(Roger Desormiere - one the greatest interpreters of French music)
My rule of thumb has always been trying to hear a piece of recorded music that's as close to what the composer heard as possible. Unfortunately, you can't really do that with Bach, Beethoven or Mozart, but you can do that with composers who were active at any point in the 20th century. The result has been, for the most part, pretty satisfying and a rewarding adventure.
Roger Desormiere was probably one of the greatest figures in French music from the 1930's all the way to his inactivity due to health problems in the mid 1950s. But during his activity he was responsible for many premiers and first recordings of works by composers he was closely associated with. One of those composers was Darius Milhaud and this recording, the world premier of his Suite Provencale was made shortly after it premiered (in 1936). The recording was made for Le Chant du Monde in Paris in 1938 and for me it epitomizes that wildly sensual playing so associated with French orchestras during that period. Desormiere recorded a lot during his heyday and much of it has been reissued on CD and is available via iTunes. You might want to dig around Google and see what you'll find. You might be amazed.
I've got four pool parties in two days, so I guess summer is finally here. The Beach Boys are synonymous with pools and summer and the like, and I really dig this track from 1965's Summer Days (and Summer Nights). Brian Wilson later claimed he wrote it for The Beatles. That could have been fun. I'm going to go dig out my swimsuit.
If you're not really familiar with what, exactly, Jack Abramoff did and why he was convicted (taking many prominent Republicans down with him), "Casino Jack and the United States of Money" is a helluva good start to explaining the rise and fall of Washington's most powerful Republican lobbyist.
Documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney ("Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room", "Taxi to the Dark Side" and "Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson") glosses over quite a bit to keep the complex story flowing smoothly (he mentions Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy aka CREA* only in passing) but still leaves out large, meaty chunks. What he sacrifices in detail, he makes up in digestibility. Even hewing to the bare facts, it's an awful lot to absorb.
He asks the question: Was it really more idealistic in the past, or was it always this bad? He never quite answers his own question.
Salon writer Thomas Frank ("What's the Matter With Kansas", "The Wrecking Crew") is one of the counterpoints throughout the film, as is convicted Rep. Bob Ney and Neil Volz, Ney's former chief of staff.
Volz, who went to prison, seems clearly regretful for his part in Abramoff's legalized bribery. "He could talk a dog off a meat truck," he says of Abramoff. Volz also talks about the revolving door between Congress and the lobby shops, and how easy it is to get caught up in chasing the money. "You forget why you came here," he says.
Volz's former boss Bob Ney is also seen in a candid interview, and comes off as relatively human - and bitter about the entire mess.
Tom DeLay, as you might expect, acts as if Abramoff's illegal acts were a total shock to him - even though we know they couldn't be.
Reporter Shawn Martin, a writer for the Lake Charles American Press, points out that members of Congress are so obsessed with getting campaign contributions, "They're willing to risk their careers for $25,000, or $50,000, or a golf trip."
Abramoff refused to go on-camera for this film, although he did take part in several interviews. It would have been more than a little interesting to hear how he feels about his achievements now.
In the bigger picture, "Casino Jack" makes the most powerful argument yet for public campaign financing, and of course we watch it knowing that the same kind of big-money lobbying that allowed sex slavery to thrive in the Marianas Islands also allowed the regulatory breakdown that is now polluting the entire Gulf of Mexico.
This documentary is a clarion call to get money the hell out of politics.
* Via Mary Beth Williams at Wampum, whose investigative work on Abramoff was used without attribution by many, many people:
Throughout its short but controversial existence (CREA was highly implicated in the Abramoff scandal, which is how I discovered it), CREA's central mission, despite purportedly being a 501(c)3, was to undermine the environmental credentials of high-profile Democrats, particularly Al Gore, and later, John Kerry. It accomplished this mostly through paid media, ads buys in major newspapers and on TV. How it paid for those high-priced ads is still a mystery, as CREA consistently claimed on its filings with the IRS that, outside of a three-month period in the summer of 2000 where it raked in $121K+, including $10,000 from Koch, it claimed it had no income. The half-million dollars from Abramoff tribal clients has yet to be declared, as well as any proceeds from the numerous fundraisers hosted by Julie Finley, the queen bee of Republican Washington society.
Groups like CEI, CREA, the Cato Institute (also Koch funded) and the National Center for Public Policy Research (also a laundry for Abramoff money) all began a non-stop brutal campaign, managed by Grover Norquist and Karl Rove, on VP Al Gore, a campaign aimed at cementing public doubt regarding Gore's superb environmental credentials. The effort worked so well, that Gore's own campaign advisors purportedly urged him not to focus on his green record.
Justice Department officials told Arizona's attorney general and aides to the governor Friday that the federal government has serious reservations about the state's new immigration law. They responded that a lawsuit against the state isn't the answer.
"I told them we need solutions from Washington, not more lawsuits," said Attorney General Terry Goddard, a Democrat.
The Justice Department initiated separate meetings by phone and face-to-face in Phoenix with Goddard and aides to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer to reach out to Arizona's leaders and elicit information from state officials regarding the Obama administration's concerns about the new law.
The strong message that the Justice Department representatives delivered at the private meetings – first with Goddard, then with Brewer's staff – left little doubt that the Obama administration is prepared to go to court if necessary in a bid to block the new law, which takes effect July 29.
Goddard said he noted that five privately filed lawsuits already are pending in federal court to challenge the law.
"Every possible argument is being briefed," said Goddard, who is running unopposed for his party's nomination for the governor's race.
Brewer, who is seeking re-election, later said in a statement that her legal team told the Justice Department officials that the law would be "vigorously defended all the way to the United States Supreme Court if necessary."
The department officials, Brewer said, "were advised that I believe the federal government should use its legal resources to fight illegal immigration, not the state of Arizona."
We hit the question briefly on Friday in this post, and the initial answer to the question seemed to be no, that in passing an immigration law, Arizona was improperly stepping into the domain of the federal government.
The NYT’s John Schwartz on Wednesday takes a deeper look at the question. His finding: that, yes, the law probably — though not definitely — runs violates preemption principles, and is therefore unconstitutional.
“The law is clearly pre-empted by federal law under Supreme Court precedents,” said UC Irvine’s Erwin Chemerinsky.
For decades, the role of controlling immigration and enforcing immigration laws has fallen to the federal government, not the states. And the law will likely fail on those grounds, said Chemerinsky.
Corexit 9500 is the chemical dispersant used by British Petroleum (BP) in the Gulf Oil Spill. The Nalco scientist maintains it's safer than household dish soap, less toxic than ice cream. Report from KTRK, Houston (5.27.10)
As more oil workers fall sick with the increased use of chemical dispersants the contrast with how BP and the company which makes the dispersant being used could not be more stark.
I'm not a chemist so I can't vouch for the veracity of the claim made that Corexit is safer than dish soap. Perhaps it is for fish and sea life. However, I've rarely washed my dishes while wearing protective gloves, respiratory masks, and eye protection as Nalco (the company that makes it) requires for those handling or around the substance. And the British don't seem to think much of the stuff, having banned it for use in the North Sea. Something about causing headaches, vomiting and reproductive issues.
In the clip above a Nalco scientist maintains the safety of the product (noting while wearing the protective gear). And in fact on their website Nalco takes great pains to make the toxic shit stuff sound as innocuous as possible:
Corexit contains six primary ingredients. Examples of everyday products with specific ingredients in common with COREXIT 9500 include:
• One ingredient is used as a wetting agent in dry gelatin, beverage mixtures, and fruit juice drinks.
• A second ingredient is used in a brand-name dry skin cream and also in a body shampoo.
• A third ingredient is found in a popular brand of baby bath liquid.
• A fourth ingredient is found extensively in cosmetics and is also used as a surface-active agent and emulsifier for agents used in food contact.
• A fifth ingredient is used by a major supplier of brand name household cleaning products for "soap scum" removal.
• A sixth ingredient is used in hand creams and lotions, odorless paints and stain blockers.
(h/t David at VideoCafe)
This Week marks the passings of actor/director Dennis Hopper, last surviving Pearl Harbor Medal of Honor recipient John Finn, child actor Gary Coleman, television personality Art Linkletter. In addition, the Pentagon released the names of eight service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I agree with Rep. Markey's assertions about BP, but that begs the question, why are the criminals still being allowed to manage the crime scene? Later in the program CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson said "I do know that seven senators have written a letter asking the attorney general to open a criminal investigation. I think we may see that." I would certainly hope so.
Rep. Bob Markey, D-Mass., said today that BP knew the initial estimates of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from the site of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig were larger than what they were publicly stating was the flow.
...The Democrat, who is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, said that the amount of oil flowing is tied to any fee that may be imposed on the oil company resulting from the spill.
"BP has a stake in their own liability here," Market said. "That means that the fine which can be imposed upon them is dependent upon how many barrels per day is going out into the Gulf. If it's 1,000 barrels per day, it's a relatively low fine, but if it's 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 barrels per day, it could wind up billions of dollars in fines that BP executives have to pay to the federal government."
...When Dickerson asked if he felt BP lied to the government, Markey said, "I think they were either lying or they were incompetent. Either way, the consequences to the Gulf and Mexico are catastrophic."
..."I have no confidence whatsoever in BP," he said. "I think they do not know what they were doing, in terms of anything that they're doing is going to turn out as they're predicting."
When Dickerson asked if BP should be held criminally responsible, Markey said, "Without question the word 'criminal' should be used in terms of an environmental crime against our country."
In the weeks immediately following the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform on April 20, 2010, Conservative pundits quickly tried to minimize the amount of damage we could expect from all that oil washing ashore, comparing it to "natural seepage" from the ocean floor. Then the oil started washing ashore, and suddenly this was "Obama's Katrina".
The 1000th American serviceman killed in Afghanistan had already fallen once to a hidden explosive.
Marine Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht was driving his Humvee over a bomb in Iraq that punched the dashboard radio into his face and broke his leg in two places. He spent two painful years recovering from that 2007 blast. The 24-year-old had written letters from his hospital bed begging to be put back on the front lines, and died less than a month into a desperately sought second tour.
The Texas Marine's death marks a grim milestone in the Afghanistan war. He was killed this week when he stepped on a land mine in Helmand province that ripped off his right arm.
An Associated Press tally shows Leicht is the 1,000th U.S. serviceman killed in the Afghan combat, nearly nine years after the first casualty was also a soldier from the San Antonio area.
"He said he always wanted to die for his country and be remembered," said Jesse Leicht, his younger brother. "He didn't want to die having a heart attack or just being an old man. He wanted to die for something."
I wish I knew what that something was. Perhaps it might give some comfort to his family, but after nine years, I don't know what it is. I just hope that we don't have another 1,000 deaths to note before we finally re-think our involvement in Afghanistan.