One Reporter's Opinion

Proud sponsor of The Partnership for an Idiot-Free America. Andy's random observations -- a potluck of politics, a mix of music musings, and whatever else transcends the transom. (Unless otherwise specified, all pictures are copyright of this blogger. Some rights reserved, subject to the terms and conditions specified under the Creative Commons license.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

My letter to the editors of Time "Magazine."


I am deeply offended by Time Magazine's decision to run a cover story about Ann Coulter on the 10th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

As a major media outlet, I would like to think that your company had more sense than to write a puff piece on Ms. Coulter, especially given her animosity to mainstream media in general. She is a partisan demagogue devoted to destroying the great democratic tradition of this country by being a tireless advocate of single-party Republican rule. Her "humble" beginnings as one of "The Elves" -- a band of neo-conservative idealogues bent on the destruction of Bill Clinton's presidency -- should give anyone pause when assessing her journalistic credibility. Her role in the "new media" was to spread misinformation about the political positions of the American left as surrogate for the Republican Party in general, and Richard Mellon Scaife in particular.

Her vile invective against people with whom she does not agree has no place in the public discourse. Comments like "my only regret" about the people that perished in the Oklahoma City bombing "was that Tim McVeigh did not go to the New York Times building," even with the shoddy disclaimer that she only wished that reporters and editors had been killed, is simply beyond the pale. Not only does it dishonor the memory of the senseless murder of 168 innocent people, the fact that a bastion of American journalism would glorify the career of a woman who advocates the murder of journalists -- even in "jest" -- disgraces, debases, and dishonors the practice of journalism.

There is a long tradition in the journalistic craft within my family. My grandfather worked for the Chicago Daily News and the Chicago Sun-Times, my father worked for the Danville Commercial-News, and my step-father works for the Battle Creek Inquirer. I shudder to think that anyone would find her comments about murdering journalists "cute" or "part of the agitprop" were some terrorist bomb to have blown up one of these institutions of the Fourth Estate in lieu of destroying the Murrah Building.

And as far as the notion that she is merely being provocative? Please. Lenny Bruce, she is not. Bill Hicks, she is not. H.L. Mencken, she is not. Hunter S. Thompson, she is not. She is neither comedienne nor journalist, nor is she possessed of any special insight or genius. She is a sorry footnote to a sorry campaign to destroy American progress in the name of conservative hegemony.

Has Time Magazine sunk to such depths of self-loathing that it feels it must demonstrate kinship with one of the most disgusting practitioners of right-wing conservative advocacy, even at the expense of whatever shreds of journalistic integrity that your institution still might pretend to hold?


[Andy Axel]
Nashville, TN
Live in Memphis

The new DVD of Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Live at the Hi Tone in Memphis, is outstanding.

The concert keeps the small-club feel of the show intact, and has several listening options (Dolby stereo, Dolby 5.1, and DTS). The set list is very much in keeping with the recent show at the Ryman, including a mini-set with Emmylou Harris.

The extras include a cultural tour of Memphis.

I have got to get back in West Tennessee sometime soon.

Check it out.
Outrage Overload
-- or, "Justice Scalia, you'd have to answer that question in Texas in order to adopt, buddy..."

The Texas House of Representatives just approved a measure 135 to 6 which would (a) require people to declare a sexual preference in order to become foster parents, (b) if they admit to being homosexual, they are immediately disqualified, and (c) if they are already foster parents when this bill becomes law, Child Protective Services will immediately disrupt foster families if the foster parents are known to be gay.

These foster families below are at risk...

...because these dipshits below (Rep. Suzanna Gratia Hupp, R-Kempner, left, and Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville)...

...think that how people reach orgasm has something to do with their fitness as parents.

(Maybe the problem is that those two frigid dipshits have forgotten what an orgasm feels like.)
Time was, I didn't know the meaning of risk. I can remember pulling up stakes from an increasingly comfortable situation in Chicago and moving to Boulder, CO with little more than an instinct that I needed to get away from the insanity of big-city life.

Did I have a job? Nope. Did I have prospects? Nope. I had a few cats, some meager possessions, and available credit on my Discover card. And I had the idea that no matter what happened, it couldn't be any worse than my situation was in Chicago.

Things have wound up pretty good in the intervening decade. While I've bounced around more than some, I've made more money year over year, I've landed in Nashville, got married, I've had steady work, I have a good life overall, and I really don't need for anything.

Except a willingness to risk.

Wow, what a subtle trap. And I walked right into it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Marla Ruzicka

I had no idea who this woman or her organization was until I heard a broadcast on NPR this morning. (Yeah, now that Air America has put Jerry Springer up in what used to be Lizz Winstead's time slot, I've gone off the XM Radio for my morning commute.)

Apparently some people have little sympathy for her, for her friends, nor for her family because her politics weren't correct. And for those who don't know the story, she founded a group called CIVIC which is dedicated to assisting the human "collateral damage" of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They do this through documentation, advocacy, and actually walking on Middle Eastern soil to demonstrate a genuinely American commitment to help the innocent victims of warfare.

I know a lot of Bush's apologists don't want to examine that dimension of the conflict; they'd rather slap a "Support Our Troops" magnetic ribbon on their SUVs and bitch about high gas prices. But real people are subjected to real harm here, and if our national commitment is indeed to alleviating the suffering of the people of Iraq, then we could do worse than to honor this woman's service to humanity.

It brings to mind these words:

...this is why we are drifting. And we are drifting there because nations are caught up with the drum major instinct. "I must be first." "I must be supreme." "Our nation must rule the world." And I am sad to say that the nation in which we live is the supreme culprit. And I'm going to continue to say it to America, because I love this country too much to see the drift that it has taken.

God didn't call America to do what she's doing in the world now. God didn't call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war as the war in Vietnam. And we are criminals in that war. We’ve committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I'm going to continue to say it. And we won't stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation.

But God has a way of even putting nations in their place. The God that I worship has a way of saying, "Don't play with me." He has a way of saying, as the God of the Old Testament used to say to the Hebrews, "Don’t play with me, Israel. Don't play with me, Babylon. Be still and know that I'm God. And if you don't stop your reckless course, I'll rise up and break the backbone of your power." And that can happen to America. Every now and then I go back and read Gibbons' Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. And when I come and look at America, I say to myself, the parallels are frightening. And we have perverted the drum major instinct.

But let me rush on to my conclusion, because I want you to see what Jesus was really saying. What was the answer that Jesus gave these men? It's very interesting. One would have thought that Jesus would have condemned them. One would have thought that Jesus would have said, "You are out of your place. You are selfish. Why would you raise such a question?"

But that isn't what Jesus did; he did something altogether different. He said in substance, "Oh, I see, you want to be first. You want to be great. You want to be important. You want to be significant. Well, you ought to be. If you're going to be my disciple, you must be." But he reordered priorities. And he said, "Yes, don't give up this instinct. It's a good instinct if you use it right. It's a good instinct if you don't distort it and pervert it. Don't give it up. Keep feeling the need for being important. Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be first in love. I want you to be first in moral excellence. I want you to be first in generosity. That is what I want you to do."

And he transformed the situation by giving a new definition of greatness. And you know how he said it? He said, "Now brethren, I can't give you greatness. And really, I can't make you first." This is what Jesus said to James and John. "You must earn it. True greatness comes not by favoritism, but by fitness. And the right hand and the left are not mine to give, they belong to those who are prepared."

And so Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important — wonderful. If you want to be recognized — wonderful. If you want to be great — wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That's a new definition of greatness.

And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.

--MLK, Feb. 1968

Thank you for having the courage that so many of us -- me included -- don't have, Ms. Ruzicka.

You were a servant.

Ken Schermerhorn

Condolences to the close friends and family of Kenneth Dewitt Schermerhorn (1929-2005), long-time conductor of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and patron of the fine arts.

I pass by the shell of the as-yet incomplete Schermerhorn Center about every day. It would have been nice if he'd lived long enough to lift his baton at least once in the facility named for him.

Pick up a copy of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis or one of the many recordings of the NSO under the capable hand of Mr. Schermerhorn.

He will be missed.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Bird Blogging A Dollar Short

Maybe it was worth the wait.

OK, everyone. Grab your Sibley books and give me some help:

Blue Winged Warbler? (spotted on the banks of the Big South Fork River, Scott County, TN.)