Friday, December 29, 2006

One Dweeb to rule us all


Edwards charts new course with candidacy
By MIKE GLOVER, Associated Press Writer
Fri Dec 29, 2:48 AM ET

Former Sen. John Edwards is charting a different course as he opens his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. He's claiming an edge in experience over potential rivals who seem to have momentum.

"There's a maturity that comes with going through and being tested in the spotlight of a national campaign," Edwards said Thursday, alluding to his experience two years ago as the Democratic vice presidential nominee.

Edwards added, "My proven ability to channel dead babies in the courtroom as well as my great hair make me the logical choice."

His first day as a declared candidate was a study in contrasts.

He launched the campaign in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, dressed in jeans and standing with volunteers — minus the cheering crowds and waving American flags that accompany most such announcements.

Edwards queried, "Where are the cheering, flag-waving throngs? And, hey, I thought this was a chocolate city; where's all the chocolate? I don't see any. But maybe there're some dead babies in the Superdome left over from Katrina."

Edwards said volunteers working to rebuild a home "show what's possible when we as Americans, instead of staying home and complaining about somebody else not doing what they're supposed to, we actually take responsibility and we take action," he said.

"Like when I channel dead babies in the courtroom."

Afterward, Edwards headed for Iowa, where precinct caucuses traditionally launch the nominating season, for a more traditional opening. He declared his candidacy in front of nearly 1,000 flag-waving, cheering backers, then took questions for nearly an hour in a town-hall format.

Edwards said he'd "get back to you" on all of the questions after consulting with his campaign staff, which consists almost exclusively of dead babies.

When he sought the nomination in 2004, before Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry tapped him to be his running mate, Edwards offered himself as a Southern moderate who favored middle-class tax cuts and voted in the Senate to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

The message is different this time, where he faces an even tougher challenge and likely a larger field of competitors.

Because in an effort to show how "diverse" and "inclusive" they are, the Democrats are happy to let prevaricating bigots like Al Sharpton as well as demonstrable retards like Dennis Kucinich pretend that they are taken seriously as presidential candidates. And Edwards may have trouble separating his own candidacy from that of the several dead babies he'll be channeling who are also running for the nomination.

Edwards said he's developing a universal health care plan and wants to build on the two years he spent dealing with such issues as poverty, energy and global warming. He repeatedly apologized for his vote to use force in Iraq.

"It was a mistake and I take responsibility for that," Edwards said.

"We should have let the United Nations continue to send strongly-worded letters to Saddam. And my universal health care plan will help ensure that there's plenty of juicy malpractice suits so that my fellow malpractice attorneys and their channelled dead babies can continue suckling at that particular teat."

Edwards has spent the time since the 2004 election establishing a poverty center at the University of North Carolina, and he's traveled widely to promote it.

Because it seems to be the mission of the Democrats to ensure that most Americans are taxed into poverty. With the exception of the numerous millionaire Democrats in Congress (who outnumber the millionaire Republicans in Congress).

"When you've got the freedom to move around the country, which I've had for the last couple of years, you can focus on the things you care most about," he said. "As to whether the country is ready to hear it, I believe they are, but we'll see."'s easy to move around the country when you're a millionaire trial attorney (thanks, dead babies!) who can afford to charter aircraft.

Edwards planned a six-state swing over three days, heading from Iowa to New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and his home state of North Carolina.

The announcement comes early to allow him to build grass-roots support in those key states, he said. All hold nominating contests early in the campaign.

Coincidentally, those states also have large, uncommitted dead baby voting blocs

Only Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack have formally announced their intentions to seek the nomination. Most of the attention is going to New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, but Edwards said he is confident he can compete with both. He rejected suggestions that Vilsack's presence in the race would force other candidates to skip Iowa.

Kucinich always reminded me of a fetus wearing a coat and tie; he may actually give Edwards some competition for the dead baby vote. And let's face it: Edwards has better hair than Clinton, Obama and Vilsack.

"As many good people as can run is a good thing," Edwards said.

His nose appeared to grow as soon as he uttered the above.

In his announcements, Edwards also touted global warming and alternative energy proposals he's offered, and suggested taxing "the excessive profits of the oil companies" as one method of paying for them.

What "excessive profits", Johnny? Did you know that the oil companies' profit margin is actually below the average for American businesses? And it's definitely below that of dead-baby-channeling medical malpractice leeches.

Edwards called questions about his foreign policy credentials "fair," and he spent some time talking about his overseas travel, which has increased in recent months.

"The French Riviera is really lovely. And I got a fabulous deal on custom-made suits in Hong Kong; it's important to look good channelling dead babies in the courtroom."

Besides calling for the start of U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq, he argued that the U.S. should lead efforts to stop the genocide in Sudan and the atrocities in northern Uganda. He accused President Bush of ignoring both issues.

The genocide in Sudan's been going on for nearly a decade; where have you been? Content to leave that particular issue to the U.N., weren't you? The same august organization that was too busy filling it's pockets to actually do anything about the atrocities committed by Saddam. Or in northern Uganda. Or the Middle East.

He also targeted the call by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to send thousands more U.S. troops into Iraq, framing what could potentially be a general election debate.

"It would be an enormous mistake to adopt the McCain doctrine and escalate the war," Edwards said.

Because actually winning would be a terrible thing; it could lead to fewer dead babies.

Monday, December 25, 2006

"Doin' It To Death": R.I.P. James Brown (1933-2006)

James Brown was unquestionably a huge personal influence on me when it comes to both listening to and performing pop music (as opposed to jazz, classical and film/TV stuff).

James was a high-energy, iconic performer. But I believe his real musical genuis was the musicians with whom he surrounded himself for nearly fifty years. James told them what he wanted, but it was his sidemen who brought life to "the groove".

This is not to denigrate the man, but to suggest what a brilliant performer and bandleader he was

While James strutted, sweated and gyrated, it was his bands who "played the one". James Jamerson. St. Clair Pinckney. Fred Wesley. Maceo Parker. Peewee Ellis. Bootsy and Phelps Collins. Clyde Stubblefield. John "Jabo" Stark. And many more whose names escape me right now.

They created a musical vocabulary that is still a vital force. James Brown is probably the most "sampled" performer in hip-hop and will remain so for a very long time. Even David Bowie's "Fame" (co-written by John Lennon and Carlos Alomar) has a rhythm track that is virtually a note-by-note copy of a tune by James called "Hot (I Need Your Love Love Love Love Love)" which was released the preceding year.

And "The Payback" has the single funkiest, nastiest, rawest groove ever. It is unquestionably a proto-rap recording. (Although to my knowledge, it's never been used in a hip-hop hit. Not that I listen to much of it; just sayin'.)

It also has one of my favorite unintentionally-silly J.B. lyrics:

"Don't do me no darn favor
I don't know karate, but I know ka-razor"

James Brown and his amazing bands were about the only thing which could induce a bespectacled, pimply, pudgy, klutzy orchestra geek out onto the dance floor when I was a kid. Something about that music transcended my self-consciousness; there was simply no way I couldn't get out there and twitch spastically and enthusiastically.

While not giving a rat's ass how goofy I looked. That is an astounding thing.

He truly was "The Godfather of Soul (and the Minister of the New, New Super-Heavy Funk)"