Monthly Archives: April 2009

Local Blogger Wins Defamation Suit

The victory belongs to the First Amendment, not Albero.


Needless to say, I am not a big fan of Joe Albero’s blog.  However the lawsuit filed against Albero by former Mayor of Salisbury, Barrie Tilghman, was nonsense from the start.  Why it ever went to trial, I haven’t a clue.  The legal standard for proving defamation against public figures set by the Supreme Court in N.Y. Times Co. v. Sullivan and succeeding cases is very high.   The term of art is “Malice” and contains two vital points.  The plaintiff has to prove that the defendant printed material knowing that it was a lie or that the defendant acted with reckless disregard of the truth.  In other words, the plaintiff has to prove what was going on in the defendant’s brain or that the defendant’s behavior was so outrageous and reckless that the plaintiff has the right to recover.


It is not impossible for a public figure to recover damages but it is nearly so. 


Mr. Albero printed numerous attacks on his blog against the former Mayor, many of them tasteless and personal.  However he also printed material that was not being covered by the local print organ of the Corporate Media, the Daily Times.  The Mayor sued claiming defamation. 


The court found for the defendant.  It is the public’s right to know that is ensconced in the First Amendment, not Albero’s desire to aggravate a personal and political opponent, and certainly not the Mayor’s wish to suppress comment on her performance in office. If there was one nugget of useful information in this spit fight that otherwise would not have not been known, the public wins.  Otherwise it was just that, a spit fight, which provided the occasional moment of high glee.


Don Singleton

April 29/2009  

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Cezanne and Beyond: Ahhh Balm for the Soul

I spent two or three hours this week end with one of my favorite people, Paul Cezanne. When I first began to study Art (at least in any organized way as a student at UNC) one of the artists that struck me as being a little weirder, a little further out was Paul Cezanne. At first blush his painting seemed like crude impressionist paintings. I looked at his Card Players and several of his paintings of Mt. St. Victoire and thought this guy can’t paint a lick. And then I discovered, quite by accident, one of his still lives with apples and oranges and pears, arranged with the usual complement of drapery, table, wall paper backdrop and thought that looks like a normal painting but that plate of apples can’t just hang in the air like that. The line of the table disappears under the drapery to emerge somewhere else and to prove it I laid a straight edge along the table and Voila!, I was into the puzzle that is Paul Cezanne. After the invention of the photograph made painting reality more or less redundant, there was an explosion of experimentation. Cezanne was a giant among those painters loosely categorized as Post Impressionists. His paintings have been closely studied by students of art and the major artists who followed him. His influence is encapsulated in the following quote variously attributed to Matisse and Picasso: “Cezanne is the father of us all.”

As a graduate student in a television production course at UCLA we were charged to produce a thirty minute television show. Mine was called An Apple, An Orange and a Pear. The subject was Paul Cezanne’s influence on artists who followed. Most of the other shows were attempts at commercial sitcoms. Needless to say, neither my classmates nor my instructor seemed to “get it.” They praised the slickness of the production but thought the content left something to be desired—they just didn’t see how you could make a sitcom out of art. Under my breath, I muttered, the assignment was to produce a television program. It was one of the “Aha moments” that sent me packing from Hollywood.

There is no question of Cezanne’s enormous influence, and the exhibition contains works by Picasso, Matisse, Beckman and Leger, among others, that are homages, or direct lifts from his paintings or both. His paintings are, not to put too fine a point on it, eye candy wrapped in a puzzle, enfolded in a conundrum. That is to say they are not easy. You have to work at them, and I have discovered that I can rediscover almost all of his paintings with each new viewing. I visited a fairly substantial Cezanne exhibition a couple of years ago in New York which contained several of the paintings in this show. Seeing them was like greeting an old friend and catching up. What’s new? Well a lot if you observe carefully.

I have seen similar exhibitions where one painter’s influence is explored on those who followed (an exhibition in Paris several years ago of Picasso and Ingres comes to mind) but this one is particularly satisfying. First there is the power of Cezanne’s work and then, of course, there is the power of those who found his explorations and riffs irresistible.

This exhibition runs through May 31 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art which is close enough to drive although it makes for a really long day. Fair warning! It is pricey but then most museums are these days. Tickets for two, plus parking in the Museum garage, ran sixty bucks or so—the parking was ten. But if you really like painting, especially the period when perspective painting got knocked into a cocked hat, then this one is not to miss.

Go here for details:

Don Singleton

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An Intelligent Commentary on the State of the Military

Go here for one of the few intelligent discussions I have seen of the present sate of the military.
Don Singleton

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What Would Jesus Do??

In one of the Star Trek (OS) episodes the Enterprise is taken over by a group of aliens who have a device that turns humans in to blocks of minerals at the touch of a button.  Too bad these Cinder-rays are not readily available at Target or Costco as a defense against the so called Christian reactionaries who write such hateful garbage about the Obamas.  Here is the latest outrage:


These clowns are a certain argument that there is no intelligent design and that God is dead, asleep or out to lunch.  Maybe he’s just too busy trying to straighten out the banking mess caused by the Republican Wall Street greedheads to pay attention to cackling Ravens much less the fall of sparrows.  Therefore, since God is busy, I would like to be Jesus for a day and take my aforementioned Cinder-ray and put it to good use.  I would make a long list,  and as these fat oafish, bloviating,  windgbags huffed and puffed and regurgitated their bile, I would in my loudest God like voice say something like:  O’Reilly you just piss me off.  Then I would turn him into a salt block.  I would wait until Oxycontin’s Own Ma Limbaugh was in the middle of one of his rants and say in the loud God voice:  Limbaugh you are no longer a Big Fat Idiot.  You are a small skinny hexahedron.  Then I would fry his dead dumb ass.  The list would be long and satisfying:   Hannity, Tammy Bruce, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter and the rest of that crowd of Hate Radio and Hate Television mouthpieces.  They all roundly deserve to be turned into salt blocks.


The neat thing about the Cinder-ray was that it could restore the salt blocks.  So after these morons served an adequate time out, I would return them to their former state.  Just kidding! 


Yeah, yeah, I know all that crap about forgiveness and turning the other cheek but that wears painfully thin after a time.  And maybe God forgives these peckerwoods for their venomous attacks but Lyle Lovette nailed it for most of us:  “God does but I don’t and God will but I won’t and that the difference between God and me.”


Don Singleton

April 8 2009     


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The Braying of Asses

“You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion. Dogs do not ritually urinate in the hope of persuading heaven to do the same and send down rain. Asses do not bray a liturgy to cloudless skies. Nor do cats attempt, by abstinence from cat’s meat, to wheedle the feline spirits into benevolence. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, quite intelligent enough.” Aldous Huxley

For those who are nervous about the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine I offer you a real free speech issue. State Senator Andy Harris has now twice introduced legislation in the Maryland Assembly to de fund the University of Maryland should it allow students at the main campus to show a pornographic film.

Oh horror! College students, who copulate like rabbits on Viagra, might actually see other adults engaging in sex acts on the big screen. Armageddon cannot be a step behind. Let’s all gather at the Kool Aid cooler as we flag down the Hale Bopp Comet.

The UM administration being made up of… ummm, administrators and other assorted chickenshits… caved. UM students, on the other hand, have reacted by thumbing their collective noses at this reactionary jackass.

Those of us who have made a habit of observing the political scene in this country for forty or fifty years are likely to draw the conclusion that Andy Harris Is merely continuing his campaign for the First Congressional District seat now held by Frank Kratovil. The embarrassment of this episode, of course, is that the Maryland Assembly, also apparently composed of assorted dunderheads, didn’t smack it down in a very public way when it was proposed. I guess there is still enough political fear of reactionary fundamentalist whackos to prevent an intelligent response to this kind of tomfoolery.

Here is a little help for the Assembly. Any such law, were it to pass, is patently unconstitutional. Broadly barring speech of any kind on a campus or a particular locale won’t pass muster. As a member of a student body which sued the state legislature in North Carolina over a similar stupid law, I’ll be happy to send you the citation from the Supreme Court decision.

For voters who can vote in Harris’s State Senate district, the response to this embarrassment should be to work hard to see that he never darkens the Assembly door again. And if he does indeed run again for the First District Congressional seat, those of us who live in the First District and who want the government out of our bedrooms, out of our pocketbooks and out of our lives should work hard to see that he sinks like a stone.

Never Vote for an incumbent
Don Singleton, May 7, 2009

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