Thursday, July 17, 2008

Chuck Leavell

"WASHINGTON (AP) — The congressman-lead singer had a question for the guest keyboardist at the all-congressional band gig Wednesday night. "You know 'Brown Sugar'"? asked Rep. Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat. "I think I can handle that," replied Chuck Leavell, the Rolling Stones keyboardist."

Chuck Leavell first made his name playing with the Allman Brothers band in the 1970's and stands out on such classics as "Jessica" and "Ramblin' Man." He has since played with Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and many others. For the last twenty-five years, he has been the keyboardist for the Rolling Stones.

I had the occasion to meet Mr. Leavell, a resident of Twiggs Co, Georgia, a few years ago in, of all places, Fargo, Georgia. He was taking part in a celebrity deer hunt for the Georgia Sheriff's Boy's home in Hahira, Georgia. Obviously, I was not a part of the hunt, since I have not yet achieved celebrity status. The hunt was sponsored by the late Bill Oettmeier, CEO of Superior Pine, who invited a group of us to attend his pre-hunt venison dinner. There were other celebrities, mostly professional ballplayers in attendance, but Chuck Leavell caught my attention.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I walked in the door of Mr. Oettmeier's hunting lodge, deep in the piney woods of SE Georgia on the boundary of the Okefenokee Swamp. I immediately recognized Chuck Leavell, being a fan of the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. Here, in the backwoods of SE Georgia was the keyboardist for the Rolling Stones, eating venison stew with us. He is not cut in the mold of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. He easily fit in with the group and was a very nice guy, and easy to talk to. Before the evening was over he brought in his keyboard and brightened the evening with a few songs.

Mr. Leavell is a conservationist and tree farmer, who lives with his wife on her family plantation near Macon, Georgia. An Alabama native, he has, I believe, a degree in Forestry from Auburn University, and has been honored several times with national and state conservation awards. When he is not on tour with the Rolling Stones, he records with other artists, as well as doing his own solo performances. A few years ago he was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bush Invokes Executive Privilege

Executive Privilege is a president's protection of his office under the separation of powers. There is nothing wrong with that assertion...unless it is an obvious effort to thwart an investigation, which is why is it most often used, unfortunately. In "President" (using the term loosely) Bush's case, it is a very obvious attempt to brush aside an investigation of his office's outing of a CIA officer. Previous information points the finger directly, if not at the President, certainly at his less than honest Vice President.

So often this President has talked about national security. I can think of few national security violations worse than the outing of a CIA operative. It is so obvious that this action was politically motivated and normal behavior for this administration. This bunch of hoodlums thinks nothing of taking out revenge on someone who disagrees with them. After all, in typical fundamentalist fashion, they are right, God is on their side, and therefore, anyone who disagrees is nothing more than a speck of dust to be blown out the window.

The President has thrown up roadblocks everywhere to circumvent investigations of his office. He will continue to do so until he is out of office. One wonders what will happen, when he no longer has executive privilege. He has been charged with war crimes in other parts of the world and there are some countries that he would be wise to avoid.

I don't know if anyone will pursue Bush and his henchmen or not. I do know that they are guilty of getting so many thousands of people killed for no real reason. They have changed the world's impression of our country. We can no longer take the high road as a nation that does not shoot first or torture our prisoners. It is sad and I hope that we can somehow re-establish our good name.

Monday, July 14, 2008

GLAAD Endorses ABC and FX

News reports say that ABC and FX are the most gay-friendly networks. Will AFA be boycotting? This will be interesting, since FOX News, a sister network to FX, is the darling of the rightwingers. Will the AFA be able to bring itself to be negative? My guess is that ABC will take the blue ribbon, while FX will get honorable mention.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

In Your Face Foreign Policy, Potty Mouthed Comedians and Good Judgement

Remember "Bring 'em On," when George Bush issued a challenge to Iraqi insurgents, who would attack U.S. troops in Iraq? This "in your face" style of dealing with others has been a mainstay of the Bush Administration's failed "diplomacy" efforts. It is, I might add, typical of the fundamentalist style of not negotiating. To quote Bush once again, "if you aren't with us, your are against us." In other words, if you don't believe the way I do, then you are nothing more than dirt on the soles of my shoes.

This week John McCain issued a warning that he is of the same ilk as Bush, when he commented on increased sales of goods to Iran in recent years, including cigarettes. "Maybe that's a way of killing them," was McCain's comment to reporters in Pittsburgh. He added that he was joking. This comes at a time of tension between the U.S. and Iran over Iran's nuclear program. I am sure many Americans laughed along with McCain at the prospect of cigarettes as a secret weapon to kill Iranians. However, in my opinion the comment simply served to put the Iranians more on the defensive. This man could be the next president of the United States.

On the other side of the coin, Barak Obama held a fund raiser in Chicago, featuring his friend, comedian Bernie Mac. Apparently, the comedian's jokes were off color and fell pretty flat with the audience. I am not familiar with this gentleman, but I can imagine the type of "humor" that he spews forth. At any rate Obama's comments upon arriving on stage were, “We can’t afford to be divided by region or by class and we can’t afford to be divided by gender, which by the way, that means, Bernie, you’ve got to clean up your act next time. This is a family affair. By the way, I’m just messing with you, man.” Did Obama disagree with the tone of Bernie Mac's routine or did he simply brush it off?

I continue to be amazed by politicians, athletes and others in the public eye, who simply do not demonstrate good judgement. Athletes continue to be caught doping, when they know they are going to be tested. Politicians, especially presidential candidates know that every word they speak and every move they make is reported, yet they continue to say and do dumb things. John McCain aspires to be president, yet he continues to make off the cuff statements that send negative signals to foreign governments and to voters. Obama's choice of comedians sends negative signals to those white, conservative, Christians, whose vote he so badly wants next November.

The judgement of both candidates must be questioned at this point. McCain's comment is certainly more serious than Obama lack of wisdom in choosing who would speak at his fundraiser. The United States' election is being closely watched by foreign governments, friend and foe alike. They want to know if it will be more of the same "shove it down their throats" foreign policy. McCain's comment says to them that it will be more of the same, and the U.S. will continue to fall in grace with the rest of the world.

Obama's judgement speaks loudly to certain voters, particularly those white, conservative and male Hillary supporters now on the fence and starting to fall the other way. They see a potty mouthed black comedian, at whom they might otherwise laugh, representing a possible future president of the United States. Will the White House be the scene of Rapper concerts, along with comedians like Bernie Mac? They can conjure up all kinds of pictures that represent all that they consider questionable about African American culture. Admittedly, this is worst case scenario thinking, but I know many of these prospective voters, and I know how they think. I don't believe that I am too far off base at all.