Saturday, September 16, 2006

Mamas & Papas

Snowqueen of Texas
Left Paris in a cloud of smoke
They say she may be broken
But I know that she's not broke

I'm listening to The Mamas and the Papas Complete Anothology this morning. That's a four disc set. And "Snowqueen of Texas" was on when I finally was able to log in this morning. I've tried for about 20 minutes without luck. "Snowqueen of Texas" is from the last album the group made, the one they were forced to make when the label that bought their label was suing them. (Their fifth album People Like Us.) It's not the strongest of their albums but considering how it's trashed, it's actually better than some might think. I think it's sequenced very poorly. "Snowqueen of Texas" is one of the stronger tracks and I would have opened with that and then moved to "Step Out" (which has some great lead vocals by Denny). (On that song, I think they should have grabbed some lines leading up to the choruse -- "He doesn't even know, he doesn't even care, it doesn't even matter if you're even there" -- and opened the song with it before going into the first verse.) Then I would put "I Wanna Be A Star," "People Like Us," "Blueberries for Breakfast," "Grashooper," "No Dough," "Shooting Star," "European Blueboy" which would prepare you for the pace of "Pacific Coast Highway," "Pearl" and then "Lady Genevieve" (which is my least favorite track on the collection).

Changing the order wouldn't have made a great album but the solid moments do tend to be spaced out. That's not a big deal today when you can program a CD to play in whatever order you want. However, in the days of vinyl (People Like Us came out in 1971) unless you moved the record player's arm (always risky in terms of creating skips) over and over, you listened in the order the tracks came in. I remember the first time I listened and I get a little excited when some of the old magic was in evidence and then it would vanish completely.

This was the album they made to stop the lawsuits and Cass was sick (very sick) at the time. ("Pearl" may be on the songs she's strongest in the mix of.) It doesn't stand with the other four, but it's not as awful as some have made out. In fact, there are days when I prefer it to the second album (The Mamas and the Papas). I think their strongest albums are If You Can Believe Your Eyes & Ears (debut), Deliver (third) and The Papas & The Mamas (fourth). The Papas & The Mamas could have signaled a new way for the group to go but that was the real break up (1968) so when they regrouped three years later for People Like Us (without producer Lou Adler, by then working with Carole King), it sounds like everyone was in a different place. People Like Us is the only album they did that didn't include any cover songs. Michelle wrote "I Want To Be A Star" (a stronger effort on the album) and all the rest were written by John. Not John and Denny or John and Michelle which may also explain a few things.

So that's some music talk for the week. I never did get around to finishing the review I was working on but Lloyd e-mailed with another suggestion which was a great one. Since we'll be participating in peace events at the end of next week and all be traveling as well, it would probably be better to save anything for those days. So I'll shoot for that and plan to have two reviews up next week. Provided Drunk Uncle doesn't decide to pollute the net again.

Yesterday's press conference with the Bully Boy was laughable and I think the joint post by Wally ("THIS JUST IN! D.C. LOVE GOES SOUR! ON A MUSICAL NOTE!") and Cedric [The end of a love affair (humor)"] underscored that. Media Matters' "Softball in the Rose Garden: White House press corps failed to challenge Bush's non-answers at press conference" outlines many of the problems and I'll grab this section:

Near the end of the press conference, Newsweek senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe noted that Bush had previously said that "the idea of sending Special Forces to Pakistan to hunt down bin Laden was as a strategy that would not work." Wolffe went on to ask Bush why he thinks "it's a bad idea to send more resources to hunt down bin Laden wherever he is." Following is Bush's response:
BUSH: We are, Richard. ... Pakistan is a sovereign nation. In order for us to send thousands of troops into a sovereign nation, we've got to be invited by the government of Pakistan.
Secondly, the best way to find somebody who is hiding is to enhance your intelligence and to spend the resources necessary to do that; then when you find him, you bring him to justice. And there is a kind of an urban myth here in Washington about how this administration hasn't stayed focused on Osama bin Laden. Forget it. It's convenient throw-away lines when people say that. We have been on the hunt, and we'll stay on the hunt until we bring him to justice, and we're doing it in a smart fashion, Richard. We are. And I look forward to talking to [Pakistani] President [Pervez] Musharraf.
Look, he doesn't like Al Qaeda. They tried to kill him. And we've had a good record of bringing people to justice inside of Pakistan, because the Paks are in the lead. They know the stakes about dealing with a violent form of ideological extremists. And so we will continue on the hunt. And we've been effective about bringing to justice most of those who planned and plotted the 9/11 attacks, and we've still got a lot of pressure on them. The best way to protect the homeland is to stay on the offense and keep pressure on them.
This answer could have provoked several follow-up questions:
If allegations that your administration has not stayed focused on bin Laden are nothing more than an "urban myth," how do you explain the CIA's decision in late 2005 to
disband the unit that for a decade had focused solely on locating and capturing the Al Qaeda leader? Further, if we "have been on the hunt," why did you state in a March 13, 2002, press conference, "I truly am not that concerned about [bin Laden]"?
You asserted that Pakistan is committed to bringing bin Laden to justice. But how do you explain reports that the Pakistani army recently negotiated a "
peace agreement" with Al Qaeda militants along the Afghan border -- where many believe bin Laden is hiding?
If bin Laden is in fact in Pakistan, how do you square the United States' continued alliance with Pakistan with your own
previous statement that any country harboring terrorists is no better than terrorists?
Bush proceeded to call on the final reporter, Time magazine White House correspondent Mike Allen. But rather than address any of these issues, Allen shifted to an entirely different topic: reports that Bush brought up the concept of a "Third Awakening" during a recent meeting with conservative journalists.

Trina's going to grab another section of this, I think. We were talking about it on the phone earlier. And Betty's "The Colleague Heist" is her latest chapter so be sure to check that out.

For Friday events in Iraq, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, September 15, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq and among the dead are US troops; the count of discovered corpses in Baghdad continue to rise, meanwhile the latest US 'answer' is "Castle!"; war resister Darrell Anderson prepares to return to the United States; and Camp Democracy continues in Washington, DC.

Starting with the violence (stick around for the 'answer'),
CBS and AP report that five US troops died on Thursday ("making it a particularly bloody day for U.S. forces" -- well not to the New York Times) and that a marine has died today in al Anbar province. al Anbar? For those who missed it, Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported Monday that that Marine Col Pete Devlin's assesment "that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there, said several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents." Today Will Dunham (Reuters) reports: "U.S. commanders in Iraq have demoted their long effort to subdue insurgents in Anbar province . . . 'Baghdad is our main effort right now,' Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the top U.S. operational commander in Iraq, told Pentagon reporters in a briefing from Iraq."

Staying with the violence.


A senior Interior Ministry official
remarks to Reuters, on the continued discovery of corpses, "Forty bodies, 60 bodies -- it's become a daily routine." Friday started with Rebecca Santana (AP) noting the discovery of 30 corpses in Baghdad. AFP gives the announced figures for the last three days as 64 (Wednesday), 20 (Thursday) and 51 (last 24 hours). In addition to those corpses which were discovered in Baghdad, Reuters reports that in Mussayab a corpse "with a missing head" was discovered.


Reuters reports one person was shot dead and five others wounded in Baghdad. AP reports the incident: "In central Baghdad, a gunman opened fire from the top of an abandoned building in a Sunni Arab neighborhood, killing an Iraqi civilian and wounding five others, said police Lt. Ahmed Mohammed Ali."


Reuters reports a car bomb in Mosul that left nine wounded, while, in Mussayab, a roadside bomb "late on Thursday" left three police officers wounded.

In addition,
Al Jazeera reports that a US soldier is missing after Thursday's car bombing in Baghdad that left two troops dead on Thursday and 25 others wounded. AP raises the wounded from that bombing to 30 and notes the missing soldier "has been reported as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown".

AFP reminds: "The United Nations has also warned that Iraq could slide into civil war as the daily bloodshed shows no signs of abating despire political efforts for national reconciliation." CBS and AP report that John Bolton told the UN Security Council yesterday "that Iraq's sectarian killings and kidnappings had increased in the last three months, along with a rise in the numbef of displaced people."

So where does it stand? Even John Bolton's sounding alarms, US troops are pulling out of al Anabar,
Reuters reports that the 147,000 American troops in Iraq are "the most since January," and the violence and chaos continue.

But don't fret 'a new plan' finally emerges as the 'answer.'

It's being called trenches which is really implying something it's not. When people think of trenches, they tend to think of trench warfare. What's being described is more along the lines of a mote --
AFP reports that Brigadier General Abdel Karim Khalaf described it this way, "We will surround the city with trenches. The entry to the captial will be permitted through 28 roads, as against 21 at the moment, but at the same time we will seal off dozens of other minor roads with access to Baghdad."

Quote: "We will surround the city with trenches." That's the 'new plan.' Baghdad goes from capital to castle. But not overnight.
Al Jazeera notes "an operation of this scale would take months to complete."

In the real world,
Cal Perry (CNN) takes a look at the wounded US troops ("more than 20,000" have been "wounded in Iraq") at the 10th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad.

In peace news,
Courage to Resist has reported that war resister Darrell Anderson will return to the United States (from Canada): "Support is mounting for Darrell and his courageous stand. Two events are planned in conjunction with his return to the U.S. In Fort Erie on Saturday, Septemeber 30 at Noon there will be a rally in Lions Sugar Bowl and then supporters, including Iraq war veterans and military family members, will accompany Darrell as he crosses the border back into the U.S. over Peace Bridge."

Other peace actions are going on and will be going on including a three-day event in NYC that begins this evening at 7:00 pm, continues Saturday at 7:00 pm and concludes on Sunday at 3:00 pm. What is it? The People Speak directed by Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati. This is a workshop adaptation of
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's Voices of a People's History of the United States. The workshop will take place at The Culture Project's Bleecker Street Theater on 45 Bleecker Street. Tickets are ten dollars and can be ordered online here or here or purchased in person at the box office (box office does not take ticket orders). For those in NYC, or who will be during those dates, click here for a map. The presentation is part of the Impact Festival.

In Washington, DC,
Camp Democracy continues, free and open to the public. Today's events have focused on Electoral Reform and include an 8:00 pm (EST) showing of the film Stealing America, Vote by Vote." Among those speaking today were Bob Firtakis. Saturday is peace day and will include Kevin Zeese, Nadine Bloch, Allison Hantschel. CODEPINK's Gael Muphy will report on the visit to Jordan at the start of last month to meet with Iraqis as well as the trip to Lebanon. And war resister Ricky Clousing will discuss the court-martial he's facing. (This may be the first major discussion he's given publicly on the topic since August 11th.)

And on Sunday,
Camp Democracy will host a number of events and the theme will be Impeachment Day. Among those participating: Elizabeth Holtzman, Michael Avery, Ray McGovern, David Green, John Nichols, Marcus Raskin, Elizabeth De La Vega, Dave Lindorff, David Swanson, Jennifer Van Bergen, Geoff King, David Waldman, Dan DeWalt, Steve Cobble, Anthony St. Martin, Cindy Bogard, Mubarak Awad, Susan Crane, Frank Anderson. The camp has daily activities and admission is free. A complete schedule can be found here. Free and open to the public with daily activites.

Finally, in Australia,
ABC reports that Brendan Nelson (Defence Minister) will be expanding their role in Iraq when "Italian forces withdraw at the end of next month." Reuters notes this will be 20 troops added to "the extra 38 troops announced on Sept. 4". The 58 need to be weighed next to the intent, as Dan Box (The Australian) reported earlier this week, the Australian government wants to up the army from 2,600 to 30,000 ("its biggest intake since the Vietnam war")