Sunday, February 28, 2010

It Isn't Only Democrats Angry About Ken Calvert's Corruption-- Meet Chris Riggs


In 2008, progressive Democrat Bill Hedrick came closer to ousting an incumbent than any other candidate of either party in any of California's heavily gerrymandered (for incumbent-protection) districts. With Obama reversing a 2004 Bush victory of 59% to a 50-49% win over McCain, Bill's 49% of the vote was the best any challenger did in the state. That was quite an accomplishment, particularly when he was outspent 5-1, had no acknowledgment-- let alone assistance-- from the DCCC and ran a 100% grassroots campaign. Ken Calvert spent $1,150,432 and Bill Hedrick spent $191,461. Bill is running against Calvert again but right now he isn't the only problem Calvert has in his hopes for re-election.

Chris Riggs, a local real estate broker, is challenging Calvert from the right. Although the Republican registration edge in the district has dropped precipitously over the past 2 years-- down to about a 9% edge from a 14% edge-- Calvert is not well-liked by plenty of local Republicans, particularly the teabagger variety. And that's exactly what Riggs is counting on. Calvert may be known as a pork-mad big spender with a solid air of corruption about him, but the one thing foremost on teabaggy minds is how he voted not once, but twice, for the big bank bailout in 2009. On September 29, Bush and Paulsen appealed to Republicans to help him pass the biggest Wall Street bailout in history. It failed 205-228, stunning Bush and his bankster buddies. 95 Democrats and 133 Republicans voted against it. Ken Calvert, however, was one of the 65 corrupt corporately oriented Republicans to vote yes.

Bush panicked and came back to the House with all guns blazing 4 days later. Corporate shills like Paul Ryan, Roy Blunt, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Adam Putnam, Jerry Lewis, Dave Camp and, of course, Ken Calvert started twisting arms until they persuaded 26 more Republicans to vote for the bailout. It passed 263-171. Teabaggers hate Calvert for it and, because Hedrick was actively campaigning against the bailout, he racked up some impressive crossover votes from independents and even Republicans, actually winning in the Riverside County portion of the district. Riggs is hoping to appeal to Republicans angry at Calvert not just for these two votes, but for his entire political posture of robotic acquiescence to the Beltway Establishment. Calvert is no longer viewed as a member of the community, except as someone who uses it for his own personal gain. He lives in DC and has no real attachments to Riverside County or even to far redder Orange County. Like Hedrick, Riggs is all about the Inland Empire-- and he isn't being shy about pointing out Calvert's shortcomings, especially in the ethics department.
• On November 27, 1993 Calvert was caught by Corona Police Officers with a prostitute in his car.

• Calvert was one of three U.S. Representatives featured on the Fox News Documentary “Porked: Earmarks for Profit” in 2008. Calvert obtained millions in taxpayer dollars to build roads and a transportation hub near commercial real estate properties he owns. One such project, the Corona Transit Center is located within 1.75 miles of 7 of Calvert’s own properties, an earmark that increased Calvert’s personal net worth.

• Calvert is currently involved in a controversial, high-profile land deal that a Riverside County Grand Jury determined was an illegal real estate transaction. Calvert was able to personally purchase a 4 acre piece of land from a public agency that is part of his congressional district without competition. This “sweetheart deal” is currently in litigation.

• In 2006, the FBI combed through five years of Rep. Calvert's financial records, only eight days after the Los Angeles Times reported that he made a 79% profit on a land deal after earmarking funds that helped drive up the price of his own property.

• Seventeen years ago, Calvert signed “The Contract with America”, promising not to hold his Congressional seat for a day more than twelve years.

• Calvert received zero points for influence within the House of Representatives according to’s 2008 Power Rankings.

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If Al Gore Campaigns Against John Barrow Will It Help Our Society To Deal With Climate Change?


My doctor's always trying to persuade me to use these radical-- and often deadly-- treatments that Western medicine pushes on unsuspecting patients that fall into their clutches. He always tells me how young I am and how I can live to be 100. I'll pass. I was just reading Thom Hartmann's book this morning, Threshold: The Crisis of Western Culture. So far hasn't has gotten into the relative attributes of Mozart and Lady Gaga. But I did read about what the world would be like if my doctor was right and I lived to be 100. Boris Worm is a scientist at Dalhousie University in Canada. In 2006, the NY Times reported on findings he and colleagues from all over the world made pointing to the unraveling of marine ecosystems and a global collapse of all species currently fished.
In an interview, Dr. Worm said, “We looked at absolutely everything-- all the fish, shellfish, invertebrates, everything that people consume that comes from the ocean, all of it, globally.”

The researchers found that 29 percent of species had been fished so heavily or were so affected by pollution or habitat loss that they were down to 10 percent of previous levels, their definition of “collapse.”

This loss of biodiversity seems to leave marine ecosystems as a whole more vulnerable to overfishing and less able to recover from its effects, Dr. Worm said. It results in an acceleration of environmental decay, and further loss of fish.

Dr. Worm said he analyzed the data for the first time on his laptop while he was overseeing a roomful of students taking an exam. What he saw, he said, was “just a smooth line going down.” And when he extrapolated the data into the future “to see where it ends at 100 percent collapse, you arrive at 2048.”

“The hair stood up on the back of my neck and I said, ‘This cannot be true,’ ” he recalled. He said he ran the data through his computer again, then did the calculations by hand. The results were the same.

“I don’t have a crystal ball and I don’t know what the future will bring, but this is a clear trend,” he said. “There is an end in sight, and it is within our lifetimes.”

You might not care about the invertebrates-- or even the traif or the sharks-- but Hartmann is quite persuasive in explaining how whole ecological systems work and how you can't pull out pieces here and there and expect the whole thing to continue functioning. No more salmon, tuna, seabass, cod, monkfish, talapia, mahi mahi, anchovies, herring, trout, sole, flounder, snapper... Hartmann:
With a human population pushing seven billion and the number of humans who eat a meat/fish-rich diet (versus mostly a plant-rich diet) moving from under a billion to more than three billion (each consuming between ten and thirty times the basic protein necessary to feed the livestock, and each producing between ten and thirty times the waste upstream as the result of factory and fish farming), the capacity of the planet to carry this huge burden of human flesh is rapidly becoming exhausted.

As with wild fish, wild areas are vanishing, along with their incredibly species-rich habitats, leading to the loss of more than a hundred species a day worldwide. Rain forests-- the richest source of biodiversity on land, the source of 20 percent of the planet's oxygen, and a major regulator of the world's weather-- once covered 14 percent of the planet's land surface; they now cover a mere 6 percent and, without major interventions, may be entirely gone (or thinned to the point of practical uselessness) within thirty to forty years.

They already make that imitation crabmeat out of pollock, sugar, sorbitol, wheat or tapioca starch, egg whites, and vegetable or soybean oil (as well as the carmine, caramel, paprika, and annatto extract to give it a realistic reddish color) but with the pollock scheduled to be out of stock by 2048 too, they'll have to revise the recipe. More tapioca starch? And even if they come up with some kind of fish substitutes we can consume as pills or liquids... well, it just won't be the same and, what are they going to do about the damn oxygen?

Yesterday Al Gore came up with a radical approach in a NY Times OpEd: defeat all the politicians who are burying their heads-- and our future viability-- in the sand. Sounds rationale.
It would be an enormous relief if the recent attacks on the science of global warming actually indicated that we do not face an unimaginable calamity requiring large-scale, preventive measures to protect human civilization as we know it.

Of course, we would still need to deal with the national security risks of our growing dependence on a global oil market dominated by dwindling reserves in the most unstable region of the world, and the economic risks of sending hundreds of billions of dollars a year overseas in return for that oil. And we would still trail China in the race to develop smart grids, fast trains, solar power, wind, geothermal and other renewable sources of energy-- the most important sources of new jobs in the 21st century.

But what a burden would be lifted! We would no longer have to worry that our grandchildren would one day look back on us as a criminal generation that had selfishly and blithely ignored clear warnings that their fate was in our hands. We could instead celebrate the naysayers who had doggedly persisted in proving that every major National Academy of Sciences report on climate change had simply made a huge mistake.

...[E]ven though climate deniers have speciously argued for several years that there has been no warming in the last decade, scientists confirmed last month that the last 10 years were the hottest decade since modern records have been kept.

The heavy snowfalls this month have been used as fodder for ridicule by those who argue that global warming is a myth, yet scientists have long pointed out that warmer global temperatures have been increasing the rate of evaporation from the oceans, putting significantly more moisture into the atmosphere — thus causing heavier downfalls of both rain and snow in particular regions, including the Northeastern United States. Just as it’s important not to miss the forest for the trees, neither should we miss the climate for the snowstorm.

Here is what scientists have found is happening to our climate: man-made global-warming pollution traps heat from the sun and increases atmospheric temperatures. These pollutants-- especially carbon dioxide-- have been increasing rapidly with the growth in the burning of coal, oil, natural gas and forests, and temperatures have increased over the same period. Almost all of the ice-covered regions of the Earth are melting-- and seas are rising. Hurricanes are predicted to grow stronger and more destructive, though their number is expected to decrease. Droughts are getting longer and deeper in many mid-continent regions, even as the severity of flooding increases. The seasonal predictability of rainfall and temperatures is being disrupted, posing serious threats to agriculture. The rate of species extinction is accelerating to dangerous levels.

Though there have been impressive efforts by many business leaders, hundreds of millions of individuals and families throughout the world and many national, regional and local governments, our civilization is still failing miserably to slow the rate at which these emissions are increasing-- much less reduce them... The political paralysis that is now so painfully evident in Washington has thus far prevented action by the Senate — not only on climate and energy legislation, but also on health care reform, financial regulatory reform and a host of other pressing issues.

This comes with painful costs. China, now the world’s largest and fastest-growing source of global-warming pollution, had privately signaled early last year that if the United States passed meaningful legislation, it would join in serious efforts to produce an effective treaty. When the Senate failed to follow the lead of the House of Representatives, forcing the president to go to Copenhagen without a new law in hand, the Chinese balked. With the two largest polluters refusing to act, the world community was paralyzed.

...From the standpoint of governance, what is at stake is our ability to use the rule of law as an instrument of human redemption. After all has been said and so little done, the truth about the climate crisis — inconvenient as ever — must still be faced.
The pathway to success is still open, though it tracks the outer boundary of what we are capable of doing. It begins with a choice by the United States to pass a law establishing a cost for global warming pollution. The House of Representatives has already passed legislation, with some Republican support, to take the first halting steps for pricing greenhouse gas emissions.

Later this week, Senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman are expected to present for consideration similar cap-and-trade legislation.

I hope that it will place a true cap on carbon emissions and stimulate the rapid development of low-carbon sources of energy.

We have overcome existential threats before. Winston Churchill is widely quoted as having said, “Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes, you must do what is required.” Now is that time. Public officials must rise to this challenge by doing what is required; and the public must demand that they do so-- or must replace them.

Great OpEd. But has Gore or anyone else convinced voters in Oklahoma who are set to re-elect climate change denier Tom Coburn? Has Gore or anyone else convinced voters in North Carolina who may be set to re-elect climate change denier Richard Burr? Has Gore or anyone else convinced voters in Louisiana who are set to either re-elect climate change denier David Vitter or replace him with climate change denier Charlie Melancon? Yes, Melancon, a putative Democrat-- same party as Gore-- and he's part of the problem, not part of the solution. Only eight-- yes, 8-- House Republicans voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act on June 26, 2009: Mary Bono Mack (CA) who was unwilling or unable to even persuade her husband, Connie, that this was important and nonpartisan, Mike Castle (DE), Mark Kirk (IL), Leonard Lance (NJ), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), John McHugh (NY), Dave Reichert (WA) and Chris Smith (NJ). It passed, barely, 219-212, with 44 Democrats, mostly Blue Dogs, joining the pave-over-the-planet crowd led by John Boehner and Eric Cantor. Will Al Gore help Blue America defeat John Barrow and replace him with an environmental leader (Regina Thomas)? The Indiana Democratic Party machine is about to saddle us with anti-environmental fanatic Brad Ellsworth, guaranteeing that Indiana voters concerned about these same issues Gore claims are so essential for the very survival of humanity, will have no choice whatsoever on election day, since the two Republicans running, a sleazy lobbyist in the pocket of every special interest under the sun (Dan Coats) and a certifiably insane apocalypticist whose only policy agenda-- aside from bothering gay people-- is to bring on the Rapture (John Hostettler), are actually worse than Ellsworth (who is already an "F" on these issues!

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Sunday Classics: Mastering the fine art of Edvard Grieg


Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982),
at about the time of our recording

by Ken

As I explained last night, we've circled back to spend some more time with Grieg's wonderful little Lyric Pieces. On our first visit I picked out a few pieces I'm particularly fond of, and we heard those along with one complete "book," the six pieces of Op. 54 (Book V of the ten), which happens also -- by sheerest coincidence, of course -- to be the set Grieg participated in orchestrating almost all of. (We also heard all five orchestral versions, including the four that form into the orchestral Lyric Suite, which we also heard.)

For performances of the original piano versions, I depended primarily on the beautiful complete recording made by the English pianist Peter Katin for Unicorn-Kanchana in the final days of 1989. However, I threw in two performances by the great Arthur Rubinstein, which I happened to have because they had been plunked onto a CD in the "RCA Victor Basic 100" series, in between Rubinstein's 1961 recording of the Grieg A minor Concerto with Alfred Wallenstein and his 1967 recording of the Schumann Concerto with Carlo Maria Giulini.

I guessed that those Lyric Pieces, "Shepherd Boy" and the ever-popular "Trolls' March" (also known as the "March of the Dwarves") were from Rubinstein's 1953 all-Grieg LP, which constitutes the whole of the pianist's solo Grieg discography. To give you a glimmer of how these posts play into and out of my musical preoccupations, I was so taken with those two Rubinstein Lyric Pieces that I became really curious about the rest of that Grieg LP. It turns out that all of it was dumped onto a CD, along with Rubinstein's first recording of the Grieg Piano Concerto -- from 1942, with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra -- as Vol. 13 of BMG's grand Rubinstein Collection, and reasonably priced copies aren't hard to find. So naturally I ordered it.

When it arrived, I was delighted to discover that the notes for this volume are by my friend Harris Goldsmith. I still haven't seen by any means all the volumes of the Rubinstein Collection, but even in the limited space allotted for liner notes, the gap between Harris's notes and even the best of the other writers engaged for the project is enormous. (As to the worst of them . . . no, let's not go there.)

Here, for example, is what Harris has to say about that 1942 recording of the Piano Concerto: "A comparison . . . with the subsequent versions reveals an attractive dramatic freshness and vitality that over the years eased into ever-increasing lyricism and expansiveness." Of course if he'd been given the space, Harris could have provided a detailed comparison of the Rubinstein Grieg Concerto recordings that would have left us filled with new insight into Rubinstein as an artist and the expressive possibilities built into the piece, but for one sentence that's pretty darned good, and I wish I'd had it to offer when we heard three of Rubinstein's four audio recordings (the 1942, 1949, and 1961) and saw the finale of the 1975 video recording.

Since the BMG transfer really does sound better than the one I used (from an Ormandy anthology), with more believably musical textures, why don't we listen to the performance again?

GRIEG: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16

i. Allegro molto moderato

[By the way, don't ask me what exactly Grieg means by that tempo marking. The "molto" would normally be taken as an exhortation to really jack up the "allegro," so about the last thing you'd expect here is a moderating "moderato." The idea appears to be a not-all-that-molto allegro.]

ii. Adagio

followed without pause by:
iii. Allegro moderato molto e marcato; Quasi presto; Andante maestoso

[Here, you'll note, we've got "moderato" and "molto" reversed, which is even less clear to me.]

Arthur Rubinstein, piano; Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy, cond. RCA/BMG, recorded 1942

At this point feel free to go back and listen to the other Rubinstein Grieg Concerto recordings (here's the link again), in particular the beautiful 1961 one that he declared himself so pleased with.


By the time Rubinstein made his second recording of the Grieg Concerto, with Antal Dorati in 1949, as Harris suggests, the evolution in this piece from "dramatic freshness and vitality" to "ever-increasing lyricism and expansiveness" was already in progress. The 1953 solo Grieg LP, however, harks back to the earlier style. As Harris notes, the Lyric Pieces and the rest are "rendered with a sophistication and lack of artifice (which are quintessential Rubinstein) and with a sec clarity (atypical of the well-loved artist's more copiously pedaled work at actual concerts)."

"Sec" rather than "dry," you'll note, because "dry" has connotations of aridity, where "sec" may suggest something more like bracingly crisp. Listen, for example, to Rubinstein play the rippling runs in "Papillon," as compared with all our other pianists.

What we're going to do now is pretty straightforward: go through the 11 Lyric Pieces Rubinstein recorded, in the order they appear on the CD, which I'm assuming is carried over from the LP (which I don't have) and therefore represents a sequence that if not planned by was at least approved by the artist, played first by Rubinstein, then by Peter Katin (whose performances, as I've said, hold up amazingly well -- you don't get blinding insight, but you do get beautiful sound, animated rhythm, and an unfailingly sound sense of proportion), and then in some cases by one or more "guest artists." To maintain the sequence, I've folded in the two pieces we already heard in the Katin and Rubinstein performances.

I should add that Rubinstein has the advantage of playing on "home field"; these are the pieces he chose, and he undoubtedly chose them for good reasons. I should also say that I'm not a fanatical Lyric Pieces collector, and I'm in no position to offer these as the best or most interesting performances. These are performances I either had or had access to, which illustrate basic performance issues in this music.

"At the Cradle," Book IX (Op. 68), No. 5

Arthur Rubinstein, piano. RCA/BMG, recorded 1953

Peter Katin, piano. Unicorn-Kanchana, recorded Dec. 27-31, 1989

Emil Gilels, piano. DG, recorded June 1974

Leif Ove Andsnes, piano. EMI, recorded December 2001

It would be interesting to know for sure that it was Rubinstein's choice to lead off his group of Lyric Pieces with this actively flowing lullaby, because this is probably his gentlest, softest-grained playing here. And still his performance is more streamlined than the others' -- his cradle rocks a good deal more steadily'. Gilels's pace is positively languorous, which I guess is appropriate for a cradle song, but will it hold baby's attention? Andsnes seems determined not to make any unexpected noises that might awaken baby.

"Spring Dance," Book IV (Op. 47), No. 6

Arthur Rubinstein, piano. RCA/BMG, recorded 1953

Peter Katin, piano. Unicorn-Kanchana, recorded Dec. 27-31, 1989

Einar Steen-Nokleberg, piano. Naxos, recorded December 1993

It's interesting to note how many of these simple folksongs and dances Rubinstein pulled out of the set, music that a lot of big-name pianists seem to consider unworthy of their attention. But listen to the way he animates the rhythm of this "Spring Dance"! It's kind of unfair to set Katin's and Steen-Nokleberg's performances against this standard, because they both play the little piece with winning boldness and grace.

"Cradle Song," Book II (Op. 38), No. 1

Arthur Rubinstein, piano. RCA/BMG, recorded 1953

Peter Katin, piano. Unicorn-Kanchana, recorded Dec. 27-31, 1989

Emil Gilels, piano. DG, recorded June 1974

Mikhail Pletnev, piano. DG, recorded November 1999

Again Rubinstein seems more concerned than the others (except perhaps Pletnev, but see below) with maintaining a sense of movement in the rocking of his cradle. Of course, when you can produce piano sound as beautiful as Gilels does playing softly and slowly, you're going to want opportunities to show it off. Pletnev's idea seems to be keep baby off guard by fiddling constantly with the tempo and never settling into a predictable rhythm. Katin avoids all the traps and makes quite a lovely thing of the piece.

"Folk Song," Book II (Op. 38), No. 2

Arthur Rubinstein, piano. RCA/BMG, recorded 1953

Peter Katin, piano. Unicorn-Kanchana, recorded Dec. 27-31, 1989

Einar Steen-Nokleberg, piano. Naxos, recorded December 1993

Again, I would be quite happy with both Katin and Steen-Nokleberg if they weren't facing off against the ripe wisdom and humanity of Rubinstein in this piquant folksong.

"Papillon" ("Butterfly"), Book III (Op. 43), No. 1

Arthur Rubinstein, piano. RCA/BMG, recorded 1953

Peter Katin, piano. Unicorn-Kanchana, recorded Dec. 27-31, 1989

Josef Hofmann, piano. Columbia/IPA/VAI, recorded Oct. 13, 1916

Sviatoslav Richter, piano. Live performance, recorded 1993?

"Papillon" is the most popular of the Lyric Pieces among big-time pianists, and it's easy to hear the appeal of its cascading seeming-improvisations. That Rubinstein manages it without any Impressionistic wash seems to me quite remarkable, but Katin gives a beautiful account too. It's not fair to judge Hofmann directly, given the 1916 sound (remarkably good for its time, though), but you can hear a pianist who believes he's not earning his fee if he isn't constantly futzing with the music. Richter takes an exploratory approach too, but he's just -- to my ears -- a way more coherent musical thinker.

"Spring Dance," Book II (Op. 38), No. 5

Arthur Rubinstein, piano. RCA/BMG, recorded 1953

Peter Katin, piano. Unicorn-Kanchana, recorded Dec. 27-31, 1989

Einar Steen-Nokleberg, piano. Naxos, recorded December 1993

Again Rubinstein shows us why he was attracted to these spritely dances. He just packs more life into his rhythms than a normal pianist. By more human standards, Katin does a beautiful job, and Steen-Nokleberg is perfectly credible.

"Shepherd Boy," Book V (Op. 54), No. 1

Arthur Rubinstein, piano. RCA/BMG, recorded 1953

Peter Katin, piano. Unicorn-Kanchana, recorded Dec. 27-31, 1989

Leif Ove Andsnes, piano. Virgin Classics, recorded October 1992

Katin does a remarkable job of sustaining this plaintive shepherd's wandering at a broad pace. Rubinstein's impulse to speed things up makes a lot of sense. Andsnes seems to like attempting interpretive introspection, and it's quite pretty, but I'm not sure he sustains the movement of the piece.

"Little Bird," Book III (Op. 43), No. 4

Arthur Rubinstein, piano. RCA/BMG, recorded 1953

Peter Katin, piano. Unicorn-Kanchana, recorded Dec. 27-31, 1989

Leif Ove Andsnes, piano. Virgin Classics, recorded October 1992

Katin can't quite manage the snap Rubinstein gets into the birdie's trill-like sound. Andsnes goes a different route, treating the music in softer-grained fashion -- quite effective, but it doesn't leave the lingering impression of the others.

"Folk Song," Book I (Op. 12), No. 5

Arthur Rubinstein, piano. RCA/BMG, recorded 1953

Peter Katin, piano. Unicorn-Kanchana, recorded Dec. 27-31, 1989

Leif Ove Andsnes, piano. EMI, recorded December 2001

Rubinstein seems to think that this folksong is Polish -- he digs into it as if it was a mazurka, and a driving one at that. It's unfair to ask Katin to compete with that. Again Andsnes takes himself out of the competition with a gentler approach, and again it's quite pretty but rather forgettable.

"Elfin Dance," Book I (Op. 12), No. 4

Arthur Rubinstein, piano. RCA/BMG, recorded 1953

Peter Katin, piano. Unicorn-Kanchana, recorded Dec. 27-31, 1989

Sviatoslav Richter, piano. Live perfomance, recorded 1993?

Three really lovely performances, with each pianist doing what he does best. Rubinstein incorporates unmatched rhythmic energy (not to be confused with raw speed) in this breathless little dance; Katin takes it straight down the middle, missing nothing along the way; and Richter manages in under a minute to explore some eerie, tingly, fascinating byways.

"Trolls' March," Book V (Op. 54), No. 3

Arthur Rubinstein, piano. RCA/BMG, recorded 1953

Peter Katin, piano. Unicorn-Kanchana, recorded Dec. 27-31, 1989

Leif Ove Andsnes, piano. EMI, recorded December 2001

Again, it would be interesting to know for sure that Rubinstein planned his selection of Lyric Pieces to culminate in the drolly rousing "Trolls' March," with its ineffably lyric central section. I'm not sure that the "fast" sections really need to be taken this fast to convey driving motion, and think Andsnes might have been better advised to try to generate momentum with intensity rather than speed -- he doesn't articulate all that well. But he does produce one heckuva crescendo in the opening section (and again in the repeat, where it packs a wallop again even though we're expecting it now). In the lyrical central section his playing is once again pretty but without a whole lot of character.


There used to be "a" Grieg String Quartet. Now, to distinguish it from the "other," not quite finished quartet, it has become "No. 1."

GRIEG: String Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 27

i. Un poco andante; Allegro molto ed agitato

ii. Romanze: Andantino; Allegro agitato

iii. Intermezzo: Allegro molto marcato; Più vivo e scherzando

iv. Finale: Lento; Presto al saltarello

Chilingirian Quartet (Levon Chilingirian and Charles Sewart, violins; Asdis Valdimarsdottir, viola; Philip de Groote, cello). Hyperion, recorded Dec. 8-10, 1998


The current list is here.

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The Dirty Half Dozen-- The 6 Worst Homophobes In The House


The first time I ever heard of former wingnut Congressman Ernest Istook (R-OK) was when I read a blurb in the Advocate listing the most dangerous members of Congress to the gay community. As time went on I noticed he was very aggressive in pushing a hate-filled anti-gay agenda (which increased when he left the Baptist Church and became a Mormon). Years later he wound up on another list-- as one of the most corrupt of the Abramoff co-conspirators in ripping off American Indian tribes.

Istook left Congress to run for governor and was the victim of the biggest gubernatorial history in many decades as he was swamped-- in the reddest state in the Union-- by Democrat Brad Henry. Henry took 66.5% of the vote and 74 of Oklahoma's 77 counties. Istook won in the state's 3 most backward counties, the three that make up the Panhandle, Beaver, Cimarron and Texas. It turned out one of his campaign staffers, Jordan Edmund, was one of the underaged male pages Republican Mark Foley had molested.

Still very much an obsessed homophobic sociopath, who bragged he would never hire a gay person to work for him, he never lets up demonizing gay people. People wonder who the next Ernest Istooks are likely to be.

Unfortunately, just looking at the voting records of House Members does not tell the story. ProgressivePunch scores all House members on a dozen roll call votes since 2004 that directly impacted gay people. 146 currently serving Republicans (plus one Blue Dog, Travis Childers of Mississippi) can boast ZERO scores! Only 32 Republicans don't have zeroes, including Ahn Cao (who has a disgraceful 50%, Mary Bono Mack (with an event more horrible 33.33% and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (also at 33.33%), all of whom represent large gay populations, respectively, New Orleans, Palm Springs and Miami Beach/Key West. The only gay closet case who doesn't score a zero is Illinois Senate candidate Mark Kirk (who scored a 25%). Closeted gays who voted against people every single time they had an opportunity to include David Dreier (CA), Trent Franks (AZ), Patrick McHenry (NC), Dana Rohrabacher (CA), Aaron Schock (IL), and Adrian Smith (NE).

So how do we define the worst of the worst? I may bear a particular animus toward lock-step anti-gay fanatics who represent large gay constituencies, like homophobic fanatic-- and zero-- John Culberson (R-TX) whose constituents include an awful lot of gay men and women in Houston's Montrose area. And I also harbor some animus towards closet cases-- even "everyone knows" types like David Dreier-- who vote against equality for gays in less favorable positions than they are. Ironically, Dreier, a zero himself, was vetoed for the Republican House Leader position by Roy Blunt based soley on the fact that he's gay. You'd think they guy would grok the concept of being discriminated against! But I decided when researching this piece to leave all that stuff aside and just concentrate on members of Congress who are proactively anti-gay, over and above their dismal voting records.

Let's take, for example, Dan Lungren (R-CA). Forget that he's a zero; they almost all are. Instead, notice that on March 4 last year he authored and proposed a constitutional amendment targeting gays and lesbians. As it turns out, his pernicious amendment, H.J.Res. 37 was referred to Jerrold Nadler's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, where it died the death it deserved. Forty Republicans rushed to co-sponsor it, including loudly bigoted gay-haters like Paul Broun (R-GA), Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA, traumatized at an early age for his transgender first name), Mike Pence (R-IN), Steve King (R-IA), closet queen Trent Franks (R-AZ), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Eric Cantor (R-VA), Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), John Mica (R-FL), Dan Burton (R-IN), Ken Calvert (R-CA), a shameless congressman arrested fleeing in a parked car with his pants down around his ankles when caught with a junkie-hooker by the police, and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). And speaking of Chaffetz...

Chaffetz has appointed himself spokesperson for the GOP's anti-gay squad. When the Washington DC City Council voted 12-1 to recognize same sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions, Chaffetz went to war. "Some things are worth fighting for, and this is one of them," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), the ranking Republican on a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that oversees the District. "It's not something I can let go softly into the night... I recognize the Democrats are in the majority, but I represent the majority of Americans on this issue." Or at least the majority of Utah voters who don't live inside the city limits of Salt Lake City.

Soon after, virulent gay-haters Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Dan Boren (D-OK) introduced a bill to force DC to not recognize same-sex marriage. A Pat Robertson front group filed an anti-marriage equality brief on behalf of 37 House members suing to stop the city from recognizing same sex marriages. Some very familiar names on that list: Robert Aderholt, Todd Akin, Michele Bachmann, Gresham Barrett, Roscoe Bartlett, Marsha Blackburn, John Boehner, John Boozman, Eric Cantor, Jason Chaffetz, John Fleming, Randy Forbes, Virginia Foxx, Scott Garrett, Phil Gingrey, Louie Gohmert, Jeb Hensarling, Wally Herger, Walter Jones, Jim Jordan, Steve King, Jack Kingston, John Kline, Doug Lamborn, Robert Latta, Don Manzullo, Michael McCaul, Thaddeus McCotter, North Carolina closet case Patrick McHenry, Cathy McMorris Rogers, Jeff Miller, Jerry Moran, Randy Neugebauer, Mike Pence, Joe Pitts, Mark Souder, and Todd Tiahrt.

On October 21 the House voted-- overwhelmingly-- to pass Tom Harkin's bill to amend title XXVI of the Public Health Service Act to revise and extend the program for providing life-saving care for those with HIV/AIDS (the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009). For normal Americans, regardless of party, it was a non-controversial, bipartisan endeavor and it passed 408-9. All the Democrats (including homophobic Blue Dogs who routinely vote against gay equality) and 162 Republicans including every single GOP closet case in the House and most of the garden variety hatemongers, voted for it. So who voted "no?" A motley array of the most vitriolic, hate-filled Republican bigots who come crawling out from under their rocks to revel in this kind of thing, including two on our list of the worst of the worst, Virginia Foxx and Louie Gohmert. Time for the list of the six worst, the ones who are always at the front of the line when it comes to kicking around gay people, the ones who scream the loudest and make the ugliest faces:

The Haters Who Act On Their Hate

Steve King (R-IA)
- Where do we start with this raving package of pure Satanic hatred? How about the sick, McCarthyite letter King wrote to President Obama demanding he fire Kevin Jennings, the Assistant Deputy Secretary at the Department of Education for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. (Co-signers, obviously, included the rest of the Dirty Half Dozen.) Or maybe we should stick to Iowa and his classy reaction to the ruling by his state's Supreme Court recognizing that all Iowans were entitled to marriage equality.

Virginia Foxx (R-NC)- Poor Foxx built her entire demented career around spewing hatred towards gay people, first in the North Carolina legislature and more recently on the floor of the U.S. Congress, where she is considered one of the two dozen least effective, least influential members. Ironically she's become a kind of "fag hag" for Republican closet queen Patrick McHenry and he's one of the only members of Congress willing to be seen in public with her, especially after her demented tirade directed at Matthew Shepard's grieving mother. (See video below.) I don't know if any gay people read DWT or not but if you know any, please let them know that Blue America has endorsed Billy Kennedy, the progressive Democrat running against Foxx, and that he could use some help in the fundraising department, even if just a $10 or $20 contribution.

Louie Gohmert (R-TX)- Half of the Republican Party tag team of bigotry with Utah wingnut Jason Chaffetz, Gohmert was famously dubbed, by Rachel Maddow, Oscar the Grouch, popping out of his trash can to take aim at active duty military personnel who happen to be gay. Watch the video of him annoying members of the House by talking about his perverted sexual fantasies.

Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)- This one has decided his path to political ascendancy among the Mormons is through anti-gay demagoguery. Mormons, whose victimization at the hands of the narrow-minded isn't so far in the past, should know better.

Trent Franks (R-AZ)- The only closet case in the Bottom Six, Franks was driven out of the Arizona state legislature for his aggressive sexual behavior towards younger males. Safely ensconced in the Republican congressional caucus he figures that as long as he can bray homophobic epithets loudly enough, no one will figure out what he does when the lights go out. Best known for calling President Obama an enemy of humanity and claiming that African-Americans may have been better off when they were slaves, Franks is the definition of a kind of self-loathing homosexual that mostly went extinct in the early 1960s.

Duncan Hunter, Jr (R-CA)- Hoping to live up to his father's reputation as the most hysterical homophobe in Congress, Junior is as dumb as a brick and Aaron Schock's secret heartthrob. Because he served in the Marine Corps the GOP has tasked him with speaking out against equality for gays serving in the military. He does it badly and it is widely rumored that his confused statements about hermaphrodites stems from having been molested as a child. He, like the other 5, should see a psychiatrist and stop trying to victimize other taxpaying, law-abiding American citizens.


I just opened an ActBlue page to address homophobia. Can you help?

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