Sunday, April 30, 2006

Home Depot to Americans: Drop Dead!
Home Depot to Illegal Aliens: We Love You!
By Nicholas Stix

VDARE just published a letter from reader “Joe in Texas.” It seems Joe’s day off is tomorrow, and he wanted to build some new swings for his kids and storage shed. So, he goes to the nearest Home Depot and asks if they can deliver the merchandise, totaling some $2,000, on Monday. Sure, they can deliver it … on Tuesday. The employee confesses to Joe’s wife – after he stomped off – why they’re not making deliveries tomorrow: Out of solidarity with illegal aliens. The "Joes" went to a second store, and got the same answer. It’s the law at all Home Depots. No deliveries for Americans tomorrow, out of deference to illegal aliens. The word came down from the mountain top.

That's too bad, because for several years now, I've relied on the Home Depot near Kings Plaza in Brooklyn for all of my major home repair needs. No more.

About forty years ago, after publicly excoriating President Lyndon B. Johnson, Sen. Frank Church went to LBJ seeking taxpayer largesse for some boondoggle of Church's. To paraphrase LBJ, Home Depot can now live off its illegal immigrant business, because it won't be getting any of mine. Hopefully, there are still some self-respecting Americans, in addition to Joe in Texas, who feel the same way.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Miss Peggy Lee & Co.
By Nicholas Stix

I just saw Harry Smith interview Peter Richmond on CBS This Morning. Smith has been toiling away largely anonymously on the perennially low-rated show for approximately 230 years – since about the time Fred Reed went into the Marine Corps.

You know what? The man knows his music.

Richmond was flogging his new bio, Fever: The Life and Music of Miss Peggy Lee. Hearing him talk passionately (and fast – he knows you don’t get all day on these shows!) about her, and seeing the pic of Miss Lee and Mr. Sinatra, a photo in which, by the way, she looked more fetching than I had ever seen her, I got chills.

Richmond is gaga for his subject, born Norma Dolores Egstrom in North Dakota, whom he believes had the power to single-handedly lift America out of the doldrums. But that’s alright. A biographer had better feel passion for his subject, or else get a different subject.

However, the moment Richmond said that Lee was “the greatest jazz singer of the 20th century,” I shook my head, and said, “Ella.” A second later, Smith did the same. He slowly shakes his head, and says, “Ella Fitzgerald.” (Smith is at least 15 years older than me, so his reaction time is a little slower, plus he’s more of an easygoing kind of fellow.)

But even before that, from Smith’s questions, from his body language, you could see that this was no mechanical interview reading off questions prepared by assistants.

I hadn’t known that Sinatra was ever romantically involved with Lee – I’m familiar with his musical and cinematic, but not his sexual history (beyond his Top 40 list, that is) – but then again, if you tried to keep score on The Voice, what with all the pinch-hitters, pinch-runners, and double switches, you’d end up not being able to read the score card. (By the way, don’t even think of accusing me of mixing my metaphors: Parenthetical and open-text metaphors may not be compared.)

But on a musical level, the connection made beautiful sense. For Peggy Lee may not have been the greatest jazz singer, but seeing that picture of her and Sinatra made me realize that while Sinatra has been given credit for having the greatest talent ever at musical phrasing, Lee may well have been his match.

Note that there was a deep musical tie binding Sinatra and Ella, as well. Listen to any of their duets, but especially the one they did only once, on the radio.

Ella Fitzgerald’s chief competition at the time from black “girl singers” came from Sarah Vaughn and Lena Horne. (The phrase comes from the Big Band Era: The musicians were all men, as were often the singers that fronted them. But each band usually also hired a “girl singer,” to alternate with the male vocalist, and so that the men in the audience had something nice to look at, instead of just a bunch of five o’clock shadows.)

And so, we hear Sarah Vaughn singing to Frank, asking him if he loves her the best. (Due to the taboo against interracial relationships, it was understood that this was meant platonically, or rather musically.) No, no, no, he responds; he loves Ella the best.

Next comes Lena Horne, asking Sinatra the same question; he responds the same way he did to “Sass.”

Finally, Ella asks Sinatra whom he loves the best. Of course, he answers, “I love you the best.”

But the trick to the duet is, there was only one woman singing the whole time – Ella was doing dead-on impressions of Vaughn and Horne.

No musical partner, not even Louis Armstrong, had that sort of effect on Ella Fitzgerald.

Aside from the racial taboo, another reason Sinatra would not have made a pass at Ella was that he was not into large women.

The racial taboo didn’t stop Peggy Lee from having a torrid affair with a much younger Quincy Jones, who remained a lifelong friend, and who was one of the last people to see her before she died -- but “discretion” was the byword.

Some readers will no doubt respond to Peter Richmond’s “best female jazz singer of the 20th century” claim by saying, “What about Lady Day?”

Billie Holliday certainly does not lack for admirers. I admire her too … to a point. I think Holliday is somewhat overrated, however, because some of her work seems to me monotone.

(The dumbest, most sycophantic praise I ever heard of Holliday came from Ken Burns in his segregated “documentary” salute to black jazz performers. In the early 1940s, Holliday wrote and performed a song against lynching, “Strange Fruit.” Burns asserted that the song was responsible for the end of the lynching of blacks. Had Burns been interested in history, he would have known that prior to “Strange Fruit,” the practice of lynching had slowed down to a trickle. One of the reasons the 1955 lynching of Emmitt Till so shocked the nation, was that lynching was by then so rare. Back in lynching’s heyday, from ca. 1890-1920, black men and boys were lynched every week, and the nation ignored the victims.

I don’t know what caused Southern whites to stop lynching blacks, but it is a subject worthy of rigorous research by a real historian, not a propagandist like Ken or Ric Burns.)

Holliday would impose the same way of singing on songs for which it was inappropriate. “The End of a Love Affair” comes to mind. She delivered “If I talk … a little too fast,” in the same slow style as a torch song. It’s “fast,” Lady! Tony Bennett did a much better job with that song, which I believe is one of the reasons he did not include it on his tribute album, On Holliday.

In any event, Holliday cut some wonderful recordings, and was, on occasion, incomparable, as in her standard, “Good Morning, Heartache,” and her masterpiece, which she co-wrote, “God Bless the Child.”

There is a specific connection between Peggy Lee and Billie Holliday. The earliest Peggy Lee recording I’ve ever heard, “Why Don’t You Do Right?,” was a jazz performance from the 1940s, cut with the Benny Goodman Orchestra. The first few times I heard the recording, I assumed it was by Billie Holliday. Once I heard that the singer was Peggy Lee, I concluded that the young Lee had imitated Holliday.

It happens.

Eydie Gorme tells a story from early in her career. She had met Sarah Vaughn, aka Sass aka The Divine Sarah Vaughn, for the first time. Vaughn told her, “You got yourself a nice style. The problem is, it’s already someone else’s style, so you better get yourself a style of your own.”

I haven’t heard that musical side of Gorme, but I have to conclude that she started out as a Sarah Vaughn imitator. Gorme clearly took Vaughn’s advice to heart.

But once Lee got her sea legs, she proved herself to be one of the greatest and most original musical talents of the recording era, just behind Sinatra and Fitzgerald, up there with Tony Bennett and Harry Belafonte.

A gifted songwriter, she wrote dozens of songs, and also had some success as an actress, snaring herself an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for 1955’s Pete Kelly’s Blues (which I have yet to see).

One of my favorite Peggy Lee performances, originally from Pete Kelly’s Blues (and which was not written by rapper Lauryn Hill!), is of “You Can Sing a Rainbow,” which I sang hundreds of times for my newborn son.

Red and yellow and pink and green,
Purple and orange and blue,
You can sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow, too.

Listen with your eyes,
Listen with your eyes,
And sing everything you see.
You can sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow,
Sing along with me.

Red and yellow and pink and green,
Purple and orange and blue,
Now you can sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow,
Sing a rain ... bow ... too.

Friday, April 21, 2006

VDARE on the Amnesty Wars
by Nicholas Stix

VDARE has the best, up-to-the minute coverage of the Amnesty Wars at its blog. When Congress is in session, debating amnesty proposals that run from worse to worser (yes, they even defeat the English language, but then, that’s the point!), VDARE is the only place, short of continuously watching C-SPAN, where you’ll get up-to-the-minute coverage. But VDARE costs money to maintain.

And so, to financially support VDARE, hit this link.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Generals: Civilian Rule is Dictatorial
By Nicholas Stix

Seven retired generals have criticized Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for being insensitive. Specifically, Rumsfeld is "arrogant” and "abusive," according to Maj. Gen. John Batiste.

A general complaining that someone else is “arrogant” and “abusive”? Most generals consider such terms part of their job description. Pot, kettle, General; pot, kettle.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, calling for Rumsfeld's resignation in the New York Times, spoke of the latter’s "unrealistic confidence in technology to replace manpower."

But did General Eaton complain about the feminization of the military that has accompanied its greater reliance on technology? Are you kidding? Even in retirement, he’s scared to death of feminist activists like Lory Manning.

According to General Eaton, Rumsfeld has also "shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. . . . Mr. Rumsfeld must step down."

I have myself criticized the handling of the war, and Rumsfeld specifically, going back to April 16, 2003, just after Baghdad fell, and anarchy reigned. My criticism was that the American military was behaving in a multicultural fashion, and thus making global fools of us. The way to deal with looters is to declare martial law and shoot them. But the military was afraid of the backlash from the Arab and Marxist world (that would be in far-flung, communist outposts like West 43rd Street), from images of American fighting men shooting Arab looters being sent around the world. I say, such images would have earned our boys the only sort of respect our enemies understand.

But although Rumsfeld said some nonsense about anarchy and looting being the way free people act (“freedom's untidy”), the man who is responsible for the prosecution of the war is our commander-in-chief. It was George W. Bush who was so solicitous of our enemies’ sensibilities. If you have a beef with Bush, say so. Don’t use Rumsfeld as a proxy.

Imagine if FDR or Harry Truman had called up Tojo, to ask if our war plans met with his approval.

Rumsfeld also has too much “swagger,” as in "My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions -- or bury the results." That’s according to Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, whose “sole motivation, pure and simple, [is] the servicemen and women and their incredible families." Incredible. Oh, and Rumsfeld also fails to play well with others, according to General Newbold.

Say what you will about Donald Rumsfeld, but he’s no chicken hawk. He’s an old Navy flier. And a military man who despises swagger? What kind of combat commander was Newbold?

Other brave retirees include Maj. Gen. John Riggs, Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., and Gen. Anthony C. Zinni.

Zinni has said, “We are paying the price for the lack of credible planning, or the lack of a plan. … Ten years worth of planning were thrown away; troop levels dismissed out of hand. … These were not tactical mistakes. These were strategic mistakes, mistakes of policy made back here. Don't blame the troops," and "Poor military judgment has been used throughout this mission."

Wait a minute. Either we had ten years of planning, or we had no plan. Zinni sounds like a propagandist trying to hit all the confused mental states of Bush-haters. I don’t like the President, either, but I don’t get hysterical about it … yet.

Oh, well. Zinni’s an old Clinton hand, so it’s hardly surprising that he should criticize his political opponent. I don’t know the others’ party affiliation, though I’m sure they’d all say, “Independent.” They’re no politicians. Right.

Future generals imbibe politics at their mothers’ breast.

It apparently hasn’t occurred to these old warhorses that they are suggesting that civilian authority is the problem, and that the generals should be in charge. Historically, courtesy of Hollywood’s paranoid style of American politics, that threat was always aimed at liberal presidents from the Right. But when is the last time the Hollywood Left got anything right? That threat, imagined in movies like Dr. Strangelove, Seven Days in May, and Fail Safe, interestingly all from 1964, existed only in the fevered minds of Lefties who still hungered to kill ol’ dead Joe McCarthy one more time. (What did Tailgunner Joe have to do with generals? What did it matter? (How many times have I heard a lefty speak of Sen. McCarthy as part of the House Un-American Activities Committee.)

One of the pillars of the American system, unlike the fictional Constitutional principle of separation of church and state, is that civilians rule the military, not the other way around. The other way around, is called a military dictatorship. That’s what the Hollywood Left warned us about for forty-odd years. But now, with some military tired of civilian rule, the Left is silent.

Let the generals speak. They have the same First Amendment rights as the rest of us; no more, and no less.

But if they thought Rumsfeld was leading us into folly, and yet kept their own counsel, as they now say they did, then they didn’t deserve to be generals.

As another general, Richard Myers, who recently retired as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, "We gave [Rumsfeld] our best military advice. … If we don't do that, we should be shot."

Sounds good to me, and not because Myers is a general, which cuts no ice with me. I’ve liked the guy for some time, particularly since he locked horns with Sen. Mark Dayton, who sought to bully him and demagogue the truth during Senate hearings a year or two ago.

Ready, aim …

Saturday, April 08, 2006

John Kass: It's a Wonderful, Liberal Life
by Nicholas Stix

The Chicago Tribune’s John Kass was on fire Friday:

"At least taxpayers know something about taxes: Every time taxes are raised, a liberal gets his wings."

That was in a column on the self-righteous, freshly convicted husband, Robert Creamer, of Illinois Democrat U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky. That would be Robert Creamer, “the noted champion of the poor and the downtrodden,” as Kass, dripping sarcasm, repeatedly reminds us, in “Schakowsky ire phony as kited checks” (free registration required).

(I was tipped off to Kass’ column by my Chicago-area journalist/blogger friend Jim Bowman, who not only publishes his observations on the Web, but delivers them to his readers’ virtual doorsteps.)

Creamer, a Democrat Party operative, was caught in a multimillion-dollar check kiting and tax evasion scam, but got virtually no jail time (five months, which Kass called “a breath on the wrist”). Meanwhile, to hear the shameless Creamer and the missus tell it, he should be getting no jail time and the Congressional Medal of Freedom, in the bargain.

Kass: If you're yourself, regular old you, a taxpayer who's not married to a highly connected liberal Democrat who shrieks about how the little guy is always getting screwed by those evil Republican money grubbers, you'll go to prison for a very long time.

At least taxpayers know something about taxes: Every time taxes are raised, a liberal gets his wings. It's kind of like the bells for angels in "It's a Wonderful Life," only this one comes on April 15 and it doesn't ring. It tolls. It tolls for thee.

And since you're not Creamer, you probably won't have scores of prominent Democrats--like U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and a host of other progressive politicians--writing glowing letters to a federal judge about how wonderful you are.

Creamer's judge was U.S. District Court Judge James Moran, the former Democratic state legislator from Evanston. Moran's son-in-law is Democratic political consultant Peter Giangreco, who has worked politics with Creamer and Schakowsky and had a seat on the board of one of Creamer's many organizations.

Judge Moran says he thought about recusing himself from the trial, but the defense and the prosecution didn't ask him to leave. So he stayed.

A federal judge with a conflict of interest as glaring as that shouldn't wait to be asked. He should have walked away on his own. But he didn't.

[I’ll remember Judge Moran, next time I hear a lefty claim that federal judges aren’t mere political hacks … as I remember about a hundred other hacks on the federal bench.]

This week, Moran gave Creamer 5 months in prison, which means he'll do about 4 months and change. And another year of home confinement, which in Creamer's case is a five-bedroom home in Evanston, said to be worth seven figures.

Kass, a working-class guy who did jobs like digging ditches when he was young, has been around a while. Like all good ink-stained kvetches from the Windy City (ever the Second City in my heart), he has been influenced by Mike Royko, though Kass, unlike Royko, who was wed to the Democrat Party, leans the opposite way. (If Royko were reinacarnated, he wouldn’t be wed to the Democrats, either.) If memory serves, it was from Kass that I first heard the phrases “the Chicago way” and “The Combine.”

“The Chicago way” refers to the way every public project gets done by somebody greasing someone else’s palm, as well as to the way – in reference to the Supreme Court’s disastrous Kelo eminent domain decision last year – “in which business and real estate become dependent on politics and favors,” at the little guy’s expense.

(Pat at the blog Chicago Bungalow called Kelo, “Property Rights, Chicago Style.”)

It turns out I’d heard “the Chicago way” previously in the movie The Untouchables, but that version was more John Ford – as channeled by Brian de Palma – than what Chicagoans mean by it.

“The Combine” refers to the corrupt, bipartisan system by which Illinois Democrats and Republicans divvy up the state at taxpayers’ expense – in every way you can imagine “expense.” Leading members of The Combine include disgraced, Republican former Gov. George Ryan, currently on trial in the licenses-for-bribes scandal, which dates to his days as Illinois secretary of state; pro-abortion state Republican Party treasurer and gubernatorial nominee, Judy Baar Topinka; Democrat Chicago Mayor Rich Daley (son of Da Mayor); Republican Party chief Big Bob Kjellander; and of course, current Democrat Gov. Rod Blagojevich. According to conservative Republican activist David John Diersen, the editor of GOPUSA Illinois, The Combine is made up of the liberal (or perhaps just elite) wings of both parties, and supports abortion, affirmative action, and illegal immigration.

Whether anti-abortion conservative Republican Jim Oberweis is a member of The Combine may depend on which day of the week it is, since he has been known in the past to suck up to leading Combine powers.

Before federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was called away to handle the Plame/Wilson Affair, he was The Combine’s nemesis; John Kass still is.

Four days a week, it’s a wonderful column.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

The Book, Alien Nation, now available online in .pdf

Alien Nation

  • Zebra: The True Account of 179 Days of Terror in San Francisco, by Clark Howard (free download!)
  • Nicholas Stix, Uncensored
  • Wikipedia Follies
  • A Different Drummer
  • Chicago Newspapers, the Blog
  • Archives