather ban gay marriage or have more take home pay? Stop falling for the so called wedge issues and what’s being broadcasted on the airwaves, and vote your pocket book! VOTE YOUR POCKET BOOK! YOUR POCKET BOOK not Annenberg’s, or Cheney’s or Rockefellers, or Paris Hilton’s.

A return to public financing of all campaigns and the league of women voters running the debates and we have a prayer to right this ship and return this government to the people. Whether you like it or not this country has been hijacked by the richest 1% and your best interests have nothing (NOTHING) to do with their goals of importing jobs overseas and depositing the money they make in this country in an offshore tax free bank account. In the meantime our citizens fight and die to protect the oilfields that run those businesses. We are getting a raw deal people. Those of you who think by associating with either side (democratic or republican) that means you are in their club - uhah - no way - unless you are the one who wrote the big fat check and you've got politicians with their nose up your a** looking for your checkbook - you are not even outside parking the cars.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Rory Block

People who know me or recall the radio show know that I am a big fan of Rory’s. I have traveled great distances to listen to her play and sing. There is always something larger going on at a Rory Block show than the playing and singing of an amazing talent. There always seems to be a hush over the room. We know we are getting pure, unfiltered, raw blues and heartfelt sincerity. Rory spins her tales of musical history and her experiences like she's talking to old friends. You are brought into the process and in a larger way her audience is welcomed into her heart. Her spirited playing and singing cross the realm of entertainment into a history lesson of the blues and type of revival meeting all at the same time. Rory takes her spirituality seriously but it’s not overbearing and love is a tiny word to express her playing, singing and camaraderie with her fans. Rory is a true champion of the blues. Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Tommy Johnson, Furry Lewis, Reverend Robert Wilkins, Reverend Gary Davis and Willie Brown are all founding fathers of the modern age of the blues and Rory distinguishes herself while interpreting their music and playing her own.

Rory has been at this a long time and after the usual mis-steps of the big, corporate money machine, music industry (notice how music comes after money in that description) Rory shed the bogus image of her first few albums and has since created a wide ranging catalogue of wonderful music. To get started I would purchase Best Blues and Originals off the Rounder label. Twenty songs with an amazing array of guest artists this CD pulls from her entire history up to its release date of 1987. Mama's Blues is another one of my favorites and came out in 1991. I think it's her most accessible disc of music to date but to be honest I have not heard them all. There are three other albums I would like to mention. First off Confession of a Blues Singer is very, very good released in 1988. It's a delta blues tour de' Force mixed with her own more lyrical and melodic tunes about her life. However, on track number four she lets her son Jordan do some unfortunate growling - if it wasn't for this cut - this would be my favorite Rory disc - my advise get the disc and program it to jump track four.

House of Hearts is something different from Rory. Instead of a delta blues laden effort this album is a softer, deeply contemplative effort written in the aftermath of a loss of a loved one. Rory attacks this effort with the same open and honest playing that punctuates her blues. It is a dark, misty affair but if you have the courage a trip well worth taking. It is this album that brought me to Rory and showed me the beauty and complexity of her as a person and an artist. Rock n' My Sock is a completely different vibe, fun and irreverent I really enjoy this album. When a Woman Get's The Blues is a wonderful effort that showcases her beautiful voice and delivers more of what the hardcore delta blues fan might expect. Finally, High Heeled Blues - I hated the title because it reflected poorly what was going on here with Rory and her music. The fact that she is a woman is irrelevant to her playing and I think the title is a bit misleading. Plus I've never seen Rory in heels unless you count cowboy boots. This is a great, great collection and a straight ahead blues effort. I was totally surprised the first time I listened. The first few cuts are sparse and reminds me of Hot Tuna's Acoustic Live Disc (with death don't have no mercy). Rory breaks out the barrel roll piano in one cut and then goes biblical with the Water is Wide. This is such a powerful rendition that it became the first Rory Block tune I ever played on my show. I tended towards the secular.

A note on that point: Religion is deeply personal in my book and organized religion has made a mockery of love and tolerance as it wages war to gain riches and power. Suffice to say I shied away from overtly religious tunes espousing one particular saint or savior over another. I like my religion emanating from within drawn from the myriad of examples and experiences that life has put forth both in thought and form. I don’t think it should be broadcasted. Religion is an internal journey of self discovery and no one else can tell you about it, describe it for you, or enhance your own experience. What works for you may not work for the other fellow. As individuals we must respect that and honor the journey of self discovery that each of us has to go through in this life. Religion is as deeply individual as the next person and up for interpretation based on point of view and imagination. Anything less is just parroting doctrine or blindly serving an agenda that may be extremely dangerous, power hungry, or self aggrandizing.

A digression like that although hardly relevant for most music reviews is essential for Rory Block. With Rory there is something larger going on here than just entertainment and hot licks. Rory is the real deal a flat out beautiful, singer, player and person. Her playing and singing and writing come from a true source. It has a multitude of experiences and an honest and essential appreciation of the traditions and struggles that have gone on that gave rise to those traditions. If you are lucky enough to have her visit your area get in the car, walk, bum a ride but get to see her and visit with her after the show. She is in my opinion an American icon a treasure on par with Mark Twain and deserves a Kennedy award and all the accolades we can heap on her. She's the best and it was an honor to play her music on the air!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Peter Frampton

He's back and in fine form. Over the weekend I finally got to see Peter Frampton in an outstanding show that had the crowd begging for more. Everyone was on their feet and thousands braved a cold night to hear this legend. Yes our very own Peter Frampton of long hair and teen idol mismanagement. Exploited, over sold and over played. Well behind the colossal image and the ridiculous corporate marketing lies an incredibly gifted player, writer and singer. The man is a triple threat and no one was having more fun than him on stage. With a ridiculous back catalogue from the Herd, Humble Pie and his own thirty year career there is a lot to sift through. I am by no means a fanatic. I have no clue when picking through his immense catalogue but these three discs have worked for me.

First off let’s get the "best of" out of the way. I went with the red album cover "Greatest Hits" off of the A&M label. Well they must have had a fan pick these hits because it cuts right to the heart of his library with 14 great songs from the 70's. They are all there and in pretty good order. Next was a surprise for me. The 1994 "Peter Frampton" studio album; you haven't heard any of these songs except for maybe "off the hook". This disc just flat out rocks and surprised the daylights out of me. I mean I was really blown away. This album is instantly accessible and just right on the money. I guess it took poor Peter until 1994 to get free and clear of all the image and b.s. to finally make a studio album worth a damn. It is really that good and just when you are craving for an old familiar song there are four acoustic bonus tracks. After the blistering guitar work and award winning pop sensibility as well as thoughtful lyrics these acoustic tracks are a perfect topper. Total number of songs is sixteen. The disc runs seventy four minutes (I'm recalling).

So what's a fan to do - well we have to check out the new stuff. In 2003 Peter released "Now". This CD is worth it just for the outstanding version of ”While My Guitar Gently Weeps” which clocks in at 6:59. He did his old mate George proud. But the rest of the album is rock solid. I'm a little put off by the first track but by the time you are into the third cut you have that real good Frampton vibe, melody, lyrical, riffing tunes not too jarring but plenty of power and dexterity to make any gear head, scale hungry, chop running freak pay proper respects. This is a really good listen and after it rotates through your cd player for a couple of tunes you'll be rocking out with anthem like "I Need Ground", grinning at "I'm Back" and thinking of classic Jeff Beck during "Greens."

I will be purchasing his new "Fingerprints" just because I'm happy to see Peter back. Our musical landscape needs him. Thank you Peter from the bottom of my heart and by all means "Welcome Back" - what a great show, and night. We had a blast but I think Peter had more fun than us and wasn't that great to see? Can't wait for the next show!

Partial set list from memory 10/13/06 - Norfolk, Virginia:

Off The Hook
Signed, Sealed, Delivered (contractually appropriate)
Show Me The Way
All I Want To Be (Is By Your Side)
New Songs from Finger Prints**
Boot It Up
Black Hole Sun
I Want To Go To The Sun
Baby I Love Your Way
Do You Feel Like We Do
I Don't Need No Doctor (Classic 60's Rocker - Humble Pie Days)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (great piano break out)

He didn't look like a man going through the motions - oh well here are my hits - no way – he was totally invigorated and embracing his hits, past, voice box and totally at peace with the whole shebang. It was fun to see that and be there. Way to go Peter some artists never get over themselves.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Where's Ken Starr When We Need Him?

I would love to hear from Ken Starr about this latest sex scandal. Or does Ken only care about when democrats get caught with their pants down? By the way the horror exhibited over adult consensual sex better be eclipsed by the very same people who tried to witch hunt and impeach President Clinton. This latest travesty and cover up is way worse when you think of the fact these boys were minors. Let's see our family value - one religion for all - tramplers of the Constitution and revokers of the Bill of Rights stand up to be heard now - freakin' hypocrites. Politicians are like diapers - they are filled with the same stuff and need to be changed often! (not sure where I heard that first but it's dead on)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Marshall Tucker Band!

I am way over due to salute, pay respects to, honor and proclaim that The Marshall Tucker Band has a ferocious place in my heart. With the driving rhythm of George McCorkle and the brothers Toy and Tommy Caldwell this band blew everyone away. Drummer Paul Riddle was heavily influenced by Buddy Rich and brought a wonderful syncopation to the bands tunes. Don't blow that last line off Buddy Rich was a wild man and a drummer’s drummer his influence on Paul is not to be underrated in Paul's underpinning of the band along with Tommy’s unsung heroics on bass.

Okay the flute - what the hey is that flute doing in a rock n' roll band. Well it ain't prog rock. Jerry Eubanks brought a wonderful transition to the tunes that Toy wrote. That flute would permeate and float out above the wagon train careening, wild riding sound of the band while Toy's lead was the drivers whip pushing the melody forward. No mere three minutes ever did this band justice. No these high school buds looking to meet chicks bore down and tore open a can of sheer whoop ass on stage. The venue was anywhere USA. The avenue were the chord progressions played powerfully, plain and straight forward like a country road, and the lyrics the simple truths of life captured in the human spirit. Listening to this band was like riding a wild herd of horses out of the valley and onto the horizon chasing the wind, the sun and the hours. Much has been written about Toy's playing style but he determined tone and power by a thumb that just went from his heart to the strings without a breath. Mark Knopfler and Derek Trucks also employee the thumb attack my guitar worshiping friends. There must be something to it. Last but not least Doug Gray was the powerhouse vocal that gave tone and texture to Toy's music. He reaches back every night to this day obliterating convention and giving voice to the expression of Southern righteousness to which we all can relate.

Marshall Tucker is an American treasure and its history, roots and legacy should not be dismissed. Toy wrote the lion share of the songs but I doubt they were created in a vacuum without input from his brother and band mates. I can not do this group justice with words get their music back out and listen. Their music paints a vivid landscape as I lose myself in their spirit, energy, passion and drive. Their music sounds like the setting sun on the Blue Ridge Mountains or a whiskey soaked dance hall. Stomp your feet to a country guitar! Stomp your feet to a hillbilly band! I have rarely experienced the sheer joy of life so completely through music as I have with this band, and I have listened to and played a ton of music from Mozart to Marley and back again. I’m either up Running like the Wind or weigh laid by their low down country blues. This ain’t polished, commercialized Nashville. This is the real heartland before it got marginalized and homogenized. Take the Highway, Can’t You See, Ramblin’, Hillbilly Band, New Life, 24 Hours at a Time, you know the tunes and I know the reason why he’s thinkin’ about the Promised Land and those Blue Ridge Mountain Sky's. The Marshall Tucker Band is pure and comes from a pure spot. They are just exactly what one would expect from the unfiltered foothills of the Blue Ridge, from the land. They are playing music for the sheer love of it and it shows without hype and celebrity and just for fun! Talk about hitting the note they blow the notes off the page and damn near bring tears to my eyes every time!


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Stop Big Media

I have just been listening to Chris Proctor - beautiful music - do you know who he is? No, I didn't think so. Why? Because commercial radio isn't about informing and educating the public it's about advertising dollars and market share. Our airways are a cultural wasteland. Is America really that obsessed with Paris Hilton are we the sum total of our lowest common denominator? A bigger portion of the airwaves should be set aside for public radio so information and talent not consolidated by the big three media powers has a voice. It's good for the country it's good for the culture and in keeping with the vision of free speech and the right to assemble given to us by our Constitution.

The right to assemble you might ask? Yes the right to assemble. Because of the consolidation of our airwaves, print, radio and television into three or four huge conglomerations we have homogenized society. The assembly of local talent, concerns and voices aren't heard they have no outlet. This country is way too big to have Infinity or Murdoch telling everyone what to think, what to listen to. It's a real Orwellian nightmare come true. The FCC needs to stop consolidating and go back to healthy regional markets. They need to open up more bandwidth to community, college and public radio stations. Everyone in D.C. listens to NPR anyway and not the over-homogenized, narrowly focused widest aiming capture of markets which radio and television have become. The only group with that goal is the advertising industry and the companies they lavish their money on.

Our airways are a part of our national heritage and not the domain of a few big corporations. That's just un-American. Media, radio, television and print should be about the news and celebrate the diversity of culture that is the bedrock of our society. Small business is the backbone of our country that is a Ronald Regan quote. The FCC needs to stop listening to and servicing big consolidated corporations and serve the people of this country in an open, free and diverse way that reflects who we are. The FCC is not in existence to be the business partners of Murdoch and the big ad firms. Why should we the tax payers care to limit our lives to their narrow views. Our government shouldn't care and strive to enhance the individual market share of a few very rich, very powerful megalomaniacs so they can make more money and drive all that is good, rich and diverse into oblivion.

Dissent of opinion is the healthy symptom of a thriving democracy. Diversity is its corner stone. Freedom is to be heard and is what it needs. More consolidation equals less freedom and drops the power to corrupt through propaganda into the control of too few hands. No, in order to protect our democracy and invigorate, and enhance our citizenry we need to have more regional, local and advertising free radio, print and television. At the very least level the playing field for the Chris Proctor's of the world trying to enrich, enhance and build more of that "backbone" Ronald Regan was talking about. Murdoch and Infinity don't need tax payer support. The FCC is not in business to make sure they maximize their profits and obliterate what's left of our collective, separete and regional cultures. It is the diversity that enhances our quality of life and not another McDonalds commercial.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Second Amendment

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

The phrase “…the right of the people…” is not a new sentence and it is tied by punctuation and the lack of a capital letter to the front end of the sentence which begins "A well regulated militia...". It clearly shows the framers intent. This phrase is about a militia and the security of a free state – it is disingenuous to read just the part that suits your political agenda. This is the same disingenuous tactic used by the NRA. Everyone please in the future read the whole phrase and include the punctuation … if the often quoted …or rather mis-quoted right to bear arms was the sole intention of the framers it would have gotten its own amendment and started off with a capital t. This amendment is talking about state’s rights and the ability to raise a militia in the face of tyranny from a centralized government. That is the issue much dearer to the hearts of the framers than arming every citizen in the public square. How people got their food was not the intention of this amendment.

Let's get it right citizens!

Conservatives, Liberals and Neo-Cons

Let's get some definitions right:

Liberal - adj 1: showing or characterized by broad-mindedness; "a broad political stance"; "generous and broad sympathies"; "a liberal newspaper"; "tolerant of his opponent's opinions" [syn: broad, large-minded, tolerant] 2: having political or social views favoring reform and progress 3: tolerant of change; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition 2: a person who favors an economic theory of laissez-faire and self-regulating markets.

Conservative - adj 1: Favouring that which is established or traditional, with an opposition to change. Resistant to change. Traditional, conventional, orthodox, cautious, guarded, prudent, archaic, conforming to the standards and conventions of the middle class. As an estimate or calculation: deliberately low, for the sake of caution, unimaginatively conventional.

Neoconservative - An intellectual and political movement in favor of political, economic, and social conservatism that arose in opposition to the perceived liberalism of the 1960s: “The neo-conservatism of the 1980s is a replay of the New Conservatism of the 1950s, which was itself a replay of the New Era philosophy of the 1920s”(Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.). Moderate political conservatism espoused or advocated by former liberals or socialists.

I particularly hate the term neo-con - it's meant as some sort of hybrid bridge between liberal and conservative and I think it just clouds the issues. For instance all of the alleged conservatives name calling and saber rattling support a President who has extremely liberal views towards creating large government agencies, creating historically large fiscal deficits and an extremely liberal approach to using military power. George Bush is not a conservative by any stretch of the imagination his actions define him as liberal. He also has an extremely liberal interpretation of the separation of church and state in direct opposition to the conservative (safe, guarded) approach of our forefathers.

The Liberals so vilified by the republican controlled congress reduced the deficit, created a surplus and shrunk the size of the federal government (by outsourcing) to government contractors. The Executive, head of congress and head of senate - Clinton, Gingrich and Dole - did a helluva better job running this country than the gang of Bush, Hastert and Delay. No once the republicans got complete control (and it took them decades to do it) they went nuts - like kids in a candy store - they built bridges to nowhere.

The Iraq war is a war to secure oil fields for American and Western allied countries. That's all it is - Saddam was a loose cannon but unlike his Dad - W didn't just go in and fetch Noriega and get out - nope he dismantled the whole countries security guard and has been scrambling to put it back in place ever since. He F'd up big time but in about three to five more years it should be stabilized or completely destroyed.

Finally how can anyone get all misty eyed, flag waving patriotic supporting our President when this President is cutting the benefits of the very soldiers doing his oil company backers bidding? How dare they. Look it's not what the politicians say ignore their speeches - it's what they put in writing and pass as law. Behind closed doors they screw the little guy again and again. Our tax dollars get redistributed to the uber wealthy - the over-represented 1% of our population that controls the politicians through their vast resources of money. Unless we watch the votes and pressure them they'll give the big money whatever they want - hopefully that doesn't get us all killed in the end.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Independent Media Now More Than Ever

There is no more bright line between politicians and corporate America (perhaps there never was) and there is no more bright line between the media and corporate America. The media now more than ever has an obligation - a patriotic duty to write independently about politics and the governing of our country. With the scary consolidation of financial power and the control of the media and the political process we are in a world of trouble if we can't cry foul when we have been wronged.

Audible, credible dissent is the indicator of a true democracies health even in a Republic.

What galls me the most is that the Politicians have the nerve to wave the flag. They deliver their speeches calling for the support of the President, the support of the war, the President calling for the support of himself, and calling for the support our troops, and if you don’t you are un-American. That rhetoric is trumpeted far and wide in the public square and out in the open in front of carefully crafted media events. While behind closed doors our politician’s actual deeds and the words they put on paper and their behavior is divisive, corrupt and inflaming.

It would be easier for all of us to stand together with the war in Iraq and other administration initiatives if behind closed doors the President wasn't giving huge tax breaks to the uber wealthy 1 percent of the population, giving tax payer subsidies to the uber profitable oil companies, shredding environmental laws like the clean air and water acts, trying to tell people who to love, how to love and when to have babies, distorting the true intention of the second amendment, advocating for a State sponsored religion, building bridges to nowhere, cutting our troops pay and benefits, not supporting our 9/11 rescue workers fully and completely, and basically screwing the little guy because the President’s constituency is “the haves and the haves more” (those are his words) ... and handing out fat contracts to his financial contributors while they fail to provide the necessary and basic equipment to our fighting men overseas and our rescue teams at home.

These men in charge are horrible hypocrites and the whole world can see through their act. The citizens need to stop wondering why the rest of the world hates us and elect men and women of integrity. Now more than ever we need an independent press to say what is necessary and true. It is the balm that soothes our souls and the catalyst to cure our misdeeds. Otherwise it’s all one big propaganda machine and we are now the Soviet Union of the cold war. That’s not what I want for my country and I hope those who control the purse strings feel the same.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Disdain, disregard and disgust

This from Dick Polman's blog -

"...(S)ome Republican strategists remain seriously concerned about their prospects in November. They fear that the party's control of Congress is imperiled simply because swing voters equate the GOP with the status quo -- at a time when the status quo is not popular. "

I agree:
Status quo is the issue - look the status quo is the war strategy, the status quo is our energy policy the two are tied together. The Dems are just politicians like the GOP so big oil will have plenty of money around on both sides of the isle. But with the Dems you get some progressive (liberal) ideas. The old hey it ain't workin' lets try something different imagination thing and a lot more environmental sensibility, and a minimum wage increase. Whereas with the Bush acolytes you get policy for the uber rich 1% of the population. That ain't you and me brother and it never will be.

As long as upper middle and middle class America walk around idolizing the uber wealthy because someday it might be us (which is a complete pile of b.s.) we are going to continue to elect these unrepresentative whores. They have no allegiance to us (the other 99%). They look at our regular but vastly more important daily concerns with complete disdain, disregard and disgust. We have a better shot at improving our daily lives, pay, health care and legal recourse against big corporate america with the Dems than the GOP (Grand Oil Party). Vote your pocket book and tell the moral majority and big oil go fu** yourselves. America needs to stand up and be counted!

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Coincidence Theorist's Guide to 9/11

This is a few years old but I stumbled into it yesterday and thought I would share. This posting is not an endorsement make of it what you will but dig for the truth.

The Coincidence Theorist's Guide to 9/11

I posted an earlier version of this last week at Democratic Underground. I've added a number of more entries, and links for all.

Happy coincidenting!

That governments have permitted terrorist acts against their own people, and have even themselves been perpetrators in order to find strategic advantage is quite likely true, but this is the United States we're talking about.

That intelligence agencies, financiers, terrorists and narco-criminals have a long history together is well established, but the Nugan Hand Bank, BCCI, Banco Ambrosiano, the P2 Lodge, the CIA/Mafia anti-Castro/Kennedy alliance, Iran/Contra and the rest were a long time ago, so there’s no need to rehash all that. That was then, this is now!

That Jonathan Bush’s Riggs Bank has been found guilty of laundering terrorist funds and fined a US-record $25 million must embarrass his nephew George, but it's still no justification for leaping to paranoid conclusions.

That George Bush's brother Marvin sat on the board of the Kuwaiti-owned company which provided electronic security to the World Trade Centre, Dulles Airport and United Airlines means nothing more than you must admit those Bush boys have done alright for themselves.

That George Bush found success as a businessman only after the investment of Osama’s brother Salem and reputed al Qaeda financier Khalid bin Mahfouz is just one of those things - one of those crazy things.

That Osama bin Laden is known to have been an asset of US foreign policy in no way implies he still is.

That al Qaeda was active in the Balkan conflict, fighting on the same side as the US as recently as 1999, while the US protected its cells, is merely one of history's little aberrations.

The claims of Michael Springman, State Department veteran of the Jeddah visa bureau, that the CIA ran the office and issued visas to al Qaeda members so they could receive training in the United States, sound like the sour grapes of someone who was fired for making such wild accusations.

That one of George Bush's first acts as President, in January 2001, was to end the two-year deployment of attack submarines which were positioned within striking distance of al Qaeda's Afghanistan camps, even as the group's guilt for the Cole bombing was established, proves that a transition from one administration to the next is never an easy task.

That so many influential figures in and close to the Bush White House had expressed, just a year before the attacks, the need for a "new Pearl Harbor" before their militarist ambitions could be fulfilled, demonstrates nothing more than the accidental virtue of being in the right place at the right time.

That the company PTECH, founded by a Saudi financier placed on America’s Terrorist Watch List in October 2001, had access to the FAA’s entire computer system for two years before the 9/11 attack, means he must not have been such a threat after all.

That whistleblower Indira Singh was told to keep her mouth shut and forget what she learned when she took her concerns about PTECH to her employers and federal authorities, suggests she lacked the big picture. And that the Chief Auditor for JP Morgan Chase told Singh repeatedly, as she answered questions about who supplied her with what information, that "that person should be killed," suggests he should take an anger management seminar.

That on May 8, 2001, Dick Cheney took upon himself the job of co-ordinating a response to domestic terror attacks even as he was crafting the administration’s energy policy which bore implications for America's military, circumventing the established infrastructure and ignoring the recommendations of the Hart-Rudman report, merely shows the VP to be someone who finds it hard to delegate.

That the standing order which covered the shooting down of hijacked aircraft was altered on June 1, 2001, taking discretion away from field commanders and placing it solely in the hands of the Secretary of Defense, is simply poor planning and unfortunate timing. Fortunately the error has been corrected, as the order was rescinded shortly after 9/11.

That in the weeks before 9/11, FBI agent Colleen Rowley found her investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui so perversely thwarted that her colleagues joked that bin Laden had a mole at the FBI, proves the stress-relieving virtue of humour in the workplace.

That Dave Frasca of the FBI’s Radical Fundamentalist Unit received a promotion after quashing multiple, urgent requests for investigations into al Qaeda assets training at flight schools in the summer of 2001 does appear on the surface odd, but undoubtedly there's a good reason for it, quite possibly classified.

That FBI informant Randy Glass, working an undercover sting, was told by Pakistani intelligence operatives that the World Trade Center towers were coming down, and that his repeated warnings which continued until weeks before the attacks, including the mention of planes used as weapons, were ignored by federal authorities, is simply one of the many "What Ifs" of that tragic day.

That over the summer of 2001 Washington received many urgent, senior-level warnings from foreign intelligence agencies and governments - including those of Germany, France, Great Britain, Russia, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Afghanistan and others - of impending terror attacks using hijacked aircraft and did nothing, demonstrates the pressing need for a new Intelligence Czar.

That John Ashcroft stopped flying commercial aircraft in July 2001 on account of security considerations had nothing to do with warnings regarding September 11, because he said so to the 9/11 Commission.

That former lead counsel for the House David Schippers says he’d taken to John Ashcroft’s office specific warnings he’d learned from FBI agents in New York of an impending attack – even naming the proposed dates, names of the hijackers and the targets – and that the investigations had been stymied and the agents threatened, proves nothing but David Schipper’s pathetic need for attention.

That Garth Nicolson received two warnings from contacts in the intelligence community and one from a North African head of state, which included specific site, date and source of the attacks, and passed the information to the Defense Department and the National Security Council to evidently no effect, clearly amounts to nothing, since virtually nobody has ever heard of him.

That in the months prior to September 11, self-described US intelligence operative Delmart Vreeland sought, from a Toronto jail cell, to get US and Canadian authorities to heed his warning of his accidental discovery of impending catastrophic attacks is worthless, since Vreeland was a dubious character, notwithstanding the fact that many of his claims have since been proven true.

That FBI Special Investigator Robert Wright claims that agents assigned to intelligence operations actually protect terrorists from investigation and prosecution, that the FBI shut down his probe into terrorist training camps, and that he was removed from a money-laundering case that had a direct link to terrorism, sounds like yet more sour grapes from a disgruntled employee.

That George Bush had plans to invade Afghanistan on his desk before 9/11 demonstrates only the value of being prepared.

The suggestion that securing a pipeline across Afghanistan figured into the White House’s calculations is as ludicrous as the assertion that oil played a part in determining war in Iraq.

That Afghanistan is once again the world’s principal heroin producer is an unfortunate reality, but to claim the CIA is still actively involved in the narcotics trade is to presume bad faith on the part of the agency.

Mahmood Ahmed, chief of Pakistan’s ISI, must not have authorized an al Qaeda payment of $100,000 to Mohammed Atta days before the attacks, and was not meeting with senior Washington officials over the week of 9/11, because I didn’t read anything about him in the official report.

That Porter Goss met with Ahmed the morning of September 11 in his capacity as Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has no bearing whatsoever upon his recent selection by the White House to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

That Goss's congressional seat encompasses the 9/11 hijackers' Florida base of operation, including their flight schools, is precisely the kind of meaningless factoid a conspiracy theorist would bring up.

It's true that George HW Bush and Dick Cheney spent the evening of September 10 alone in the Oval Office, but what's wrong with old colleagues catching up? And it's true that George HW Bush and Shafig bin Laden, Osama's brother, spent the morning of September 11 together at a board meeting of the Carlyle Group, but the bin Ladens are a big family.

That FEMA arrived in New York on Sept 10 to prepare for a scheduled biowarfare drill, and had a triage centre ready to go that was larger and better equipped than the one that was lost in the collapse of WTC 7, was a lucky twist of fate.

Newsweek’s report that senior Pentagon officials cancelled flights on Sept 10 for the following day on account of security concerns is only newsworthy because of what happened the following morning.

That George Bush's telephone logs for September 11 do not exist should surprise no one, given the confusion of the day.

That Mohamed Atta attended the International Officer's School at Maxwell Air Force Base, that Abdulaziz Alomari attended Brooks Air Force Base Aerospace Medical School, that Saeed Alghamdi attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey merely shows it is a small world, after all.

That Lt Col Steve Butler, Vice Chancellor for student affairs of the Defense Language Institute during Alghamdi's terms, was disciplined, removed from his post and threatened with court martial when he wrote "Bush knew of the impending attacks on America. He did nothing to warn the American people because he needed this war on terrorism. What is...contemptible is the President of the United States not telling the American people what he knows for political gain," is the least that should have happened for such disrespect shown his Commander in Chief.

That Mohammed Atta dressed like a Mafioso, had a stripper girlfriend, smuggled drugs, was already a licensed pilot when he entered the US, enjoyed pork chops, drank to excess and did cocaine, was closer to Europeans than Arabs in Florida, and included the names of defence contractors on his email list, proves how dangerous the radical fundamentalist Muslim can be.

That 43 lbs of heroin was found on board the Lear Jet owned by Wally Hilliard, the owner of Atta’s flight school, just three weeks after Atta enrolled – the biggest seizure ever in Central Florida – was just bad luck. That Hilliard was not charged shows how specious the claims for conspiracy truly are.

That Hilliard’s plane had made 30-round trips to Venezuela with the same passengers who always paid cash, that the plane had been supplied by a pair of drug smugglers who had also outfitted CIA drug runner Barry Seal, and that 9/11 commissioner Richard ben-Veniste had been Seal’s attorney before Seal’s murder, shows nothing but the lengths to which conspiracists will go to draw sinister conclusions.

Reports of insider trading on 9/11 are false, because the SEC investigated and found only respectable investors who will remain nameless involved, and no terrorists, so the windfall profit-taking was merely, as ever, coincidental.

That heightened security for the World Trade Centre was lifted immediately prior to the attacks illustrates that it always happens when you least expect it.

That Hani Hanjour, the pilot of Flight 77, was so incompetent he could not fly a Cessna in August, but in September managed to fly a 767 at excessive speed into a spiraling, 270-degree descent and a level impact of the first floor of the Pentagon, on the only side that was virtually empty and had been hardened to withstand a terrorist attack, merely demonstrates that people can do almost anything once they set their minds to it.

That none of the flight data recorders were said to be recoverable even though they were located in the tail sections, and that until 9/11, no solid-state recorder in a catastrophic crash had been unrecoverable, shows how there's a first time for everything.

That Mohammed Atta left a uniform, a will, a Koran, his driver's license and a "how to fly planes" video in his rental car at the airport means he had other things on his mind.

The mention of Israelis with links to military-intelligence having been arrested on Sept 11 videotaping and celebrating the attacks, of an Israeli espionage ring surveiling DEA and defense installations and trailing the hijackers, and of a warning of impending attacks delivered to the Israeli company Odigo two hours before the first plane hit, does not deserve a response. That the stories also appeared in publications such as Ha'aretz and Forward is a sad display of self-hatred among certain elements of the Israeli media.

That multiple military wargames and simulations were underway the morning of 9/11 – one simulating the crash of a plane into a building; another, a live-fly simulation of multiple hijackings – and took many interceptors away from the eastern seaboard and confused field commanders as to which was a real hijacked aircraft and which was a hoax, was a bizarre coincidence, but no less a coincidence.

That the National Military Command Center ops director asked a rookie substitute to stand his watch at 8:30 am on Sept. 11 is nothing more than bad timing.

That a recording made Sept 11 of air traffic controllers’ describing what they had witnessed, was destroyed by an FAA official who crushed it in his hand, cut the tape into little pieces and dropped them in different trash cans around the building, is something no doubt that overzealous official wishes he could undo.

That the FBI knew precisely which Florida flight schools to descend upon hours after the attacks should make every American feel safer knowing their federal agents are on the ball.

That a former flight school executive believes the hijackers were "double agents," and says about Atta and associates, "Early on I gleaned that these guys had government protection. They were let into this country for a specific purpose," and was visited by the FBI just four hours after the attacks to intimidate him into silence, proves he's an unreliable witness, for the simple reason there is no conspiracy.

That Jeb Bush was on board an aircraft that removed flight school records to Washington in the middle of the night on Sept 12th demonstrates how seriously the governor takes the issue of national security.

To insinuate evil motive from the mercy flights of bin Laden family members and Saudi royals after 9/11 shows the sickness of the conspiratorial mindset.

Le Figaro’s report in October 2001, known to have originated with French intelligence, that the CIA met Osama bin Laden in a Dubai hospital in July 2001, proves again the perfidy of the French.

That the tape in which bin Laden claims responsibility for the attacks was released by the State Department after having been found providentially by US forces in Afghanistan, and depicts a fattened Osama with a broader face and a flatter nose, proves Osama, and Osama alone, masterminded 9/11.

That at the battle of Tora Bora, where bin Laden was surrounded on three sides, Special Forces received no order to advance and capture him and were forced to stand and watch as two Russian-made helicopters flew into the area where bin Laden was believed hiding, loaded up passengers and returned to Pakistan, demonstrates how confusing the modern battlefield can be.

That upon returning to Fort Bragg from Tora Bora, the same Special Operations troops who had been stood down from capturing bin Laden, suffered a unusual spree of murder/suicides, is nothing more than a series of senseless tragedies.

Reports that bin Laden is currently receiving periodic dialysis treatment in a Pakistani medical hospital are simply too incredible to be true.

That the White House went on Cipro September 11 shows the foresightedness of America’s emergency response.

That the anthrax was mailed to perceived liberal media and the Democratic leadership demonstrates only the perversity of the terrorist psyche.

That the anthrax attacks appeared to silence opponents of the Patriot Act shows only that appearances can be deceiving.

That the Ames-strain anthrax was found to have originated at Fort Detrick, and was beyond the capability of all but a few labs to refine, underscores the importance of allowing the investigation to continue without the distraction of absurd conspiracy theories.

That Republican guru Grover Norquist has been found to have aided financiers and supporters of Islamic terror to gain access to the Bush White House, and is a founder of the Islamic Institute, which the Treasury Department believes to be a source of funding for al Qaeda, suggests Norquist is at worst, naive, and at best, needs a wider circle of friends.

That the Department of Justice consistently chooses to see accused 9/11 plotters go free rather than permit the courtroom testimony of al Qaeda leaders in American custody looks bad, but only because we don't have all the facts.

That the White House balked at any inquiry into the events of 9/11, then starved it of funds and stonewalled it, was unfortunate, but since the commission didn't find for conspiracy it's all a non issue anyway.

That the 9/11 commission's executive director and "gatekeeper," Philip Zelikow, was so closely involved in the events under investigation that he testified before the the commission as part of the inquiry, shows only an apparent conflict of interest.

That commission chair Thomas Kean is, like George Bush, a Texas oil executive who had business dealings with reputed al Qaeda financier Khalid bin Mafouz, suggests Texas is smaller than they say it is.

That co-chair Lee Hamilton has a history as a Bush family "fixer," including clearing Bush Sr of the claims arising from the 1980 "October Surprise", is of no concern, since only conspiracists believe there was such a thing as an October Surprise.

That FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds accuses the agency of intentionally fudging specific pre-9/11 warnings and harboring a foreign espionage ring in its translation department, and claims she witnessed evidence of the semi-official infrastructure of money-laundering and narcotics trade behind the attacks, is of no account, since John Ashcroft has gagged her with the rare invocation of "State Secrets Privilege," and retroactively classified her public testimony. For the sake of national security, let us speak no more of her.

That, when commenting on Edmond's case, Daniel Ellsberg remarked that Ashcroft could go to prison for his part in a cover-up, suggests Ellsberg is giving comfort to the terrorists, and could, if he doesn't wise up, find himself declared an enemy combatant.

I could go on. And on and on. But I trust you get the point. Which is simply this: there are no secrets, an American government would never accept civilian casualties for geostrategic gain, and conspiracies are for the weak-minded and gullible.