Friday, May 30, 2014

And That's Not the End of It

“To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan..."

Shinseki is gone:

In the end, even Eric Shinseki knew he had to go, President Barack Obama said Friday in announcing the resignation of his only Veterans Affairs secretary over a growing scandal involving sometimes deadly waits for care at VA hospitals.

Obama went before reporters shortly after meeting with Shinseki at the White House and said the retired Army general told him that "the VA needs new leadership" to address the widespread problems chronicled in new reports this week, adding that Shinseki "does not want to be a distraction" to fixing the situation.

"That was Ric's judgment on behalf of his fellow veterans, and I agree. We don't have time for distractions. We need to fix the problem," Obama said.

When the boss has to leave under a black cloud, it sends a clear message to the underlings--you're next. The reason why it makes sense for Shinseki to leave is because the greedy, incompetent administrators below him need to be washed out of the VA like the fleas and lice they are, clinging to their bonuses and their schemes to profit personally while failing America's burgeoning corps of Veterans.

That's why I called for him to quit or be fired--there's no other way to remove the terrible, terrible management below Shinseki's level at VA. Someone new, someone tough, and someone with a clear mandate to remove incompetence and fraud from the ranks has to be empowered to do so. Shinseki was not that man anymore.

I would think that many of those engaged in malfeasance would have the decency to retire or quit in the weeks ahead. Many of them won't. They will cling to their lifestyle and continue to do nothing to take care of Veterans. They will continue to ride out the clock. They should not collect any more bonuses, however, and every administrator paid a bonus over the last ten years who presided over a hospital with secret wait lists and things of that nature should be prosecuted for fraud. Their bonuses should be paid back and their retirement benefits should be irretrievably revoked.

The Department of Veteran's Affairs is about benefits, after all. I don't think anyone who screwed Veterans and got paid should be able to retire on a comfortable pension and with full health care. I think that they should be cast out into the real world where so many dying and sick and Veterans have lived since coming back from Vietnam and wherever else. They have had no safety net. They have seen the promises made to them turn into a blizzard of paperwork, crushed under the heels of people who don't care about them while making three figure salaries, getting eight weeks off a year, and being paid ridiculously inflated personal performance bonuses.

To them I would say, welcome to the reality you were charged with improving. Screw you. You're on your own.

This does not end with Shinseki. This ends when the frauds and the thieves who cost this man his job are scrambling to find someone to take care of them while they cope with the aftermath of their personal pity party. This ends when a former bigwig administrator from the Phoenix VA Hospital has to use Coinstar to pay for meds at a discount grocery store in the middle of nowhere.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Nothing Says Rock and Roll More Than This

Instead of making records, U2 are now serving on a board of directors for Fender Guitars. Which is fine--people have to eat and make deals and whatnot. But are they going to make cheaper models? Add computers? Do something about finally adding effects to the actual body of the guitar instead of making people buy expensive pedals?

For those of us who used to care, this is just another WTF moment. I do enjoy working out my issues here. And the NME is always there to oblige me with the same photo of the members of U2 in their tuxedos, not playing music again.

Exene Cervenka Has Lost Her Mind

The gist of this article is, "Exene Cervenka is now a crazy wingnut conspiracy theorist." I don't know how fair that is, but, goodness, the woman does appear to have lost it.

Judging whether or not someone is crazy by looking at their Twitter feed is about the most dubious thing you could do with your time. It is not an indication of anything really. For all we know, she might be trolling people or having a laugh or perhaps the pool boy or someone who is really nuts got a hold of her account.

And, by the way, it's not a verified Twitter account, so it could be totally bogus. Cervenka only has five thousand followers? Really? That many people will see her in a week of shows, at least. Come on.

Here's a rather reprehensible post:

That's merely a sampling of the crackpot tweets. There are anti-fracking tweets as well--and we know there's something to the notion that fracking is causing environmental hazards and earthquakes. Then there are tweets that are from her life--no surprises there.

This is what's sad, though:

Cervenka is a truther about Sandy Hook? Really?

Never actually read what people you like have to say is the lesson here, I guess.

Cervenka's anti-Obama tweets are at odds with where she was in 2009, however:

The country's best inauguration party Tuesday night turned out to be in the other Washington: At Seattle's tiny Tractor Tavern club, the Knitters (the rootsy side band led by X's John Doe and Exene Cervenka) played a Americana-soaked barnstormer of a show — complete with a guest appearance by Eddie Vedder. "Whenever anyone's being a cynic and an asshole, saying it's just gonna be the same old thing, do me a favor and tell 'em to fuck off," Doe told the crowd, in one of the evening's many happy references to the day's events. Then he invited Vedder onstage to duet with Cervenka on a gleefully frenzied version of X's 1983 tune "The New World," with its sardonic lyrics about another election: "It was better before they voted for what's his name."

Vedder, who had managed to blend in to the crowd (which also included his Pearl Jam bandmates Jeff Ament and Mike McCready) with his hair tucked into a big black knit cap, was in a mood to celebrate: He pounded out the beat on Doe's back with his fists, slow-danced with Cervenka, and played air guitar while the Knitters' Dave Alvin (formerly of the Blasters) finished the song with a lengthy solo that incorporated both Chuck Berry licks and what sounded like part of "The Star-Spangled Banner." "Thank you, man in the black hat," Doe said.

Judging someone based on their Twitter feed is problematic at best. My guess is that Cervenka is at a point where her audience and her opinions are changing and there's no point trying to project things onto people who have evolved and changed over the years. The world is never going to run out of crazy people but it has never come up with a foolproof way of figuring out who they are every time.

Hammering Away at Legacies

Dick Cheney's legacy took another beating at the hands of the people who have been trying to clean up the mess created by his old boss. This is why he has lashed out and called the President of the United States weak:

"Some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint but from our willingness to rush into military adventures without thinking through the consequences, without building international support and legitimacy for our action or leveling with the American people about the sacrifice required," Obama added. "Tough talk draws headlines, but war rarely conforms to slogans."

President Obama's abandonment of neoconservatism and nation-building means fewer contracts for the companies that saw huge profits under Bush-Cheney. Those people are angrily telling Cheney to say something and use what influence he has because they own the souls of neoconservatives and are demanding repayment for their loyalty. An entire way of life is about to come crashing down and the rush to diversify portfolios and invest in providing solar panels to drowned polar bear researchers has people climbing over one another, trying to get beachfront property in Ohio and bid on the contract to provide security for the next drone base in West Africa.

We finally have a President who only wants to start a handful of moderate-sized wars. We no longer have a President who wants to start larger wars that will break the military. It's a slight change, but it's a big enough change to frighten people used to wider profit margins.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

One More Reason Why Rock and Roll Is Not Dead

Rock and Roll is dead? Don't tell Kaki King:

Kaki King has always done unusual things to her guitar. Watch her very first music video for 2004's “Playing With Pink Noise,” and it’s clear from the percussive, frenzied fret-tapping that the Brooklyn-based musician is not your average axe-shredder. In her near-13-year career that’s seen six studio albums and a Golden-Globe nomination for best original score, King has earned critical acclaim for the way she combines unusual tunings, complex fingerstyle picking, and slap bass techniques to create soundscapes that range from instrumental acoustic work to high-voltage rock songs.

Now, she’s using her guitar in an entirely new way: as a projection screen. In late January, King and New York production company Glowing Pictures launched aKickstarter campaign for The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body, an hour-long performance featuring all-new material that treats her guitar as a blank canvas. As King plays the guitar, software will analyze the sounds she’s making and project them back as a variety of different textures and skins, creating an immersive light show about the complex relationship between musician and instrument.

Technology is not evil and it is not the reason why music has suffered over the last few decades. The unethical business practices of a select few people have harmed music immeasurably. But, here we have one artist trying something different. Good luck to her.

It's Been Dead Forever

The death of rock and roll happened one more time:

Kasabian's Serge Pizzorno has said he wants the bands new album to inspire a new generation of rock 'n' roll bands, as he thinks the genre is dying out.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, Pizzorno said he thinks there aren’t many rock bands left and that he hopes the experimentation on his group's new album '48:13' will help push new bands to look to the future.

"It's weird to think of ourselves as one of the last rock 'n' roll bands around," he said. "But it's important because there just don't seem to be many left.

The statement "there just don't seem to be many left" is misleading because of the commercial preferences of whoever is still buying music. There are plenty of rock and roll bands making music--Beady Eye would be the one that most readily comes to mind but Pizzorno is probably conscious of the fact that they are a competitor for the scraps left on the table. What about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or Kaiser Chiefs? What about everyone playing Glastonbury? Aren't they all able to claim some relationship to rock and roll?

Music labels are dead. The business is impossible to navigate. The industry of rock and roll is floundering. The people who want to make that music are just fine.

Edward Snowden's Delusions of Adequacy

The fact that runs counter to everything that has been said about Edward Snowden is this one--he's not dead. No one has assassinated him. No one has shot him behind the ear. No one has given him poison. He's alive and flush with cash, somewhere in Mother Russia.

Secretary of State Kerry is absolutely right--Snowden should "man up" and face American justice. If his contention is that the American people need to know what their government is doing, his efforts should include making everything about the rule of law and not simply about the leaking and bragging he has done so far.

The problem is, Snowden knows that he likely stole military secrets and gave them to foreign governments in exchange for money, access, or security. He knows he successfully conned others into believing he actually cared about privacy because that is the veil he decided to hide behind. But his most recent interview betrays all of that--he was someone who wanted to BE SOMEONE rather than just do something. He has inflated his resume in order to improve his standing with his foreign handlers. That's what megalomaniacs prefer, especially on their Twitter feeds.

Clearly, there have been doubts as to his ability. Deception? Sure. He is very good at lying to people. Everything else? Not so much for this systems administrator gone rogue. It is quite common for people to travel under some kind of cover or with some measure of identity protection when they work for the United States government. That's not spying. That's force protection.

Snowden remains the greatest fraud of the decade so far.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Shine That Turd

Someone has to try and prove that the evening news is still relevant. Sadly, it is not.

The vast majority of the viewers for these newscasts are AARP-eligible, although that's true for news in general. Right now Williams and Sawyer are battling for first place in the ratings category that both networks covet most, the 25- to 54-year-old demographic. ABC, long accustomed to second place behind NBC at 6:30 p.m., has won for four of the past six weeks.

The AARP crowd is the Fox News demographic, and it is often cited to show that "millions" are watching Fox News. Really? Then why are they running ads for people who have little if any disposable income?

When you are desperately trying to remind people that something is still relevant, you've already lost the game. In the 1980s, over 40 million people would regularly tune in and the advertising revenue was through the roof. The nightly news anchors were stars. The ones we have now are the also-rans and the leftovers. I mean, Scott Pelley? Really? How many Americans know instinctively who Pelley is and what job he holds and would give a damn if he walked off the set and told his bosses to shove it up their asses? You want to compare Pelley to Rather and Cronkite? Go ahead.

The audience has aged and shrunk to the point where there's no point for many advertisers to even contemplate running anything during this time slot.

In television, don't talk about numbers unless you know where the people who actually have money are and what they're watching.

Good God, son. Scott Pelley is the top of the food chain at CBS News? Seriously?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014

Joe Scarborough, Meet Ted Yoho

Dumbassery abounds:

Speaking at a town hall meeting earlier this month, Florida Republican congressman Ted Yoho promised that he would support possible birther legislation floated by Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), telling the audience that after learning about a potential birther bill from Stockman while attending a Tea Party meeting, he called the congressman and agreed to back it.

Yoho also seemed to embrace the right-wing claim that Obamacare is “racist” because it taxes tanning beds, explaining that if he goes tanning then he will be “disenfranchised because I got taxed because of the color of my skin.”

I had a little fun with [John] Boehner and told him about the sun tanning tax. He goes, ‘I didn’t know it was in there,’ and I said, ‘Yes, it’s a ten percent tax.’ He goes, ‘Well, that’s not that big of a deal.’ I said, ‘It’s a racist tax.’ He goes, ‘You know what, it is.’ I had an Indian doctor in our office the other day, very dark skin, with two non-dark skin people, and I asked this to him, I said, ‘Have you ever been to a tanning booth?’ and he goes, ‘No, no need.’ So therefore it’s a racist tax and I thought I might need to get to a sun tanning booth so I can come out and say I’ve been disenfranchised because I got taxed because of the color of my skin. As crazy as that sounds, that’s what the left does right. By God, if it works for them, it’ll work for us [inaudible].

Seriously. The Brass Balls on these people...

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Shocking Truth About James O'Keefe

James O'Keefe has, once again, failed to accomplish anything other than annoying some people who actually work for a living.

Tell me again how this smarmy, useless excuse for a human being still gets scads of press and attention while failing every single time he tries to carry out a cheap and incompetent selective editing assignment?

No fraud in the history of this country has ever had more attention than this clown. Conservative media, you own O'Keefe, and what's shocking is that he is still ringing the bell and they're still lapping up everything he does. It's as if him playing around with a rape kit and sex toys was just a mild, juvenile prank to these people.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Next Generation of Revolutionaries in Iran

You can't be young and Iranian and not engage the popular culture:

Apparently, dancing to a song about happiness in Iran can get you arrested.

Six Iranians are behind bars after they appeared in a fan video set to Pharrell Williams' "Happy," the American hit song that has sold millions of downloads worldwide.

Tehran Police Chief Hossein Sajedinia ordered the arrests of the three men and three women because they helped make an "obscene video clip that offended the public morals and was released in cyberspace," the Iranian Student News Agency reported Wednesday.

The biggest American mistakes in Iran center around ignoring the importance of culture and tradition and then not understanding that the young people in Iran hate their own regime. But, a funny thing happens when the older generation dies off--there is a slow burn for revolution.

In the United States, the power of old white men is eroding steadily and they can't figure out how to have a reverse revolution and stop their decline. In Iran, the clerics are dying off and the revolutionaries of 1979 are getting on in age. Everything that we are doing to Iran should center around the isolation of the regime and the connection that their young people have to the popular culture (see Vaclav Havel).

The iPod and iPad should be freely distributed in Iran. Smuggle them in. Do whatever it takes to connect to this generation.

Pat Carney Has an Opinion About Everything

Pat Carney weighs in on the new Michael Jackson album:

Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney also criticised 'Xscape' recently, dubbing it "bullshit" and saying it only exists because producer LA Reid "needed a new boat".

Everyone can rest easy--there is a Pat Carney verdict on what is obviously a bullshit money grab project that not even Quincy Jones can stomach.

Carney reminds me of the asshole drummer from Hootie and the Blowfish who used to run his mouth constantly and have opinions about things no one cared about because he was high all the time:

Jim Sonefeld’s life plays a lot like an episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music.” The boy, who would become the drummer for a famous band, grew up in Chicago and was raised by Catholic parents. He went to college to play soccer at the University of South Carolina. There, he met three guys who were all interested in music and songwriting. What started out as a friendship between like-minded college buddies turned into one of the biggest bands in pop history. Hootie & The Blowfish was catapulted to superstardom, thanks to 1995's Cracked Rear View, which sold more than 25 million copies worldwide and became the fourth biggest-selling debut and the 20th biggest-selling record of all time.

For Sonefeld, the band’s longtime drummer, the road to fame and fortune was paved with drugs, alcohol, and a reliance on his celebrity status for fulfillment. It all came to a screeching halt when his lifestyle began to conflict with his personal life. With a wife and two kids in the mix, Sonefeld was faced with the reality that something had to give. With loving mediation from family and friends, he was prompted to seek professional help. “There were people around me who loved me and were genuinely concerned with my lifestyle, and they were right,” he says.

When all of this is over, perhaps Carney will come clean about his addiction to saying things that are pointedly controversial because no one wants to talk to Dan Auerbach.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How is This Justice?

The British legal system may be civilized, but how does this work if you're Joss Stone?

These men were equipped and ready to murder her and steal from her. They had the means and the intent to find her, kill her, and take what they could and flee. This was premeditated and planned out. The only thing that has saved them is, ironically, their much-remarked haplessness.

I think letting them out of prison in a few years is a huge, huge mistake for the rule of law in any country.

Alex Turner Can't See it Either

I guess someone agrees with me:

Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner has cast doubt on Metallica headlining Glastonbury, saying the booking "does not add up".

As previously reported, Metallica have been confirmed as the third and final headline act at Glastonbury 2014, joining fellow headliners Arcade Fire and Kasabian at the top of the bill. Arctic Monkeys headlined the festival for the second time last year (2013).

Speaking to Time Out, Turner says he is a fan of the band and would like to watch Metallica but is not sure if Glastonbury is the right festival for them. "I'm not sure it adds up," he says. "I know we'd buzz off it, but fundamentally could you have Metallica in the hippy nucleus?"

Forget the hippy nucleus, can you imagine the aural assault of Metallica? Does anyone know how these shows work? Is this thing on? Was that your head that got turned to mush, mate?

Every Metallica show ends with Seek & Destroy. If you think you've been beaten about the head with a brick and a dead goat when it's over, then they did it right. Go and get your groove on and sway with that in your Wellies.

Commemorating a Dud

In order to wring money out of a dried teat, Pink Floyd's remaining controlling elements have seen fit to put out a deluxe version of The Division Bell, which is the most forgettable album of 1994 and perhaps the entire 1990s.

Who has been demanding this? Who pounded conference room tables and made the underlings run off in all directions, trying to find the filler that comprised this release? I would absolutely question how much "Pink Floyd" is actually on the album. There may be a smattering of Richard Wright here and there and a healthy amount of guitar soloing from a bored David Gilmour, but don't tell me Nick Mason did ALL of the drumming and percussion. I refuse to believe it.

This may very well be the album where less than half of Pink Floyd ever bothered to show up, if at all. It's album by committee. When the album was reviewed by the sycophants at Rolling Stone, they could barely summon two and a half stars for it and spent half the review talking about something else. Jeeee-zus.

Yes, it was fun to be able to go see the bloated carcass of the band drag itself through stadiums and play the old hits alongside the dreck that constituted the songs from this album. But, please explain to me how that warrants a massive deluxe edition? How is it that there is no shame left?

Can you imagine Led Zeppelin doing this with CO/DA? Or The Who trying this crap with It's Hard? Or the Rolling Stones doing this with Steel Wheels? Good God. Have some dignity and let it go.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Chinese Army is Trollin Y'all


Wang Dong?

That's racist, People's Liberation Army. You should know better.

The Shocking Story of How Jimmy Page is Unhappy With Robert Plant

Oh. My. God.

In a recent interview with the BBC about the forthcoming reissue of the band's first three albums, guitarist Jimmy Page said he was sure fans would be keen on another reunion show, but Plant has since said the chances of it happening are zero".

Now, Page has told The New York Times that he is "fed up" with Plant's refusual to play.

Page said: "I was told last year that Robert Plant said he is doing nothing in 2014, and what do the other two guys think? Well, he knows what the other guys think. Everyone would love to play more concerts for the band. He's just playing games, and I'm fed up with it, to be honest with you. I don't sing, so I can't do much about it."

This is a bombshell (sarcasm intended). This is something that has never, ever happened before. Ever.

When did Jimmy Page start being unhappy with Robert Plant? You can mark it down right here. It didn't start until 2014.

Look, there's a reason why Robert Plant doesn't want to do a Led Zeppelin reunion tour for the wealthy and privileged (ticket prices for such an event would be stratospheric and, hence, many "fans" would come solely because of their status, not their devotion to the music). He doesn't want to do it because he has made up his mind to do other things. That could change tomorrow.

Why fixate on it?

Take the Money and Run

I think it would be fair to say that an accountability moment and a firm reality check has arrived for everyone who said that Obamacare is the devil that will soshalism this country into the hands of the Kraken.

When given the option to stand behind their principles and continue destroying the lives of people who need the health care provisions of the PPACA, Republicans governors are taking the money that's on the table and they're lying about it. Mike Pence of Indiana is lying when he denies folding in the face of a Medicare benefit that the people of Indiana desperately need. He should go into each and every election from now on wearing an Obama sticker on his nose so that people remember how he gave in to the commies and allowed the Hoosiers to horn in on those Federal dollars.

We heard this time and again--Obamacare will destroy America. That was absolute bullshit, of course. And you would think that future elections would hinge on that but they won't. Without a viable, working media to hold them accountable, the Mike Pences of the GOP will be claiming Obamacare was Romneycare all along and they'll claim it as their own.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pinch Steps on a Rake

There's a reason why this story matters, and it really doesn't have anything to do with the fact that this is a media story or that these are wealthy, privileged media people who are whining and carrying on in public. This story matters because of how women are treated in the workplace when they ask for equal pay.

I mean, full stop.

This story resonates with the experiences of millions of American women. Jill Abramson found out she wasn't getting paid what her male colleagues and predecessors were getting paid. This went back years. Years of this kind of behavior, which is awful. And when she asserted her rights, they fired her. In violation of every common sense workplace ethic, they pulled the trigger on getting rid of her when they should have addressed the issue and made it right and apologized.

Which is going to be cheaper in the long run?

This whole thing about trying to cover up the fact that they fired her because she brought in a lawyer to talk about her compensation package is the legal nightmare behind the scenes--that's the inside baseball stuff that stood out to legal-minded folks. That's what set people on fire. That's what really drove home the idea that this could be applied to factory workers, retail workers, IT professionals, nurses--you name it. Forget the wealth and privilege of these media personalities--it could be a story unfolding in a company anywhere in America. Women just don't get paid what they're worth. We see it time and again.

And it's wrong. It's fundamentally the wrong thing to do to people.

What stood out to me was that you could write this story in a lot of places where women aren't paid as much as men for the same work--for work that is often better. There was a collective reaction to this story because so many women have experienced exactly what Abramson experienced--that sickening feeling of not being treated right because of only one thing--their gender.

In each and every part of America's work life, that has to stop. It should have stopped long ago. We passed Lily Ledbetter--legislation that addressed these issues--and it still goes on. We see stories about wage theft, and it made me think about what would solve something like this.

Pay women the same as men or lose your business. Steal wages from your employees and you lose your business. I'm not talking about shutting it down--I mean, you lose your property.

Your property is guaranteed to be protected by the law of the land and the infrastructure You Didn't Build that helped you create and run your business. If you don't pay people what they are worth and if you steal the wages of their work, you forfeit your right to enjoy the business you are in. You collect what you put into that business (minus what you cheated someone out of or stole) and you walk away with nothing else. You lose your business. It goes into public trust or receivership and is sold so that nobody loses their job. Whoever buys that business  has to keep everyone employed and has to pay them what is owed to them.

Try that and see if that brings pay up to an equal level and see if that stops wage theft.

Sonic Youth Reconsidered

Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth has given an interview, and it's worth listening to because she was in an important band before it ended.

In case you're wondering, Sonic Youth ended a while ago when her marriage to Thurston Moore ended as well. This was a band that I should have totally gotten into but I never did.

I tried. I remember when Daydream Nation came out--massive independent album. Critically acclaimed, highly regarded, and I bought the CD when I was in between high school and college.


There are a slew of Sonic Youth albums and I own none of them. And I love distortion, fuzzy takes, aggressive music, and shoegaze. I love a lot of that stuff.

Sonic Youth?

Someone else cares. I don't.

I respect their legacy from a cultural point of view, and that's about it. Musically, I'm weird that way. Don't care about Sonic Youth. No interest in Wilco. And I still don't get Muse, either.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Creation Records Has Been Resurrected

Good on ya:

Alan McGee has confirmed that has relaunched the management arm of Creation Records and has signed The Jesus And Mary Chain as his first client. 

The band are set to perform their classic 1985 debut album 'Psychocandy' at three UK shows this November, and McGee will oversee the shows ahead of festival dates in 2015.

Confirming his involvement via an interview with Music Week, McGee says: "Creation Management are going to sign a couple of baby bands, but the main thing for us is to do the Mary Chain right. We're going to South America on Monday, then we'll do some more American stuff, then there's three British dates. Then really we're [planning events for] the whole of next year – the festivals [in 2015] are going to be all about 'Psychocandy'."

"The Mary Chain were the first band I ever managed when I was 23," McGee adds. "That was 30 years ago and they exploded really fast. By the time I was 24, they were Number One in Germany and other places. Jim [Reid] was 22, I was 24 and Douglas [Hart] was 17. It was fucking nuts, if you think about it. We were kids! Now, I'm 53 – I suppose that's kind of the normal age of a manager in a lot of ways."

Now, old McGee needs to convince Andy Bell to swallow his pride and get up on stage with Ride.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Demonizing Jill Abramson

Jill Abramson had the audacity to ask to be treated equally at The New York Times.

It is 2014. Women are still being paid much, much less than men for equal work in far too many jobs and careers. Abramson was at the pinnacle of the American (world?) media establishment and she was still begging to be treated as an equal.

Instead, we're treated to the usual "bitchy, bossy woman" commentary that will render this story a footnote in the days ahead. By this weekend, will we have an actual conversation about workplace equality or will we assume that the wealthy and privileged Abramson will simply have to find work somewhere else?

The Church Live at the Sydney Opera House

This is the long-awaited live album that The Church never really ever wanted to do. It involved a massive orchestra and a temporary peace amongst the players.

Do the right thing and buy this album and support these artists...

Monday, May 12, 2014

That Went Well

Now that Donald Sterling has had a chance to tell his side of the story, everything is now perfectly fine and he will not face any more accusations of being insensitive about race issues in America:

In an exclusive interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Sterling spoke publicly for the first time since a controversial audio recording of him sparked a firestorm and put his ownership of the Clippers in jeopardy.

He repeatedly apologized and denied accusations that he's racist, claiming he'd been "baited" into making what he called "terrible" remarks. But while he defended himself for much of the interview, he went on the offensive when Johnson's name came up.

Sterling, 80, slammed the former Los Angeles Lakers player's character and his battle with HIV, saying Johnson hasn't done anything to help others.

"What kind of a guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV? Is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about?" Sterling asked. "I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background. But what does he do for the black people? He doesn't do anything."

As you can see, Sterling is getting great advice from the sycophants who tell him how wonderful he is all day long. This fantastic public relations advice probably costs him more money than most people make in a decade. My only hope is that Sterling will keep giving interviews so that everyone can see just how far this stellar disaster control advice will take him.

I mean, the kids are learning a lot from this man, aren't they? Sterling had days and days to think about what he said and that's what he said. You couldn't come up with anything else? 

I mean, oh, damn. That's what I said when I saw this story. Damn.

What else can you say? The man's insane.

Campaign Signs Don't Matter

This is what haplessness looks like.

The man you see in the still video image above has been caught on video stealing campaign signs:

Baltimore County police are investigating the destruction of campaign signs in Towson that belong to a state senator.

Officers were dispatched to the 8700 block of Loch Bend Drive on Saturday for a destruction of property call.

The caller, identified as the campaign treasurer for state Sen. James Brochin, told police three people were taking down four 8-foot by 4-foot "Brochin for Senate" signs from a commercial lawn at Loch Bend Drive and East Joppa Road. Brochin is a Democrat running for re-election in Baltimore County's 42nd District.

"It's straight out of middle school," Brochin said. "The fact that my opponent is taking my signs down while I'm doing this rather than getting out to voters and talking to voters is a problem. I'm disappointed. It's sad. It's desperate, but the thing I have always tried to do is go one-on-one to the voter and talk to the voter about public policy."

Unlucky in life, unlucky in crime, and famous for doing something stupid. What a shame.

The really sad part of all of this is that campaign signs are next to useless and don't influence voters or achieve much of anything at all. They may increase name recognition but only in cases where there are voters who are actually going to vote for the person whose name they see in their neighborhood the most.

Know anyone like that? Didn't think so.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Your Indie Band Imploded the Other Day

I couldn't tell you what is happening with The Flaming Lips, other than to say that it looks a lot like what is happening with Pixies and with a few other once-indie bands that came to prominence in the 1990s. The sad thing is, none of these bands would be imploding if it wasn't for drugs or money, perhaps both.

The pressure to make a living when you're forty or fifty years old is tremendous--this is when you have at least three ex-wives, several kids who are getting expensive tastes in wanting to be normal teenagers, and when the greatness of what you're doing does not translate into massive amounts of cash in the form of royalties.

If you go and read the comments, the Flaming Lips have thousands of "insiders" who know exactly what's going on. Or a handful of people who post again and again, pretending to know what they're talking about. The general consensus is that Wayne Coyne has become an asshole. Creative people usually have all of the asshole features built in before they get famous. Coyne has done it backwards--at the apex of the band's success, he has become one in order to control the product. When Kim Deal left Pixies, that was the end of the only dynamic that mattered in that band, and Black Francis took over and that was that. The same consolidation has happened in the Flaming Lips.

They're an asshole band. They come up with tricks and hoaxes and reasons why people can hate on them. Getting rid of band members helps change the financial dynamic (a new drummer doesn't get paid the same as a road-tested guy who has been with you for years) and it consolidates power. This means that whichever asshole has all the power gets to dictate the way that the next few years are going to go.

I'm sure that the Flaming Lips and Pixies will make some money in the time they have left. I'm sure that people will leave and feelings will be hurt. I don't entirely blame them--it's impossible to make a comfortable living from playing independent music anymore unless you have no expenses, no family, and can live on whatever Spotify is paying you. Add chemicals and whatever else into that, and there isn't a stage in the world that is worth playing when you're handed these kinds of problems.

Friday, May 9, 2014

In the Wilderness on Benghazi

Rich Lowry is doing his best to carry water for people who don't care about anything other than getting re-elected this fall. The results are tragically hypocritical.

Doesn't anyone get that Benghazi has become a joke on the national stage? As in, there is no scandal and they're overreaching? That no one seriously believes that the Republicans are going to be able to manufacture a scandal out of something that happened on September 11, 2012 and then use that to impeach the President?

I mean, talk about delusional:

The deniers evidently believe:
An administration should be able to make erroneous statements about a terror attack that killed a U.S. ambassador in the weeks before a presidential election and expect everyone to accept its good intentions afterward.

Does Lowry forget the years 2001-2009? And the entirety of the Bush Administration? Apparently so.

An administration should be able to withhold a bombshell White House email from congressional investigators and expect everyone to greet its long-delayed release with a yawn.

See the thing I just said and imagine Dick Cheney snarling at the idea that the White House should just let everyone see the E-mail any time they wish.

An administration should be able to send out its press secretary to abase himself with absurd denials of the obvious and expect everyone to consider its credibility solidly intact.

Wow. See above again and again. Then, imagine a Dana Perino press conference from said era.

No opposition party would ever accept these propositions, and of course Republicans (and a few intrepid reporters and organizations) haven’t. We presumably would never have learned of the email from White House national security official Ben Rhodes to then-ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice prior to her notorious Sunday show appearances if the Benghazi “obsessives” at Judicial Watch hadn’t zealously pursued records through a lawsuit.

The bombshell that wasn't did not ignite this scandal--a phony effort to make it relevant put it on the front pages. The difference of course being that Benghazi was proof that we don't have adequate troops in Africa and the ability to project force into unstable war zones on the African continent at a moment's notice. We don't have those things because America's vital interests are not threatened. The Iraq War was proof that you can lie to the American people, stubbornly refuse to change course, get thousands of Americans killed, and still enjoy the legitimacy of the mainstream media's inability to hold anyone accountable.

Rarely will you find a more unethical attempt to politicize American foreign policy. I don't recall any of Walter Mondale's extensive remarks on the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut being proof that the Reagan Administration was negligent, criminally incompetent and responsible for deaths of hundreds of Americans, but maybe I missed that.

No, I did not miss it:

In the debate with the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee, Mr. [George H. W.] Bush termed the bombing of the United States Embassy in Beirut ''a wanton terrorist action'' and said American troops had helped bring about a ''government of reconciliation.''

He added: ''For somebody to suggest, as our opponents have, that these men died in shame, they had better not tell the parents of those young marines.''

A total of 241 marines and other Americans died in the explosion at the marine barracks on Oct. 23, 1983.

Earlier, with Mrs. Ferraro seated behind him on the State Capital steps in Madison, Mr. Mondale said, ''Now we all make mistakes in campaigns but that one is unpardonable.Mr. Bush, we love this country as much as you do. And, Mr. Bush, we honor our men and women who die in the service of our country, and we grieve for their families as much as you do.

''Mr. Bush, apologize today for that remark,'' said Mr. Mondale to thunderous applause.

Later in Chicago, Mrs. Ferraro herself called on Mr. Bush to apologize, saying she was more concerned about receiving an apology for that statement than for an unflattering predebate description of her by Mr. Bush's press secretary. The aide, Peter Teeley, told The Wall Street Journal that she was ''too bitchy.''

In Minneapolis, Mr. Mondale said, ''I decided to spend the night to see if I would cool off, and I'm getting more angry every time. There's no excuse for this.

''He should be ashamed of himself,'' said Mr. Mondale. ''If Mr. Bush thinks as Vice President of the United States he can tell the American people that I either stated or implied that our marines in Lebanon lost their lives - lost as a result of shame, when he knows utterly and absolutely that's an appalling and atrocious misstatement of the facts and won't apologize, he ought to be ashamed of himself.

If that's not a history lesson about who prefers to politicize American foreign policy, what is? By the way, Michael Tomasky, who is always reliably great, misses this fact in his piece here. The Reagan Administration knew--knew--they were vulnerable when it came to foreign policy decisions regarding the use of military force (Grenada? Hello?) and that's why then-Vice President Bush went on the offensive with those remarks. He was actively trying to prevent the Democrats from making an issue out of what happened. Walter Mondale, bless his heart, never missed a chance to tell the truth and take the high road on the way to defeat.

There seems to be only one reality--if something bad happens when a Republican is in office, it's because Democrats were weak. If something happens when a Democrat is in office, we have to conclude that Democrats are pussies and we need to put the Daddy Party back in charge.

Scale is important. If a handful of Americans die when a Democrat is in charge, it's game on for scandal mongering. When hundreds or thousands die, it means we went to war with the army we had, not the one that would survive all of the roadside bombings we refused to acknowledge.

It stings these people that Obama's orders were responsible for killing Osama bin Laden. That absolutely drives them crazy, by the way. It destroys every narrative they cling to.

But, of course, we're just going to have to wait for Rich Lowry to turn on the Republicans once again:

In recent weeks, many conservatives have started to turn against the Iraq war, but few have gone so far as admit that perhaps the allegedly biased (liberal and anti-Bush) media may actually have been right about the conflict all along. But in his latest King Features column today, Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, takes that bold step.

He's certainly not changing his political stripes, as the following sentence reveals: "The mainstream media is biased, arrogant, prone to stultifying group-think and much more fallible than its exalted self-image allows it to admit." But then he adds: "It also, however, can be right, and this is most confounding to conservatives. In Iraq, the media’s biases happen to fit the circumstances."

Lowry explains: "Most of the pessimistic warnings from the mainstream media have turned out to be right — that the initial invasion would be the easy part, that seeming turning points (the capture of Saddam, the elections, the killing of Zarqawi) were illusory, that the country was dissolving into a civil war.....Conservatives need to realize that something is not dubious just because it’s reported by the New York Times...."
He even tweaks Laura Bush for her hit at media coverage in Iraq last week, when she complained that “there are a lot of good things happening that aren’t covered.” Lowry asks: "What are those things, one wonders?"

There's more: "In their distrust of the mainstream media, their defensiveness over President Bush and the war, and their understandable urge to buck up the nation’s will, many conservatives lost touch with reality on Iraq. They thought that they were contributing to our success, but they were only helping to forestall a cold look at conditions there and the change in strategy and tactics that would be dictated by it."

So, when all is said and done, it will be the media's fault unless it is impossible to prove that they were wrong. Then it will be the fault of whoever Rich Lowry wants it to be. We won't have any kind of accountability moment because shut up, that's why.

[...] the question of responsibility remains a searing issue in Washington, framed by two contradictory story lines.

One has it that the video, which was posted on YouTube, inspired spontaneous street protests that got out of hand. This version, based on early intelligence reports, was initially offered publicly by Susan E. Rice, who is now Mr. Obama’s national security adviser.

The other, favored by Republicans, holds that Mr. Stevens died in a carefully planned assault by Al Qaeda to mark the anniversary of its strike on the United States 11 years before. Republicans have accused the Obama administration of covering up evidence of Al Qaeda’s role to avoid undermining the president’s claim that the group has been decimated, in part because of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The investigation by The Times shows that the reality in Benghazi was different, and murkier, than either of those story lines suggests. Benghazi was not infiltrated by Al Qaeda, but nonetheless contained grave local threats to American interests. The attack does not appear to have been meticulously planned, but neither was it spontaneous or without warning signs.

Clap louder to make a scandal out of nothing.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Jay-Z Did It But Metallica Can't

Metallica headlining Glastonbury? What a disaster in the making.

There will be a contingent there that will want it. There will be many, many others who will not submit themselves to the assault that is a Metallica show. This is not like being a rock and roll fan and wandering over to see Jay-Z play. You don't just wander over in your Wellies and watch the band perform. When you stand where Metallica are playing, you are going to be relentlessly pounded by sounds. And if people want that, okay.

My guess is that the Metallica crowd will roll in for the show and leave when it's done and that everyone will go see Jake Bugg.

It Takes Guts to be Gentle and Kind When You Invade the Stage

You do not manhandle or injure Morrissey:

Hugging Morrissey is like a rite of passage for die-hard fans. He's up on stage, doing his Morrissey thing and there's an unwritten rule that fans will rush the stage to hug him. He goes on with his bit, pretending like nothing's happening, but his whole schtick relies on fans understanding that they're then supposed to let go and also be gentle with their idol.

But Morrissey got more than a hug from fans when he started his North American tour Wednesday night, May 7, at San Jose's City National Civic. During the encore, the crowd did the whole hug thing, but some got way too rowdy and threw themselves onto the singer. The fan-made video below shows what basically looks like a body slam. Morrissey left the stage mid-song.

I suspect that many are aghast. American fans just do not know their protocol.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Holy crap--a new album from Echo & the Bunnymen? And an American tour?

7th May – Trix – Antwerp – BELGIUM
8th May – Tivoli – Utrecht – HOLLAND
10th May – Academy – Oxford
11th May – Wulfrun Hall – Wolverhampton
13th May – Tyne Theatre – Newcastle
14th May – Ritz – Manchester
16th May – Queens Hall – Edinburgh
17th May – Shepherd’s Bush Empire – London
18th May – Academy – Bristol
20th May - Philharmonic – Liverpool
4th July – Hop Farm Festival – Paddock Wood – Kent – MORE INFO
1st Aug – Orpheum Theater – Los Angeles, CA – Tickets/Info
4th Aug – Crystal Ballroom – Portland, OR – Tickets/Info
6th Aug – Showbox at the Market – Seattle, WA – Tickets/Info
10th Aug -Metro – Chicago, IL – Tickets/Info
12th Aug – Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, ON – Tickets/Info
16th Aug – Irving Plaza – New York, NY – Tickets/Info
18th Aug – The Fillmore – Silver Spring, MD – Tickets/Info

I hope to be able to see them at the Fillmore. Perhaps I can give them back this sucky-ass blog.

Greed and Incompetence Killed Those Kids

I was wrong about what caused the South Korean Sewol ferry to sink:

The South Korean ferry disaster that killed more than 260 people last month was caused in part by excessive cargo and a failure to tie that cargo down properly, the joint police and prosecuting team investigating the disaster said Tuesday. 

It marked the first time South Korean investigators said what they believe led to the April 16 sinking of the ferry Sewol, which was carrying 467 passengers and crew -- including more than 300 high school students on a field trip -- when it capsized.

Through experience, I can tell you that the problem on the southern tip of South Korea is that there are numerous incidents where North Korean infiltration ships have run afoul of the coastline and of the commercial shipping that travels through that area. If the ferry was not so incompetently managed--as is evident from that hapless fool of an underwear-clad captain getting off the ship before several hundred teenagers drowned--and so greedily overloaded, then a North Korean infiltration ship scenario would have been more plausible.

The general consensus in South Korea is that this was their 9/11. That may be the case. But, really, it's something that happens again and again--incompetence and greed are to blame, not a terrorist or the dark hand of a sinister conspiracy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Benghazi This and Benghazi That

The spokesperson for the administration that used the tag line "You're either with us or you're with the terrorists" is daring meteorologists to perpetrate the right wing's delusional talking points about the attack on Benghazi.

The farce that is the conservative mind continues to scream Benghazi until it does, in fact, become the scandal it never was. How wonderful it will be when our working media buffoons decide to start laughing at their idea of what constitutes a scandal and do their jobs.

Welcome to the most ham-fisted scandal startup ever.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Stacey Campfield is Your Republican of the Year

Why would this idiot leave the post up? Holy crap.

Democrats bragging about the number of mandatory sign ups for Obamacare is like Germans bragging about the number of manditory sign ups for "train rides" for Jews in the 40s.

Yeah, it's exactly the same thing. Giving people access to health care so that they do not die broke and leave their families the bill is just like how millions of Jews were put to death.

What a moron.

Embrace You're Not Alone Singles

These are the covers for the Embrace single You're Not Alone. They follow the tradition of a CD single release in two different versions, which is designed to drive sales among diehard fans up a notch or two, delivering a little cash to the label that they can hide from the band.

What happens is, a ravenous Embrace fan will go out and buy four of each of these singles, and keep two of each for emergencies and give out the other two to friends. The label goes back to the band and says that negative three of these were sold, pocketing the money.

The cover concept is great but my versions are lo-fi and crappy. The line drawings and the purple really work.