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Declare independence! Don't let them do that to you!!
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Michael McManus, conservative author of the syndicated column "Ethics & Religion,"
received $10,000 to promote a marriage initiative.
By Eric Boehlert
One day after President Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries to stop hiring commentators to help promote administration initiatives, and one day after the second high-profile conservative pundit was found to be on the federal payroll, a third embarrassing hire has emerged. Salon has confirmed that Michael McManus, a marriage advocate whose syndicated column, "Ethics & Religion," appears in 50 newspapers, was hired as a subcontractor by the Department of Health and Human Services to foster a Bush-approved marriage initiative. McManus championed the plan in his columns without disclosing to readers he was being paid to help it succeed.Responding to the latest revelation, Dr. Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at HHS, announced Thursday that HHS would institute a new policy that forbids the agency from hiring any outside expert or consultant who has any working affiliation with the media. "I needed to draw this bright line," Horn tells Salon. "The policy is being implemented and we're moving forward."
Horn's move came on the heels of Wednesday's report in the Washington Post that HHS had paid syndicated columnist and marriage advocate Maggie Gallagher $21,000 to write brochures and essays and to brief government employees on the president's marriage initiative. Gallagher later wrote in her column that she would haverevealed the $21,000 payment to readers had she recalled receiving it.
The Gallagher revelation came just three weeks after USA Today reported that the Education Department, through a contract with the Ketchum public relations firm, paid $240,000 to Armstrong Williams, a conservative African-American print, radio and television pundit, to help promoteBush's No Child Left Behind program to minority audiences.
To date, the Bush administration has paid public relation firms $250 million to help push proposals, according to a report Thursday in USA Today. That's double what the Clinton administration spent on P.R. from 1997 to 2000. Shortly after Williams' contract came to light, the Democrats on the Committee on Government Reform wrote a letter to President Bush demanding that he "immediately provide to us all past and ongoing efforts to engage in covert propaganda, whether through contracts with commentators, the distribution of video news releases, or other means." As of Thursday, a staffer on the committee told Salon, there had been no response.Horn says McManus, who could not be reached for comment, was paid approximately $10,000 for his work as a subcontractor to the Lewin Group, a health care consultancy hired by HHS to implement the Community Healthy Marriage Initiative, which encourages communities to combat divorce through education and counseling. McManus provided training during two-day conferences in Chattanooga, Tenn., and also made presentations at HHS-sponsored conferences. His syndicated column has appeared in such papers as the Washington Times, the Dallas Morning News and the Charlotte Observer.
Horn, who has known McManus for years, says he first learned about the payment on Thursday. In the wake of the Gallagher story, he asked his staff to review all outside contracts and determine if there were any other columnists being paid by HHS. They informed him about McManus. Hornsays the review for similar contracts continues.
Horn insists that HHS was not paying Gallagher and McManus to write about Bush administration initiatives but for their expertise as marriage advocates. "We live in a complicated world and people wear many different hats," he says. "People who have expertise might also be writing columns. The line has become increasingly blurred between who's a member of the media and who is not. Thirty years ago if you were a columnist, then you were a full-time employee of a newspaper. Columnists today are different."The problem springs from the failure of both Gallagher and McManus to disclose their government payments when writing about the Bush proposals. But one HHS critic says another dynamic has led to the controversy, and a blurring of ethical and journalistic lines: Horn and HHS are hiring advocates -- not scholars -- from the pro-marriage movement. "They're ideological sympathizers who propagandize," says Tim Casey, attorney for Legal Momentum, a women's rights organization. He describes McManus as being a member of the "extreme religious right."
Horn denies the charge: "It's not true that we have just been selectively working with conservatives." According to news accounts, the administration seeks to spend $1.5 billion promoting marriage through marriage-enrichmentcourses, counseling and public-awareness campaigns.
In 1996, McManus co-founded Marriage Savers, a conservative advocacy group, which, among other things, urges clergy not to conduct a marriage ceremony unless the couple has had lengthy counseling first. "The church should not be a 'wedding factory,' but a training ground for strong marriages to go the distance -- for life,"McManus wrote.In his April 3, 2004, column, McManus wrote, "The Healthy Marriage Initiative would provide funds to help those couples improve their skills of conflict resolution so they might actually marry -- and be equipped to build a healthy marriage. Those skills can be taught by mentor couples in churches for free. But for the non-religious, counselors would be paid."
A year earlier, McManus assured readers that funds provided for the Healthy Marriage Initiative "could be used to teach skills to improve communication and resolve conflict that would make the relationship happier and lead to a healthy marriage." He based that assessment on comments made by HHS's Horn, who, indirectly, served as McManus' boss -- although thatrelationship was never revealed to readers.
Garden State works so well because writer/director Zach Braff so effectively evinces reactions from the tiniest distressingly isolating details that fill Andrew Largeman's life. The row of sinks that activate briefly as he passes by, his sterile room filled entirely of white sheets, walls bed-frame and all, his zen calm as he twists on the personal AC during a plane crash, he is sinking into an oblivion of sterility... in fact this sinking effect is cleverly visualized in one of many shots that shows a sure hand in both composition and humor.
Garden State is chockfull of the small touches that fill out the sparse details we receive about each strikingly offbeat charachter. "OKAY... OKAY!! WHO here just saw some titties?! (Hands raise) OK, Now everybody just calm the fuck down!" It doesn't hurt that Zach is surrounded by a stellar cast from stars like the always refreshing Ian Holme and Natalie Portman (in her most original role since Leon), to slightly-unknown gems like Peter Sarsgaard. Actors like Sarsgaard often go unnoticed for these supportive roles because they so naturally evince trust in both their Star counterparts and in the audience. If youve seen him in Salton Sea, you'll know what I mean. Garden State uses it's quirky nature as an unmistakable asset but is not without its kinks. A good example of this is its stellar soundtrack, which is expertly chosen, but at times takes attention away from the on screen tension and emotion. Braff chose the films music before hand and actually sent it attached with the screenplay when he was shopping it around, this mix can now be purchased as the official soundtrack sans two songs: "Orange Sky" by Alexi Murdoch and "Love Will Come Through" by Travis.
What I think this film has going for it most, is its reluctance to become pigeon holed in any one place at a time. At the end when these unconventional characters are faced with the classic love story end-movie dilemma, we get a real sense that Braff treated it with great delicate care, taking into account how each character had grown through the film, and brought them to what i felt was the movie's natural yet slightly predictable conclusion.
A self-conscious yet self assured nature like his is rarely seen in first-time directors as it tends to stem more from experience than instinct. I can't wait to see what comes next.
Upward over the Mountain from the album "The Creek Drank the Cradle" by Iron & Wine
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Friday, January 28, 2005
ATHENS (Reuters) - A bus driver shuttling pupils to school in northern Greece shocked their parents when he put on a porn tape, officials said on Thursday.
The incident on Tuesday in the town of Kilkis prompted dozens of complaints by parents who have asked the bus company to fire him.
"The driver said 'kids we've got porn, do you want to watch it'," one of the pupils told reporters. "Everyone started shouting yes, yes and he just put in a tape and we watched it on the small TV screens on the bus."
The children were aged 12 to 15.
The bus company will meet on Friday to decide what action to take against the driver, local government officials said.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
The New York Times has gathered an impressive collection of photographs that capture the essence on many of the major news stories of last year. I suggest you check it out, here's a few samples:
Meanwhile a few Sweedish kooks have released "The Ring Thing". A Lord of the Rings Spoof set smack-dab in Europe. Bizarre.
I find I'm having more conversations about the impending future that revolve around weddings, wedding lists, and kids. I don't mind growing older, but some of you fuckers are moving at light-speed. ANYWAY, feast your eyes on the cuteness that is:
Brian Morrow II
The Clandestine Adventures of Ms. Merz from the album "Book of Silk" by Tin Hat Trio
Monday, January 24, 2005
Vitamin from the album "Tour de France Soundtracks" by Kraftwerk
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Slam is the story of Raymond Joshua, a rhyme slinging, drug dealer-poet who finds he must seek his redemption through the bars of a prison term.
Starring famed poet Saul WIlliams, this is a tale of the prisons were born into, and the prisons we build as we grow up to justify our survival. It's as much about the discovery of our pure spirit, as it is the concessions we make on our way to that discovery, and the risk we run of never finding ourselves once that journey has come to its end.
"You can give birth to an excuse so easily, you will believe it's always been there."
In short, it's amazing and I highly suggest all of you see it.
51% from the album "Sandbox" by Mark Sandman
Friday, January 21, 2005
Thursday, January 20, 2005
200 ARMORED HUMVEES
20 MIllion disease vaccinations for tsunami victims
(Zig Heil, Baby!)
(Cheney takes the customary inaugural tinkle on the Constitution)
In 1945 knee deep in the second world war, FDR's inauguration axed both parades and balls. Instead they had a 6 minute ceremony that cost $2000 which consisted of chicken salad. Then it was back to work.
CBS Poll: No Second Honeymoon
NEW YORK, Jan. 19, 2005
As President Bush heads into his second term, a CBS News/New York Times poll
finds a widespread feeling among Americans that the nation is headed in
the wrong direction and little expectation that Mr. Bush's policies
will change things over the next four years.
Fifty-eight percent of Americans say their outlook on a second Bush
term is generally optimistic – a low number when compared to Mr. Bush's
approval rating before his first term or Bill Clinton's before his
second. At the same time, 56 percent say the country is on the wrong
track, versus 39 percent who say it is on the right track.
Looking four years down the line, most Americans see very little
changing, despite the ambitious agenda Mr. Bush is laying out for his
Most expect they will be as safe from terror at the end of a second
Bush term as they are today, but not safer. They think the economy and
education system will be the same, but not better.
Despite Mr. Bush's focus on tax cuts, 41 percent of Americans say
their taxes will be higher in four years, while just 9 percent say
their taxes will be lower; 47 percent expect their taxes to be the
While Mr. Bush has a stated goal of cutting the national deficit in
half, two-thirds of Americans expect the deficit to be higher after
A slight plurality of Americans, 38 percent, say there will be
fewer U.S. troops in Iraq by the end of a second Bush term. But 30
percent say there will be more, and 28 percent say the number will be
As for the most ambitious and controversial item on Mr. Bush's
agenda – overhauling Social Security - Americans expect to see big
changes by 2008. But 50 percent say Mr. Bush's call for private
retirement savings accounts is a bad idea, versus 45 percent who say
it's a good idea.
Support for Social Security privatization drops even lower when
people are informed it would mean cuts in the guaranteed benefits paid
to retirees. Seventy-eight percent say combining benefit cuts and
private investment accounts is a bad idea.
Moreover, six in ten Americans say it's unlikely they'd even
participate in a system that allows them to invest their Social
Security taxes in the stock market. Only 17 percent say they'd be very
likely to do so, with another 22 percent somewhat likely.
Those already actively investing in the stock market and those
making over $100,000 a year are the most receptive to private Social
While Mr. Bush has spoken recently of the need to heal the wounds
of the divisive election, the public remains highly partisan and
dubious that he can unite them. Just 44 percent of Americans believe he
will bring the country together, while 47 percent think he will divide
Mr. Bush's 49 percent approval rating at the start of his second
term trails every re-elected U.S. president in the past half-century.
By comparison, Bill Clinton's approval rating was 60 percent, Ronald
Reagan's 62 percent and Dwight Eisenhower's 73 percent at a similar
point in their careers.
Even Richard Nixon — just a year and a half before he was forced to
resign the presidency — fared better than Mr. Bush with an approval
rating of 51 percent when he took his second oath of office in January
Mr. Bush's approval rating, however, has risen significantly since
its low mark of 41 percent last May following a flood of violence in
Iraq. His highest rating, 90 percent, came in October 2001, just after
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Mr. Bush's handling of the war on terrorism remains his strongest
suit in the eyes of the public, earning 56 percent approval. He also
gets high marks for his response to the recent Asian tsunami.
On a personal level, 44 percent of Americans have a favorable
opinion of Mr. Bush, while 40 percent view him unfavorably. These views
have remained stable since last January.
Union Song from the album "Axis Of Justice Concert Series Vol. 1" by The Nightwatchman
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
-guy at bar, talking about WifeSwap, the ABC television show.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Okay, so first of all
Dave: You were right. Shit, all the Pre MacWorld Expo buzz-buzz damn near confirmed it. But I didnt think Apple would do it..... Ive waited for so long..... I had given up hope. But Apple is now making products for everyone.
War has been fucking declared:
The Mini Mac
$499bucks for a computer thats 3 times smaller and twice better than mine. As if that insane iMac wasnt compact enough... you can literally fit a supercomputer into a toaster. WOWZAS!
...and an ipod on a stick for $99. Now, I'm none too keen on it myself.... it only being 512 megabytes and all... but this iPod Shuffle does have a strange logic to it. It's perfect for running, and for playing albums or using as a hard drive. Shit its a hard drive that doubles as an ipod. SWEEET.
think I just talked myself into it
Well played Steve, I woulda played it differently.
I wouldve been wrong. Just one question.....
WHERE"S THE COLOUR?!
Cause y'know. Howard Dean's m'boy!
With all the wrong Ive been today I gotta be right about something....
that Dean kids goin places.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
On Sundays, my most dreadful day, I find it helpful to lose myself in the soundscapes of Mr. Philip Glass. I rise with his seraphic choirs, each note lifting me further away from the unglamorous reality of my mortal life, his frantic strings imbuing me with divinity. Together we storm the gates of heaven, horns trumpeting the return of some terrible thing, leaving burnt feathers in our wake. My heart swells. We traverse the aloof lands of the southern hemisphere, all drums and peaks and dunes, and hollow resonance. Thoughts alight like the rushing waters of a hungry tide, touching all around me, only to pull back to the vastness of oblivion.... to wash up on some different shore, all senses pouring through the filter of his frenzy. How he moves me! I sink into his maelstrom; blissfully alone with Glass and the chain of images his slightest movement will unfurl. I have scored the dementia of my internal monologue, and its mad-cap conductor is Glass!
Born in Baltimore, Maryland on January 31, 1937, Philip Glass discovered music in a line of records his father's radio repair shop carried in addition to servicing radios. To figure out why recordings of great chamber works sold poorly, Ben Glass would take them home to play for his three children. Philip rapidly became familiar with Beethoven quartets, Schubert sonatas, Shostakovitch symphonies and other music then considered "offbeat." It was not until he was in his late teens that Glass encountered more "standard" classics.
At six, Glass began music lessons and at eight, took up the flute. But by the time he was 15, he became frustrated with the flute's limited repertoire as well as with musical life in post-war Baltimore. During his second year in high school, he applied for admission to the University of Chicago, passed and, with his parent's encouragement, moved to Chicago where he supported himself with part-time jobs waiting tables and loading airplanes at airports. He majored in mathematics and philosophy, and during off-hours practiced piano and concentrated on such composers as Ives and Webern.
At 19, Glass graduated from the University of Chicago with majors in mathematics and philosophy. Determined to become a composer, he moved to New York and attended the Julliard School. By then he had abandoned the 12-tone techniques he had been using in Chicago and began gravitating toward American composers like Aaron Copeland and William Schuman.
By 23, Glass had studied with Vincent Persichetti, Darius Milhaud and William Bergsma. Rejecting serialism, Glass preferred such maverick composers as Harry Partch, Charles Ives, Moondog, Henry Cowell and Virgil Thomson-- but still had not found his own voice. He then moved to Paris and spent two years of intensive study under Nadia Boulanger.
In Paris, he was hired by a filmmaker to transcribe the Indian music of Ravi Shankar into notation readable to western musicians. In the process, he discovered the techniques of Indian music. After researching music in North Africa, India and the Himalayas, he returned to New York, renouncing his previous music, and applying eastern techniques to his own work.
By 1974, Glass had composed a large collection of new music for both the Mabou Mines Theater Company, that Glass co-founded, and for his own performing group, the Philip Glass Ensemble. This period culminated in Music in Twelve Parts, a three-hour summation of Glass' new music. In 1976 Glass reached an apogee in his collaboration with Robert Wilson, creating the opera Einstein on the Beach, a five-hour epic that is now seen as a landmark in 20th century music-theater. Glass then decided to make Einstein part of a trilogy that resulted in the creation of the operas Satyagraha and Akhnaten. Over the years, Glass and Wilson have worked together on several other projects: the CIVIL warS - Act V (Rome Section) of the multi-composer epic which was written for the 1984 Olympics, White Raven - an opera commissioned by Portugal to celebrate its history of discovery which premiered at EXPO '98 in Lisbon and was performed as part of the 2001 Lincoln Center Festival, and Monsters of Grace - a digital 3-D opera.
(Glass & Ginsberg)
Glass has also collaborated with a variety of artists in a range of projects and expanded his repertoire to include music for opera, dance, theater, chamber ensemble, orchestra, and film. His cooperative recording projects Songs from Liquid Days with lyrics by David Byrne, Paul Simon, Laurie Anderson, and Suzanne Vega, as well as a collaboration with Ravi Shankar, Passages. His operas include The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 and Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five with librettos written by Doris Lessing and based on her novels; Hydrogen Jukebox, libretto by Allen Ginsberg and based on his poetry; The Voyage, based on the exploration of Christopher Columbus, written by David Henry Hwang; The Fall of the House of Usher, based on the Edgar Allen Poe short story; and the "pocket opera," In the Penal Colony, a musical theater work based on the short story by Franz Kafka. His most recent opera, Galileo Galilei, a collaboration with Mary Zimmerman, premiered in 2002.
Glass' orchestral works include the large-scale work for chorus and orchestra such as Itaipu and Symphony No. 5, a work based on text from wisdom traditions throughout the world; Symphony No. 2, Symphony No. 3, Symphony No. 6 (Plutonian Ode), with text by Allen Ginsberg; and "Low" and "Heroes" Symphonies, both based on the music of David Bowie and Brian Eno. Glass also has produced concertos for violin and orchestra, saxophone quartet and orchestra, two timpanists and orchestra, and harpsichord and orchestra. His Tirol Concerto for Piano and Orchestra premiered in 2000 at the Klanspuren Festival in Tirol, Austria and his Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, which premiered in 2001 at the Beijing Festival, was commissioned for Julian Lloyd Webber's 50th Birthday.
Glass film scores include Godfrey Reggio's trilogy Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi; Errol Morris' The Thin Blue Line, A Brief History of Time and The Fog of War; Paul Shrader's Mishima; Bernard Rose's Candyman and Bill Condon's Candyman II; and an original score for the re-release of the 1930 Dracula with Bela Lagosi. Critically acclaimed film scores include Martin Scorsese's Kundun - which won Glass the LA Critics Award, as well as the Academy and Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Score - and original music for Peter Weir's The Truman Show - which won a Golden Globe Award for Best Score in 1999. Glass' most recent film work for Stephen Daldry's The Hours has also received a Golden Globe nomination.
While Glass has written for dance such as In the Upper Room, choreographed by Twyla Tharp, and A Descent into the Maelström, his work also involves a set of unclassifiable theater pieces such as The Photographer, The Mysteries and What's so Funny? and 1000 Airplanes on the Roof with a libretto by David Henry Hwang and designs by Jerome Sirlin. Glass has also created a trilogy of musical theater pieces based on the films of Jean Cocteau, Orphée, La Belle et La Bête and Les Enfants Terribles.
For his current touring project, Philip on Film, Glass performs live with his ensemble to a series of new short films as well as classics like Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, La Belle et La Bête, and Dracula.
Source: Philip Glass.com