Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Live Tonight

I'm getting better at it, I swear.

Once again, tonight from 5 to 7 mountain time, I'll be broadcasting Range Life live on RadioBoise. Now that we've got the license in the bag and will be hitting the airwaves inside a year, I need to get this live thing down.

So, check it out. Call me. Or e-mail me at I'll be watching the inbox. And I take requests.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Better Words

Once again, Andrew Sullivan has said it as I wanted to but couldn't. His blog entry on Obama's reaction to Wright's publicity blitz below.

That was a very impressive, clear and constructive re-framing of the core message of his candidacy; and a moment given to him by Wright. No one will ever be able to say that Obama threw his father-figure and pastor under the bus. We all know that the reverse happened. We also know that this clear repudiation of Wright's toxic, indeed "ridiculous" views on AIDS, 9/11 and permanent immiseration of people of color could not have happened unless Wright had made it necessary. Skeptics may wonder whether Wright actually deliberately did Obama a favor. I doubt it. But a favor it unintentionally is.

Maybe God does bring good out of bad. Maybe these racial and cultural divides can help us understand how better to move beyond them. Cynics may scoff - and certainly will. They will parse every nuance and try to paint Obama as another cynical, positioning pol. I don't believe it. He has more sincerity and integrity than the vast majority of politicians, more honesty, and more resilience in a very tough spot.

And today, we found that he can fight back, and take a stand, without calculation and in what is clearly a great amount of personal difficulty and political pain. It's what anyone should want in a president. It makes me want to see him succeed more than ever. It's why this country needs to see him succeed more than ever.

OK, I think I've exhausted this one. What say we get back to some issues for a change? Not here, of course, but in the MSM? Please?

Some Perspective on the Passage of Time

I'm not the only one who feels as if this primary has gone on forever. This from the NYTimes blog, The Caucus:

For perspective, consider America as it was when the battle effectively began — Oct. 22, 2006, when Mr. Obama said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he had changed his mind and was considering a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The average price of gas then stood at $2.20 a gallon.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld directed war strategy in Iraq.

J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, as speaker of the House, and Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Senate majority leader, called the signals in the Republican-controlled Congress.

Good lord, it's even been longer than I thought. Can this end soon, please?

Too Long in the Limelight

Unfortunately, some people don't know when to quit.

The Reverend Jeremiah Wright not only resurfaced to defend himself and his church, he turned it into a full-scale media blitz, talking to anyone and everyone, his assertions getting a bit louder and crazier the longer the spotlight stayed on.

Instead of calling it good at defending his church and his sermons, he chose to reiterate some of the crazier things he's said, loudly and repeatedly, turning what appeared an effort at explanation and reconciliation into a selfish quest for attention and justification.

It seems the Revered doesn't understand this is not just about him. He's submarining the chances of the best candidate for president that the Democrats--indeed the country--have had for many many years. Just to make sure he's heard, he's drowning out the voice of our only true hope for change.

And, accordingly, if unfortunately, Obama has been forced to react. He's denounced the comments of Wright in stronger language than he's used before. His eloquent speech on race will no longer stand as the last word on this nonsense, as he's been backed into a corner by nothing of his own doing.

I'd hoped this subject would go away. I'd hoped to not have to think or write about it. But it, and he, will not go away. I don't understand it; I can only hope we can get past it. Obama's done what he felt he had to do, and what certainly couldn't have been easy for him. As he said, "This is not the same man I met 20 years ago."

The Reverend, Research, and Timing

Jeremiah Wright is back in the news, and it's interesting to see what the billions of pundits, both professional and amateur, are making of it. Of course there's still the right-wing bloviating about what a horrible excuse for an American he is (although he served in the Marine Corps, see below, and in the Navy as chaplain, and most of those doing the spouting have no service record). There are the denials, the parsing of words, the running away, the wringing of hands, etc etc etc.

What's lost here is the plain fact that this has nothing to do with anything. Jeremiah Wright is a pastor, Barack Obama is a politician. They speak different languages and serve different functions. Did anyone hold W. to everything Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell or Ted Haggard ever said or did? (Off point, has anyone even noticed that one of W.s current spiritual advisors, Reverand Kirbyjon Caldwell, has apparently endorsed Obama despite this controversy?)

This is non-news. It's heartening in a way to see Wright come out into the open to defend himself, his church, and his sermons against those who know nothing but assume everything, who attack without firm ground to stand on. Wright's sermons belong to a larger context than this ridiculous primary season. The black church itself is something that is all but unknowable to white folks. It comes from a place of resistance, of clinging to identity for survival, and to think Sean Hannity or anyone else can sum it up and dismiss it in a sound bite is beyond absurd. It's idiotic.

(The picture below is of Wright, right, tending to LBJ in the hospital in 1966.)

And while I'm at it, the same thing goes for the attacks about William Ayers, former member of the Weather Underground. Stanley Fish writes eloquently about the absurdity of this line of attack, as he has done previously about the absurdity of requiring politicians to denounce and reject things other people have said.

The bottom line is, if you don't know the entirety of what the man has said and done, you don't know what you're talking about. A few words or phrases lifted out of context for immediate judgment are not a reasoned argument, but a sign of ignorance and laziness.

Dig deeper, learn the whole story, then see if your thoughts have changed. If you can't learn the whole truth, perhaps the best option is to avoid spouting platitudes and opinions about it. Otherwise, proclaim and pronounce all you will, but it's just meaningless noise.

Now, that said, after following some of Wright's publicity tour and reading some of the reaction to it, I have to wonder why he's doing this. The obvious answer is to defend himself against all the accusations flying around about him. But he has to know this isn't doing Obama any good. In fact, it's giving lots of people the excuse they need to vote against him.

Andrea Mitchell said it eloquently on Meet the Press on Sunday: "I think racism is a real factor here. I don't think it's being polled correctly because I don't think it can be polled correctly. I think it is what you see in some of his failure to connect with a particular sector of the electorate... it is a real issue that there is a resistance to him on some level in the electorate, and you hear these things from voters when you talk to them. "Oh, I heard that he's not really a Christian." "Oh, well, he didn't, you know, put his hand over his heart." All this willingness to believe totally erroneous things about Barack Obama, which begins to congeal, and I think it's a problem."

I believe that. No one wants to admit to being racist. But the willingness--almost the urgency--to believe some of these ridiculous things, to find an easy excuse to not vote for the guy, signals some other thought process going on just below the surface. Call it what you will.

So will Wright go away? Will he hurt Obama's chances? Or will this all eventually just fade from the front pages? Who knows. We've come a long way in this silliest of primaries, and unfortunately, it feels as if we've got a long way to go.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Happy Friday

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Future v. The Past

Last night's vote, for me, has produced no surprises and, unfortunately, no change in the dynamic of the Democratic race. Instead of throwing some brief thoughts of my own out there, I'll reprint here a blog entry from Andrew Sullivan in its entirety. He's got it nailed, I think. (Emphasis mine.)

Right now, the actual results suggest what I thought would be the worst possible result for the Democrats: a nine point win for Clinton. It doesn't change the race's dynamic or the math; but it will give Clinton just the tiniest sliver of an argument that she should not drop out. But what is striking in the exit polls is the polarization on three lines: gender, race and age. It was dead even with men; but a massive advantage for Clinton among women. The racial difference is obvious as well. But what really leaps out is age. Obama lost every cohort over 40; Clinton lost every cohort under 40. Race also affects the generations in turn: 67 percent of whites over 60 voted for Clinton - a massive 24 point advantage. Among the younger generation, there is much less racial polarization: under 30, whites split evenly. This is a fascinating result. It appears to me as the future struggling to overcome the past. On the process, I stick to my view that she needed double digits to have reason to stay in. Right now, she doesn't have it. But she won't leave. She will never leave. Ceding to someone younger is unthinkable to her. It's a form of death for her.

But here's what she does have: total shamelessness, and an absolute belief that she is the rightful nominee. Shamelessness: the appropriation of the message and even the words of her opponent; the portrayal of one of the most privileged and advantaged candidates in memory as an insurgent underdog; the eager embrace of the tactics - and message! - of the Rove right if it could help in any way; the picture of a candidate who saw a 20 - 25 point lead dissipate into single figures as a candidate for momentum. What sustains her is this deep, deep sense of entitlement and an absolute refusal to let the next generation take over. She will take this to the last day of the convention if necessary.

If Obama thinks he has a right to actually be nominated by the Clinton Democrats because he has won more votes, more states and more delegates, he is sadly mistaken. They will never let such a person win without a death struggle. And that is where the Democrats are now headed.

This and much more at

Monday, April 21, 2008

Live Wednesdays

OK, so last week was pretty last minute. I got a big idea around 4:00 and was down at the studio, on the air, at 5:15. Not much notice.

But, in the runup to hitting the actual airwaves, I'm going to try and do Range Life live every Wednesday evening. I'm shooting for 5pm t 7pm mountain time.

Check it out this week if you can. I'll have new stuff from the Dodos and Bang on Can All Stars, some old Portishead to gear you up for the new Portishead out next week, and lots of other new stuff from James McMurtry, Helio Sequence, The Cops, Susu, Autechre, and more of the smashing new CD from REM.

RadioBoise, Wednesday at 5. Call me if you want. Maybe I'll play that VanHalen request after all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Live tonight!

I'm doing a test run for a live broadcast of Range Life tonight. Right now.

Tune in to RadioBoise from now til about 7:30 this evening and see if I can pull it off.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Feelies Reunite!

Man have I been waiting for this.

The Feelies, one of my favorite bands of the 80s who split up in 92 or so, are getting back together to open for Sonic Youth at a Battery Park (NYC) show this July 4th.

From their debut, the outstanding Crazy Rhythms, through college rock staples Only Life and Time for a Witness, this band was the soundtrack to much of my wonderfully misspent youth.

Time will tell if this reunion will last beyond this one-off show, but their playing together again has been longed and howled for for so long, and to no avail, that it would seem this could only be the beginning.

Check the Pitchfork story.

Hear some music.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Happy Friday

I bet we all feel like this sometimes.

Thanks E and Keefer.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

VeloNews Reverts to Mid-90s Design

Responding to reader outcry, VeloNews is abandoning its new interactive design and heading back to the days of Pearl Jam and Pantani.

In the end, it'll look a whole lot like CyclingNews' letters section. Which is to say, akin to a WordPerfect term paper from a decade before.

Oh, and O'Grady's in charge.

Happy April.