Monday, June 23, 2014

Co-Starring Liz and Dick

The last time Liz and Dick created this much fuss in the press, it was on the set of "Cleopatra." I wish I were speaking of Burton and Taylor, but unfortunately, I'm referring to Former Vice President "Deadeye" Dick Cheney and his mind-melded daughter, Fox News Contributor and failed Senate candidate, Liz Cheney. The Cheneys "co-authored" an editorial in the Rupert Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal called, "The Collapsing Obama Doctrine," in which they stated, "rarely has a U.S. President been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many." I don't often read the WSJ since I lost my money in the Bush Recession, but when I read that particular sentence, I had to lean back in my chair and take a few deep breaths at the deaf, dumb, and blind hypocrisy of the head designer and chief promoter of the Iraq War. Even Fox News' Megyn Kelly seemed incredulous during an interview on a network usually friendly to co-worker Liz and her Dad. When Cheney was asked if the same question might be directed at him after such previous statements as "we would be regarded as liberators in Iraq," and "the insurgency is in its last throws," he replied without a trace of shame, "We inherited a situation where there was no doubt in anybody's mind about the extent of Saddam's involvement with weapons of mass destruction. We did the right thing."

No doubt in anybody's mind? There was doubt in everybody's mind who could see through Dick Cheney's master plan to march this country into an unnecessary war. Now that American troops are gone and Iraq is dissolving into chaos, Cheney, along with his personal Bad Seed, is trying to deflect blame everyplace but where it belongs: in his bloody hands. He lashed out against fellow Republican Rand Paul for stating that trying to blame Obama for the Iraq disaster was misdirected, and blasted Bill Clinton for whatever reason was at hand. The Cheneys contend, "On a trip to the Middle East...we heard a constant refrain in capitals from the Persian Gulf to Israel, 'Can you explain why your president is doing this?...Why is he so blithely sacrificing the hard fought gains you secured in Iraq?'" Liz and Dick continue, "Mr. Obama...abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory." One shabby, lazy, old journalistic trick when you wish to forward an opinion, but can't get anyone to speak on the record, is to write, "Some people say," or, "It has been stated in certain quarters." This allows you to imply defamatory quotes made toward your intended target without actually quoting anyone. It says as much about the Cheneys' deception as how corrupted the Wall Street Journal's editorial department has become under the ownership of NewsCorp.

Does anyone who was awake for the past six years believe that the Bush Administration handed Obama a victory in Iraq? This evil war has cost 4,500 American lives, trillions of dollars, and untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian casualties, yet Cheney still considers it "the right thing to do?" The WSJ "take your daughter to work day" editorial continues, "Despite the threat to America unfolding across the Middle East, aided by his abandonment of Iraq, he (Obama) has announced he intends to follow the same policy in Afghanistan." If memory serves, Obama won election and re-election on the pledge that he would put an end to the Bush wars. In Cheney's eyes, victory in Iraq means a pliable puppet government and a permanent U.S. military presence to safeguard the oilfields that were supposed to pay for his misbegotten war. Cheney declares, "Al Qaeda and its affiliates are resurgent and they present a security threat not seen since the Cold War," with the same assurance that he proclaimed, "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."  Many pundits on the right still take Cheney seriously, but he's lost Glen Beck. On his radio show, the cherubic prophet of the apocalypse proclaimed "Liberals said, 'We shouldn't get involved, we shouldn't nation build.' They said we couldn't force freedom on people...You are right, Liberals, you were right."

Fox News gave the Cheneys a second joint interview, perhaps to assuage hurt feelings caused by Megyn Kelly, only this time it was to announce the formation of The Alliance for a Strong America, a grass-roots organization founded, according to Liz, "because we know America's security depends upon our ability to reverse President Obama's policies." While Liz dressed in all black, Dick sported a white cowboy hat and an oilskin vest, causing them to appear more like American Gothic than Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. All that was missing was the pitchfork. Speaking from Wyoming, where Liz steamrolled her own sister cozying-up to to the ultra-right in her losing Senate bid, the new Cheney "alliance" looked more like an attempt to shore-up Liz's rabid-conservative bona fides for another run for Congress than a threat to the President's foreign agenda. Cheney claimed the group's purpose is "to restore America's power and preeminence" in the world. "President Obama has repeatedly misled the American people about the attacks in Benghazi and the true nature of the threat we face." Oh. I get it now. Benghazi. This is about fundraising for the next election. "Benghazi" is like catnip for right wing pussies, and I mean that strictly in the "fat cat," political contributor sense of the word. But when it comes to Liz Cheney's credibility, this silly drama can't come close to matching a Shakespearean production co-starring Liz and Dick that I would much prefer seeing: The Taming of the Shrew.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Out And Among 'Em

It's been awhile since we've been "out and among 'em," as the colloquialism goes, but lately it seems as if I've become downright sociable, or something near that general vicinity. I had become accustomed to the comforts of home and hearth and the company of my wife and three undertrained rescue dogs, whose over-fondness for people are the reason no one comes over here anymore. I'm speaking of the dogs, of course, and not my wife. But, I'm not hard to please:  A roof over my head, an easy chair that becomes a lounger, and someone with whom to watch cable TV who enjoys making snarky comments about these awful shows as much as I do, and I'm content. Content enough to realize that I've had my fun, and to leave the night-life to the young. But lately, there have been so many occasions and venues that have literally forced us out of the house, or rather, me, out of the house, that I am belatedly seeing Memphis come alive once again, and I am both amazed and overjoyed by what I see.

It began a couple of months ago when Melody and I attended an art opening at Playhouse on the Square. Up until then, I had only driven by and watched, with growing interest, the restoration of the legendary entertainment district. But this was our first visit to the Square in a long time, and we marvelled at the already thriving businesses and the ongoing construction. We ate lunch in an area restaurant, then widow-shopped our way to the once and future Lafayette's Music Room, where I used to make a living back during the Jitterbug era. So I just had to peak in the windows, and was delighted to see it looks exactly the same. The big stage is there, with intimate seating and an upper balcony with a booth for a soundman; all the prerequisites for a grand music showplace- same as it ever was. The music and audience will be new, but the venue is vintage, and wonderful, new, memories will be made there- and forgotten there, too. The developers deserve congratulations, especially for the Square's architecture. Even the parking garage looks terrific. I thought Yosemite Sam's would have to be dynamited out of their spot, but somehow even that nasty old building looks elegant. A California-based investment group announced plans to transform the deteriorating French Quarter Inn into a boutique hotel, and with the addition of the architecturally gorgeous new Hattilou Theatre, the Square will become Memphis' theatre district. Imagine that.

Following that outing, a gracious friend got us tickets to see the Zombies at the new HiTone on Cleveland, which gave us the chance to see the development in and around the old Sears-Crosstown. Jobs, jobs, jobs, people. Which put us in a good mood to hear there was no seating in the HiTone, so we took refuge on some steps in the back. But as soon as the Zombies came on, I was drawn, like magic, to join the standing throng in front of the bandstand. For years, my policy has been to go nowhere I can't be seated, but the Zombies made me want to stand, and I can die happy knowing I got to hear Colin Blunstone sing "Time of the Season" ten feet in front of me. Melody convinced me that good things awaited outside of our den, and that began a spasm of social activities. We heard Eddie Harrison and Debbie Jamison sing at Neil's. We revisited the Square, this time at night, to hear guitar virtuoso Dave Cousar play a set at Le Chardonnay, and then on to Huey's to witness the yearly visit by Larry Raspberry and the Highsteppers. In the same night! I'm delighted to see new music venues open up for both local talent and travelling acts, and of course the jewel is the Levitt Shell.

I doubt there's a better way to spend an evening than under the stars at the Levitt Shell listening to unique and different types of music. The venue is beautiful and becomes magical when the sun goes down and the lighting comes up. The sound is professional and whoever books the acts couldn't be doing a better job. The coming months will bring an array of talent to one of our city's most beautiful, green expanses, and it's all for free. Only an asshole would criticize such a wonderful undertaking- so it may as well be me. There's one noticeable, and aggravating, design flaw at the Shell. I imagined whoever designed the large slab of concrete between the stage and the grass intended it as a dance floor, but in the several events I have recently attended, it has become a major distraction. How can you concentrate on the performers and their music with people constantly milling about directly in front of the stage? Stage-front has become a short-cut to the bathroom and a place for unattended children to run wild. As the evening progresses, the kids are replaced by clueless, often inebriated attendees, who stand in front of the stage, blocking the view of half the audience. My suggestion for a more enjoyable experience- dig up the asphalt and plant more grass. That aside, it seems to me that, at long last, Memphis is a happening place once again. I believe I just might stick around.