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Watching the Wheels (Open Thread)

Spain, 1966

John Lennon

October 9, 1940 — December 8, 1980

I missed John Lennon’s birthday in my roundup! He would have been 70 years old today.

Lennon left us before I was born. I said hello hello to the world a few months after his death and just before the Reagan assassination attempt, which was also around the time of the posthumous release of Lennon’s “Watching the Wheels.” So I always remember that milestone instead of his birthday and death.

Here is Yoko’s birthday message to John, via the johnlennon youtube page. And, the lovely “Lucy” track released by Julian Lennon and James Scott Cook last December. From wikipedia:

The song is a sort of follow-up to The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, originally inspired by a drawing by a then four-year-old Lennon given to his father. The drawing was inspired by Lucy Vodden, a child friend of Lennon, and this song is dedicated to her.

An AOL exclusive interview with Sean Lennon published yesterday: “Sean Lennon on Singing John’s Songs, Making Music and Yoko Ono’s Legacy.”

From gather.com, yesterday as well:

The fingerprints of John Lennon of the Beatles were going to be up for auction tomorrow in New York, but it looks like that’s been stopped by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The fingerprints would have sold for quite a lot of money as well, over $100,000 if the had gone to auction. However, that’s not going to happen because they may be “part of Lennon’s file” with the FBI.

Lennon’s legacy in his own words,” via the Vancouver Sun:

Lennon’s politics, as evidenced by Revolution, written in 1968 as the Vietnam War dragged on: “The lyrics stand today (1980). They’re still my feeling about politics. I want to see the plan. I want to know what you’re going to do after you’ve knocked it all down. I mean, can’t we use some of it? What’s the point of bombing Wall Street? If you want to change the system, change the system. It’s no good shooting people.”

Violence toward women and the lines “I used to be cruel to my women/I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved” from Getting Better: “I used to be cruel to my woman. I couldn’t express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster.”

The BBC’s Lorna Gordon reported this about an hour ago:

A sculpture in honour of John Lennon has been unveiled in Liverpool, on what would have been his 70th birthday.

The event was attended by the star’s first wife Cynthia and his son Julian Lennon, who said it was not a day to be morbid, but one to celebrate his music and his message of peace.

Finally, this from Alternet, cross-posted at Tikkun Daily, a couple brief excerpts from a piece entitled “Instruments of Peace: St Francis, John Lennon, and Us” by Valerie Elverton-Dixon:

More than seven hundred years later, a British rock star wrote anthems of peace. John Lennon (1940-1980 C.E.) could not be more different from St. Francis. He was born to working class parents who left him to be reared by an aunt and uncle. He became a member of one of the most important rock bands in the twentieth century. He was adored and reviled. He wrote songs that made people think and feel, laugh and cry. He was brave enough to expose his own vulnerabilities, and he challenged a nation over its militarism. He submerged himself in his own hedonistic excess for 18 months, a period he called his “lost weekend” and re-emerged with a fresh commitment to his family, to the cause of peace and to his art.

St. Francis emerged from a room naked and free. John Lennon was also willing to expose is naked self, to go where his person truth led him and in so doing he was also free. It is this personal sense of liberation that can lead us to peace. And this has nothing to do with the things we so often think are important to life. This peace born of freedom is a kind of generosity. It is a sharing. It is an offering. It is authentic holiness.

Peace is more than a dream. It is a real possibility for humankind and for creation. St. Francis gave us a prayer and John Lennon gave us songs to aid our commitment and our vision. Peace is possible. Imagine.

Happy Birthday John.

Incidentally, as I mentioned in my roundup this morning, we just got news that the Arab League is giving the US another month to save Middle East peace talks.

I know it’s a long shot, but I’ll be Watching the Wheels and hoping against Hope… consider this an open thread, enjoy, and share your own picks:

Breaking up is hard to do

Elon James White at Salon:

Defending Obama and the Democrats is hard.

Not because I don’t think they’ve done some good in the past two years, because I do. It’s hard because I find myself constantly defending them, even when I’m not ecstatic about what’s happening. Don’t let my overly public defense of the Democrats fool you; I’m annoyed, tired and frustrated like a lot of people. Yet I don’t suffer from this enthusiasm gap that’s become all the rage to discuss. My enthusiasm is as strong as it has ever been because my choice is to either be frustrated with the Dems but know that a lot of good will come out of it or let the crazy people win. My issues with the Republicans and the Tea Party aren’t simply “a difference in opinion”; I’m overly enthusiastically against what they represent. I was really happy about Obama but my enthusiasm is on overdrive when it comes to stopping the Republicans.

But this doesn’t mean I’m drinking the liberal Kool-Aid.

I’ve mocked the Democrats on numerous occasions in the past two years when I believed they were really screwing up. Their P.R. skills are lacking even when they’re doing the right thing. The party’s various concessions to the bat-shit crazy contingent in order to push policies through has made my stomach hurt quite a few times, but even with all of that, I still have all the enthusiasm in the world. I am a hundred percent on whatever side that isn’t the one who keeps spouting off about “Real America.”

These days in Left Blogistan there are basically three different groups.

The first group are snorting Kool-aid powder straight from the package. These are the people who say that Obama is doing a stupendous job and has made historic achievements during his first two years in office. Obviously they’re either lying or delusional and I’m not sure which is worse.

This group has been steadily decreasing in size since Obama’s inauguration.

The second group are the ones that acknowledge that Obama has been a major disappointment but continue to support him anyway. This group includes those people who are recovering from Kool-aid as well as those who only experimented with it or used it socially. But there are also a number of people in this group who never drank the Obama juice but nonetheless voted for him and continue to support him and the Democratic party, primarily on the theory that “the Republicans are worse!”

We’ll talk more about these guys in a minute.

The last group are the people that Markos Moulitsas referred to as a “paranoid band of shrieking hold-outs.” They used to be Democrats but now they’re independent liberals. I’m one of them, as are Riverdaughter and the rest of the writers here at The Confluence. If you have big tire tracks across your back then you’re probably one too.

We weren’t fooled by the slick con job that the Malefactors of Great Wealth paid David Axelrod hundreds of millions of dollars to put over on the gullible. We refused to be bullied into either going along with the fraud or keeping silent.

We were prematurely correct about Obama, so of course we are hated and despised.

Now let’s go back and talk about that second group.

To hear them tell it, Obama and the Democrats in Congress are well-intentioned and share our values and goals, but they are cowardly, weak and spineless as well as politically inept. They don’t want to accept that Obama and the Democrats aren’t weak, they’re corrupt.

In other words, these people are in denial.

I’m gonna pick on Susie Madrak a little because she provided the perfect analogy.

Top Obama adviser David Axelrod got an earful of the liberal blogosphere’s anger at the White House moments ago, when a blogger on a conference call directly called out Axelrod over White House criticism of the left, accusing the administration of “hippie punching.”

“We’re the girl you’ll take under the bleachers but you won’t be seen with in the light of day,” the blogger, Susan Madrak of Crooks and Liars, pointedly told Axelrod on the call, which was organzied for liberal bloggers and progressive media.

Let’s expand on Susie’s analogy a little bit. Obama is the guy who already has a girlfriend (Wall Street, et al.) and doesn’t take the “under the bleachers” girl on dates or buy her gifts, he just uses her for booty calls. If he makes any promises he doesn’t keep them and when they do hook up he doesn’t even bother to provide “mutual satisfaction.”

That sounds like a pretty good description of Obama’s relationship with the netroots to me. The question is why the hell anyone would anyone want to be the girl in a relationship like that?


As much as I despise the weak-kneed, corporate ass-kissing Democrats, I hate the Republicans even more for bullying their way into the front of the economic policy debate and forcing bad policies that just don’t work.

They don’t care. They’re Republicans, they don’t have to!

So the girl in Susie’s analogy tells the guy she doesn’t like the way he’s treating her but he doesn’t change and she keeps meeting him under the bleachers for those booty calls anyway because she *knows* that deep down he really loves her and one of these days he’ll realize it.

If this girl was your friend, what advice would you give her?

Unless and until liberals and progressives are willing to say “Enough is enough!” they are gonna keep getting screwed. As long as they keep supporting Obama and the Democrats because “the Republicans are worse!” they are sending the message that all the Donkeys have to do is be the lesser of two evils.

If the Democrats won’t give you what you want you need to find someone who will.

A Pleasure in Work

The late John Huston once said, “Choose your career as you would choose your spouse- for love and money.”

The money part has been dogging us for a couple of decades.  We’re so worried all of the time over whether we can pay the bills that we tend to forget about the love of work.  Your job is a place where you spend 1/3 or more of your day.  You should enjoy it, look forward to going to work in the morning, be excited about solving new problems, deliver service to your customers to make their lives a little better, put quality into craftsmanship.

I consider myself very lucky to have a job I love.  Recently, it has gotten much more interesting and I look forward to going to work each day to collaborate.  This is a serendipitous revelation for me and makes me realize that learning new things can keep your mind flexible and young. For people like me who have wanted to do science since they were children, to have a place to go to discover the wonder and delight of nature is a thing divinely to be thankful for.

So, I was deeply saddened to see the following labor statistics:

Pharma Layoffs per Month, 2010

Month Layoffs
January 8,170
February 17,687
March 308
April 1,049
May 6,943
June 830
July 2,023
August 255
September 6,069
TOTAL 43,334

Even more disturbing is what the layoff picture in R&D looks like over the past two years:

Industry 2010 2009
Government/Non-Profit 123,469 109,433
Pharmaceutical 43,334 52,683
Retail 31,246 88,352
Computer 22,609 61,578
Telecommunications 22,609 53,145

Source: Challenger, Gray and Christmas

Regardless of how you may feel about Big Pharma, the loss of almost 100,000 jobs in the past year should set off alarm bells.  Although a number of the layoffs have been related to reduction in pharmaceutical sales staff, an increasing number have been to scientific staff, specifically medicinal chemists, whose jobs are going to China and India, possibly permanently.   Other layoffs in R&D are a consequence of mergers and acquisitions where salaries of scientists, frequently located in very high cost of living states, are considered a drag on the bottom line at a time when patents are expiring and new drugs can’t be approved by the FDA.

That’s thousands of well trained, dedicated scientists whose knowledge base is gone from the American workplace landscape.  It is destruction of American scientific infrastructure on an unprecedented scale.  But more than that, it is the loss of eager minds with almost childlike enthusiasm for science that will doom us as the greatest nation on earth.  In order to keep discovering new breakthroughs in physics, biology, chemistry and medicine, we need a place to go and the means to keep a roof over our heads.  Even scientists have base level caloric requirements and families and children.

I hope that lawmakers  and businessmen wake up before it’s too late.  There’s more to life than making obscene gobs of money.

To close out this post, here’s a video of crystallographers from the University of Michigan riding tricycles around the Advance Photon Source Syncrotron at the Argonne National Labs.  May we all stay forever young, as learners, employees and American citizens.

It’s Saturday Morning and Donald Duck Meets Glenn Beck

Good morning everyone! WTV here with some Saturday reads and rantage, but first a recommendation — I know it’s making the rounds, so you may have already seen it, but please be sure to watch the cartoon to the right if you haven’t already. It’s a short by Rebellious Pixels entitled, “Donald Duck Meets Glenn Beck in Right Wing Radio Duck.” The entire thing is just shy of eight minutes and may take a few moments to get into at the very beginning, but stick with it. The payoff at the end is worth it, and being able to laugh either before or after you finish this roundup will help today’s headlines go down a little easier.

Now, onto the news. First up, a disturbing polling trend from CNN that we Cassandras saw coming:

By 47 to 45 percent, Americans say Obama is a better president than George W. Bush. But that two point margin is down from a 23 point advantage one year ago.

Nothing like a DINO President and a DINO Congress to rehabilitate the Bush brand.

Right on cue, over at Faux News naturally, the faux cowboy’s swagger is back:

“I have written a book. This will come as a shock to some of the elites. They didn’t think I could read a book, much less write one,” Bush quipped.

LOL. What a charmer. I wasn’t planning on reading his book, but maybe I’ll set aside 10 minutes to flip through the Annals of Deciderism at Borders when it comes out next month after all. I figure that’s all the time W. spent studying Iraq before he took us to war there, so his book deserves the same thorough treatment.

Back to the CNN polling write-up:

“Democrats may want to think twice about bringing up former President George W. Bush’s name while campaigning this year,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

I tend to agree and think that card has been overplayed, and played poorly at that. Obama, Pelosi, and Reid had a lot of ground they could have covered in the early months of O’s presidency if they would have used the backdrop of 8 years of GOP Fail to push through bold FDR-style legislation. The country didn’t vote Democrats in during the 2008 election to hem and haw once they got in while genuflecting at the altar of some manufactured style-over-substance semblance of bipartisanship. They voted Democrats in to give them a chance to fix the mess Bush-Cheney and the GOP had made. If the Democrats had wanted to use their muscle on behalf of genuine Democratic policy ideas, they could have, but, that’s not what the so-called Democratic leadership wanted to do and it’s not what they did.

So to remind people of the Bush years does nothing in the absence of anything in the Obama years to point to that viscerally hits home the point that he changed anything when it comes to substance. Instead, the more the Democrats mention W. now., the more they unwittingly remind Americans of the similarities between W. and his successor. Both W. and O. enjoyed media darling coverage during their first presidential runs and were touted as “good” campaigners after all, and both subsequently fell far short of their promises to “unite the country” with their buzzwards (hope, change, and compassionate conservatism) once it came time to govern.

If the Ds want to keep playing the George W. Bush card while refusing to fill the void when it comes to true blue Democratic leadership and governance themselves, the rest of America may very well catch on to what Cassandras like myself have long since figured out: W. and O. represent two different styles of presidentin’, but the end product of both has been the same corporate governance by, for, and of K-Street.

The excuse handed to the electorate this time around by Obama and his apologists is often some variant on the theme that America is just “ungovernable,” even though, as my blogosphere buddy, paper doll, astutely pointed out the other day:

hello..using the the word ” ungovernable” when speaking of voters in a supposedly democratic society….. and it doesn’t raise eyebrows, is remarkable

I’m just getting started with my roundup, so click to keep reading after the jump. Continue reading

Progressive Misogyny

Hey Sweetie!

From Kristen Powers at The Daily Beast:

While we, sadly, are all too familiar with the casual misogynistic comment, what perhaps is more surprising is where these slurs lately have been coming from—progressive bastions like the Brown camp, and liberal women.

Last month, liberal talk show host Stephanie Miller laughed uproariously when a female guest on her show said that if she ever met Michelle Malkin, “I would kick [her] right in the nuts,” and warned, “Wear a cup, lady.”


Or how about this: “You have to lift their skirts to find out if they are women. You sure can’t find out by how they vote.” This is what Democratic Rep. Janis Baird Sontany of Nashville said earlier this year of her female GOP colleagues.

Or this: “Sarah Palin may be a lady, but she ain’t no woman,” as Cinta Wilson wrote during the tsunami of anti-Palin hysteria in 2008. In her Salon piece, Wilson went on to refer to the Alaska governor as a “Christian Stepford wife in a ‘sexy librarian’ costume” and the GOP’s “hardcore pornographic centerfold spread.”

Who needs misogynist men when liberal women will do the job for you, often sounding that shopworn theme that women GOP candidates are somehow inauthentic women?


Not that liberal men are much better.

Ann Coulter is often referred to as “Mann-coulter” on political blogs in an effort to de-feminize her. And MSNBC’s Keith Olberman once referred to Malkin as a “mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick.”

In a Salon column last month headlined “Forget about the tea party—what about the crumpets?” Gene Lyons wrote that, “The most entertaining aspect of the 2010 election season has been the rise of the right-wing cuties—political celebrities whose main qualification is looking terrific on television. From where I sit, in a comfortable chair in front of the tube, the GOP Cupcake Factor has enlivened an otherwise dreary campaign season.”

You, Sir, are a pig.

Don’t worry Kristen, progressive misogynists (aka “fauxgressives”) don’t single out conservative women for that kind of crap. As far as they’re concerned ANY woman who gets in their way is fair game.

One does not need to engage in sexism and misogyny to criticize or ridicule a woman who merits it, just as we don’t need to use racism to criticize or ridicule Barack Obama. But sexism and misogyny don’t require sexist framing or misogynist terms and epithets.

Holding women to a different standard or treating them differently from men is sexism. Treating them with contempt because of their gender is misogyny.

Sexism and misogyny are anathema to liberal ideology.

On the other hand, fauxgressives only seem to care about such things when it’s convenient to them. They can’t plead ignorance though, because they know the difference between right and wrong.

Fauxgressives can post rants about the sexism inherent in a comment criticizing the clothing worn by Michelle Obama while at the same time wearing a shirt that says “Sarah Palin is a c*nt” and not feel the slightest twinge of cognitive dissonance.

That is not principled behavior.

Full disclosure:

I’m not perfect. In the past I have used sexist language and told sexist jokes. It was wrong when I did it too.

There are two kinds of humor. One kind that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity — like what Garrison Keillor does. The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule — that’s what I do. Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. I only aim at the powerful. When satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel — it’s vulgar. – Molly Ivins

Frat boys having fun