Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Congrats to Roy Nitzberg

Lots of people have a musician or two or more in their circle of friends, but damn few of us have a music theorist.

My longtime friend Roy Nitzberg has co-authored (with Henry Burnett) Composition, Chromaticism and the Developmental Process New Theory of Tonality.

Here's the synopsis.

Musicology, having been transmitted as a compilation of disparate events and disciplines, has long necessitated a 'magic bullet', a 'unified field theory' so to speak, that can interpret the steady metamorphosis of Western art music from late medieval modality to twentieth century atonality within a single theoretical construct. Without that magic bullet, discussions of this kind are increasingly complicated and, to make matters worse, the validity of any transformational models and ideas of the natural evolution of styles is questioned and even frowned upon today as epitomizing a grotesque teleological bigotry. Going against current thinking, Henry Burnett and Roy Nitzberg claim that the teleological approach to observing stylistic change is still valid when considered from the purely compositional perspective. The authors challenge the traditional understanding of development, and advance a new theory of eleven-pitch tonality as it relates to the corpus of Western composition. The book plots the evolution of tonality and its bearing on style and the compositional process itself. The theory is not based on the diatonic aspect of the various tonal systems exploited by composers; rather, the theory is chromatically based - the chromatically inflected octave being the source not only of a highly ingenious developmental dialectic, but also encompassing the moment-to-moment progression of the musical narrative itself. Even the most profound teachings of Schenker, and the often startlingly original and worthwhile speculations of Riemann, Tovey, Dahlhaus and others, still provide no theory of development and so are ultimately unable to unite the various tendrils of the compositional organism into a unified whole. Burnett and Nitzberg move beyond existing theory and analysis to base their theory from the standpoint of chromatic 'pitch fields'. These fields are the specific chromatic pitch choices that a composer uses to inform and design a complete composition, utilizing specific chromatic inflections to control a large-scale working out process that is the very essence of 'development'. In short, the authors claim that a chromatic background that coexists with a diatonic contrapuntal background may define the process of compositional development. These chromatic and diatonic events are the two genus expressions of slowly unfolding tonic octaves.
BTW, my connection with Roy is more political than musical. Roy is senior US correspondent for LabourStart.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Strangers in our midst

I'm not shocked when the Minutemen and FAIR have an organizing meeting at the Wichita Public Library. I'm not surprised when college Republicans at Wichita State have a fundraiser with anti-immigrant themes.

But I'm disappointed that two forces which normally play a progressive, humane role on immigration issues have been less than stellar.

First, a Catholic school in Wichita has imposed an English-only policy on its students. Not only in the class room, but even on the play grounds. One the people upset is a social worker for the Wichita school district who has been involved in the diocese's Hispanic ministry program.

Bob Viboril. the Catholic school superintendent is quoted as saying

"As people take it away from being a simple disciplinary action, it tends to harden the position of people who want to make everything into a Hispanic-rights issue or those who want to make everything as an excuse to push Hispanics away...I am not on either side."

Not on either side! Not wanting to side with bigots or too over-zealous defenders of the marginal. One of the strongest points of Catholic social teaching in recent years has been the preferential option for the poor. It's sad Catholic leaders seemingly forget this principle.

Kansas Protestants also disappointed. The planned what looked like an interesting conference on Hispanic immigration, but cancelled it when there wasn't enough registration.

Bishops' Conference on the Common Good

Bishops Scott J. Jones of the Kansas Area of The United Methodist Church, Dean E. Wolfe of The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas and Gerald L. Mansholt of the Central States Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will host an event examining the issues surrounding Hispanic immigration on October 21 from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. A light supper will be provided, and a free-will offering will be taken.

Annapolis Peace Conference: Guide for the Perplexed

Meretz USA has prepared an excellent guide to the upcoming peace conference in Annapolis between Israel and the Palestinian authority.

Whether you follow the Middle East just a little or consider yourself an expert, this should be a very valuable resource.

Don't know who Mertz USA is?

MeretzUSA is "a US non-profit organization that supports a genuine peace between the State of Israel and its neighbors (including the Palestinian people) based on a negotiated land-for-peace solution. Meretz USA supports full civil and human rights for Israeli citizens, regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, gender, national origin, or sexual orientation."

It is independent of, but philosophically attuned to Meretz-Yachad, the left-wing, social democrratic party which has 5 seats in the Israeli Knesset.

Also, check out the Meretz USA blog.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Co-op Month

Bet you didn't know that October is co-cop month. I didn't.

Find out more information about co-ops here.

About 170 million million Americans are members of co-ops. True. the biggest number of these are members of credit unions. Co-ops represent a real alternative to the corporate model. Radicals and economic democrats should make a more serious effort to understand both the real role of co-ops and their potential. Liberal and progressive candidates, likewise, should include support for co-cops in addition to the standard affirmations of small business.

A 2003 poll for co-op month had some interesting findings showing wide support for the ideas of the co-op movement.

Respondents were read a list of corporate governance characteristics and asked if that characteristic makes a business more or less trustworthy.

  • 68% said that a business that has consumers on its board of directors is more or much more trustworthy;
  • 66% said that a business that is owned by the people who use the services of the company or buy its goods is more or much more trustworthy;
  • 63% said that a business that is governed by a board of directors made up of the people who use the services of the company or buy its goods is more or much more trustworthy;
  • 62% said a business that is locally owned and controlled is more or much more trustworthy; and
  • 55% said a business that allows its customers to democratically elect its board of directors is more or much more trustworthy. Perceptions of Co-ops vs. Publicly Traded Corporations

Respondents were given nine positive business attributes and asked if they agreed or disagreed whether each attribute described co-ops and publicly traded corporations;

  • 81% agreed that co-ops can be counted on to meet their customers needs, compared to 65% for publicly traded corporations;
  • 79% agreed that co-ops are committed to providing the highest quality service to their customers, compared to 58% for publicly traded corporations;
  • 78% agreed that co-ops are committed to and involved in their communities, compared to 53% for publicly traded corporations;
  • 77% agreed that co-ops have the best interests of consumers in mind when conducting business, compared to 47% for publicly traded corporations;
  • 76% agreed that co-ops run their businesses in a trustworthy manner, compared to 53% for publicly traded corporations;
  • 74% agreed that co-ops provide products and services that are of high value, compared to 63% for publicly traded corporations;
  • 68% agreed that co-ops are ethically governed, compared to 45% for publicly traded corporations;
  • 64% agreed that co-ops offered the most competitive prices, compared to 58% for publicly traded corporations; and
  • A nearly equal percentage agreed that co-ops and publicly traded corporations engage in charitable giving: 57% for co-ops and 58% for publicly traded corporations.
  • Publicly traded corporations outscored co-ops only on marketplace choice. While more than a majority (53%) agreed co-ops offer consumers more choices in the marketplace, 62% agreed that publicly traded corporations did.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Hag vs. Walmart

Merle Haggard's newest CD, Bluegress Sessions, includes another new social commentary from Merle. I first heard this while driving between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Conway, Arkansas ten days ago. This is the sort of anti-Wal-Mart song you might expect from a Si Kahn or Utah Phillips, but may be more artistically profound. And it will surely reach more people than a slew of cause singers.

In the chorus, Merle laments the lose of America and asks where did America go, the next line says "Everything Wal-mart all the time." In short, Wal-mart is un-American.


Merle R. Haggard (Merle Haggard Music, Inc., 8MI)

It used to be Andy and Barney Fife
Now it's Howard Stern and a brothel life
Too much crap can drive the world insane
Everybody's singing the Jailhouse Blues
Don't believe a word of the evening news
Truth that stood for years is down the drain
Trailer parks with a building code
Cul-de-sacs on a country road

High-Tech bars with bad karaoke sounds
Uncle Sam keeps your money spent
Pay your tithes, you can't pay the rent
Foreign cars selling big in American towns


What happened, does anybody know?
What happened, where did America go?
Everything Wal-Mart all the time.
No more mom and pop five and dimes
What happened,where did America go?
Where did America go?

How did we ever go so wrong?
Did we get too high, Did we sleep too long?
Why did we raise the price of gasoline
I remember the morning the towers fell
I fell back asleep and I dreamed of hell
I guess I thought it all was part of my dream


Where did it go boys? Tell me. I miss America.

The Bluegrass Sessions is to my knowledge, the first time Merle has recorded with a bluegrass sound. Surprisingly, it works.

There's a lot of musical, historical, and sociological stuff to unpack in this landmark recording. Merle has show a high regard for the history of country music. He's done tributes to Bob Wills, Jimmy Rodgers, and Lefty Frizzell. So, at first appearance, it's odd that he's never done a bluegrass album.

Actually, it may not be so strange. Merle was born in 1937 to parents who had moved to California from Oklahoma during the depression. Bluegrass wasn't invented, or didn't evolve, until the 1940s. It's my guess that bluegrass didn't have much of a following in California.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Report on House Immigration Reform Caucus

The Building Democracy Initiative of the Center for New Community has just released a new report on the House Immigration Reform Caucus which was founded by Tom Tancedro.

It's called Nativism in the House. Read it on-line or down-load the PDF.

  • The overwhelming majority of Caucus members are from the furthest, hardest edge of the Republican Party’s rightwing; only eight are Democrats. Although they often invoke the supposed interests of native-born wage earners, these representatives generally have stiff anti-labor voting records. Many also oppose a woman’s right to choose, and vote regularly against civil rights and civil liberties concerns.
  • The report finds that the Caucus is ideologically-driven, and might more accurately fit an “ultra-nationalist” model typically associated with far-right European parties such as Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front in France, the Vlaams Belang in Belgium, or the Swiss Peoples Party.
  • Although it is often assumed that nativist politics are the result of economic resentment, these congressmen and women are not elected from districts with a common economic or demographic character. They come from suburban, middle class California districts with a significant minority of Hispanic residents. In the South, Mid-South, and West they are elected from districts with a measurable percentage of rural, blue collar white voters, and very small numbers of Hispanics.
  • Notwithstanding the Caucus’ political character, its members have received campaign contributions from a surprisingly wide range of sources, including AT&T, the American Medical Association, and Home Depot. All told, 2600 PACs, most of whom are not considered anti-immigrant, have contributed to the HIRC’s campaign coffers. In addition, Caucus members receive funding from nativist sources such as the Minuteman PAC as well as from ultra-conservative sources such as the Eagle Forum and the Club for Growth.
  • • The election of Rep. Brian Bilbray as the Caucus’ chairman is likely to cement the already symbiotic relationship between fringe anti-immigrant advocacy groups and Caucus members. Rep. Bilbray is himself a former lobbyist for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a controversial anti-immigrant organization that holds questionable ties to white nationalist and nativist groups. At the same time, the former HIRC director has gone to work at FAIR as a Government Relations Associate.
  • Most recently, Caucus members have begun to actively promote legislation aimed at gutting the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. As of the time of this report’s printing, 90 members of the House of Representatives signed on as co-sponsors to legislation aimed at nullifying the Fourteenth Amendment’s “birthright” provision. If passed, this type of legislation would certainly provoke a constitutional crisis.

Blues Crawl Review

The Wichita Blues Society is one of the important grass roots organizations that preserves and enriches the cultural life of Wichita. Without the WBS and similar organizations, only narrow commercial interests and the elite refined culture of elite foundations would determine the cultural scene.

Each year, the WBS sponsors a Blues Crawl on a Sunday evening with a low admission price allowing admission to a series of Old Town clubs which are featuring blues bands for the evening. I made the Sept 30 crawl after having missed several. I managed to catch a tune or two from 10 of the 12 bands. Pretty good, considering the I got started at 7 instead of 6 when the crawl got underway. Maybe not the ideal way to take in a crawl, but something every crawler should consider.

Here's what I heard.

Nightwatchmen. My buddy Clayton Crawford is lead guitarist and vocalist for this power trio. I started and spent the longest time here. Highlight was "Got My Mojo Working Working" They had a unique arrangement for the tune based a driving guitar lick which I never heard another band use. It wasn't till the vocals that I recognized the tune. The drummer did an outstanding job on MOJO, evoking Sam Lay.

Next was the Corbett Cameron Band at Flashbacks. Reminded me of a Southern rock band with a country twinge.

At Mort's playing outside was Moreland & Arbuckle. Can you say Jimmy Reed. Very jumping.

RKO, two-time winners of the WBS Blues Challenge. I really liked this band. It had a classic Chicago blues line-up of lead and rhtym guitar, harmonica, bass, and drums. Played a very nice version of Otis Rush's "All My Loving," including a double time section. I think that's on the original, but AML isn't on the Cobra best of OR that I have.

Three Shades of Blue was holding forth at Torre's Pizza. Very skillful guitarist, but I felt like he was using every lick he knew.

Little Smoke playing a O'Sullivan's had a conga player, didn't come away with a distinct impression. That's the problem with trying to squeeze in seeing 12 groups in 2 hours.

Wing Tip Six a swing/jump blues combo with two saxes was groovin at the Brickyard.

Sharon Rush Band was doing a Dylan tune when I stopped into America's Pub.

Kelly's Irish Pub had Front Porch Blues a guitar and harp duo. Someone requested Stevie Ray Vaughn and they obliged, but I think their forte is more country blues.

My last stop of the evening was Larkspur where I heard Rachelle Coba who did some nice blues while accompanying herself on guitar. Not an easy thing to do, but she pulled it off.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

About the only safe Republican Senate seats in '08 are the ones that aren't on the ballot," a GOP operative with extensive experience in Senate races said. (Washington Post Sept. 2, 2007)

1. Pat Roberts to Too Popular

Pat Roberts is may be well-known, but he is not popular. Survey USA national polls have consistently put his ratings in the low 50s.

In contrast, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has a 60 percent approval rating.

It is time to take of the kid gloves and tell the truth about Roberts. He is a professional Washington, D.C. politician who is closer to the K Street lobbyists than to main street Kansans. He may be mild-mannered, but he is not moderate. He has fully backed the GOP obstructionist tactics in the Senate.

2. Voter Registration is so overwhelmingly Republican that no Democrat has a chance of winning.


Registration in the state breaks down along these lines 47% Republican, 29% Democratic, and 27% Independent. But this doesn't tell us much about where people really stand political.

A national Gallup poll early this year asked voters whether they "leaned" Democratic or Republican, as well as whether they were Dems or Republicans and they broke the answers down by states.

Here's how the Gallup poll break down for Kansas with leaners included

Democrats and Lean-Democratic 48%
Independent Independents 8%
Republicans and Lean Republican 44%

Other national polls are also showing a strong break for D among independents.

3. Kansans vote Republican when it comes to federal office.

WRONG. Look at the 2006 results for Congress, across the state. Total the results across the state and you’ll see that a Democrat could be elected to the Senate.

Republican Congressional Candidates 2006 Total Votes 456,138 55%

Democratic Congressional Candidates 2006 Total Votes 369,191 45%

4. Hilary or any other D at the top of the ticket will doom the down ticket.

A late August 2007 Survey USA poll shows Hilary Clinton surprisingly close to the leading GOP candidates in Kansas.

Among 502 registered voters in Kansas:

Clinton 40%, Giuliani 54%

Clinton 44%, Thompson 49%

Clinton 45%, Romney 46%

2004 results were Bush 60% Kerry 39%

As Kansas Democrats we have supported Howard Dean’s "50 State Strategy." It is time we held up our part of the deal.

5. Wait until 2010, there’s a much better chance to capture an empty seat when Brownback retires.

WRONG. Brownback may or may not keep his promise to retire. An empty seat is usually easier to capture. But 2008 is shaping up to be a Democratic wave nationally. There are 22 Republicans Senators up versus only 12 Democrats. GOP dollars and resources will be stretched thin. The many favorable circumstances for pull off an upset in 2008 will not be present in 2010. The state Republican party continues to appear to be divided and disarray, the time to strike is now.

6 Roberts is too formidable a candidate.

Roberts miserable failures as Senate Intelligence chair mark him as vulnerable. Let’s call is the Bush-Cheney-Roberts debacle in Iraq. Roberts will be 72 when November 2008 rolls around. He has never faced a first-rate challenge as Congressman or Senator.

Roberts isn’t running like he thinks he in invulnerable. He is running like he is scarred for his political life.

7. No Democrat can be elected to the US Senate from Kansas.

In the last fifty years, there have only been two serious challenges for Senate seats. Dr. Bill Roy in 1974 and Jill Docking in 1996. In both cases, it took dirty tricks to beat them.

Democrats have won statewide offices–Governor, Attorney General, and Insurance Commissioner. There is no reason a Democrat can’t be elected to the United States Senate.

8 Kansas Democrats should concentrate on the lower offices.

A strong campaign for US Senate will help candidates all down the line.

9. None of our top level statewide office holders will run.

Stop whining. Find a candidate. It is not necessary to be or to have been a statewide office holder or a former Congressman to be a Senate candidate. Nancy Kassebaum was a school board member. Paul Wellstone was a college professor. Barak Obama was a state Senator.

10. It’s too late.

Campaigns are starting earlier and it certainly would have been ideal for a challenger to have already launched a campaign. But it is not too late. The opportunities in 2008 are unique and must be grabbed. Kansas campaigns are cheaper than elsewhere in the nation and won’t take as much financing.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Is America Moving Left?

Is America Moving Left?

October 2 7:00-9:00 PM WSU RSC 223 (Rhatigan Student Center)

David Dulhade National Organizer Young Democratic Socialists
Kelly Johnston, Chair, Sedgwick County Democratic Party

The WSU YDS chapter appears to be a solid group involved in real world. Their projects have included voter registration, increasing the Kansas minimum wage. I'm sure the program will be of interest to not-so-young-anymore activists as well.

YDS is the youth group of Democratic Socialists of America, the group that was founded and led by Michael Harrington, author of The Other America. Notable DSA members have included United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, SDS veteran Steve Max, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers President William W. Winpisinger, literary critic Irving Howe, former Congressman Ron Dellums, author Barbara Ehrenreich, United Auto Workers co-founder Victor Reuther, leading African-American Studies professor Cornel West, political columnist Harold Meyerson.

Here is the wikipedia entry on DSA
The DSA website
wikipedia on YDS
YDS blog