Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sing me a song

When my son was little we began singing him songs at night before bedtime. My wife would handle the bulk of the singing, but I would get my turn on occasion as well and it soon became apparent that my song repertoire was pathetically shallow. For someone who loves music as much as I do and has such an extensive record/CD collection, I seem to have committed to memory the full lyrics of very few songs. I know about a dozen Christmas carols, but you obviously can’t sing those year round. I also know the standard patriotic anthems (Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful), college fight songs (Aggie War Hymn) and an assortment of Mother Goose tunes. But after that it gets to be slim pickings. I know the full lyrics to Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues” and The Beatles’ “Rocky Raccoon,” but after that I have just bits and pieces of song fragments in my head. At first you can get away with singing just what you know and then faking the rest, but after awhile the kid starts to catch on and corrects you when you don’t sing it the same way from one night to the next.
So I was thrilled when my inlaws bought me a book a while back with the lyrics to more than 100 classic American folk tunes. I was able to bone up on a number of songs from that collection adding “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” “Camptown Races,” “Home On the Range,” “Blue Tail Fly (Jimmy Crack Corn)” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and a number of others to my staple. But I’m still looking for more and recently I began trying to learn some of the Disney classics. When I was little I had the soundtrack to Walt Disney’s “Dumbo” and I recently took that record and transferred it to CD. “Pink Elephants on Parade” and “When I See an Elephant Fly” are both favorites now after my son listened to the record a number of times, but he also began requesting the stork song - “Look Our For Mr. Stork.” So I set out to find the full lyrics recently on the Internet and to my surprise found that they were not available — at least not in English. I did find the lyrics in Japanese. Fortunately, the new Dumbo DVD which I recently purchased has the lyrics transcribed in a special music extra feature, so I copied it down and now for the first time presumably I will make them available on the Internet:

Look Out For Mr. Stork from Disney’s Dumbo (1941)

Look out for Mr. Stork
That persevering chap
To come along and drop
A bundle in your lap
You may be poor or rich
It doesn’t matter which
Millionaires, they get theirs
Like the butcher and the baker
So look out for Mr. Stork
And let me tell you friend
Don’t try to get away
He’ll find you in the end
He’ll spot you out in China
Or he’ll fly to County Cork
So You’d better look out for Mr. Stork.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Express-News unbalanced

I’ve touched on this topic before but now I’m going to take a more comprehensive look at the editorial “balance” on the pages of the San Antonio Express-News.
Yesterday (March 26) we had the tag-team of George Will and Austin Bay, two nationally-syndicated hard-right columnists taking on locally-based and non-syndicated Kathy Clay-Little. Will’s topic was about how liberals are all hateful and mean while conservatives are saintly and proper. Bay, to his credit, had a non-partisan column about how Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe is a bad man and applauding recent efforts by neighboring countries to oppose him.
Clay-Little, typical of most local E-N columnists, was focused on a relatively uncontroversial local issue, that being efforts by the local community college to attract more African-American males into its student population.
On Tuesday, we had two more hard-right, nationally syndicated columnists teaming up against a lone, borderline liberal. First up was National Review editor Rich Lowry with yet another anti-Global Warming screed complete with a political cartoon mocking Al Gore. Then we had Mona Charen lauding Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson as the savior of far-right conservatives in 2008.
On the other side is Froma Harrop. Who? Yeah, that’s what I said. She is a syndicated columnist based in Rhode Island. She had a good column about illegal immigration that sympathizes with both the plight of illegal immigrants and the struggles of working-class Americans whose jobs they are taking while placing blame equally on Republicans and Democrats alike.
Do you see a pattern here? So far we have a 2-1 mismatch each day, and that is putting it lightly.
On Wednesday we will have locally-based hard-right columnist Jonathan Gurwitz squaring off against wishy-washy Boston-based Ellen Goodman who only writes a political column once in a blue moon. The rest of the time she is like a cross between Ann Landers and Erma Bombeck, writing about feel-good, non-controversial domestic issues. On Thursday, they will trot out New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd whose sharp tongue can sometimes skewer the right, but not consistently. For some reason, the E-N editors believe that only Northeastern women (Harrop, Goodman, Dowd) can speak for the left. They adamantly refused to run Molly Ivins’ columns while she was alive and did not acknowledge her untimely death to cancer earlier this year.
The one and only hardcore lefty in the lineup - Mansour El-Kikhia is considered highly controversial because of his ethnic background, his Muslim faith and his shrill rants against the Bush administration, which generally raise more hackles among readers than enlightenment. While I have no problem with El-Kikhia’s views being published once a week, I am disappointed that his is often the only voice on the left challenging the hard-right views of the current administration. And as if to provide a direct counter to El-Kikhia, the E-N recently ran out and signed up right-wing military analyst and former NBC talking head Ken Allard to do a regular column. We wouldn’t want people to think that the paper is too liberal, now would we?
Most of the local editorial columnists on the E-N staff — the above-mentioned Kathy Clay-Little, Maria Anglin, Gloria Padilla, Victor Landa, Paula Allen — stick to non-controversial, local issues in their columns. The same goes for editorial page editors Bruce Davidson and Robert Seltzer and Washington correspondent Gary Martin. I can’t remember the last time Davidson wrote a column that I thought was worth reading. Martin’s columns are just collections of news tidbits and updates, void of any actual opinion. Seltzer comes across as an aging liberal who is too timid to express his views very forcefully and tries to couch everything with humor. His latest column from last Sunday very boldly took on Donald Rumsfeld — six months after he left office — and compared him to the Slim Pickens character in “Dr. Strangelove.” Hardy-har-har!
The one bright spot on the editorial page is relatively new columnist Rebecca Chapa who seems to be slowly gaining more confidence about expressing her liberal views in her columns. Last week she actually came out against the War in Iraq — four years into the mess. Of course, if she gets too carried away, the E-N will just have to run out and hire a couple more right-wing scribes to maintain the proper (im)balance.
Next we come to the actual editorials that supposedly represent the consensus view of the paper. These have been consistently pro-Iraq war and pro-Republican over the past four years. The E-N has supported President Bush for election each time and seems to have an unwritten policy of endorsing incumbents and/or Republicans in every race.
They will occassionally take a liberal position on a piece of legislation or a particular social policy, but this is then undercut by their endorsements of politicians who oppose those views come election time. Whether or not they actually see and recognize this inconsistency is a mystery to me.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Taking the Fifth

This can't be good news for the Bush administration.

The senior counselor to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales will refuse to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the unfolding U.S. attorneys scandal, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, her attorneys said today.
Monica M. Goodling -- who is on an indefinite leave of absence from Gonzales's office -- also alleges in a sworn declaration that a "senior Department of Justice official" has admitted he was "not entirely candid" in his Senate testimony and has blamed Goodling and others for not fully briefing him.

How can the U.S. Congress fullfil its oversight responsibilities for the Justice Department if senior members of the Attorney General's staff refuse to testify before the Judiciary Committee? This is outrageous and not just a little problematic for the White House.
The Bush apologists have been claiming that this is all partisan politics and insisting that no crime was committed. If that is true, why would someone Plead the Fifth? What kind of incriminating things were going on at the Justice Department? Maybe it is time to appoint a special prosecutor for this case.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Why do conservatives hate America?

OK, well, not ALL conservatives. But certainly most of the ones who claim to be conservatives today.
But, you say, we thought conservatives were all super-patriots who love their country with every fiber of their being!
You see, it is not their country that they love, it's the symbolism. They love the flag. They love the Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance. They love anything that is Red, White and Blue and songs like "God Bless the USA."
But they hate our government. They hate our Constitution and the Bill of Rights (except for the 2nd Amendment). They despise our social programs such as Social Security and Medicare. They are always running down our public schools, our health care system, our Postal Service, our national media, and so forth. They can't stand most of the people in this country. They always seem to be angry about something. They always have a group of people that they blame for every problem - liberals, minorities, poor people, gays, environmentalists, and so on.
If you listen to conservatives today, the U.S. has the "Can't Do" spirit. We can't educate our kids right, we can't run a postal system properly, we screw up anything we try to do unless it's bombing foreign countries that have annoyed us in some way.
Conservaties today have no faith in the American people to do anything right. The only thing they really trust is the almighty dollar. They believe that big, greedy corporations are the only things that can do anything right, and when they don't they just blame the government for interfering. Or they blame the liberal media for calling it to their attention in the first place.