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Apr 08, 2006

Registering My Dis-chord

(click for the full sorry size)

How is it that the MSM refuses to make any connection between the complete f--k up in Iraq, and those in the administration that were, are, and continue to be responsible for it?

This fawning piece about Condi Rice's love affair with the piano leading Saturday's is beyond comprehension.  As well, doesn't anybody get the parallel -- between her falling short in her aspiration to become a professional musician and the same exact circumstance regarding her ability to professionally conduct the affairs of state?

I'm appalled.

...Meanwhile, I offer a few "comparable" images from Iraq:

Iraqpiano1  Iraqpiano2  Iraqpiano3

(image : Stephen Crowley/The New York Times.  April 9, 2006.  Washington.  image 2: AP Photo via  April 11, 2003. Caption: A looter sits at the piano in the lobby of the Al-Rashid hotel in Baghdad.  image 3: unattributed. Iraq 2003-4. image 4: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP.  Baghdad, Monday, April 21, 2003. US Corporal Matt Sweazy 25 from Saint Louis Mo plays the piano in one of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's palaces.  via 5: IPT.  June 17, 2003.  Baghdad.  A smashed piano and looted bookshelf in a Baghdad Music School. via


Condi plays, while Iraq burns?? I can't escape the comparisons to Rome collapsing, with our current administration's competence in Iraq and the U.S.

She's so criminally incompetent.

It's obvious she played a few organs to get where she is today.

... The NYT's assisted in Iraq's demise as much as she did.

They are figuratively sitting with her on the bench playing a duet ...

I wonder if the world would be much different had Condi's asperations to be a concert pianist been realized?


Afterall, Hitler aspired to be an artist but his application to the Vienna School of Fine Arts was turned down. Not that I am comparing Condi to Adolf, but you have to wonder if people were able to pursue their true hearts' longings, we may be living in a much better world.

It's too bad that George Bush wasn't able to become a real cowboy.

So appropriate that she lives in the Watergate building. And I guess they mentioned that toy piano to provide a little warmth, because what we see of the room, at least, seems pretty sterile.

Too bad she wasn't a little more successful as a musician, then maybe we wouldn't have her in the position she's in today.

It's hard to understand how she can supposedly be so comfortable hanging out with George Bush, and then hanging out with her chamber music group.

It's just astonishing! I think there is so much that is odd about Ms. Rice. The fact that she gets such a free pass from the media is criminal. How is it that someone who couldn't manage the NSC is put in charge of the State Department? Of course managerial competence is not a valued asset among this bunch. I just saw the House Majority leader on This Week. What a performance! Did you know that we're winning in Iraq? Its just a few Provinces in the country where there's still trouble. That's like saying that there is a civil war in California but it's not such a big deal because there's only trouble in Los Angeles, Alameda, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, the rest of the state is quiet! Can we get congress to revoke the Authority to Use Force?

"The fault, der Brute, is not in your 'tars'n'bloody'tripes, but in yourselves that you are underthings."

The BAG asks: "Why does the MSM refuse to make any connection between the complete f--k up in Iraq, and those in the administration that were, are, and continue to be responsible for it?"

In the case of The New York Times, I blame the mediocre editorial leadership of Bill Keller. Not to induce a coma in anyone, but here's his boring, yet telling, resume:

Since mediocre editorial direction encourages mediocre reporting *at best,* I'd now like to register my own discord with the smitten NYT writer of this sickening confection of a love letter to Condi. I promise to limit myself to a few illustrative quotes.

Classical music reviewer Anthony Tommasini begins with a classic sexist take: "Two weeks ago on Sunday, Condoleezza Rice got up at 4 a.m. so she could fit in her daily exercise regimen — weights and the treadmill — and still have time to prepare for interviews on three morning news programs." Is there something newsworthy about Condi waking up early? Am I supposed to be impressed that she lifts weights? Am I supposed to be impressed that she has to prepare for interviews? Would Mr. Tommasini elevate the same mundane observations about a musically inclined male secretary to such heights as a lead sentence? It's possible, but I hope not. Because who would continue reading?

Unfortunately, he continues. "For most people, let alone a secretary of state grappling with an increasingly unpopular war, this would have been enough exertion for the traditional day of rest." Oy! (Insert sound of my hand smacking against my forehead here.) What's *right* with this sentence?

"Ms. Rice's long, thin fingers are nimble indeed. . . . Her touch has lightness and subtlety, yet she plays with crisp clarity and, when called for, robust sound." Wait. Is he still talking about her piano playing?

" 'That's about the only Puccini opera I can take,' she said. A couple of us, led by this Puccini lover, stuck up for him." Just want to point out this is yet another example in the trend of NYT reporters inserting themselves into their articles. Also, OF COURSE *he's* a Puccini lover, and of course she *is not.* Puccini is all about romance.

Not surprisingly, the most important quote goes unnoticed. Of her mother, Condi says, "But she had a marvelously improvisational ear, which I don't have." Wow, an accidental kernel of truth slipped in. And, as usual, The Times missed it.

Well, as a classical musician (one who is/was a PROFESSIONAL, thank you very much), I have to say that the article gave me some warm fuzzies about Condi. I guess that's because I completely understand the whys of what she's doing with the chamber music.

OTOH, I can completely understand the other Bag readers' responses.

But I still enjoy this picture:

(sorry, I can't remember how to do links)

Condi looks pretty stern as she sits at the piano in the top photo. I wonder how the other musicians react to playing chamber music with her. Are they enjoying it? Or is she too domineering? Supposedly, one of the reasons for Condi's popularity with Bush has to do with the fact that she would play the piano for him and Laura in Crawford. Condi really wanted to be a concert pianist, Bush really wanted to be baseball commissioner. Together, these two inadequate people with failed dreams have managed to destroy the lives of other people more talented than themselves.

One can imagine the lies that she said before the music and nauseam.
NYT is the mouthpiece of the busco white house.

So much about C Rice is hidden--when you read her resume, it is full of lore rather than accomplishment. All sorts of questions arise. She was a brilliant pianist & ice-skater, so we are told. She graduated from college when she was 20, got a PhD in 1981 (when she was 27) from the same University--the University of Denver (an independent University founded in 1864, not known as a research powerhouse.)Upon completing her PhD from a mediocre University, she joined the faculty of Stanford. She published a couple of books in 1984 & 1986. Starting in 1989--this would be just eight years into her professional career, she became an undersecretary in papa Bush's administration, and then a provost at Stanford during the Clinton years. Meanwhile, she was on the board of Chevron and many other corporations. Chevron named a Tanker after her because of a successful deal she negotiated for Caspian Sea oil. The rest is recent history.

If you have spent any time with brilliant academic types, you'll appreciate that is not an ordinary brilliant academic career: It is the illusion of a brilliant career rather than substance. Much has been made from little. As such, it reeks of conservative sponsorship. I wonder when she sold out?

So, my reaction to the picture was two-fold. This picture is one of the few times I have seen C Rice actually look comfortable and happy and actually good at something. That's nice. That's rare. My second is, why is this woman being shoved down our throats? Why is this administration given a passing grade when they keep failing? We don't need more illusions spun about C Rice.

Okay, this is a really snarky comment, but I just wonder if this little chamber group allows Condi to feel just a little bit (okay, maybe a lot) superior to the other musicians? They all failed at music, or never quite made it, whereas she left music on a high to choose fame at her master's feet: "'I don't make money playing the piano,' Ms. Rice said, with the pride of an honorable amateur." They obviously defer to her, all their kidding aside.

It was interesting to read a musical snob (aka critic) on bended knee in front of a performer (aka powerful woman). Half-way thru the second page (about the Shostakovich/Bach comparison) I sensed a diabetic attack coming on. Didn't read the third page because I was afraid he would run out of glowing adjectives and have to wing it.

Warned you it was snarky.

Back again, re the article. First, the group with whom she plays was formed three years ago: This group is another illusion, a stage set. It is like GWB being a "rancher".

Second. She doesn't like Puccini????

We are seeing a careful manipulation of symbols. But who is the puppet-master? and why?

Well whaddya know? Madame Secretary enjoys playing the conservative music of dead European white men. Interesting, I guess.

(I am a musician myself, and I find this piece of "arts" reporting by the NYT indicative of its continual assault on my discipline. If Ms. Rice's piano playing is culture, then my saxophone playing is foreign policy. Which, to be fair, as an emigrant artist from the US, I suppose it is.)

Art is about communication; the politics practiced by Rice and her colleagues are the antithesis of it.

Looking first at the bottom pics and then at Condi and her group I can only say:

"And the band played on".

The shots from Iraq, especially the next to last, recall The Pianist [imdb], based on the WWII experiences of a brilliant Polish classical pianist who is also a Jew. Time and again non-Jewish Poles put themselves at risk to help the pianist survive because the music he made was more important than religious or racial differences.

Condi's ability to read and reproduce sheet music underscores a talent for taking direction and artfully expressing someone else's message. "No ear for improvisation" is a good thing to her bosses.

Need more photographic discord from BushCo?

Go back to the infamous photo of Bush posing with a guitar, while N.O. was flooding.

Those with a guitar should play the G chord BUsh plays, exactly how he played it (1 fret up from standard G). IT's about the worst noise one could make.

BushCo is a bad charade - get them off the stage.

You sure this image isn't "Photoshoped'? The chamber group and Condi look like 2 different groups alone in their particular world.

There's a disconnect when I look at that image.

Yup. The band keeps playing on the Titanic....

PTate, I had never really put together her biography and looked at her that way. Now that I do look at it, it seems that she studied at a university and then taught at a university - and was the Provost, although to be honest, I'm not sure what that really means.

Did she ever really get out into the real world? She was supposed to be an expert on the Soviet Union, but was her expertise from reading books or did she actually study, work, or travel extensively in the Soviet Union?

I had heard of her connection to Chevron and the tanker that was named after her (although I gather that the name has since been changed), and I just kind of assumed that she had worked for them. But it looks like all of her positions on the boards of corporate and charity organizations were while she was a professor. And as you say, what did she do to be considered so "distinguished" to even get those positions?

I find the Iraqi piano pictures devastating. If the people who once played these pianos aren't dead, they might someday put their lives back together, but they will never again hear the music from these instruments. The piano has the power to bring joy; Condi (America) has the power to bring only sorrow, destruction, chaos, death. Beautiful (as in sad) contrast.

Condi was shoe shopping and seeing "Spamalot" while New Orleans flooded.

Is it any surprise she is playing piano as Baghdad burns?

The people in the Bush Administration simply do not take their work seriously enough. They look the part, because they take themselves quite seriously. But they do not take the work very seriously. Not at all.

ummabdulla--a provost is an administrative officer of a University. A University, of course, is a collection of colleges. It depends on the University, but the hierarchy is typically, at the College level: professor, chair of a department, dean of a college. Then at the University level, coordinating the colleges: University provost/vice president, president.

Stanford is run by a President and a Provost--CR's position. So she was a senior executive of Stanford.

The question remains, what did she do to so distinquish herself? She became the senior executive at Stanford when she was 38 years old, after being in the Bush administration as an undersecretary for four years, 11 years after getting her PhD. So she was barely able to make tenure, she leaves for DC and returns as Provost. The rule of thumb in business is that it takes 20 years of operational work to develop an executive. Have we seen any evidence in her work as NSA and as SOS to suggest that she--"it's not my job"--is a gifted administrator?

I'd like to know the insider's scoop on the provost's position at Stanford. At a brainiac place like Stanford, the power and decision making probably resides in the faculty and colleges. The president and provost may have "weak-executive" positions, similar to that of Governor of Texas.

I keep pondering what other keyboards are being played by the nimble fingers of Condi Rice, who doesn't have a lot of time to practice.

Madame Butterworth pianobach of schlindler's liszt; cosima rubata in-executable shostakovich

Future news flashes:

Cheney resigns due to illicit leaking

Ms. Mushroom Cloud nominated as replacement

Ms. Mushroom Cloud sworn in

Leaker-in-Chief resigns due to...well due to anything you can think of

Ms. Mushroom Cloud sworn in as president, Bushs wave goodbye from helicopter on way to Crawford

Ms. Mushroom Cloud wins presidency by electoral landslide

Oh, how sweet it is to be loved by someone like you, she hummed during the swearing-in ceremony.

ummabdulla, you asked, "Did she ever really get out into the real world ?".
I haven't checked her travel itinerary but if the quality of her historical research is any indication, than geographical jaunts would have been a waste of time, unless of course there was a piano handy.

My curiosity was triggered from PTate in MN, and his informative comment's,

Joseph Kalvoda, a history professor at St. Joseph College,
Condoleezza Rice's first book, written in 1984, was called The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army, 1948-1983: Uncertain Allegiance. It turns out that it was met with immediate skepticism from at least one scholar of Czechoslovakian history who seemed to think that she, *um, had an unfortunate tendency to formulate opinions without regard for the actual facts on the ground.*
his criticism of Rice's methods in the American Historical Review still rings eerily true two decades later:

Her ability in mirage making, mushroom clouds and other magic tricks, may even rival those of The Great Harry Houdini.

I think the comments here are very odd. It's like you live in your own little world.

The photos of the pianos at the bottom of the page are taken in Saddam Hussein's Presidential Palaces. The poor Iraqi that played them participated in the torture and murder of a few hundred thousand people and is only now being held to account for it.

This war has had its problems, but if you read the history of any other war, this one has been relatively well run. Take a look at the first few years of the American Civil War, the American involvment in the North African campaign of WWII, and Johnson running the Vietnam war from the White House. The battle causualties have been very low compared to other wars, if you look at it in proportion to the overall population. People seem to forget that the Civil War cost 625,000 lives, WWII cost 450,000 lives and Vietnam cost 58,000 lives. The toll for the current war is about 2,000. While this is a terrible cost to pay, it doesn't begin to compare other wars we've participated in.

I am constantly amazed at how badly the war's diffculties are blown out of proportion. The reporting on the war has no historical context whatsoever.

You need to add another image to your collage. Nixon was photographed playing the piano many times:

One of my teachers said, every photograph taken reveals something about the photographer. (Or words to that effect.) Could that be true of musicians also? As a teen I played piano for my own amazement and dreamed of dazzling friends at parties with my brilliance. But even I could 'improvise' in my own way. That Condi claims that she can't, or won't, improvise indicates something more about her than she might want to admit openly. Is it that her thinking is so confined to the limits set for her that she is unable to break out? Or does she fear that if she loosens up enough to explore those forbidden paths she will crash and burn?

Keir's comment about her playing the music of dead white men says a lot. Is she so cut off from her own heritage that she never plays Scott Joplin, who puts joy in every note? Has she ever heard of Keith Jarrett? And what about the blues and jazz and the total heartfelt improvisation that they both represent? How can she NOT feel that music? Unless she has cut off all feeling or identification or even interest in her own heritage. How can any musician isolate themselves from such a rich segment of music? Unless it is because the structure of chamber music, perhaps it's mathematical precision, is what appeals to someone who has closed off large parts of herself. I admit to not being particularly interested in chamber music, tend to fall asleep if forced to hear it, so perhaps I'm just biased here.

When asking all these questions, is anyone surprised that she could go on a shopping spree for $800 shoes while people in NOLA are being drowned? When one shuts down a large part of their being, feelings, whatever, one then can't risk feeling anything because it might open up a flood of unwanted emotions. Once that happens, how does one go back to smashing pianos and killing babies? How does one go back to serving evil white men who can destroy countries and smile while talking of torture?

If she even allowed herself to look at these photos, she would probably comment on how wonderful it is that our boys have time to play some music. Remember she works for the people who allowed the systematic looting of the Baghdad museum while guarding oil pipelines.

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