Friday, July 31, 2009

50th Anniversay of Newport Folk Festival

This weekend is the 50th anniversay of the Newport Folk Festival. It began as a spin-off of George Wein's Newport Jazz Festival, but took on a life of its own. Early on, Pete Seeger suggested a new format. Each artists would be paid the same modest $50 fee and the extra money would be spent on additional artists and, more importantly on "song-catchers who would scout the country for unknown or forgotten folk artists. Special efforts were made as well to recruit young and rising artists. Joan Baez made her national debut here.

The festival was discontinued, but it's back for a big gala event this year. NPR has a mini-site devoted to the Newport Folk Festival. It is also broadcasting lots of perfomances live on Saturday and Sunday. NPR Music, WFUV, Folk Alley and mvyradio will broadcast and webcast from the Folk Festival 50 on Aug. 1-2.

Here's Saturday's Scheduled Live Performances, check the NPR site for further details.

12:10 p.m. Billy Bragg

1:20 p.m. The Avett Brothers

2:40 p.m. Gillian Welch

4 p.m. Fleet Foxes

5:30 p.m. The Decemberists

7 p.m. A Singalong with Pete & Tao Seeger & friends

The NPR site has lots of archived performances from past NFF and even a free 12-tune download. Unfortunately, it is done through iTunes, so you are going to be restricted on where you can play them. There a nice photo essay on Bob Dylan at the 1963 festival.

1965 is the year I would have liked to have been at Newport. I wouldn't have been booing.

Couldn't find a video of the third song, but this is the performance with pics from the NFF.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Schofdorf Looking at 4th District Race

According to the Eagle

WICHITA — State Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, announced today the formation of an exploratory committee to decide whether to seek the 4th District congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard.

This is the first step toward running for the office but stops short of an official announcement. Schodorf says she will launch a listening tour of the 4th District.

Schodorf, considered to be a legislative moderate, will face two more conservative candidates in the GOP primary: state Sen. Dick Kelsey, R-Goddard, and Republican National Committee member Mike Pompeo.

How will a "moderate" in the Kansas GOP translate into national politics? Hard to tell. In the Second District, Lynn Jenkins was the "moderate" alternative to Jim Ryun in the 2008 primary, but she's been pretty much a far-right wing-nut since being elected

NYT Times on Tiller

The Sunday New York Times had a long profile on murdered abortion doctor George Tiller.

Registration is required, but it is free.

Here's an excerpt

Long ago, he had accepted the possibility he might be assassinated. It was something he and his fellow abortion providers had quietly discussed, and friends said he had lost count of all the death threats.

Even so, there was a mood of stunned rage when local abortion rights advocates gathered the Friday after his killing at First Unitarian Universalist Church in Wichita. ...

But it was a demoralized group. In Topeka, the state capital, they have long been outmuscled by conservative Christians, who have been steadily chipping away at abortion rights. One woman, a lobbyist for abortion rights, described how some legislators literally turned their backs when she testified.

Gail Finney, a junior member of the Legislature, stood and asked why there had not been more outcry from the state’s leaders over Dr. Tiller’s killing. “Where’s the anguish?” Ms. Finney said.

Not a single Kansas politician of statewide prominence showed up the next morning for Dr. Tiller’s funeral, which drew 1,200 mourners. Nor were any at Reformation Lutheran the next day, the first Sunday service after his death.

In the foyer where he was shot, the juice and coffee table had been turned into a memorial, with Dr. Tiller’s photograph next to a basket of buttons he had passed out by the boxful to patients, employees and friends. “Attitude is Everything,” they said.

Outside, Pastor Michelson greeted families with hugs. “There was no way I was going to hide inside,” he later said.

The Tiller clan took their usual spot in the pews, and Mrs. Tiller, radiant in red, was embraced again and again. Flowers from her husband’s funeral framed the altar.

The church was more crowded than usual.

In his sermon, Pastor Michelson openly acknowledged his own apprehensions. “Our sanctuary has been violated,” he said. He urged his congregation to rise above fear and anger, and took note of the supportive letters and e-mail messages from churches all over the country.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Two worker victories in Missouri and Kansas

Low-paid home care workers in Missouri vote decisively for a union and high-paid engineers at Spirit in Wichita resoundingly reject a take-away contract that included giving the right for the company to have workers work 4 hours of overtime a week without pay.

Of course, these are victories along the way. Both workers still have to negotiate a decent contract. The home care workers have to build a new union and negotiate a first contract. The engineers will be back at the table next week and they need to build their membership to get a better contract.

Best of luck to them.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Washington Post Health Care Poll

18. (Do you think it's possible to reform the health care system in a way that people who have coverage now can keep it without any changes if they want to), or (do you think health care reform will require everyone to make changes, whether they want to or not)?

      Reform possible     Reform will
without changes require changes No opinion
6/21/09 38 58 4

19. Would you support or oppose a law that requires all Americans to have health insurance, either getting it from work or buying it on their own?

          Support   Oppose   No opinion
6/21/09 49 47 4

20. Would you support or oppose a law that requires all Americans to have health insurance if it included [ITEM]?

6/21/09 - Summary Table*

Support Oppose No opin.
a. A rule that all employers either offer health
insurance to their employees or pay money into
a government health insurance fund 62 34 4
b. A rule that working Americans who don't get
insurance through work or on their own would
have to pay money into a government health
insurance fund 44 52 4
c. A tax credit or other aid to help low-income
Americans pay for health insurance 70 28 2
d. A rule that insurance companies sell coverage
to people regardless of pre-existing conditions 68 27 5
*Half sample asked items a-b; other half sample asked items c-d.

21. Would you support or oppose having the government create a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans? (IF SUPPORT) Would you rather have that plan run by a government agency, or run by an independent organization with government funding and oversight?

----------- Support ------------
NET Gov't agency Indep. org. Oppose No opinion
6/21/09 62 21 41 33 5

21a. (IF SUPPORT) What if having the government create a new health insurance plan made many private health insurers go out of business because they could not compete? In that case would you support or oppose creating a government-run health insurance plan?

Support Oppose No opinion
6/21/09 56 41 3

21/21a NET

------- Oppose --------
Support NET At first Now do No opinion
6/21/09 37 58 33 25 5

22. (HALF SAMPLE) Would you support or oppose a federal tax on health insurance benefits people receive through their employer if those benefits cost more than 17-thousand dollars a year?

          Support   Oppose   No opinion
6/21/09 24 70 6

23. (HALF SAMPLE) Would you support or oppose raising income taxes on Americans with household incomes over 250-thousand dollars to help pay for health care reform?

          Support   Oppose   No opinion
6/21/09 60 37 3

24. (HALF SAMPLE) Would you support or oppose a law limiting the amount of money someone can collect if they win a lawsuit after being injured by bad medical care?

           Support   Oppose   No opinion
6/21/09 57 42 2

25. (HALF SAMPLE) Would you support or oppose a law limiting the amount of money you could collect if you won a lawsuit after being injured by bad medical care?

           Support   Oppose   No opinion
6/21/09 53 42 4

26. Just your best guess, if the health care system is changed, do you think the quality of your health care will get (better), get (worse), or remain about the same?

           Better   Worse   Same   No opinion
6/21/09 16 31 50 3

27. Which comes closer to the way you feel: government reform of the nation's health care system (is necessary to control costs and expand coverage), or government action on health care (will do more harm than good)? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

          ------- Necessary -------   -- More harm than good --
NET Strongly Somewhat NET Somewhat Strongly No opinion
6/21/09 58 34 23 39 15 24 3

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Who do you trust on health care"

WaPo poll asks

Who do you trust to do a better job handling health care? - and finds:

Obama (54)
Republicans in Congress (34)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lezek Kolakowski,: How to be a Conservaite Liberal Socialist

Lezek Kolakowski, the exile Polish philosopher,died last Friday. I remember reading an essay of his on utopia when he was still a dissident in Communist Poland. This essay below was written many years later. I think you might enjoy it.

How to be a Conservative-Liberal-Socialist"

By Leszek Kolakowski.

Motto: "Please step forward to the rear!" This is an approximate translation of a request I once heard on a tram-car in Warsaw. I propose it as a slogan for the mighty International that will never exist.

A Conservative Believes:

1. That in human life there never have been and never will be improvements that are not paid for with deteriorations and evils; thus, in considering each project of reform and amelioration, its price has to be assessed. Put another way, innumerable evils are compatible (i.e. we can suffer them comprehensively and simultaneously); but many goods limit or cancel each other, and therefore we will never enjoy them fully at the same time. A society in which there is no equality and no liberty of any kind is perfectly possible, yet a social order combining total equality and freedom is not. The same applies to the compatibility of planning and the principle of autonomy, to security and technical progress. Put yet another way, there is no happy ending in human history.

2. That we do not know the extent to which various traditional forms of social life--families, rituals, nations, religious communities--are indispensable if life in a society is to be tolerable or even possible. There are no grounds for believing that when we destroy these forms, or brand them as irrational, we increase the chance of happiness, peace, security, or freedom. We have no certain knowledge of what might occur if, for example, the monogamous family was abrogated, or if the time-honored custom of burying the dead were to give way to the rational recycling of corpses for industrial purposes. But we would do well to expect the worst.

3. That the idee fixe of the Enlightenment--that envy, vanity, greed, and aggression are all caused by the deficiencies of social institutions and that they will be swept away once these institutions are reformed-- is not only utterly incredible and contrary to all experience, but is highly dangerous. How on earth did all these institutions arise if they were so contrary to the true nature of man? To hope that we can institutionalize brotherhood, love, and altruism is already to have a reliable blueprint for despotism.

A Liberal Believes:

1. That the ancient idea that the purpose of the State is security still remains valid. It remains valid even if the notion of "security" is expanded to include not only the protection of persons and property by means of the law, but also various provisions of insurance: that people should not starve if they are jobless; that the poor should not be condemned to die through lack of medical help; that children should have free access to education--all these are also part of security. Yet security should never be confused with liberty. The State does not guarantee freedom by action and by regulating various areas of life, but by doing nothing. In fact security can be expanded only at the expense of liberty. In any event, to make people happy is not the function of the State.

2. That human communities are threatened not only by stagnation but also by degradation when they are so organized that there is no longer room for individual initiative and inventiveness. The collective suicide of mankind is conceivable, but a permanent human ant-heap is not, for the simple reason that we are not ants.

3. That it is highly improbable that a society in which all forms of competitiveness have been done away with would continue to have the necessary stimuli for creativity and progress. More equaliity is not an end in itself, but only a means. In other words, there is no point to the struggle for more equality if it results only in the leveling down off those who are better off, and not in the raising up of the underprivileged. Perfect equality is a self-defeating ideal.

A Socialist Believes:

1. That societies in which the pursuit of profit is the sole regulator of the productive system are threatened with as grievous--perhaps more grievous--catastrophes as are societies in which the profit motive has been entirely eliminated from the production-regulating forces. There are good reasons why freedom of economic activity should be limited for the sake of security, and why money should not automatically produce more money. But the limitation of freedom should be called precisely that, and should not be called a higher form of freedom.

2. That it is absurd and hypocritical to conclude that, simply because a perfect, conflictless society is impossible, every existing form of inequality is inevitable and all ways of profit-making justified. The kind of conservative anthropological pessimism which led to the astonishing belief that a progressive income tax was an inhuman abomination is just as suspect as the kind of historical optimism on which the Gulag Archipelago was based.

3. That the tendency to subject the economy to important social controls should be encouraged, even though the price to be paid is an increase in bureaucracy. Such controls, however, must be exercised within representative democracy. Thus it is essential to plan institutions that counteract the menace to freedom which is produced by the growth of these very controls.

So far as I can see, this set of regulative ideas is not self-contradictory. And therefore it is possible to be a conservative-liberal-socialist. This is equivalent to saying that those three particular designations are no longer mutually exclusive options.

As for the great and powerful International which I mentioned at the outset--it will never exist, because it cannot promise people that they will be happy.

From Leszek Kolakowski, Modernity on Endless Trial (University of Chicago, 1990).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Invisible Library

Books that only exist in other books and now the subject of an exhibition in London, fittingly concluded on July 12 before anyone read about it here.

I understand that there are a number of books mentioned in the Bible which do not exist or have not survived.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kobach--a birther?

GOP Secretary of Statel candidate Kris Kolbach told a not very funny joke the other day at a party event in Tonganoxie. According to the Lawrence World

Kobach asked what Obama and God had in common. He said neither had a birth certificate.
Kobach tried to talk his way out of this mess, by saying he was just joking.

Well, that means Kolbach was pandering to the worst sort of ignorance and prejudice in the GOP ranks.

The conservative talk show host Michael Medved has referred to the birthers as "crazy, nutburger, demagogue, money-hungry, exploitative, irresponsible, filthy conservative imposters" who are "the worst enemy of the conservative movement."
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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Raj Goyle will run for Kansas 4th Congressional District

It's not quite official, but State Representative Raj Goyle will be a candidate for Kansas' 4th Congressional District, centered around Wichita. Goyle told a Saturday DFA campaign school at Wichita State University today that he has sent a press release to the Wichita Eagle and other media announcing his candidacy.

Incumbent Todd Tiahrt is running for the US Senate aginst fellow- GOP Congressman Jerry Moran. So this will be an open seat. So fare the Republican candidates seem pretty lackluster.

Goyle is potentially a very strong candidate. He was elected in a stronglyy Republican House district, ousting an incumbent. He has shown a rare ability to mobilize volunteers, raise money, and run a grass-roots campaign. Goyle is very intelligent and has impressive political skills.

Whether those skills can translate froma state House district to a much larger Congressional District is another question. Whether Goyle can appeal to blue collar voters to the same degree as he won the support of the up-scale voters in his district will be another challenge.

This much is certain the 4th District should be on the national watch list for Democratic pickups in 2010.

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David Brooks is an"exceptional" idiot

WASHINGTON  - JULY 8:  David Brooks, New York ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

David Brooks is a conservative-leaning New York Times columnist and is supposedly one of the smartest political commentators around. How then to you explain his bizarre comment Friday on NPR. Brooks observed that it was the 500th birthday of John Calvin.

According to Brooks, Calvin was responsible for democracy, capitalism, and "American exceptionalism."

American exceptionalism is, according to Wikipedia,
the theory that the United States occupies a special niche among developed nations[1] in terms of its national credo, historical evolution, political and religious institutions and unique origins.

Now how Calvin can be responsible for this special character of America is beyond me, especially since he died 40 years before the first British colony in North America.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Origins of the Moonwalk

(hattip to DI)

Abeja Mariposa Jr created a fascinating video history on the origins of the Moonwalk, showing that it goes way back in the traditions of black popular dance. I think it would be interesting to see this with the original music.

I wonder if any of the news networks showed and dicussed Michael's predecessors during their marathon coverage of the funeral and memorial.

Even if you don't consider yourself a Michael Jackson fan, this is worth watching.

The demented mind of Dennis Miller

I'm trying to remember if Dennis Miller was ever really funny. In his new right-wing radio incarnation, he certainly isn't. Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck strike me as being occasionally humorous. Miller more often comes off as just plain creepy.

Bob Newhart started his career with an album entitled "The Button-Down Mind." I wonder what a collection of Miller's radio raves might be titled.

On a broadcast I heard on Sunday, Miller said

"it's the romantic in me that wants to see Ahmadinejad's brain's splattered on a wall"--romantic!

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