Eartha Kitt Dies at 81; Photos of Kitt at Grand Hotel 2005

Eartha Kitt, well known for singing Santa Baby, died of cancer on Christmas at age 81. Gawker’s headline refers to her as Eartha Kitt, Seductress. That fits well how I recall her from the one time I saw her perform live at the Grand Hotel Jazz Festival over Labor Day Weekend in 2005.

Kitt appeared with other jazz greats including Chuck Mangione, and Ramsey Lewis. While I went into the concerts more interested in hearing them, I felt Eartha Kitt had stolen the show. Pictures may tell a thousand words, but they cannot fully capture the greatness of a concert appearance. While recognizing this, I will still present a few pictures taken of Eartha Kitt during this performance.

Blue Pills Defend the Red, White, & Blue

Bribing Afghan chieftains to provide information to the CIA can be a complicated matter. Giving them guns carries the risk that the guns might wind up in the wrong hands. Giving money or other signs of wealth can lead to those who are bought off displaying their new wealth and giving away the fact that they are receiving payment. The Washington Post quotes a CIA operative as describing their goal in this manner:

The key, Smith said, is to find a way to meet the informant’s personal needs in a way that keeps him firmly on your side but leaves little or no visible trace.

“You’re trying to bridge a gap between people living in the 18th century and people coming in from the 21st century,” Smith said, “so you look for those common things in the form of material aid that motivate people everywhere.”

The Soviet Union (and I’m sure others) have used women to turn foreigners into informants. Along the same lines, the CIA has found that Viagra has been of value in motivating older Afghan chieftains who often have four wives, the maximum allowed by the Koran, to please.

While Viagra was the first drug used for erectile dysfunction, there are now two others on the market and there is strong competition for market share. Will this competition now reach to the mountains of Afghanistan? Being accustomed to obnoxious drug reps frequently stopping by the office attempting to push their products, I can just imagine how they might respond to this article. I can see leaflets being dropped by competing pharmaceutical companies recommending that Afghan chieftains ask their CIA agent for Levitra or Cialis.

On Loving America

Joel Stein writes on how conservatives “love” America in The Los Angeles Times, arguing that in a sense conservatives do love American more than liberals. This love is in a tribalistic sense, “out of birthplace convenience.”

I still think conservatives love America for the same tribalistic reasons people love whatever groups they belong to. These are the people who are sure Christianity is the only right religion, that America is the best country, that the Republicans have the only good candidates, that gays have cooties.

The difference is that conservatives think loving one’s country means defending it no matter what. For example, a conservative responds to reports of torture or violations of the Geneva Conventions by attacking those who release such information and justifying the actions, not by considering what America really stands for.

The love for America felt by liberals is a far more meaningful form of love. Liberals love America despite knowing their country has faults, and are willing to work to correct those faults. This is what it takes to have a have and maintain a great country. The blind form of love expressed by conservatives is a pathway towards decadence and destruction of what makes America great.

Liberals love the ideals America was founded upon, and hold our current government to those ideals. This is exactly what the Founding Fathers would have expected of us.

I love American because of the civil liberties which were guaranteed by our Founding Fathers. Conservatives often attack those who defend civil liberties out of a blind love for authority, which is not really the same as loving America.

I love America for its heritage of separation of church and state as promoted by the Founding Fathers when they formed a secular government. While this view is clear in the writings of the Founding Fathers, along with many court decisions, the religious right has been promoting a revisionist history which denies this. Loving America means respecting such important principles, not attempting to rewrite our history.

I love our free market system which gives everyone the opportunity to achieve wealth and prosperity. Therefore I oppose perversions of this system which conservatives have promoted, such as Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force and the K Street Project.

Liberals who love America responded to the 9/11 attack by seeking bipartisan unity to defend the country and respond to those who attacked us. Republicans instead took advantage of 9/11 as an excuse to pursue their preexisting goals on foreign policy and restriction of civil liberties while promoting a course which led to a weakening of America’s role in the world. For a group which claims to love America, the right has done a remarkable job of undermining both our national security and moral authority in the world.

The love for America felt by liberals, and the principles our country was founded upon, is necessary to preserve our nation as envisioned by the Founding Fathers. The tribalistic love for America felt by conservatives would give us the America of McCarthyism. Nixon and Watergate, and the Bush/Cheney years. This would be an American where civil liberties are ignored, the free market is replaced by crony capitalism, and those who disagree are told to either love their version of America or leave it.