Rudy says Bush right to pick Dick

And then there is Rudy.

It is one of the signs that there really may be “two Americas”, or that there really is a significant “middle America” that I simply don’t understand.

Mr. Giuliani told ETV that Mr. Bush’s selection of Mr. Cheney was a good model, calling it “a good example of picking someone who is qualified to be president of the United States.”

“That is No. 1,” he said. “It’s paramount.”

Katherine Q. Seelye’s entry at The Caucus describes Hizzoner’s appearance on South Carolina public television. Unpaid Stranger intern Ryan S. Jackson’s entry at Slog is more entertaining. Neither are particularly informative, but I’ll blame that on Giuliani.

Except there was this gem.

Dick Cheney. A good model of what a vice-president should be. Who can’t even decide what branch of government he’s part of.

Okay. Thanks, Rudy. Good to know.

GOP Candidates: In case you somehow didn’t get it last time

There is little I can say that I have not already. The GOP continues their effort to make 2008 presidential decisions as easy as possible. Michael Roston explains:

In recent weeks, Republican presidential candidates have found time in their busy schedules to speak or debate before the Republican Jewish Coalition, “Value Voters,” conservative Floridians, even Wyoming Republicans, who hold virtually no sway in the primary race. They’ve also agreed to appear at the CNN/YouTube debate they at one point shunned.

But it appears that some GOP frontrunners are once again letting an opportunity to appear before African-American voters lapse, just as they decided to sit out a black voter forum hosted last month by Tavis Smiley.

The Congressional Black Caucus Institute announced in September that it had scheduled a debate for November 4 on Fox News for Republican presidential candidates. But a spokeswoman for the group confirmed to the Huffington Post that it has now been postponed, with no new date set.

Or Steve Benen at Carpetbagger:

Last month, PBS hosted a Republican presidential candidates’ debate at historically black college in Baltimore — and all of the top four GOP candidates decided to skip it. This followed close on the heels of a Univision-hosted Republican debate in Miami on Latino issues — which was cancelled when all but one candidate declined invitations. The National Council of La Raza asked Republican candidates to address its annual conference in July, but none showed up. The National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials extended similar invitations to the entire GOP field, but only Duncan Hunter agreed to attend.

Previously, in considering the decisions by GOP front-runners to skip a September debate at Morgan State University, I had noted warnings by such figures as Newt Gingrich and Jack Kemp; they deserve credit on this because they both know how to blow prestige and political capital. I had even suggested that it was hard to argue with the warnings. Quite obviously, I was wrong.

In September, Newt Gingrich advised, “Any of them who give you that scheduling-conflict answer are disingenuous. That’s baloney.” And he was talking about his fellow Republicans. I suppose we should not be surprised that he, too, was wrong.

CBCI is right to attempt to reschedule the debate. The mere weeks between announcing and intending to hold the debate, reasonably considered, did not give the GOP enough time to come up with proper excuses. Besides, it will be interesting to see how much negotiation it will actually take to get the GOP front-runners into a debate pitching to minority voters. One wonders why they are so reluctant.

In the meantime, I happened to hear the Morgan State debate on the radio, and one of the things that struck me is that the GOP needs to trot out its favorite show poodle, Alan Keyes, a little more often. He’s a poster-child for diversity. (Maybe he should invite Mitt Romney over for tube steaks and policy discussions.) And does this not point out another problem the GOP faces? What does it mean, exactly, when you have to rustle up candidates to fill out the stage at a debate? Hell, the Democrats are actually leaving candidates out of debates, and the GOP is scrambling to field enough to make the discussion … what? Worthwhile? Entertaining? Not futile? Certain ironies swirl viciously around this whole situation, but where to start? What is important? Should I really spend three hundred words explaining the gay joke I just made a couple of lines above? Perhaps expound on the contrasts between a Democratic party that is going absolutely martial all over its own membership in an effort to–rhetorically, at least–save the country, and a GOP so divorced from, well, itself that we would be moved to pity save for the fact that it is, after all, the Republican party?

This must be an aggravating time for Republicans. Even if we pretend the average Republican holds minority communities in such disdain, it is harder still to pretend that the average Republican is too stupid to see the point. They’re watching their candidates essentially throw away the fight before it ever gets underway. Maybe the evangelical campaign should start a PUSH campaign: Pray Until Something Happens. Because it really does look like the GOP is going to need a miracle.

Of course, Karl Rove has yet to commit his first official atrocity of this campaign cycle, so maybe this whole forfeiture of the race, this early concession, this acknowledgment by the GOP front-runners that even they do not believe in themselves, is all part of an elaborate ruse.

Stay tuned. It can only get more ridiculous from here.

The Sonics

This is interesting.

Forty years. That’s how long it’s been since Gerald “Jerry” Roslie left Tacoma’s most cryptic – and some would argue most influential – garage rock band.

So it was understandable when the 63-year-old rocker – the sole Sonic who still lives in Tacoma – admitted to having butterflies about this weekend’s comeback gigs.

The reunited Sonics will play New York’s Cavestomp festival Friday night and Sunday, with Roslie rekindling the fiery howl that powered “The Witch,” “Boss Hoss” and other oft-imitated garage classics. And during a recent phone interview, the reclusive singer sounded just a tad apprehensive.

“Oh man, you have no idea,” he said, chuckling heartily. “You know, it’s been a long time, and you just don’t know how people are gonna take it. Maybe after we do the first few songs some of the butterflies will leave.”

Roslie will be joined at Brooklyn’s Warsaw music venue by guitarist Larry Parypa, sax player Rob Lind and possibly drummer Bob Bennett from his band’s original lineup. Northwest journeymen Ricky Lynn Johnson and Don Wilhelm will play drums and bass, respectively. But original bassist Andy Parypa – a teacher who lives in Seattle – will not participate because of carpal tunnel problems, according to brother Larry.

And it’s about damn time. I actually used to work with Larry Parypa. It’s not like we were close, or anything. But I did ask him once about a picture at his desk, and he told me it was him with The Sonics, and so the first thing I did when I got home after work that day was dig through my brother’s enormous record collection in search of these albums I’d never heard. And, of course, my first reaction was, “Why have I not heard more of these guys over they years?”

This was around 1999, a couple years after Sam Machkovech‘s scare–

I’m talking about the return of the best thing to happen to Tacoma since glass-blowing—The Sonics, the band whose “Psycho” and “The Witch” rekindled my interest in rock ‘n’ roll right around the time of The Great Electronica Scare Of 1997. Thank you, Nuggets sampler CD at the used music store down the block. You saved me from Decks and Drums and Rock and Roll.

–but I share the sentiment. Listening to The Sonics for the first time, and I mean actually sitting down and listening to the record, instead of ripping a bong at a friend’s with the music turned low and not paying attention to the tunes, really was a strange, and, yes, refreshing experience. Every once in a while, we get these sorts of reminders. Some who followed the post-Nirvana freakout that happened in the early and mid-90s missed the fact that there was at least a decade’s buildup to that point, and if you follow the sounds back far enough, you run into some pretty strange coincidences. One of the first times I sat and listened to a Motorhead album all the way through, I thought I’d discovered the secret influence that nobody ever talks about. I discovered, naturally, that the reason nobody ever talks about the influence is because it’s just that obvious. Nonetheless, listening to a Sonics album eight years ago, two thoughts struck me. First was that I had, indeed, heard these songs before. The other was that I was suddenly confused as to why nobody ever talked about this gem of Northwest musical history. It could not be that, somehow, nobody knew. Because it was like hearing something I didn’t understand about a bunch of the music from before “grunge” broke big.

Or, as Ernest A. Jasmin‘s article notes:

“They really were this kind of proto-punk rock band,” said Experience Music Project curator Jacob McMurray. “I can imagine at the time (their music) came out, parents of kids that were fans of the Sonics being scared of the Sonics.”

McMurray sees an even more blatant connection to grunge.

“You could listen to (Mudhoney’s) ‘Touch Me, I’m Sick,’ and you compare it to ‘The Witch’ and you know – wow – this could be the same band,” he said.

Still, it took years for the Sonics themselves to realize just how much influence they had.

“We just started seeing stuff a long time ago – Patti Smith and then the Sex Pistols and then Nirvana,” he said. “All these major Seattle groups that are millionaires – and we’re not – they all said that one of their primers of rock ‘n’ roll was listening to the Sonics.”

Roslie said he gets a kick out of checking his royalty statements and seeing where Sonics music is being played – increasingly, places like England, Germany, France and Japan.

“The whole thing has just blown our minds,” he said. “When we quit I thought, ‘Well, that’s it, and (we’ll) go do other things.’ It is really mind-blowing because it’s such a rare thing that somebody’s been out of business for 40 years. So needless to say we’re really pleased, and we realize what a lucky break that is.”

Yeah. It really does run that deep. Once you start hearing it … well, it’s kind of scary. You really should check ’em out if you haven’t already. The Sonics rock.

Or, at least they did. As to the rest, we’ll see. Hear. Whatever.

Welcome back, gentlemen, and good luck. Get up there and kick our asses. Please.