Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Red Elvises in Chicago - October 10, 2009

I have not written a concert review, let alone a real blog post in quite a while. Nevertheless, I will attempt to tell the tale of my trip to Chicago back in October to see Igor & Red Elvises perform in Berwyn at Fitzgerald's.

First off, I originally planned the trip around a test I was supposed to take to see if I qualified for a government job. I managed to schedule it at 1:00 pm the day of the show. So I got in to Chicago the evening of the 9th, right before midnight, and went to my friend Lia's place to crash. Lia lives in Hyde Park, south of downtown and the area around the University of Chicago. The area also houses notable residents such as Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, and President Barack Obama. On the 9th it had been announced that Obama had been awarded the Nobel Prize, and on the morning of the 10th Lia and I found ourselves having breakfast at the prez's fave place for breakfast, Cafe Valois.I wound up getting the egg whites, bacon, hash browns and wheat toast, with a side of coffee.
Below is a pic of my plate.Here's Lia with some bacon:

Breakfast was amazing, filling and very cheap. And this place is probably regularly visited by Secret Service, Chicago police and reporters, especially when the Obama family is in town.... as their house is only a couple blocks away.

Lia had some appointments on the north side in the afternoon, so I had her drop me at a Starbucks where I went over my notes for the test. That was only a short walk from the testing center. I actually found the testing center decently run, but they kept having server issues and having to reboot, so I finished the test early and walked down the street to see a friend, Charlie Williams. We went down to Clark & Belmont to check out some thrift stores and I saw some good prices on leather jackets. But why are men's shoes selections in those stores always disappointing?

Next, I met up with Lia and we headed out to Berwyn - a little early, as we gout out there around 4 PM and the concert didn't start until 9. But we wanted to chill out at Wishbone, a southern-style restaurant with very good food which is adjacent to Fitzgerald's. After dinner, I went next door to Sidebar and used their free wifi and had a pint or two of Guinness. Then Lia used the computer while I watched an LA Dodgers game on TV above the bar.

As soon as they opened the doors and started letting people in, Lia and I made a beeline for a table, as those seem to be harder to get these days. I don't understand it, but people in Chicago really seem to like to sit down during a concert - listening to a dance band in a small club. Hmmm. I was wondering if there would even be anyone at the show, but the place was packed. And I thought the country was having economic troubles. I guess that just means more people are willing to go out and enjoy some good tunes, drinks and fun with friends and temporarily forget their financial woes. Not to mention there was a different line-up and name to the band than last October - "Igor & Red Elvises" this time instead of "The Red Elvises". And two different members - Puerto Rican/Floridian Milka Ramos on vocals and guitar, standing where Elena was last year, and Israeli bassist Kfir Melamed filling Oleg's (clown) shoes. The basics had not changed - Igor seemed like he was having a fun time this year, and Adam Gust kept me wondering how his drum kits stays in one piece, withstanding the assault he subjects it to every evening.

During the intermission, I got to hang out with Sonjia Mata, the band's semi-official roadie and merch wench (as well as Adam's girlfriend). I had saved Sonjia from internet pirates earlier in the year, when someone in China hacked her Facebook account and started sending everyone on her contact list fake messages. I also got a chance to meet Milka finally after exchanging a few messages online. Let me say, she's a lot taller in person - when she's wearing those tall red boots, that is. :-)

{me and Sonjia at the merchandise table}

I forgot to keep a record of the band's set list, but some of the more notable songs they played, as well as RE concert staples, were: "I Wanna See You Bellydance", "Rocketman", "Drinking With Jesus", "Strip Joint Is Closed", "Lara's Wedding", "Natasha's Singing Reggae", "Lovepipe", "Boogie On The Beach", "Sad Cowboy Song" (Sonjia joined me on the Sad Cowboy Conga Line for this one) and "Telephone Call From Istanbul" (a Tom waits cover) as well as a brand new song, "Let's Get Drunk And Funk".

{"Let's Get Drunk And Funk" NYC 10/14/2009}

Milka has a great stage presence and really adds a lot to the show. She is quite popular too. I had to actually queue to get a pic with her, and there were people approaching her constanly to tell her how much they enjoyed the performance. Kfir is a really excellent bassist, he has a real jazz and fusion style and world beat sensibility which blends in well with the songs. That's some of the deepest bass I have heard in, like, forever. I really had a great time and danced like crazy. I was only a little disappointed that Elena was not able to come over from Russia due to visa issues, I hope she will be on the spring tour.


Igor Yuzov
Red Elvises-0014

Milka Ramos
Red Elvises-0005

Kfir Melamed
Red Elvises-0024

the crowd (and Sonjia too)
Red Elvises-0019

More pictures on

Monday, November 2, 2009

Audition reel for "The Best Job In The World"

About eight or nine months ago, I shot, directed and edited a one minute video for my friend Aaron, who was applying for the position of "caretaker" of a small island off the Great Barrier Reef. Here's the final edited video that he submitted:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Walk Across America on Google Maps

I was re-reading Peter Jenkins' books lately, and decided to map his journey on Google Maps.From "A Walk Across America" by Peter Jenkins and "The Walk West" by Peter and Barbara Jenkins. Original walk undertaken October 15, 1973 to January 18, 1979 (6651 miles). Additional information from National Geographic Vol. 151 No. 4, April 1977 and Vol. 156 No. 2, August 1979.

Part One: Alfred, NY to Orrville, AL

View Larger Map

Part Two: Orrville, AL to Salt Lake City, UT

View Larger Map

Part Three: Salt Lake City, UT to Florence, OR

View Larger Map

Monday, September 21, 2009

Reflection on meeting a sociopath

Written by Ed Feldmanis.

I have met a horrible one myself.

I had the subject nailed for narcissism. He admitted to mania. I did not ask other questions for two reasons. One, I had caught him minimizing and that was good on my part. The second reason is that I had never, ever, ever, met such a smooth, almost flawless, pathological liar. It took about 3 weeks to see Narcissism, Borderline and anti-social disorders. It was frightening. He knew intimidation and psychological warfare. He finally got run off by a women who got a restraining order because he had wanted her as a lover BUT physically threatened her. Now the police can't find him.

My buddy Amber Luhtala said that she and I had a way of feeling the Personality Disorder and she was right. I simply got lost in the subject's extremely smooth pathological lying. When I discovered the fuller nature of the mixed Personality Disorder, I realized that there is a thin line between psychologically aggressive verbal violence and physical violence. I was afraid. There was an obvious mixture; part being repulsed and part being afraid for their safety. He stands about 6 foot three and has a very menacing look.

Women who are my neighbors disliked the subject's boisterousness & belittling style. They usually feared him & withdrew as much as possible. Some moved away. However, one woman, in spite of her childhood rape, was sexually attracted and "threw" herself at him. She became a snitch and of course he dropped her. She destroyed her own economic & psychological recovery.

People are truly surprised they have someone like this around; it's very confusing. Our matriarch, 81 years old, had never met anyone like this person. Most people will die without meeting this kind of person. They compare what they have known & can't come up with anything; Can't explain this level of meanness; saying he was a "serial bully" didn't cover it.

"What's wrong with him; he hasn't grown up."

"He's simply a school yard bully."

Typical Reactions. When told our subject has a mixed Axes II Disorder, people look as if it is made up. They don't believe it. "This is not a hard-wired condition."

Finally a convert said, "I knew I was staring evil in the face."

Our subject often did not dirty his hands with a nasty task. Instead he found others to do it. Some people are highly susceptible to lies, manipulation & brainwashing. However, the subject always needed an audience, wanted to be admired or had to be in the middle of a controversy.

From profile of a sociopath I witnessed these: glibness and superficial charm, manipulative and conning. grandiose sense of self, pathological lying, lack of remorse, lacks empathy, shame or guilt, shallow emotions, criminal or entrepreneurialversatility, lack of realistic life plan/parasitic lifestyle, irresponsibility/unreliability, incapacity for love, need for stimulation, goal: to create willing victim.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Statements on a provocative issue (Updated Nov. 2011)


ASPEN, Colo. -- When Republican John McCain suggested his running mate could support abortion rights and Democrat Barack Obama gave an anti-abortion senator a prime convention role, both were sending a subtle message to centrist voters.
Neither presidential candidate was signaling a seismic shift in the nation's long-running if largely static debate over abortion rights. Still, their actions suggest that both political parties sense that a large, if vaguely defined, middle group of Americans would like to see abortion vanish, but not by legal decree.
Polls consistently show that most Americans strongly dislike abortion yet do not want it outlawed in the early stages of pregnancy.
Democrats had it both ways in revising their party platform ahead of this month's nominating convention in Denver. Platform-writers said the party "unequivocally" supports legalized abortion, a stronger phrase than the 2004 platform contained.
But they also bolstered the section on reducing the need for abortions. The version awaiting approval in Denver says the party "strongly supports access to comprehensive affordable family planning services and age-appropriate sex education." It says the party "strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and postnatal health care, parenting skills, income support and caring adoption programs."
Democratic officials also gave a convention speaking slot to Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa., who opposes abortion rights. His father, the late Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey, was denied a coveted slot at the 1992 convention because of his opposition to abortion rights.
Meanwhile, McCain startled conservatives this week, and pleased some moderates, by suggesting he might pick a running mate who supports abortion rights, such as former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.
Many Republicans were unsure what to make of McCain's remarks to the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, in which he said Ridge's pro-choice position would not rule him out as a running mate. While McCain said in 1999 that Roe v. Wade -- the landmark Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion -- should not be overturned, he otherwise has consistently opposed such rights.
He repeatedly has voted against federal funding for abortion and has opposed federal Medicaid funds for abortion even in cases of rape or incest.
Some conservative groups howled about McCain's comments this week. The American Family Association asked readers of its Web site what they would do if he had a pro-abortion-rights running mate. More than 5,000 people responded, with 37 percent saying they would vote for McCain as "the lesser of two evils." One percent backed Obama, 16 percent said they would not vote and 46 percent said they would seriously consider a third-party candidate.
Some less dogmatic conservatives were open to the idea. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a frequent guest on McCain's campaign plane, said he opposes legalized abortion but thinks McCain is wise to consider running mates who differ.
"Our party needs to be open-minded" about such a choice, Graham said in an interview this week on the plane. Parties that rigidly support or oppose abortion rights, he said, "are out of sync with where most Americans are."
On the Democratic front, the revised convention platform language was hailed this week by some Republicans who are backing Obama.
Douglas Kmiec, a former Reagan administration official and Roman Catholic, said the new language moves the debate beyond the "legal dead end and a moral dead end" of being for or against Roe v. Wade.
"What this does, most importantly, is to commit the Democratic Party to supply real support for the child, for the woman facing this question," said Kmiec, a constitutional law professor at Pepperdine University.
Kmiec, who opposes abortion, said no political party platform fits exactly with Catholic teaching. "We pursue the art of the possible, and if we move to protect even a single life, we've done a good thing," he said.
Let's see where the party runners stand or have stood on the issues:



Firmly pro-life; including Court nominations

Q: [to Santorum]: You are staunchly pro-life. Gov. Romney used to support abortion rights until he changed his position on this a few years ago. Should this be an issue in this primary campaign?
SANTORUM: I think an issue should be looking at the authenticity of that candidate and looking at their record over time and what they fought for. You can look at my record. A lot of folks run for president as pro-life and then that issue gets shoved to the back burner. The issue of pro-life, and the dignity of people at the end of life, those issues will be top priority issues for me to make sure that all life is respected and held with dignity.
ROMNEY: People have had a chance to look at my record and look what I've said. I believe people understand that I'm firmly pro-life. I will support justices who believe in following the Constitution and not legislating from the bench. And I believe in the sanctity of life from the very beginning until the very end.
Source: 2011 GOP primary debate in Manchester NH , Jun 13, 2011

OpEd: baroque circumlocutions on evolving abortion stance

Romney had taken positions in Massachusetts that were anathema to the conservative base, particularly on abortion and gay rights. Running against Ted Kennedy in 1994, Romney had declared himself a supporter of a woman's right to choose on abortion, and claimed he would do more for gay rights than Kennedy. Then he changed positions on abortion. A year before he launched his presidential candidacy, he tried to explain his evolving views to several Washington Post reporters. [One columnist] who had grilled him that day later described his explanations as "baroque circumlocutions."
The McCain campaign, sensing an opportunity to stop Romney even before he could get launched, stoked the story line that Romney was a flip-flopper. A video of Romney from 1994 surfaced that showed him defending abortion rights. The nascent Romney campaign was overwhelmed by the barrage of criticism.
Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p.239 , Aug 4, 2009

GovWatch: 2002: “preserve & protect” right to choose

Top Romney Flip Flops: #1. Abortion:
In October 2002, campaigning for governorship of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney said he would “preserve and protect” a woman’s right to choose. He now describes himself as opposing abortion.
Source: GovWatch on 2008 campaign: “Top Ten Flip-Flops” , Feb 5, 2008

Supreme Court had said feds should stay out of abortion

Q: Why such a dramatic and profound change after pledging never to waiver on a woman’s right to choose?
A: I was always personally opposed to abortion, as I think almost everyone in this nation is. And the question for me was, what is the role of government? And it was quite theoretical and philosophical to consider what the role of government should be in this regard, and I felt that the Supreme Court had spoken and that government shouldn’t be involved and let people make their own decision. That all made a lot of sense to me. Then I became governor and the theoretical became reality. A bill came to my desk which related to the preservation of life. I recognized that I simply could not be part of an effort that would cause the destruction of human lift. And I didn’t hide from that change of heart. I recognize it’s a change. Every piece of legislation which came to my desk in the coming years as the governor, I came down on the side of preserving the sanctity of life.
Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Dec 16, 2007

I took action as governor to preserve the sanctity of life

Q: Do you believe life begins at conception?
A: I do. I believe from a political perspective that life begins at conception. I don’t pretend to know, if you will, from a theological standpoint when life begins. I’d committed to the people of Massachusetts that I would not change the laws one way or the other, and I honored that commitment. But each law that was brought to my desk attempted to expand abortion rights and, in each case, I vetoed that effort. I also promoted abstinence education in our schools. I vetoed an effort, for instance, to give young women a morning after pill who did not have prescriptions. So I took action to preserve the sanctity of life. But I did not violate my word, of course.
Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Dec 16, 2007

No punishment for women who have partial birth abortions

Q: What would be the legal consequences to people who participated in illegal abortions?
A: They would be like the consequences associated with the bill relating to partial birth abortion which does not punish the woman. No one I know of is calling for punishing the woman. In the case of a doctor, the kinds of penalties would be potentially losing a license or having some other kind of restriction. In the case of partial birth abortion, as I recall, the penalty is a possible prison term not to exceed two years. But generally the medical profession would immediately follow the law. That’s not going to be an issue. And there would be a recognition that one’s license was at risk if one violated the law.
Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Dec 16, 2007

Outlaw embryo farming, but allow using surplus embryos

Q: You previously stated: “[the] United States House of Representatives voted for a bill that was identical to what I proposed. They voted to provide surplus embryos from in vitro fertilization processes being used for research and experimentation. That’s what I said I support.” Do you still support that?
A: I have the same position. From a legal standpoint, I would outlaw cloning to create new stem cells and I would outlaw embryo farming. I would allow, on a private basis, the use of surplus embryos from in vitro fertilization. In terms of funding, I think the best source of our funding application should be in what are known as alternative methods. And this just recent. I’ve been fighting for this for some time. But this recently saw a major breakthrough with direct reprogramming of human adult cells to become stem cells that can be very potent cells applied to help cure disease and serious conditions.
Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Dec 16, 2007

FactCheck: TV ad ignores recency of conversion to pro-life

Romney’s Iowa TV ad says portrays both Romney and Huckabee as “two good family men” who are “both pro-life.” The ad presents a too-sharp focus when it implies that Romney and Huckabee have identical records on abortion.
It’s true that both Huckabee and Romney oppose abortion--now. But Huckabee was pro-life while he was governor. Romney, not so much. Don’t take our word for it. Here’s Romney at a September debate in Iowa: “I never said I was pro-choice, but my position was effectively pro-choice. I’ve said that time and time again. I’ve changed my position.“
We don’t begrudge Romney the right to change his mind, and he’s been open about the fact that his position has changed. But many Iowa voters may still be unaware of that, and this ad implies that there’s no difference between these two candidates on abortion. That’s a stretch.
Source: AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “The Record” , Dec 13, 2007

Was pro-choice, now proudly pro-life

I was effectively pro-choice when I ran for office. When I became governor of Massachusetts, the first time a bill came to my life that dealt with life, I simply could not side with--with taking a life, and I came on the side of life. Every bill that came to my desk, every issue that related to protecting the sanctity of life, I came down on the side of life. I’m pro-life. I’m not going to apologize for becoming pro-life. I’m proud to be pro-life.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Republican Debate , Dec 12, 2007

Would be delighted to sign federal ban on all abortions

Q: If hypothetically, Roe v. Wade was overturned, and the Congress passed a federal ban on all abortions and it came to your desk, would you sign it?
A: Let me say it. I’d be delighted to sign that bill. But that’s not where we are. That’s not where America is today. Where America is is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states that authority. But if the Congress got there, we had that kind of consensus in that country, terrific.
Source: 2007 GOP YouTube debate in St. Petersburg, Florida , Nov 28, 2007

Two-step process: overturn Roe; then change hearts & minds

Q: Your aides say you see ending abortion as a two-step process: rolling back Roe v. Wade, which would leave it legal in some states; and then a constitutional amendment to ban it nationwide. If abortion is murder, how can you live with it being legal in some states?
A: I’d love to have an America that didn’t have abortion. But that’s not what the American people [want] right now. And so I’d like to see Roe v. Wade overturned and allow the states to put in place pro-life legislation. I recognize that for many people, that is considered an act of murder, to have an abortion. It is without question the taking of a human life. And I believe that a civilized society must respect the sanctity of the human life. But we have two lives involved here--a mom, an unborn child. We have to have concern for both lives & show the expression of our compassion & our consideration and work to change hearts & minds, and that’s the way in my view we’ll ultimately have a society without abortion.
Source: 2007 GOP debate at UNH, sponsored by Fox News , Sep 5, 2007

2005: Vetoed availability without Rx of morning-after pill

In 2005, Romney vetoed a bill making the morning-after pill available without a doctor’s prescription. For Romney, it was not only about contraception. He explained his decision in July 2005: “This bill does not require parental consent for even young teenagers. It disregards not only the seriousness of abortion but the importance of parental involvement.” These vetoes were overturned by the Massachusetts State Legislature where pro-choice Democrats hold an overwhelming majority.
Source: The Man, His Values, & His Vision, p. 52 , Aug 31, 2007

Firmly in the “legal but rare” camp

According to Pew Research on abortion, “most Americans fall in between, preferring what might be described as a ‘legal but rare’ stance.” About 1/3 of Americans would make abortion illegal except in cases of rape or incest, or to save a woman’s life. Most Americans share the common ground. Who wants abortion to be legal but rare?
64% of conservative Republicans
66% of moderate/liberal Republicans
59% of Moderate/conservative Democrats
52% of Independents
27% of Liberal Democrats--they don’t want to compromise.
Mitt Romney is firmly in the “legal but rare camp” camp. Like 2/3 of conservative Republicans, he believes abortion should be permitted in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is threatened.
Governor Romney changed his mind on abortion. He freely admits it. Ordinary citizens change their minds, and their positions evolve in private. For public figures, however, every video clip and interview is posted somewhere in cyberspace.
Source: The Man, His Values, & His Vision, p. 47-8 , Aug 31, 2007

Following in Reagan’s footsteps in converting to pro-life

Q: In the debate last week, you said, “When I first ran for office [I was] deeply opposed to abortion but [I said] I’d support the current law.” But back then you said a lot more than just you support the current law. In 1994, you said, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years that we should sustain & support it.” In 2002, you said, “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose. I will not change any provisions of Massachusetts’ pro-choice laws.“ For 8 years you said that you would protect & respect a woman’s right to choose.
Q: Yes, that’s right. But when I became governor I laid out in my view that a civilized society must respect the sanctity of life. And you know what? I’m following in some pretty good footsteps. It’s exactly what Ronald Reagan did. As governor, he was adamantly pro-choice. He became pro-life as he experienced life. And the same thing happened with George H. W. Bush.
Source: Fox News Sunday: 2007 “Choosing the President” interviews , Aug 12, 2007

Iowa attack phone ads are not true; I am pro-life

Q: [to Brownback]: Your campaign has been making phone calls to Iowa voters about Mitt Romney:
ANNOUNCER: Mitt Romney is telling Iowans that he is firmly pro-life. Nothing could be further from the truth. As late as 2005, Mitt Romney pledged to support and uphold pro-abortion policies and pass taxpayer funding of abortions in Massachusetts. His wife, Ann, has contributed money to Planned Parenthood. Mitt told the National Abortion Rights Action League that, “You need someone like me in Washington.“
Q: Do you stand by that attack?
BROWNBACK: I certainly do. There’s one word that describes that ad, and it’s ”truthful.“ That’s a truthful ad. And that’s what campaigns are about: for getting the truth out, expressing the differences between candidates.
Q: Is everything in that ad true?
ROMNEY: Virtually nothing in that ad is true. I am pro-life. That’s the truth. Every action I’ve taken as governor of Massachusetts has been pro-life.
Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate , Aug 5, 2007

Tired of holier-than-thou attitude about becoming pro-life

Q: [to Romney]: Are any of the specifics true in Sen. Brownback’s phone ad calling you pro-choice?
ROMNEY: Abortion is a very difficult decision. We’re involved in the lives of two people: a mom and an unborn child. I’ve come down on the side of saying I’m in favor of life. The best way you can learn about someone is not by asking their opponent, but ask them, “What do you believe, and what’s your view?” And I am pro-life. And virtually every part of that ad is inaccurate. I’m pro-life. My positions are pro-life.
BROWNBACK: You can go on YouTube and see the governor speaking himself about where he is on this position in 1994.
ROMNEY: Look, I was pro-choice. I am pro-life. You can go back to YouTube and look at what I said in 1994. I never said I was pro-choice, but my position was effectively pro-choice. I changed my position. And I get tired of people that are holier-than-thou because they’ve been pro-life longer than I have. But I’m proud of the fact.
Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate , Aug 5, 2007

Absolute good day for America when Roe v. Wade is repealed

Q: Would the day that Roe v. Wade is repealed be a good day for America?
ROMNEY: Absolutely.
BROWNBACK: It would be a glorious day of human liberty and freedom.
GILMORE: Yes, it was wrongly decided.
HUCKABEE: Most certainly.
McCAIN: A repeal.
GIULIANI: It would be OK to repeal.
TANCREDO: After 40 million dead because we have aborted them in this country, that would be the greatest day in this country’s history when that, in fact, is overturned.
Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC , May 3, 2007

Personally pro-life, but government should not intrude

Q: In recent months, you’ve said you were “always for life,” but we’ve also heard you say you were once “effectively pro-choice.” Which is it?
I’ve always been personally pro-life, but for me, it was a great question about whether or not government should intrude in that decision. And when I ran for office, I said I’d protect the law as it was, which is effectively a pro-choice position.
Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC , May 3, 2007

Was effectively pro-choice until cloning changed his opinion

Q: You were effectively pro-choice as governor?
A: About two years ago, when we were studying cloning in our state, I said, look, we have gone too far. It’s a “brave new world” mentality that Roe v. Wade has given us, and I changed my mind. I took the same course that Ronald Reagan took, and I said I was wrong and changed my mind and said I’m pro-life. And I’m proud of that, and I won’t apologize to anybody for becoming pro-life.
Q: Some people are going to see those changes of mind as awfully politically convenient.
A: When I ran for the first time, I said I was personally pro-life but that I would protect a woman’s right to choose as the law existed. Two years ago, as a result of the debate we had, the conclusion I reached was that cloning and creating new embryos was wrong, and that we should, therefore, allow our state to become a pro-life state. I believe states should have the right to make this decision, and that’s a position I indicated in an op-ed in the Boston Globe 2 years ago.
Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC , May 3, 2007

Altered nuclear transfer instead of embryonic stem cells

Q: Would you expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research?
A: It certainly will. Altered nuclear transfer, I think, is perhaps the best source.
Q: Embryonic.
A: Altered nuclear transfer creates embryo-like cells that can be used for stem cell research. In my view, that’s the most promising source. I have a deep concern about curing disease. I have a wife that has a serious disease that could be affected by stem cell research and others. But I will not create new embryos through cloning or through embryo farming, because that will be creating life for the purpose of destroying it.
Q: And you won’t take any from these fertility clinics to use either?
A: It’s fine for that to be allowed, to be legal. I won’t use our government funds for that. Instead, I want our governments to be used on altered nuclear transfer.
Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC , May 3, 2007

Breach of Constitution for justices to adjust Constitution

Romney said this about the Supreme Court and potential justice nominees: “I believe the Constitution embodies the values that the Founders thought were critical for a successful nation to survive; therefore, justices have to hold true to the Constitution to maintain the foundation of values that made it successful. I want justices who will follow the Constitution & will not add to it, not subtract from it but instead look to the Constitution & the values of the Founders to set the course for the nation. We have a process for changing the Constitution. It is an amendment process. The people are very much involved in that process. I find it a breach of the constitutional path for justices to effectively change the Constitution rather than allow the constitutionally devised processes for making those adjustments occur. I thought both Justices Robert and Alito were ideal examples for what we should select for justices going forward. I know I depart from my liberal friends on this front.“
Source: A Mormon in the White House?, by Hugh Hewitt, p.101-102 , Mar 12, 2007

Now firmly pro-life, despite 2002 tolerance for abortion

In New Hampshire on Thursday, he deflected conservative concerns about his record on gay marriage and abortion. He said he now describes himself as “firmly pro-life,” despite citing his tolerance for abortion rights during his 2002 gubernatorial campaign, after researching the embryonic stem cell issue.
Source:, “Inside Politics” , Dec 22, 2006

Anti-abortion views have “evolved & deepened” while governor

When he ran for governor in 2002, Romney pledged not to change the state’s abortion laws, despite his personal opposition. But his veto Monday of an emergency contraceptives bill & his comments in recent months have fueled speculation among critics that Romney is hardening his opposition to abortion and other sensitive social issues to gain support from GOP conservatives. Romney says his anti-abortion views have “evolved and deepened” since he took office, colored in part by the debate over embryonic stem cell research.
“In considering the issue of embryo cloning and embryo farming, I saw where the harsh logic of abortion can lead--to the view of innocent new life as nothing more than research material or a commodity to be exploited,” Romney wrote in an opinion piece in Tuesday’s Boston Globe. He also said he believes each state should decide whether to allow abortion, rather than having the “one size fits all” precedent of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion.
Source: Associated Press on , Jul 27, 2005

Personally against abortion, but pro-choice as governor

Romney was asked to clarify his position on abortion. Romney’s stance appeared to have changed between his 1994 campaign against Sen. Kennedy and when he moved to Utah. He recently told a Salt Lake City newspaper that he preferred not to be labeled “pro- choice.”
“On a personal basis, I don’t favor abortion,” he said. “However, as governor of the commonwealth, I will protect a woman’s right to choose under the laws of the country and the commonwealth. That’s the same position I’ve had for many years.”
Source: Erik Arvidson, Lowell Sun , Mar 20, 2002

For safe, legal abortion since relative’s death from illegal

Romney disclosed that he became committed to legalized abortion after a relative died during an illegal abortion. The disclosure came after Romney, who said he is personally opposed to abortion, was asked to reconcile his beliefs with his political support for abortion rights. “It is since that time that my family will not force our beliefs on that matter,” He said the abortion made him see “that regardless of one’s beliefs about choice, you would hope it would be safe and legal.”
Source: Joe Battenfeld in Boston Herald , Oct 26, 1994

Stem cell research lofty goals don’t justify destroying life

Romney adopted the “pro-life” label after his battle over stem cell research. Ann Romney has multiple sclerosis. Romney, who not surprisingly cites the diagnosis of his wife’s disease as one of the greatest blows of his life, is nevertheless alarmed by the aggressive program of embryonic stem cell research consortiums. He has taken a stand against the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.
The Harvard Stem Cell Institute was seeking legal protection for an embryo production line for the purpose of creating and harvesting stem cells, and Romney refused his support. He said, “Lofty goals do not justify the creation of life for experimentation or destruction.”
Romney’s views would permit for research the use of embryos about to be destroyed by their parents; this puts him at odds with President Bush’s more restrictive position. Romney has never supported state-funded research on embryonic stem cells, and is a believer in the efficacy of alternative methods of producing stem cells.
Source: A Mormon in the White House?, by Hugh Hewitt, p.111-114 , Mar 12, 2007

Defining mistake: supported abortion law despite opposing it

Q: What is the defining mistake of your life and why?
A: Probably from a political standpoint and a personal standpoint, the greatest mistake was when I first ran for office, being deeply opposed to abortion but saying, “I support the current law,” which was pro-choice and effectively a pro-choice position. That was just wrong. And when I became a governor and faced a life-and-death decision as a governor, I came down on the side of life. That was a mistake before that.
Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate , Aug 5, 2007

Would welcome overturning Roe v. Wade

Q: Would you welcome the overruling of Roe v. Wade by the Court?
A: Yes. I would like to see each state be able to make its own decision regarding abortion rather than have a one-size-fits-all blanket pronouncement by the Supreme Court.
Q: Would you have a “litmus test” of any sort when it came to nominees for the Supreme Court?
A: I think we’d all like to apply a litmus test. Each of us would like to say, “Here are all the decisions that are going to come up. How will you vote?” But I don’t think that’s the process that you’re going to see employed by me or, frankly, by others as well. Doing it that way would make it very difficult for the nominee to be confirmed. There will not be a litmus test. Instead, there will be a philosophical test, which is: “Is this a person who follows the law, who abides by the Constitution, who will strictly construe the Constitution as intended, or is this a person who looks to expand upon the Constitution to ‘write’ laws without the benefit of legislation?”
Source: A Mormon in the White House, by Hugh Hewitt, p.103-104 , Mar 12, 2007

Committed to not change law on abortion as Gov., and did not

The pro-life community is sophisticated and educated, and quite capable of understanding how a pro-life politician in Massachusetts has to advocate for the possible, and must not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.
“I am pro-life,” Romney told me pointedly. He went on to explain how his campaigns have provided fodder for his 2008 opponents. “In my 1994 debate with Senator Kennedy he said that I was ‘multiple choice’ for which he got a good laugh because I would not say I was pro-choice. I said what I would do if I were elected senator, the same thing I said when I was running for governor. As governor, I indicated that I would not change the law as it related to abortion. I would keep it the same. I have had roughly four provisions that have reached my desk which would have changed the laws as they relate to abortion, all of which would have expanded abortion rights. I vetoed each of those. My record as governor has been very clearly a pro-life record.“
Source: A Mormon in the White House?, by Hugh Hewitt, p.110 , Mar 12, 2007

Opposes Roe v Wade, but won’t tamper with abortion laws

Opposes Roe v. Wade.
Believes that abortion should be banned in all cases except rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.
Vetoed an emergency contraception bill in July 2005.
However: Has kept campaign promise not to tamper with state abortion laws.
Said in 1994: “I had a dear, close family relative that was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. We will not force our beliefs on others. And you will not see me wavering on that.”
Source: profile of Romney , Dec 1, 2006

Vetoed emergency contraception for rape victims

Massachusetts’ Legislature is overwhelmingly Democratic, and Romney’s first term as governor barely touched on the issues dear to social conservatives until recently.
In May, Romney vetoed legislation to expand stem cell research because it allowed the cloning of human embryos for use in stem cell experiments--a practice Romney said amounts to creating life in order to destroy it. The Legislature overrode the veto.
His veto of the emergency contraception measure is also likely to be overridden. That bill requires hospital emergency room doctors to offer the medication to rape victims, and would make it available without prescription from pharmacies.
Romney is on a list of possible contenders for the White House in 2008. Others include Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Sam Brownback of Kansas and George Allen of Virginia, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Source: Associated Press on , Jul 27, 2005

Vetoed stem cell research bill

This House vote affirmed passage of the bill supporting stem cell research as originally passed by the House and Senate, rejecting Governor Romney’s proposed amendments and veto, and avoiding delays of implementation.
Source: Bill S. 2039 ; roll call 69, passed 112-42 , May 31, 2005

Endorsed legalization of RU-486

  • Favored basic Roe v. Wade abortion rights, though would not endorse a specific version of the Freedom of Choice Act, which would codify those court-established rights as federal law
  • Said he would leave the matter of Medicaid funding for abortion to individual states
  • Endorsed legalization of RU-486, the abortion-inducing drug.


Cain appeared on “Face the Nation” Oct. 30 and was asked to clarify his position on abortion. He gave conflicting and confusing statements about the sensitive subject during interviews Oct. 16 on “Meet the Press” and Oct. 19 on “Piers Morgan Tonight.”

Schieffer, Oct. 30: Where do you stand on the issue that is so important to so many Americans? At one point you said you were against abortion, period. But you, at another point said in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at stake, you would leave that to the families to decide. So is that your position? In other words, that you are pro-life with the exception of rape, incest and when the health of the mother is at stake?
Cain: I am pro-life from conception, period. And if people look at many speeches that I have given over the years, that has and will still be my position.
Schieffer: But talk about those exceptions.
Cain: The pro-life from conception, period. I was — that piece that was pulled out was taken totally out of context when we were talking about –
Schieffer: Okay, so in other words you — you don’t — would not even believe in abortion if rape, incest or the health of the mother was involved.
Cain: Correct. That’s my position.
Cain’s insistence that he has been “pro-life from conception, period” with no exceptions is at odds with what he told David Gregory in an Oct. 16 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” In that interview, Cain said the family should decide about abortion when the life of the mother is at risk.
Gregory: Exceptions for rape and incest?
Cain: Not for rape and incest because …
Gregory: What about life of the mother?
Cain: Because if you look at, you look at rape and incest, the, the percentage of those instances is so miniscule that there are other options. If it’s the life of the mother, that family’s going to have to make that decision.
Gregory: Mm-hmm. But you can — would you condone abortion if the life of the mother were …
Cain: That family is going to have to make that …
Gregory: You won’t render a judgment on that.
Cain: That family is going to have to make that decision.

Cain clearly told Gregory he opposed abortion in cases of rape and incest, but not in cases where the life of the mother is at risk. Cain was less clear in his Oct. 19 interview with Piers Morgan. Cain told CNN’s Morgan: “I believe that life begins at conception. And abortion under no circumstances.” But asked whether he would want his granddaughter to raise the child of a rapist, Cain said it “ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. … Whatever they decide, they decide.”

His comments set off a flurry of news stories. A conservative, anti-abortion website reported that Cain “is raising eyebrows today of pro-life advocates.” Cain ultimately issued a statement to say he is “100% pro-life.” His statement offered an odd explanation about how he interpreted the question.
Cain, Oct. 20: I understood the thrust of the question to ask whether that I, as president, would simply “order” people to not seek an abortion. My answer was focused on the role of the President. The President has no constitutional authority to order any such action by anyone. That was the point I was trying to convey.

Regardless of what Cain did or didn’t say or what he meant to say on CNN, we do know this: His response on “Face the Nation” was different than the answer he gave on “Meet the Press.” And blaming others for taking his words out of context doesn’t change that.



McCAIN [to Bush]: Do you believe in the exemption, in the case of abortion, for rape, incest, and life of the mother?
BUSH: Yeah, I do.
McCain: [But you] support the pro-life plank [in the Republican Party platform]?
BUSH: I do.
McCAIN: So, in other words, your position is that you believe there’s an exemption for rape, incest and the life of the mother, but you want the platform that you’re supposed to be leading to have no exemption. Help me out there, will you?
BUSH: I will. The platform doesn’t talk about what specifically should be in the constitutional amendment. The platform speaks about a constitutional amendment. It doesn’t refer to how that constitutional amendment ought to be defined.
McCAIN: If you read the platform, it has no exceptions.
BUSH: John, I think we need to keep the platform the way it is. This is a pro-life party.
McCAIN: Then you are contradicting your platform.
Source: GOP Debate on the Larry King Show Feb 15, 2000

FORBES [to Bush]: Let’s pretend George that you get the nomination in August. Would you make three pledges tonight? 1) Preserve the Ronald Reagan plank on life in the Republican platform? 2) State unequivocally that you’ll chose only pro-life judges? 3) Vow to pick a pro-life running mate?
BUSH: I’m going to pick a vice president who can be the president. I’ll pick judges who strictly interpret the constitution and not use the bench as a way to legislate. And I will work to keep the Republican Party pro-life.
FORBES: It’s a typical hedge. Where’s the pledge, not a hedge? Vagaries aren’t going to work. We need something specific.
BUSH: I will have a vice president who can become the president. That’s the test, Steve. I will have a vice president that agrees with my policy. I’m going to have a vice president that likes me. I can’t be any more clear -- you may not like the answer, but that’s my answer. Source: (cross-ref from Forbes) GOP Debate in Michigan Jan 10, 2000
  • Bush opposes abortion except in cases of rape or incest, or to save the life of the mother
  • supports laws under which parents are notified if minors undergo abortions
  • will not try to change the constitution to outlaw abortion.

Approved stem cell research. Let FDA’s RU-486 decision stand. Allowed an exemption in the case of rape, incest or for the life of the mother.

  • Only exception for abortion is if mother’s life would end. Source: Eagle Forum 2006 Gubernatorial Candidate Questionnaire Jul 31, 2006
  • While mayor, Wasilla charged rape victims for rape kits. Source: Jessica Yellin on Sep 22, 2008
  • Abortion should be states’ issue, not federal mandate. Source: 2008 CBS News presidential interview with Katie Couric Oct 1, 2008

Reagan was not as obsessive about anti-abortion legislation as he often seemed. Early in his California governorship he had signed a permissive abortion bill that has resulted in more than a million abortions. Afterward, he inaccurately blamed this outcome on doctors, saying that they had deliberately misinterpreted the law. When Reagan ran for president, he won backing from pro-life forces by advocating a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited all abortions except when necessary to save the life of the mother. Reagan’s stand was partly a product of political calculation, as was his tactic after he was elected of addressing the annual pro-life rally held in Washington by telephone so that he would not be seen with the leaders of the movement on the evening news. While I do not doubt Reagan’s sincerity in advocating an anti-abortion amendment, he invested few political resources toward obtaining this goal.
Source: The Role of a Lifetime, by Lou Cannon, p. 812 Jul 2, 1991


Allowed abortion in the case of interracial unions. And rape.
"There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white .... Or a rape." Source:


I support a woman’s right to choose. I support the state’s current family planning programs, and as governor, would make no changes to this policy. Source: Campaign website, Aug 29, 2003



No Federal dollars will be used for abortions. And, doctors will be able to decline to do those procedures without discrimination.
Speaking before a joint session of Congress, September 2009

"On an issue like partial birth abortion, I strongly believe that the state can properly restrict late-term abortions. I have said so repeatedly. There is a moral dimension to abortion, which I think that all too often those of us who are pro-choice have not talked about or tried to tamp down. I think that’s a mistake because I think all of us understand that it is a wrenching choice for anybody to think about.
And if we can acknowledge that much, then we can certainly agree on the fact that we should be doing everything we can to avoid unwanted pregnancies that might even lead somebody to consider having an abortion. We’ve actually made progress over the last several years in reducing teen pregnancies, for example. And what I have consistently talked about is to take a comprehensive approach where we focus on abstinence, where we are teaching the sacredness of sexuality to our children.
But we also recognize the importance of good medical care for women, that we’re also recognizing the importance of age-appropriate education to reduce risks. I do believe that contraception has to be part of that education process.
And if we do those things, then I think that we can reduce abortions and I think we should make sure that adoption is an option for people out there. If we put all of those things in place, then I think we will take some of the edge off the debate.
We’re not going to completely resolve it. At some point, there may just be an irreconcilable difference. And those who are opposed to abortion, I think, should continue to be able to lawfully object and try to change the laws. "
Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College Apr 13, 2008

  • No public/Federal funding for abortion. Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p.104-105 Jul 31, 2007
  • Supports ban on partial birth abortions. Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Apr 29, 2007
  • Accepts Catholic church view that life begins at conception. Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Apr 29, 2007
  • Voted YES on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives. Source: Prevention First Act (S.21/H.R.819) 2007-HR819 on Feb 5, 2007
  • Ensure access to and funding for contraception. Reference: Appropriation to expand access to preventive health care services; Bill S.Amdt. 244 to S Con Res 18 ; vote number 2005-75 on Mar 17, 2005

  • Make abortion rare by supporting adoption & foster care. Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College Apr 13, 2008
  • Life begins at conception. Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College Apr 13, 2008
  • Opposed China’s forced abortions & Romania’s forced pregnancies. Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College Apr 13, 2008

Long-held moderate stance focuses on reducing abortions. When Clinton said that pro-choice and pro-life people could find common ground by trying to reduce the number of abortions through increased access to birth control, it was called "an attempt to move to the center as she contemplates a presidential run i 2008." The Wall Street Journal described her alleged changes in position as a "makeover and move to the center that she's now attempting." NPR saw Clinton spinning in circles: "She is doing what her husband did. Which was not so much move to the center or the right, but figure out a way to bridge the left-wing base of the Democratic Party. And move to the center at the same time."
Yet she was not changing her position on anything. For her entire time in public life, Clinton has been pro-choice and has supported access to birth control. Pointing out that such access would reduce the number of abortions, something anti-abortion forces ought to favor, cannot fairly be described as a shift in any direction.
Source: Free Ride, by David Brock and Paul Waldman, p.134-135 Mar 25, 2008

“We can all recognize that abortion in many ways represents a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women.”
Hillary is correct. Abortion is tragic. But why? What makes an abortion “sad, even tragic” is that an unborn child loses his life. Her “sad, even tragic” comment is not the first indication that Hillary believes it is indeed a child that is ripped from the womb during an abortion. In 2003, while debating a proposed ban on partial-birth abortions, Hillary referred to the unborn child as “the child, the fetus, your baby.”
Source: The Extreme Makeover, by Bay Buchanan, p.134-136 May 14, 2007

Voted YES on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives.
Vote to adopt an amendment to the Senate's 2006 Fiscal Year Budget that allocates $100 million for the prevention of unintended pregnancies. A YES vote would expand access to preventive health care services that reduce unintended pregnancy (including teen pregnancy), reduce the number of abortions, and improve access to women's health care. A YES vote would:
* Increase funding and access to family planning services
* Funds legislation that requires equitable prescription coverage for contraceptives under health plans
* Funds legislation that would create and expand teen pregnancy prevention programs and education programs concerning emergency contraceptives
Reference: Appropriation to expand access to preventive health care services; Bill S.Amdt. 244 to S Con Res 18 ; vote number 2005-75 on Mar 17, 2005


"I have always been against abortion; it’s not possible for me in my own concept of Christ to believe that Jesus would favor abortion. But at the same time, I have supported the Supreme Court ruling of our country as the law of the land. And the present arrangement, whereby a woman is authorized to have an abortion in the first trimester of the pregnancy, or when the pregnancy is caused by rape or incest -- these are the things that moderates who have beliefs like mine can accept as the present circumstances in our country. The liberality of abortion is anointed by the laws of our country, including the ultimate ruling of the Supreme Court."

Saturday, August 1, 2009

10 Drunkest Presidents in US History

I wanted to put together a list of former presidents, and the beer THEY would have ordered had they been invited to Thursday's "beer summit" at the White House, hosted by #44 himself, President Obama.

So here are the 10 drunkest American presidents, in chronological order. The list of prezzes follows after.

1. John Adams.

John Adams could really tear it up. When he got into Harvard at age 15, he was regularly drinking beer for breakfast. During a trip to Philadelphia in 1777, he wrote to his wife...

I would give three guineas for a barrel of your cider. Not one drop of it to be had here for gold, and wine is not to be had under $68 per gallon... Rum is forty shillings a gallon... I would give a guinea for a barrel of your beer. A small beer here is wretchedly bad. In short, I am getting nothing that I can drink, and I believe I shall be sick from this cause alone.

Now, if you're like me, yes, you thought that, perhaps, the whole giving a guinea for your barrel of cider was him talking dirty to her. But I'm thinking no... John Adams just wanted to get drunk.

In addition to his drunkenness, he started smoking at age EIGHT and kept going until he died. At age 90.

Cause of death: Old age.

2. Martin van Buren.

Martin van Buren used to drink so much that, apparently, he developed an Andre the Giant-esque tolerance.

He could drink for days and not show any signs of being intoxicated, so his friends gave him the nickname "Blue Whiskey Van." (I'm not sure what the "blue" is a reference to. Is it the same "blue top" that Jamie Foxx references in "Blame It On the Al-Al-Al-Al-Al-Alcohol", which is another blue-related alcohol reference I don't get?)

In the 1840 Presidential Election, William Henry Harrison's campaign painted Van Buren as an alcoholic, which contributed to Van Buren losing the election.

3. Franklin Pierce.

Franklin Pierce might have been America's MOST alcoholic president. He drank hard for his entire adult life and kept going right on through his presidency.

When the Democratic party decided not to re-nominate Pierce after his first term in office, he told reporters, "There's nothing left but to get drunk." Holla, Franklin Pierce.

4. James Buchanan.

Buchanan, basically, centered his presidential life around drinking.

He would get angry when the White House would only be stocked with small bottles of champagne. Every Sunday he'd go to a distillery to pick up a 10 GALLON jug of whiskey. He'd drink cognac... and up to two BOTTLES of other alcohol... every night.

And, by all reports, he could really handle his liquor. A reporter wrote "There was no headache, no faltering steps, no flushed cheek. All was as cool, calm and cautious and watchful as in the beginning."

But... while he was able to be a smooth drunk on the outside, on the inside, the alcohol was beating him up. His immune system was so weakened that he got the gout and got dysentery... twice.

5. Ulysses S. Grant.

Grant has the biggest drinking reputation of any U.S. president. Some reports said that, during Civil War battles, he'd just sit there, drinking, all day long.

When he was on his death bed he passed out and a doctor was able to revive him... and give him a couple of extra minutes of life... by giving him brandy.

6. Chester A. Arthur.

As president, Arthur would drink wine and after-dinner liqueurs pretty much nightly. He gained about 40 pounds in office, a lot of which was from constant drinking (and having friends over to drink).

He would get drunk so often on Saturday nights that he'd need a carriage to take him to church the next morning... even though the church was, literally, less than a block away from the White House.

7. Grover Cleveland.

Cleveland had a huge beer belly... because he used to drink beer daily. [Insert your own joke about how if he'd just drank on non-consecutive days he could've lost weight here.]

During one minor election early in his political career (the all-important 1870 race for district attorney in Erie County, New York), he and his opponent agreed to only drink four glasses of beer each day... so they could stay clear headed for their race. After a few days, they decided that was too harsh and they were going to take the cap off.

8. William Howard Taft.

From what I can tell, Taft was like the big fat guy in any group of friends who made things more fun. He wasn't that huge of a drinker himself but he was definitely the frat guy in the 5XL Hawaiian shirt making sure all of his buddies were getting drunk. He was the Bluto of presidents.

During his first year as president, one of his aides wrote, "The President never takes anything to drink but is most profligate in making others imbibe."

9. Franklin D. Roosevelt.

There are rumors that FDR was a big drinker. He always just seemed to find his way around alcohol.

One good example: A doctor put FDR on a low-fat diet, to try to help his hypertension and heart problems. But FDR became underweight, so the doctor told him he'd have to put on weight again. FDR's plan to gain it back? Drinking mass quantities of egg nog.

10. George W. Bush.

Bush famously was arrested for driving under the influence in the '70s and, according to the Liberal Media, he spent his entire time at Yale drunk and much of his adult life as an on-and-off alcoholic. Typical Liberal Media.

The other 43 presidents, and what they would have ordered at the "beer summit"

by Rick Vaughn on Saturday, August 1, 2009 at 10:33am
By now we all know that Obama had a Bud Light at the meeting with vice president Biden (Buckler, an import non-alcoholic), Gates (Sam Adams), and the police officer (Blue Moon). What would the other 43 presidents have drank had they been invited?

1 George Washington 1789-1797
George Washington beer

2 John Adams 1797-1801
Samuel Adams

3 Thomas Jefferson 1801-1809
Thomas Jefferson Wheat Beer

4 James Madison 1809-1817
James Madison Dark Wheat Ale

5 James Monroe 1817-1825
Monticello Ale

6 John Quincy Adams 1825-1829
Samuel Adams

7 Andrew Jackson 1829-1837
Bud Light

8 Martin Van Buren 1837-1841

9 William Henry Harrison 1841-1841
Bavaria Brewery (Colombia)

10 John Tyler 1841-1845
Pawtucket Patriot Ale

11 James K. Polk 1845-1849
James K. Polk Presidential Ale

12 Zachary Taylor 1849-1850
Corona (Mexico)

13 Millard Fillmore 1850-1853
Hoegaarden (Belgium)

14 Franklin Pierce 1853-1857
Taedonggang (Korea)

15 James Buchanan 1857-1861
Michelob Lager

16 Abraham Lincoln 1861-1865
Budweiser American Ale

17 Andrew Johnson 1865-1869
Metropolis Brewing

18 Ulysses S. Grant 1869-1877

19 Rutherford B. Hayes 1877-1881

20 James A. Garfield 1881-1881
Coors Silver Bullet

21 Chester A. Arthur 1881-1885
Anything he could find

22 Grover Cleveland 1885-1889
Great Lakes Brewing Co.

23 Benjamin Harrison 1889-1893
Bass Ale

24 Grover Cleveland 1893-1897
Great Lakes Brewing Co.

25 William McKinley 1897-1901
Beck's (Germany)

26 Theodore Roosevelt 1901-1909
Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)

27 William Howard Taft 1909-1913
San Miguel (Philippines)

28 Woodrow Wilson 1913-1921

29 Warren G. Harding 1921-1923
Schlitz Beer

30 Calvin Coolidge 1923-1929

31 Herbert Hoover 1929-1933
some homebrew

32 Franklin D. Roosevelt 1933-1945
Miller High Life

33 Harry S. Truman 1945-1953
Ballantine Burton Christmas Ale

34 Dwight D. Eisenhower 1953-1961
Coors Light

35 John F. Kennedy 1961-1963

36 Lyndon B. Johnson 1963-1969
Lone Star

37 Richard Nixon 1969-1974

38 Gerald Ford 1974-1977
Duff Beer

39 Jimmy Carter 1977-1981
Billy Beer

40 Ronald Reagan 1981-1989

41 George H. W. Bush 1989-1993

42 Bill Clinton 1993-2001

43 George W. Bush 2001-2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Red Elvises at Fitzgerald's, Berwyn, IL (2001)

April 10th, 2001
By Rick Vaughn

(come on, all you Svengoolie fans out there; let me hear you say, "BERRRRRWYYYYNNNN???") lol

Hello all,

As this is my first RE concert review, I should probably start at the beginning... My first introduction to the guys was a copy of "Bellydance" sitting on someone's desk at work. Needing some tunes during a long evening, I popped in the disc, thinking it wouldn't be any good. Boy was I surprised! The production values and musicianship as well as their sense of humor made me an instant fan.

(c)1998 by Red Elvises

Fast forward to April 2001; I cross the parking lot at Fitzgerald's and parked in front of the entrance is a huge red van with a Russian guy named Igor rummaging through suits in the back. "We start in a little while", he tells me. "I'm just choosing my clothes for the evening." Inside on the stage two more guys work at setting up a drum kit, microphones, amplifiers and proceed to do a soundcheck. "There is too much feeding back", Oleg tells the sound man from behind the drums. "Something is too high." An audience of maybe 50 or so people cluster around tables with beer and popcorn, waiting expectantly for the show to begin. "How's the popcorn?" asks Zhenya from the stage. "I may get some later."

During the first part of the set, most of the audience stayed seated. Maybe that's because this is a working class suburban Chicago audience and it's the middle of the week. Maybe it's because last time the Reds played this stage they had an opening act, the very good local band Satya Graha (go to for more info). Maybe no-one knew what to make of the new 3-piece lineup. So midway through the set Zhenya Rock (his official name, it's on his license!) told the crowd, "If you like to sit down, that's OK. But for those who like to dance, the dance floor is right up here!". A good number of us proceeded to the front to dance and drink like maniacs (I'm still tired and hungover). At one point, when Igor asked everone to show their beer, one man near the bar yelled "I have teqila!" to which Oleg responded, "Tequila, it does the body good!".

Photo by Kenneth Karp, Gremlen Studios. Taken at Fitzgeralds, in Berwyn, IL on April 10, 2001

Here's the setlist, which I managed to scribble on a bar napkin during the set.

1) Welcome To The Freak Show
2) San Antone
3) She's Running Away
4) Who's Your Daddy?
5) It's Over Now
6) I'll Be Back
7) Scorchi Chornye
8) Three Alley Cats
9) Telephone Call From Istanbul
10) Rocketman
11) I Wanna See You Bellydance

During the intermission, Zhenya wandered over to my table with beer and popcorn and was instantly enraptured by a Bulgarian girl sitting at the table who had only been in the US for one week. Oleg and Igor had to send Mr. Fabulous to pry him from their English-Russian-Bulgarian conversation for the second set.

12) Groovin' To The Moscow Beat
13) Gypsy Heart
14) Red Lips, Red Eyes, Red Stockings
15) Kegga Beer And Potato Chips
16) Bedroom Boogie
17) Not That Kind Of Guy
18) Please Don't Tell Me What I Did Last Night
19) Susanna
20) Strip Joint Is Closed
21) Sad Cowboy Song

Photo by Kenneth Karp, Gremlen Studios. Taken at Fitzgeralds, in Berwyn, IL on April 10, 2001

22) Lovepipe
23) (I don't know the title, the "Where the F*** are you? song) (Juliet)
24) Voodoo Doll (my request, thanks Z!)

Afterwards I had a talk with Igor, Jackdaw & Ron (whose custom decal'ed car the band signed afterwards) and my new friend Alma mostly about web pages and bad movies... including "Leningrad Cowboys" (RE's real story, Igor tells me); "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", which he still hasn't seen but I'm sending him a copy of; "Blues Brothers", which Igor learned his English from!

Photo by Jackdaw. Taken at Fitzgeralds, in Berwyn, IL on April 10, 2001

Driving me to the "L" that night, my friend pulled into the Wendy's drive through and the Red Elvises' van was right in front of us! She yelled into the intercom, "TELL THOSE GUYS IN THE VAN THEY ROCK!!!" (which the drive-thru girl did, by the way).

I tried to call in sick today to catch the second show at the Elbo Room, but my boss wouldn't hear of it... I got off work at 11:00 p.m. and rushed straight up to the Elbo Room- just in time for the intermission! A lot of folks from the night before were there, as was Megan, whose bellydancing routine earlier in the set I had missed. Last year when I met her she was wearing these cool red leather pants. This year she had a blue pair on.

The band started their second set and played some tunes they hadn't the previous night, like "Girl From Malibu", "Boogie On The Beach" and some others (I guess I was having too much fun to remember what they were).

After the show someone decided it would be a great idea if we all went to the Green Mill (Al Capone's old hangout as well as John Cusack's in "High Fidelity"). No one in the band was too sure what that was until someone else mentioned that it was Tom Waits' kind of bar and that settled it. I didn't have a ride so Oleg told me to get in the "captain's seat" (i.e. I rode "shotgun"). I could tell the guys were tired and hungry and probably wanted to just eat something and collapse so I suggested the possibility of Chinatown. Oleg kept saying, "Yeah, let's just ditch everyone and go to Chinatown!" (about 5 or 6 different times, while playing with a bass fish pillow and jamming out to Midnight Oil on the radio). Crossing the street outside the bar, someone pulled up to the intersection blasting hip-hop and I heard Igor say, "Awww, yeeeaaahh".. Kind of made me wonder if their next album's gonna be Russian gangsta rap.

Photo by Rick, taken on a cellphone in 2005.

Chicago bouncers are a mean lot and the Green Mill's doorman turned away a few in our group for being either underage or not having ID's (including the girl hanging out with Zhenya). So we all stumbled back onto the sidewalk. Oleg, not to be deterred from having a good time grabbed Igor's shoulder and pointed at a sign in the near distance. "Look!" he said, loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear, "It's the Thailand Food Corporation!" Meanwhile Zhenya set up a camera on a street lamp and proceeded to try to take a group photo.

Oleg from the Red Elvises nearly woke up the neighborhood when he saw this sign at 3 a.m.
Photo by Rick, taken on a cellphone in 2005.

Last I saw of the Red Elvises, Igor was saying something about stopping at a gas station to buy some food (probably potato chips)...

-Rick Vaughn
Chicago, IL

Zhenya in Chicago. Photo by Kenneth Karp, Gremlen Studios. Taken in Chicago, IL on April 11, 2001