Monday, February 23, 2015

Loving to Hate

Just when I was convinced that Rudy Giuliani was the most despicable primate drawing breath, along comes Gov. Scott Walker to play "What, me worry?" over Rudy's abominable remarks. Just in case you missed it, the former "America's mayor," was speaking at a GOP fundraiser for the Wisconsin governor's fledgling presidential campaign and made some stunningly ugly accusations about the president. Just so there's no question about context, here's the full quote- "I do not believe- and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn't love you. And he doesn't love me. He wasn't brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of country." Considering the room was filled with right-wing business executives and conservative media whores, the statement about who Obama loves has a ring of truth to it. But never in history has a president been questioned about his love of country. When Rudy's ignorant opinion was roundly criticized as stone-cold racism, he was forced to backtrack in a damage control appearance on Fox & Friends. But he only trumpeted his lack of self-awareness saying, "Some people thought (the comment) was racist. I thought that was a joke since he was brought up, by the way, by a white mother, a white grandfather, went to white schools, and most of this he learned from white people." Well Rudy, that's mighty white of you to say.

This sinks Rudy to the bottom of the extremist scum-bucket with Glenn Beck, who famously said on Republican National Television, "This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." When did the GOP adopt the Ku Klux Klan's playbook? And to think this fool ran for president until he was sliced and diced by Joe Biden who said Rudy only needed three things to make a sentence- "a noun, a verb, and 9/11."  Rudy recently made race-baiting comments concerning Ferguson, Missouri and accused Obama of smearing the NYPD after the choke-hold murder of Eric Garner. And yet, the GOP still respects his judgement. Remember Bernie Kerick? He was the commissioner of the NYPD during the 9/11 attacks and was subsequently recommended by Giuliani to President Dubya as the head of the Department of Homeland Security. His nomination was withdrawn when it was discovered that he employed an illegal-immigrant nanny, took "escorts" for love trysts in an apartment overlooking Ground Zero, ostensibly reserved for first responders, and lied under oath about how a civil servant making 30K a year could afford 255,000 dollars in home renovations. This was Rudy's right-hand man who, after a three year stint in prison, is searching for a job as a counter-terrorism expert. Even conservative firebrand Darrell Issa said that Rudy never got the dust from 9/11 out of his lungs. More than one doctor publicly speculated that Rudy was showing early symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome.

Which brings us to Governor Scott Walker, the unlettered executive. Walker is so spineless, he may as well be a Democrat. When asked on CSNBC if he agreed with the former mayor's malicious remarks, Walker said, "I'm not going to comment on what the president thinks or not...I tell you I love America...I think we should talk about the ways in which we love this country." Answering a question from the Washington Post about the president's faith, Walker said, "I don't know," if Obama  is a Christian. "I've actually never talked about it or I haven't read about that," adding, "At the end of the day, God is in control." A spokeswoman for the Governor immediately followed up with a press release emphasizing, "Of course the Governor thinks the President is a Christian." Wasn't there something in the Constitution about religious tests for public office? It doesn't really matter. A recent Pew Poll found that thirty-four percent of Republicans believe the president is a Muslim. Scott Walker's recent trip to London was a bust when he said he would "punt" on a question regarding evolution, sending the British press into spasms of laughter. Sooner or later, Walker will have to take a stand on something other than union busting or doing the bidding of his telephone pal, David Koch.

Now that Fox News has declared that "the Holy War is here," and ISIS is burning captives alive, who cares about useless prattle over the president's patriotism or whether he sufficiently loves America to suit the Tea Party. Rudy Giuliani has been accused by Republican operators of being a draft dodger with six separate deferments from the Vietnam War, yet he is a major critic of Obama's foreign policy and a cheerleader for wars that involve other people's children. Rudy recently publicly gushed with praise over Vladimir Putin's decisive leadership. Governor Walker, after surviving a recall election, leaves the state of Wisconsin with a $283 million budget shortfall, due to the $541 million he doled out in tax cuts. He is a failed and delusional governor who thinks heavy Republican donors can elect him president. Why do we continue to give these irrelevant hatemongers a platform from which to spew their divisive garbage? In truth, its not the President, but the Republican Party that doesn't love America. If they did, they wouldn't have been sitting on their asses obstructing progress for six years while praying for America to fail.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Grammys or Grannys?

How fortunate am I that the Grammy Awards should occur on the same night that I write these articles? My original opening sentence was going to be, "For the love of everything that's holy, vaccinate your damn kids," but the musical-industrial-complex's annual circle-jerk is just too outrageous to go uncommented upon. Before we enter snarkville, let me tell you what was good about the show. Catering to the aging demographic, the former headbangers AC/DC played their hit song, "Highway to Hell." Only, it was a hit in 1979, before two-thirds of the audience was born, and it was revealed that the ancient mariners needed a teleprompter, upon which appeared the lyrics to their own song, just in case those tri-focals failed. Lady GaGa and Tony Bennett continued their May/December smoochy, lounge act singing Irving Berlin's, "Cheek to Cheek," but here's a secret. The eighty-eight year-old Bennett can't sing anymore and she's been carrying him for awhile. At least she didn't wear meat this year. Beyonce was divine. Pharrell was terrific. Usher was great. And I was happy to see Beck win Album of the Year, although Twitter erupted with queries of, "Who is this guy Beck?" Which is a shame since I still consider him one of the newer artists.

Annie Lennox was all class singing the old Screaming Jay Hawkins' song, "I Put A Spell On You," in direct contrast to Madonna, who refuses to age gracefully or perform an age-appropriate song. I get it- she's a gym rat who's in good shape for her age, and she has great legs. Still, they're attached to a fifty-six year-old ass, and her sex-kitten routine, surrounded by back-up dancers wearing demon's horns, has lasted well past its shelf life. The sixty-year old Annie Lennox, in black slacks, sequined top and minimal make-up, looked beautiful by comparison, and didn't need auto-tune either. On the other extreme, watching Ariana Grande perform is sort of like watching kiddie porn. I love Pharrell Williams, who won Best Pop Solo Performance for "Happy," only he was dressed in a bell-hop outfit reminiscent of The Grand Budapest Hotel. That funny doorman's outfit will probably be this year's Smokey the Bear hat. Emotional tenor Sam Smith, who won Best New Artist, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year for his smash hit, "Stay With Me," neglected to thank Tom Petty, for whom he recently gave a songwriter's credit and paid an undisclosed, out-of-court settlement for cribbing the chorus to Petty's "I Won't Back Down."

The most egregious pairing of the night, and possibly of all time, was the trio of Kanye West, Rihanna, and Sir Paul McCartney, singing a nondescript song called "FourFiveSeconds,"- just released as Rihanna's new single. Sir Paul has all the money and fame in the world. For the life of me, I can't understand why he would enter into this unholy alliance. Didn't he learn anything from that heinous duet he did with Michael Jackson? Or is he that desperate to remain relevant? Basically, McCartney was reduced to playing back-up guitar and singing inaudible low harmony while Rihanna warbled and Kanye chirped through auto-tune to cover up the fact that he can't sing. Paul was among the nine songwriters on this mess, but he was content standing there like a twit and never even sang a verse. I had to shout out loud, "Do you remember who his partners used to be?" That faint music you hear is John Lennon, somewhere from the great beyond, singing another chorus of his "How Do You Sleep at Night." And speaking of songwriters, the winner of the Best R&B Song, Beyonce's "Drunk in Love," credited eight writers. Since when did songs begin getting written by committee? It only took one person to write "A Case of You."

It was keenly disappointing to see that the "In Memoriam" segment, while mentioning music lawyers and agents, omitted the names of artists and legends beloved to Memphians whom we lost this year- Jimi Jamison, John Fry, Mabon "Teenie" Hodges, Jack Holder, John Hampton, and "Cowboy" Jack Clement, the legendary producer who began his career with Sam Phillips at Sun Records. I understand the names were printed in a longer read-out on the Grammy site, but each of these artists deserved an on-air remembrance. The program's closing segment, a tribute to the movie, "Selma," featuring Beyonce, John Legend and Common, was transcendent. I've heard John Legend sing many times, but I believe this was his finest performance. There's a lot of great music out there, it's just not what the near-extinct, corporate labels want you to hear. Personally, I enjoy watching the old, thieving, grimy, music "industry" implode. It deserves to. All told, the 2015 Grammys were merely tepid, but it might have been worse. They could have let Dave Grohl play.