Archive for April 4th, 2010

We need a monarch.

| April 4, 2010 | 2 Replies
We need a monarch.

I hate to sound like a Tea-Party nutbag, but I really love the United States’ Constitution. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a free-speech fanatic. I love the Constitution’s sharp focus on individual liberties, its emphasis on the rights of the accused, and that grade-school-civics favorite, the checks and balances of power. I despair when these ideals meet real-life sacrifices, especially glaring ones like, oh, the utter lack of Congressional declarations of war since WWII. I also don’t like to sully the document’s purity with excessive amendments, interpretations and adaptations. No Defense of Marriage Amendment, please, but while you’re at it, no marriage at all (it violates the establishment clause, you see).

But don’t call me a Scalia-esque strict constructionist. If I could, I would copy-edit the otherwise brilliant Constitution and correct a centuries-old omission with no qualms: I would give the United States a monarch.

It probably seems unamerican, undemocratic and all-around anti-freedom-y to propose that we foist an unquestioned figure to the crown of government. It probably sounds old-fashioned, all uppity and needlessly symbolic and European. I know it does. It’s exactly my point.

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That’s All

| April 4, 2010 | Reply
That’s All

Here’s a great way to end the evening. In this video of a musical duet, Peter Martin is accompanying Dianne Reeves on the tune “That’s All.” There is some pretty amazing musicality going on here, starting with Peter’s gorgeous introduction to the tune (but sorry that the ending is cut off a bit too soon).

BTW, Peter’s children attend school with my children. Last year, he volunteered to accompany the third graders for their musical. During the big performance, somehow . . . somehow . . . he made sure that he never stole the spotlight from the children–it was an incredible musical experience to hear the voices of little children framed by the music of a world-class jazz pianist.

Every other month here in St. Louis, Peter is playing jazz at the beautiful Sheldon Theater in the Central West End. The next show is June 4 at 8pm. The first two installments (the February show featuring Peter and Dianne Reeves and the show two nights ago featuring Peter and Jeremy Davenport) were everything you could have hoped for. If you’re interested in hearing some great jazz live for a reasonable price of $25 per seat at the Sheldon, visit Peter’s site. If you’d like to view and listen to more of Peter’s music online, here’s where you need to go.

[BTW, if you'd like to know more about how to play jazz piano like Peter, check out his "2 minute jazz piano" video podcasts on iTunes. Free piano lessons from a guy who really knows his way around the keyboard.]

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Problems with heavily monied judge elections

| April 4, 2010 | Reply
Problems with heavily monied judge elections

At Raw Story, Adam Skaggs warns that bigger money than ever will be pouring into judicial elections in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Citizens United. He also offers some good suggestions:

[S]tates should adopt public financing systems for judicial elections (something West Virginia, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Wisconsin have already done). Public financing gets judges out of the unseemly business of dialing for dollars to make sure they win. States also need to adopt stricter disclosure rules, so the public knows which individuals and groups are spending in judicial campaigns. And states should institute new disqualification regulations to ensure that, if a judge is assigned to hear the case of a major campaign supporter, he or she must step aside and let a wholly impartial judge preside.

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A teenaged girl visits Gaza

| April 4, 2010 | 1 Reply
A teenaged girl visits Gaza

Najla Said gives a dramatic reading of one section of her play entitled “Palestine,” describing how her life was changed after visiting Gaza as a teenaged girl, along with her father, the late Edward Said, who was a Palestinian activist.

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Sting: The war on drugs is a failure

| April 4, 2010 | Reply
Sting: The war on drugs is a failure

Sting has written a Huffpo article declaring the “war on drugs” to be a failure:

Everyone knows the War on Drugs has failed. It’s time to step out of our comfort zones, acknowledge the truth — and challenge our leaders … and ourselves … to change.

How is this “war” a failure? Sting refers to an opinion piece by the Drug Policy Alliance that sets forth the following facts:

Consider the consequences of drug prohibition today: 500,000 people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails for nonviolent drug-law violations; 1.8 million drug arrests last year; tens of billions of taxpayer dollars expended annually to fund a drug war that 76% of Americans say has failed; millions now marked for life as former drug felons; many thousands dying each year from drug overdoses that have more to do with prohibitionist policies than the drugs themselves, and tens of thousands more needlessly infected with AIDS and Hepatitis C because those same policies undermine and block responsible public-health policies.

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