Williams Goes Gatlin

I grew up on Andy Williams.  He was my mother’s favorite singer in the early 1960’s.  Indeed, that time was Williams’ era: he was young, handsome, had a glorious pop tenor and a weekly TV variety show that was particularly famous for its Christmas installments.  I have to add that Williams’ Christmas shows were not devoid of religion, but some things just seemed normal in those days that don’t anymore.  In any case, it was not worthy of comment at the time.

If you’re young, you must be thinking, “wow things were really different.”  And they were.  Williams was a crooner in the last days of the crooners; a true Kennedy-era star (and — it now appears, somewhat ironically — a friend of Bobby Kennedy).  In its heyday in the early 1960’s, the Williams show was a pleasant, milquetoast affair that featured Williams, occasionally his brothers, and the Osmonds as well as various other inoffensive types in ugly sweaters (“casual”), and business suits (“crooner”).  And everyone looked forward to those Christmas specials.  I even remember one with a figure skater in it.  Or maybe it was a bunch of them.  And then we’d get to hear Williams hit that high note in “Oh Holy Night.”

But by the late ’60’s, that culture was fading.  By the early 1980’s, I’d totally lost track of Andy Williams; the last I recalled hearing of him was that he stood by his ex-wife (a ’60’s sex kitten named Claudine Longet) during her murder trial; she’d allegedly murdered her lover.  The whole affair sort of exposed the ugly underbelly of the age of innocence with which Williams had been so closely associated.  I remember seeing photos of him at the time and thinking, “what a shame he is a has-been.”  There was no place in the world in the 1980’s for an Andy Williams and he looked as if he knew it — tired and old.  (I just found out that Ronald Reagan gave Williams some sort of special honor in those years.  No comment there.  If you know my attitude toward Reagan, perhaps none is necessary.)

After that, for a long while I thought Williams must have died.

Then, several years ago, he resurfaced with a vengeance (and without the top of his vocal range) in Bible Entertainmentville, Branson Missouri.  Alarm bells went off in my head.  I knew he was possibly a Republican, but there’s a difference between being merely Republican and being off-the-wall Branson material.  “Has Andy gone right-wing?” I wondered feverishly, even as I also wondered where his high notes had gone.  Well, anyway…the guy was approaching 80.  Such things are bound to happen.  But going wingnut?  That’s not inevitable.  At the time I did not know about Williams giving the Fat Man permission to use his recording of “Born Free” with gunfire tagged on at the end; that is to say, he was long gone down this road before I knew he was on it.

Last week I happened across a video of Williams singing “Moon River.”  The video was from his ancient television show.  Underneath it were comments from viewers.  One attempted snideness by equating being a “progressive” with noting that Williams was getting old, which was what another commenter had just done.  I remember thinking this was typical right-wing pretzel logic.  “You think Andy Williams can’t sing anymore, therefore you are one of those mean progressives who thinks they are so smart, nyah, nyah, nyah.”  Never mind that there is no clear connection between criticizing an aging crooner and being a progressive; in fact, don’t even bother trying to make the connection.  Just serve it up like a tossed salad.  That’s enough when you’re right-wing.  I learned that a long while back when I was being attacked as a “liberal” (and they said it like it was a bad thing) for criticizing that kind lady Ann Coulter.

I still didn’t know that Williams had gone all the way wingnut and was dismayed that he was now apparently attracting scores of the word-salad crowd.  I blamed it on Branson.

Then this week I went to one of my favorite non-blogs, You Are Dumb, only to find an article that confirmed my worst fears about Andy Williams:

“Don’t like him at all. I think he wants to create a socialist country. The people he associates with are very Left-wing. One is registered as a Communist. Obama is following Marxist theory. He’s taken over the banks and the car industry. He wants the country to fail.” – Ancient and irrelevent songmeister Andy Williams, proving to everyone that he’s still alive, senile as fuck, and thinks the shit he hears on WorldNetDaily’s radio show makes sense.
Andy Williams wouldn’t know a Marxist theory if he popped a half-dozen Viagra, checked out the mint-condition copy of Das Kapital from the Branson, MO public library, had wild, old-man intercourse with the gap in the binding, and woke the next morning to find it had fallen open to one of the pages explaining Marxist theory. And then, if by some feat of magic, the book came to life, cooked him breakfast, and sang him Marxist theory to the tune of “Moon River”, he STILL wouldn’t know a damn thing about it.
“He’s taken over the banks” is one of the most mind-bogglingly stupid talking points the wingnuts have going these days, which is an impressive feat in and of itself. Nobody’s taken over the banks. They’ve been given hundreds of billions of dollars, in exchange for which they’ve handed out bonuses, pretended they’re profitable, and come up with dozens of new ways to siphon money from their customers. That’s not a government takeover. And if it WAS a government takeover, it still wouldn’t have been Obama that did it, because, and all you wingnuts look at the giant, phonetic cue cards and do your best to read along with me here, BUSH STARTED THE BANK BAILOUT. Not Obama. Bush. Dubya. Chimpfucker. Your bestest buddy after Ronaldus Magnus. Get it? Got it? Of course you don’t.
You Are Dumb.net

Ouch.  So it’s real.  Andy Williams has become Larry Gatlin.  Both lost their voices and then their logic.  It must be an epidemic among formerly extremely famous male pop singers.  I guess when you’re tumbling downward, the only thing to do is to learn to bottom-feed.  But it’s just too bad that some really good entertainers are getting swallowed up by this crap.

After all, things haven’t been the way they were for several decades.  Yes, we’re talking several decades.  Things started changing radically when Barack Obama was a toddler, and I daresay it wasn’t his doing, Andy Williams. 

In fact, some of it may have been yours.

Once again, Bryan says it all…

Here’s  the definitive judgement on the healthcare debate — and those who are attempting to thwart reform — from the website “You Are Dumb”: article

My warning to the fear-mongers: in the long run, you will not win.  Your actions will come back to you.  Let’s put it very simply: you will not be re-elected to office and will have to find a real job and have your healthcare threatened daily just like the rest of us.  Considering the behavior of those in the Capitol, that’s the worst “fuck you” I can think of.

Oh, and one more thing: have a nice day.  Not.

Just gotta disagree…in English

You Are Dumb.net is one of my favorite websites because the guy who writes it usually writes stuff that I either totally agree with, or can just laugh at.

He did a good job of this the other day…of making me laugh, that is.  But I almost totally disagree with what he wrote.

He was writing about some Hollywood hack complaining on some website that having to push a number or the pound sign for “English” when listening to an automated phone answering system was a violation of “freedom of speech.”  Well, that is stupid, but Bryan’s focus in commenting on this was a bit narrow.

In this blog I try very, very hard only to criticize people based on the sum total of their behavior, and not what may be isolated incidents.  Yes, some people may be terminally stupid (Sarah Palin comes to mind).  But since I know nothing about the Hollywood hack, I don’t feel qualified to tell you how stupid he actually is.  Yes, the statement was stupid, because our freedom of speech is no more endangered by having to press a digit on a dialing pad than our general freedom is enhanced by having our soldiers in Iraq.

But when it comes to having to press that extra digit for “English,” I actually agree with what the Hollywood hack was probably trying to say when he became incoherently right-wing: it is a pain in the ass, and it’s not something we had to deal with before the last 10 years or so, and there is no good excuse for it.

Why not?  Having automated answering systems available in only 2 languages is discriminatory, for starters.  It discriminates between non-English speakers who speak Spanish and those who speak other languages.  And there are a large number of other languages to choose from.  To keep from discriminating against everybody in the U.S. who does not speak English, not just the largest minority who do not speak English, the automated telephone answering messages would have to be about 20 minutes long (just a wild guess).  Now that’s a waste of time.

It’s actually less discriminatory toward the majority to have the computers answer the phones in English only.  Certainly it saves time, and probably money as well.

It may be even better to have an actual human being answer the phones, but that takes even more time…and even more money if you want a receptionist who speaks 6,800  languages* (and even then, s/he would probably run into a language that was foreign). *http://www.yourdictionary.com/languages.html

Come to think of it, we could have road signs in 6,800 different languages.  Sure, some of them might have to say, (in whatever language) “if you did not immediately see any language you could understand, then stop, back up, and read again.”

Or we could just draw stick people, which is what a lot of signs consist of now.  In the case of the “back up and read it again” sign, the symbol would probably be a big “R”.  But maybe “R” doesn’t stand for “Reverse” in someone’s language.  In that case, we’d need multi-lingual gear-shifts. 

The possibilities are endless.

Seriously — and this is coming from someone who works with the public — multilingualism is vastly overrated.  It does not enhance communication, it hampers it.  This is because you are not only speaking across language barriers, but cultural ones as well.  That is to say, you might be speaking Spanish in your Anglo way, but the person you’re talking to sees only an Anglo in front of him.  Or vice-versa.  It’s like of like playing 6,800 pick-up all day, every day.

A language is one thing that brings a society together.  It’s never worked out very well any other way, even if you feel it “should.”  Focusing on a right-wing factual fracture isn’t going to change it, or them, or anything at all.

To put it quite simply, English is not racist.  Having to choose between English and Spanish while leaving out several thousand other languages, may be.

Somebody’s that stupid, after all

I blundered when I said that nobody would accept a Senate appointment from Gov. Blags. Turns out somebody was stupid enough to accept Blagojevich’s Senate appointment: Roland Burris. Now, don’t get me wrong. Burris has been in public office in Illinois for a long time and has managed to avoid scandal. Based on that remarkable achievement, he should receive an honorary nomination for President, were there such a thing. He’s done the impossible, after all.

But for Blags to play the race card — which he has done here — and for Burris to accept, is just plain…well, somebody else already has a famous non-blog with the title You Are Dumb (http://www.youaredumb.net/). Of course, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) is proving the truth of the old saw “fools rush in,” by declaring this a racial issue. Burris is trying to avoid that, but there’s no doubt that Blags appointed him for shield the color of his skin would create more than for his qualifications — which, for the record, I am not questioning; this is definitely not another Caroline Kennedy situation. Burris has more than enough qualifications to run for the office on his own. He certainly doesn’t need this appointment; then again, nobody does.

That Blags’ actions have gone so far as to interfere with the functioning of a President-elect (who also just happens to be black), is immaterial here; all that matters to Rush is that Burris is black and the Senate currently is not. It’s nothing but a desperate and cynical bid on Blagojevich’s part to retain some shred of control, and Rush should know better than to fall for it and become Blagojevich’s unwitting champion. But then again, Chip Saltsman should have known better than to send a CD of “Barack the Magic Negro” to his RNC buddies. Racists are incurable, I guess, and some things are just too much to hope for.

I don’t know enough about the legal end of it to know if Burris will be seated in the Senate. It seems like no one does. I do know there are some possible roadblocks in his way, starting with the fact that the Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White (who, for the record, is also black), is refusing to certify the appointment.

The question is, why would anyone accept this appointment? Even if Burris is seated, there’s still an election just a few years away, and it will likely happen around the same time that any trial Blagojevich ultimately may have is finally underway. This means the fact that the appointment is tainted, even if Burris himself isn’t, will be very fresh in people’s minds. It also seems the surest way for a Republican to win the Illinois senate seat next time around. You can bet they will hammer the point home to the exclusion of any other matter (because they don’t know much about any other matter), and there are enough really stupid people in this state who will not look at Burris, but only at the taint on his appointment.

It’s a disservice to Burris and the people of Illinois. Then again, disservice is all Blags has ever done.

Burris needs to back off from accepting this appointment to avoid doing a disservice to himself. If he won’t, that tells me all I need to know. It will drag him down with Blagojevich, who is going down, either in a courtroom or just by losing an election and his career. Why anyone would be that desperate to be a Senator is beyond me.

But maybe Burris can’t see the consequences. And if he can’t, maybe he doesn’t belong in the Senate, tainted appointment or not. We’ve already spent 8 years with too many people in Washington, from the White House on down, who can’t see past the tips of their own noses. One more may be one too many.