Saturday, January 31, 2015

Measles and Plain Common Sense

You know, this is just plain ridiculous and unnecessary:

Last Wednesday, the number was 59. Nine days later, there are 91 cases of measles in California.

The California Department of Public Health sent out the latest numbers Friday of confirmed cases since December and while the total is still small, the jump was a startling 54% in just more than a week.

Most cases -- 58 -- are linked to an outbreak at Disneyland in mid-December. Health officials said 40 of the cases were employees or park patrons, while 18 of the cases were secondary infections.

The new numbers include two cases in Marin County, near San Francisco, where one parent of a 6-year-old has asked school officials to bar any children who have not been vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).

Stupidity, as spread by the Internet, is now one of the most dangerous things in the world, rivaling guns and teenagers with whiskey, guns and car keys. I don't know how you fight stupid. I do know that vaccinating children is the biggest no-brainer in the history of no-brainers.

Vaccinate your kids, dummy. You're not special. You're not preventing disease with holistic bullshit practices sold to you by quacks. You're killing people everywhere by failing to understand the basic common sense behind vaccinations and herd immunity.

Why are we even talking about this in 2015? This is a world where astrology, Herbalife, and supply side economics are treated as actual things that work. We are a bit fucked, I reckon.

The Jesus and Mary Chain Darklands Deluxe Edition

There is so much to love about this album. Everything inside of this package--the deluxe edition--is worth the price and more. This is the golden age of the deluxe edition, and to see the JAMC produce these versions is wonderful. Lush absolutely requires the deluxe edition treatment, of course.

But just to focus on the one thing that I am posting about--the cover. This is the second album, and second albums come with their own curse. Darklands is no curse--it is a standalone masterpiece. And the moody, dreamy cover explains exactly what you're going to get from this album.

In the 1980s, no one was making this kind of music. No one could, and no one has ever since.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Mary Cheney and Stupid Rhetorical Questions

Welcome to the stupidest question of the year so far:

Mary Cheney wants to know why it isn't "socially acceptable" for a white person to "put on blackface and act out offensive stereotypes of African-Americans" if drags queens are allowed to imitate female stereotypes?

If a man can dress up as a woman to entertain an audience, then why can't a white person get on stage in blackface, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney wondered aloud Thursday in a private Facebook post obtained by CNN.

Let's see. 

Racism? Ever heard of it? 

You see, when someone dons blackface, they are reinforcing a racist stereotype designed to dehumanize and belittle an entire race of people through mocking their humanity. When someone dresses up in drag, they're celebrating something they wish to be, which is a woman, and that's rare in a male-centric society.

This has been a simple answer to a stupid fucking question.

Nemo Me Impune Lacessit

There really is a website called "Conservatives For Palin" and they really, really do have a banner with a misspelled word on it.

And I realize that this is absurd and could be entirely wrong, but the phrase stamped on the old Scottish coins was "Nemo Me Impune Lacessit," which is roughly translated as "no one cuts me with inpunity."

The Palin site spells the word as "lacesset." This is an obscure spelling on the Internet. It is vastly more common to spell it "lacessit."

What? I'm bored.

Mitt Romney Will Run For President in 2020

That's how I read this:

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will not make a third run for president, CNN has confirmed, and will tell supporters on an 11 a.m. phone call he believes it's "best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity" to become the nominee.

Multiple Romney aides confirmed that text of his planned remarks during an 11 a.m. call with supporters posted online by radio host Hugh Hewitt are accurate, and that Romney will "do whatever I can" to elect the GOP nominee, but will not run himself.

The call comes as Romney has faced deep skepticism from some quarters of the Republican party over his interest in another run for president. His surprise announcement to donors earlier this month that he's interested in making another run for the White House upended the developing 2016 GOP primary field, freezing Republican staff and donors who were torn between their loyalties to the 2012 nominee and a new crop of potential contenders.

Romney's trial balloon crashed, so he's going to step aside for a moment and see who emerges as a front runner. He will wait and see if someone falters, and then he will expect to either be drafted as the nominee or announced as the early pick for Vice President.

There's no chance whatsoever that Romney is "done" with presidential politics. He's making a tactical move that will maintain his viability for another chance.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Say Lou Lou

Say Lou Lou release Lucid Dreaming on the second of February on Columbia Records.

Lucid Dreaming should be a world wide smash hit for Say Lou Lou. If not, then there's no hope for the culture.

Comcast is Still a Horrible Company

This is the bill that a Comcast customer recently received. The first name on the account was changed to "asshole" by a Comcast customer service representative. Go read about it...awful.

My own experience with Comcast was hilarious fun. I was using the Comcast E-mail service with our account (cable and Internet) and they arbitrarily cancelled the account and destroyed the E-mail along with it.

I have been asked, numerous times and in person, to switch to Comcast. I will never, ever do it.

Sam Smith is Adele Forever

The last thing you would ever say is, "something something annoys me."

That's a guarantee that the thing that annoys you is going to be hung around your neck like a millstone. Sam Smith is annoyed that people think he's the male equivalent of Adele (he's not; he's the male equivalent of Rick Astley).

In the British music press, they must be chortling (if there remains a British music press, obviously) at the idea that Sam Smith is receiving torrents of abuse from Americans like Howard Stern. They have seized on his weight (he's not fat by any standard other than that of a heroin addict with bare cupboards) and his success and now they're going to start beating the drum over his annoyance with the Adele comparisons.

If Smith truly doesn't care, and if this is a feint to get them to stop making fun of his chubbiness, well played. The problem is, he can never reap the benefits of an Adele duet. That cudgel has been snatched from his hands.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


There was a time when people actually cared about children in this country. I think it lasted for about a half a minute. It was when "We Are the World" came out and the government gave away a lot of free cheese. I know I'm being a nasty, shrill, simplistic bastard, but when you think of all of the kids who go to school hungry, who go home hungry, who go hungry on the weekends, and who go hungry because the food stamp benefits they are entitled to don't last until the end of the month, well, it's difficult to see how this plays out.

If a Republican running for President were to call the kids on food stamps moochers, he or she would reap the benefit of fundraising and media attention. That person would win the morning. That person would be devoid of a soul, but that's how we roll now. Hating poor people, blaming poor people, and demonizing poor people is a feature, not a bug anymore, and you can have it free with your distractions and your tax refund.

The 2016 election will see an onslaught of cash poured in by Republicans. I, personally, think that a Republican is going to win, hands down, because no one is paying attention. Is the economy good? Vote for the Daddy Party.

We are missing a vital and important discussion about hunger and the development of children. Whole groups of children, millions of them, are suffering in this country. So, of course, we're going to be distracted by a Flag Burning Amendment or the need to invade another country somewhere instead.

Andrew Sullivan Gives Up and Quits

Good for you, Andrew Sullivan! You finally decided to give up. Wish I could.

This sounds like trolling to me, but I have two questions:

One of the things I’ve always tried to do at the Dish is to be up-front with readers. This sometimes means grotesque over-sharing; sometimes it means I write imprudent arguments I have to withdraw; sometimes it just means a monthly update on our revenues and subscriptions; and sometimes I stumble onto something actually interesting. But when you write every day for readers for years and years, as I’ve done, there’s not much left to hide. And that’s why, before our annual auto-renewals, I want to let you know I’ve decided to stop blogging in the near future.

Will there be refunds for all of those people who paid to support him and his new startup?

Will there be a reckoning for the bigotry and the warmongering?

Didn't think so. Somewhere, Freddie DeBoer is leaping through the air as if he and his droogs just had a bit of the old ultraviolence.

Tyranny in Alabama

Alabama's controversial Supreme Court Chief Justice, Roy Moore, urged the state's governor on Tuesday to oppose a federal judge's decision to strike down the state's gay marriage ban, saying "we must act to oppose such tyranny" being imposed by "judicial fiat."
Moore, known for unsuccessfully trying to block the removal of a plaque bearing the Ten Commandments that he'd installed at the state courthouse in 2001, told Gov. Roy Bentley in a letter that nothing in Alabama's constitution allowed the federal government to "redefine" marriage to include gays and lesbians. The state supreme court, he said, has described marriage as a "divine institution."

"Today the destruction of that institution is upon us by federal courts using specious pretexts based on the Equal Protection, Due Process and Full Faith and Credit Clauses of the United States Constitution," he wrote in the letter posted to

He sounds like the sort of fellow President Jeb Bush would put on the Supreme Court. But real tyranny is when you allow the law to be applied in a separate and unequal manner, especially in the context of using dogs to confront protesters.

Allowing Bruce and Steve to get married isn't tyranny because they're not going to blow up little girls in churches or murder people if they don't get their way. They may rethink the insanity of living in Alabama and expecting the application of the rule of law in a reasonable manner, but that's what elections are for.

There aren't many people willing to use this kind of hyperbole. If Moore feels that granting rights to Americans is tyranny, what does he think real tyranny looks like?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jeffrey Goldberg on Israeli Politics

Jeffrey Goldberg writes about Israel's obsession with stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons and how Benjamin Netanyahu is the wrong man to accomplish this task:

[...] the only other way for Netanyahu to stop Iran would be to convince the president of the United States, the leader of the nation that is Israel’s closest ally and most crucial benefactor, to confront Iran decisively. An Israeli strike could theoretically set back Iran’s nuclear program, but only the U.S. has the military capabilities to set back the program in anything approaching a semi-permanent way. And only the United States has the throw-weight to organize sanctions regimes of lasting consequence.

For several years, Netanyahu and President Obama, despite their mutual loathing, worked more or less in tandem on this issue. Netanyahu traveled the world arguing for stringent sanctions, and Obama did much the same. In fact, Obama used Netanyahu’s tough posture to America’s advantage: On several occasions, Obama and officials in his administration played good cop/bad cop, telling other world leaders that toughening sanctions on Iran would be the only way to forestall an Israeli attack, and this line of argument often proved effective.

The focus here is on the wrong thing. You have the leader of Israel trying to start a war with Iran and you have the President trying to use diplomacy. Why are we not celebrating that effort? Successfully preventing wars doesn't lead to anything anymore in terms of real benefits for the incumbent President You are almost better off starting a war and letting "the next guy" finish it for you and take the blame for anything that goes wrong. The American people just don't care about foreign policy anymore, period.

If the Republicans think they can run in 2016 on the issue of support for Israel, they are mistaken. Americans want us to be friendly and continue to "save" Israel but they have never punished Obama for refusing to start a war on behalf of Israel. Even George W. Bush understood this.

Goldberg adds this:

Why doesn’t Netanyahu understand that alienating Democrats is not in the best interest of his country? From what I can tell, he doubts that Democrats are—or will be shortly—a natural constituency for Israel, and he clearly believes that Obama is a genuine adversary. As I reported last year, in an article that got more attention for a poultry-related epithet an administration official directed at Netanyahu than anything else, Netanyahu has told people he has “written off” Obama.

Someone advising Netanyahu has put it in his ear that there won't be any Democrats to negotiate with by the time the 2016 campaign is done; that's a wrong-headed notion. Control of the U.S. Senate could easily swing back to the Democrats in the next cycle and every sitting Republican Senator of note understands this fact. They are a temporary thing, given the demographics of the Senate and the presidency as far as elections are concerned. The House is safely Republican thanks to gerrymandering; unfortunately, you can't apply that magic to the Senate or the Executive.

This is why I fear a Hillary Clinton presidency--being tough with Israel is not going to be possible for her because of a need to have exceptional toughness that would not normally be applied to a male president. She will be under enormous pressure to use force, a la Margaret Thatcher, and she will be backed into conflicts we should not have to fight. She will be bullied into giving Netanyahu everything he wants.

If she tells everyone to go pound sand and that she will make peace wherever she can, good for her. We have had enough of the permanent wars of the early 21st Century. We cannot keep fighting forever.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sarah Palin is the Original Grifter

Every time Sarah Palin threatens to run for President, an angel in heaven acquires a pair of wings.

The mere fact that ABC News entertained the idea of legitimizing her run for the presidency--which does not exist and could only exist in a fairy tale--should tell you that click bait is the watchword of the day.

She's not running to win; she's running because she needs money. By forming a handful of phony organizations designed to collect money from rubes who think she might actually run, she can open up the spigot on the money that flows from idiots into her pockets.

There ought to be a law against preying on the innocent like this, but there never will be because the grift is permanent, just like Palin's need to keep sucking money from fools.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Noel Gallagher God Help Us All - The Dying of the Light

Here's the bleak but rather effective artwork that will promote new music from the Chasing Yesterday album. This design uses the logo and the arty photography rather well.

Is this an official release? It looks professionally done, so maybe it is. The problem you face when you deal with pre-released material is that, in many cases, it's fan-created or nicked for personal use.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Reserved Veteran Parking

Mary Claire Caine didn't do a damned thing wrong:

When Mary Claire Caine walked outside after finishing her routine grocery trip to Harris Teeter Friday, she couldn't believe what she found plastered to the front window of her car.

As a veteran of the Air Force who served in Kuwait and on the flight line of the F-117 Nighthawk, Caine felt proud to park in the reserved "Veteran Parking" spaces at the grocery store chain when she did her shopping. Her two kids were always excited whenever one of the spots was open, and no one had ever questioned her qualification for it, until now.

Just as she finished unloading the groceries from her cart, she noticed a note taped to the passenger window, written in sharpie.

It read, "Maybe [you] can't read the sign you parked in front of. This space is reserved for those who fought for America....not you. Thanks, Wounded Vet."

This is the mentality of some veterans--no one who is female could possibly have served their country and those who did were nurses or clerks. It's pathetic. This is probably the work of one of those regulars down at the American Legion. This is the wingnut who mouths off at people, always looking for a free drink, never did anything in the military, and can't let go of the one thing they managed to get through.

I can just imagine the scene--Caine drove up, parked, and went into the store and then some old jackass went to his car where he keeps his tape, his loose leaf paper, and his Sharpies so that he can tell people what they've done wrong and how they should go about making sure they don't piss him off. This is the work of someone who had to be prepared to leave a cowardly anonymous note on someone else's car. This is what entitled crybabies resort to when their fee-fees are hurt.

Caine's service is every bit as important as anyone else's service and that's all there is to it.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Jesus Christ Pose of Dinesh D'Souza

I don't recall whether or not Martin Luther King Jr. ever broke the campaign finance laws of the country in order to enrich himself, but Dinesh D'Souza is exactly right to compare himself to one of the great men of history.

Look at me! Look at me! I'm just like someone Americans love and admire, except I'm a convicted felon who stole moneys and blamed it on the President of the United States because of my persecution complex!

The only thing worse than Dinesh D'Souza is blogging about Dinesh D'Souza...


Expertise is Just Another Word For Bullshit

This confirms an old bias of mine:

Study after study has shown that people enjoy a wine more the more the pay for it. If someone believes a wine to be of high quality—if they view its producer as truly high-end—it ends up tasting better to them. “Marketers cannot assume,” the authors of one 2008 study in the Journal of Wine Economics wrote, “that intrinsic product attributes, even when experienced, will be weighted and interpreted accurately by consumers.” Since price is a strong predictor of enjoyment, one could make the argument that the wine industry is actually set up according to a certain logic: People pay more to buy the products they end up enjoying more.For most of the 20th century, California’s vineyards were viewed as inferior to Europe’s.

A drinker's preconceptions, as those wine economists noted, shape his or her experience. In a 2001 study that is so outrageous as to appear apocryphal, all 54 tasters—some of them professed experts—were fooled into thinking that a white wine was actually red. All it took to dupe them was a few drops of red food-coloring, which were used to make one of the two glasses of the same white wine take on a different tint. (That finding is not as dispiriting as one wine journal's 2009 paper that found that one in four subjects preferred dog food to some pâtés—but it’s close.)

In other words, the expertise of snooty people is revealed to be a game of bullshit. How this can be expanded to understand the mystique wrapped in the cloak of bullshit that's behind the Pono music player, vinyl records and vintage guitars is one for the scholars to work out.

I have always been skeptical of people who push things in your face because they are authorities and experts. Really? And how do you reconcile that with the fact that independent verification usually reveals expertise to be nonexistent?

Oh, and don't get me started on Baby Boomers, man.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mark Radcliffe is Tormenting Steve Kilbey

David Bowie and someone named Mark Radcliffe

Oh, that didn't take too long to figure out, now did it?

Steve Kilbey of the Church has better things to do than moderate the hateful, trollish comments left on his blog by Mark Radcliffe. Kilbey is about to tour and support one of the finest albums of the year, The Church's Further Deeper album.

Here, Kilbey details the hateful, absolutely intolerable comments left on his website.

Steve, why do your eldest daughters hate you?
i dunno. but i hear your little dog toto adores you

Your whole life is a lie.
Why don’t you try living up to the values you spout?
Because it’s too hard and you’re too soft.
at least theyre my own lies
your life is stalking your betters on fan pages gushing dribbling and being rude

Steve, why have so many lives been ruined by you?
gee thats kinda general
what about you deejay?

Through a little checking, Kilbey was able to deduce that Mark Radcliffe, a BBC Radio personality, has been the culprit, relentlessly posting nasty things on his blog.

Is this true? Why would the BBC employ Radcliffe if he's out trolling people like this?

Radcliffe needs to take stock of his life and seek professional help.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Tri-State Munchie Run

Technically, it's not brazen if you're not smiling on security camera footage.
An 18-year-old Kentucky man and his 13-year-old girlfriend who have been missing for 12 days are believed to have taken off on a crime spree across the South, authorities said Thursday, during which they're suspected of having stolen at least two vehicles — one of which had guns in it.
"It is imperative that these two be located and apprehended as their behavior is becoming increasingly brazen and dangerous," the Grayson County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
The sheriff's office identified the pair as Dalton Hayes, 18, and his girlfriend, Cheyenne Phillips, 13, whom Cheyenne's father reported missing on Jan. 3. They're accused of stealing a neighbor's red Toyota pickup truck, which was spotted on security video nine days later outside a Walmart store in Manning, South Carolina. The couple themselves were captured on video entering the store.
Someone needs to calm down. Americans have more guns than anyone else, and leaving guns in a car is as stupid as it gets.

Have they shot anyone? Nope.

Are they on a run for munchies? Probably.

Which parent thought it was okay for an eighteen year old male to consort with a thirteen year-old girl? Hopefully none of them.

Is this going to lead to a couple of completely innocent people being shot by paranoid idiots? That's a distinct possibility.

Alert me when they're only eight days ahead of the law, okay?

Oh, and South Carolina's age of consent is 14, by the way. Yes, as crazy as that is, this is the law:
The legal age of consent in South Carolina is 16. However, individuals as young as 14 years old are able to consent to have sex with a partner who is 18 years old or younger. Submitting to coercion, especially of an aggravated nature, is not consent.
Something tells me that they're just waiting for a berf-day.

In any event, that's some excellent parenting.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mike Huckabee Resurrects the Tipper Gore Crusade Against Music

Here it is, right after a gaggle of offensive French cartoonists and magazine employees were killed by fundamentalist censors, and we have Mike Huckabee, the original old square from nowhere who hates dirty dancing and that modern rock and roll music, acting like a jackass in public:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has accused President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle of parenting by double-standard, in an interview published Tuesday, saying they shelter their daughters from some things but allow them to listen to the music of Beyonce.

While promoting his new book, Huckabee told People magazine, "I don't understand how on one hand they can be such doting parents and so careful about the intake of everything - how much broccoli they eat and where they go to school ... and yet they don't see anything that might not be suitable" in the lyrics and a Beyonce choreography "best left for the privacy of her bedroom."

Huckabee described the Grammy Award-winning Beyonce in his book as "mental poison."

Good Gravy man, give it a rest. We get that you're going to plead for the votes of the squares who haven't left Davenport, Iowa in years because they might wander into a part of the country where the hippity hop and the thumpity thump of the black music might invade their Lawrence Welk lives, but damn. At least have the decency to note that telling the President of the United States how to raise his daughters might involve a little consistency. Where was Huck when the Bush girls were learning to do the butt dance?

Someone somewhere has to have that picture of the Huckabee family in matching shirts, right?

Now you know why they hate Beyonce.

Tipper Gore, bless her heart, tried this move and it fizzled underneath the watchful eye of a man named Frank Zappa. Who will be Huck's Zappa this year? My bet is that someone seriously pissed off about what happened in France will rise up and mock Huck for his pandering, and it will probably be Taylor Swift or the drummer from the Black Keys because shut up, that's why.

He Could Not be Bothered


He’s too busy enjoying his rock-star lifestyle to show up in court.

A Manhattan judge hit Oasis singer Liam Gallagherwith a $5,000 fine for repeatedly missing court appearances in a child-support case with his ex-mistress, freelance journalist Liza Ghorbani.

“Mr. Felder, where is your client?” Justice Laura Drager asked the rocker’s attorney, Raoul Felder, on Monday morning.

Shaking her head in apparent disbelief, Drager described a last-minute doctor’s note — which claimed the “Wonderwall” singer was “anxious and depressed” — as completely “insufficient.”

Ghorbani’s attorney told Drager that he had a photo of Gallagher and his new girlfriend walking arm-in-arm down a London street over the weekend.

“I think it’s offensive,” Ghorbani’s attorney, Ira Garr, said about the “sick” claim. “My client came up from Virginia.”

Liam Gallagher isn't really enjoying anything right now, other than the simple fact he no longer has a band. That may be, in and of itself, the thing he wanted all along. But they will have a field day with that little tidbit in the middle--that Gallagher used a note from a doctor that said he was anxious and depressed to try to get out of an American court date.

Monday, January 12, 2015

America is Ready For Romneyshambles

He's running! It's Romneyshambles all over again! Yay!

Romneyshambles, Romneyshambles, Romneyshambles!

I can't wait to recycle all of that great stuff I had to blog about in 2012. Corporations are people, my friends! And none of those boys are in the military, either.

The Day America Will Die

This is what landed in my in-box this morning, courtesy of the Washington Times.

"The Day America Will Die."

"Bloody Wednesday."

"The fallout of this historic event will be horrific for the unprepared."


Now, the Moonie Times is a reliably conservative rag. You can't get the news out of them for any amount of trying, but you can get fear mongering and nonsense. You can get endless ads and garbage. How do they survive? What happens when the Moonie money runs out?

The real villains are the clowns at Weiss Research. They paid the Moonie Times for the right to deliver this to people and to spread their irresponsible and hysterical fear-mongering.

This is pretty much all you need to know about Weiss Research, courtesy of the Securities and Exchange Commission. For sophisticated investors, it is easy to dismiss their outlandish claims. For not so savvy people, and you have to wonder how many of them have also been duped by the Moonie Times, how does this not equal predatory advertising and illegally trying to influence events through scare mongering?

Shouldn't we identify such firms? Why are they allowed to practice their trade in this country? And why doesn't the blowback hit the people at the Moonie Times who take money from such firms in exchange for SPAM e-mailing people? It's amazing what people think they can get away with.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pulling Water From the Air

This device produces water from the air itself:

Created by Arturo Vittori and his team at Architecture and Vision, the towers harvest water from rain, fog and dew. This isn’t a new idea—people have been doing this for as long as they’ve needed water, often with air wells. Often built as high-rising stone structures, air wells gather moisture from the air and funnel it into a basin for collection. The WarkaWater functions in much the same way, using mesh netting to capture moisture and direct it into hygienic holding tank accessed via a spout.

And the reason why there aren't hundreds of these in California right now helping to irrigate cropland and alleviate drought? I haven't heard that reason. Perhaps we could implement a public works program to build better dams and store water for long term needs, but, really, if water is scarce, you could do a lot worse than make use of a device like this.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Social Media is an Obstacle, Not a Panacea

It takes a special kind of talent to be interesting, relevant, and fun on social media. There are relatively few bands that have members or management that can procure this type of skill. Therefore, Noel Gallagher is right--everyone is shit scared of offending people (look what just happened in Paris) and thus, no one wants to be controversial unless they're just trolling for fun.

The solution is to hire a social media professional to run things. The problem is, no one is making any money to pay a social media coordinator and who even knows what that really is? How rock and roll is it to have a social media coordinator anyway? Shouldn't that have been the job of the A&R person who doesn't exist anymore because record labels are either gone or broke or going broke?

Maybe Spotify can kick in some money for social media coordinators. That's rock and roll, baby.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Joe Manchin and Democracy

It doesn't sound like Senator Joe Manchin really understands democracy:

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Thursday he was disappointed that the White House threatened to veto his legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline, arguing the president’s move was “not the way a democracy works.”

The West Virginia lawmaker said he was upset Obama did not reserve judgment on the bill until it went through the committee and amendment process in an interview with Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom.”

“I just couldn't believe that out of the gate, two hours after [Sen.] John Hoeven [R-N.D.] and I announced that were introducing the bill, that they would come out from the White House and the president would make a statement that he's going to veto it,” Manchin said.

The Democrat said he had been hopeful the president’s history serving in the Senate would have led him to hold off on a veto threat.

“I would have thought the president would say, ‘Listen, being a former legislator, I'm going to wait until this process unfolds. And at the end of the day, I'll tell you, do I like what they came up with, or do I not like what they came out with, and this is my reason for veto,’ ” Manchin said. “[He] never even gave it a chance, never even gave it a chance. Now, that's just not the way you do legislation. It's not the way a democracy works. And it's not the way the ... three branches of government should work.”

 Here's how George W. Bush handled that whole democracy thing "after the process had unfolded":

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday she is "praying" that President Bush has a change of heart and does not veto a bipartisan children's health insurance bill that he has labeled an unwarranted expansion of government-run health insurance.

"I think I have to pray a little harder, but I will not give up," Pelosi said."The tide is going a different way than a presidential veto would reflect," Pelosi, a California Democrat, said. "It was with great friendship that I reached out to the president this morning to say that I was still praying that he would have a change of heart and sign this legislation."

Pelosi's comments came a day after the Senate voted 67-29 for the measure, which would expand the State Children's Health Insurance program by up to 4 million children.

It sounds like Manchin is mad that President Obama, a former legislator who watched Bush's second term chew democracy up like a cheap thing and spew it into the gutter, is trying to save him some precious time and effort. He should thank the President for taking a stand against the Keystone XL Pipeline and not question if he knows what a democracy is all about.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


When was the last time all your favorite bands got together and put out a new album? Well, Ride don't have one, but they should. The Stone Roses are due for a new album (but it doesn't look like that will happen). The Charlatans have survived and they've got a new one out. And the Church have a new album as well and a North American tour coming up soon.

Swervedriver are due for a major hit and some good karma.

Carrie Brownstein Can Write

Now, this could be an excellent book. Carrie Brownstein is a legitimate contender for most talented person in the history of whatever. She can act, she can do comedy, she can write, and she can play music. These kids today couldn't do half of what she does before breakfast.

A Drawing Has Never Killed Anyone

The satire business took a major hit this morning. If jokes can lead to gunmen, and twelve people dead, then it really is time to think closely about what it is about Western Civilization that is such a threat to the medieval minds that have hijacked the Islamic faith.

This is not about a sly group of French cartoonists mocking people. This is about the silence and intimidation this attack just purchased. The French police have some criminals they need to capture and the whole idea of a free press capable of mocking religion and everything else has come under fire. Will this lead to more repression and fear? Will it keep people from speaking out?

I would be willing to bet on defiance from the French people. Innocent people who follow the Muslim faith will suffer because of the actions of criminals. This is a chance to speak to the idea of standing up to fear.

UPDATE: Charlie Hebdo, circa 2012:

It is here, in the far east of the French capital, that the publisher and editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo have worked since their former editorial offices were destroyed a year ago in anarson attack. Although no one claimed responsibility for the crime, it was apparently motivated by cartoons about Islam that the magazine had published in a special issue under the polemical title "Charia Hebdo," a reference to Islamic Sharia law.
Now the magazine and its Editor-in-Chief Stéphane Charbonnier, who is also a cartoonist himself, are back in the headlines. The satirical magazine has triggered a storm of indignation with its publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad this week. Representatives of the French Council of Muslims, prominent imams and French government officials have all criticized the professional polemicists, who violate political, social and religious taboos on a weekly basis. France has stepped up security at its embassies and other institutions abroad as a precaution.
The US government also expressed concern at the publication of the cartoons. "We don't question the right of something like this to be published, we just question the judgment behind the decision to publish it," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
'Extremists Don't Need Any Excuses'
But Editor-in-Chief Charbonnier, who is known to his colleagues as "Charb," appears relaxed despite the uproar. Surrounded by TV crews from Japan, Qatar, Belgium and South Africa, as well as French journalists, he sits at his desk in the corner of a large room, where he creates his cartoons. He sees himself mainly as a journalist who is just doing his job. "The accusation that we are pouring oil on the flames in the current situation really gets on my nerves," says Charbonnier. "After the publication of this absurd and grotesque film about Muhammad in the US, other newspapers have responded to the protests with cover stories. We are doing the same thing, but with drawings. And a drawing has never killed anyone."
The cartoonist claims he doesn't want to deliberately provoke anyone. "We publish caricatures every week, but people only describe them as declarations of war when it's about the person of the Prophet or radical Islam," says Charbonnier. "When you start saying that you can't create such drawings, then the same thing will soon apply to other, more harmless representations."

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Rare Gift of a Film With History In It

Like Ava DuVernay, I can't stand the whole "white savior" motif that runs through too many films, either. White people have a long history of letting things slide and letting people down and being indifferent to the plight of others. I get why she changed the emphasis in her film to show the Civil Rights era as a story about African Americans doing it for themselves.

The problem is, she took history and made it the subject of a film. Then she misrepresented that same history, throwing the fantastic achievements of great people into a grey area that allows people who don't get the point to attack what her film was trying to achieve. The truth, in and of itself, is always the most powerful thing you can show. Aside from that, the human condition is fascinating enough without changing or manipulating it. An artist can do whatever they want, and then they have to live with it. In this particular case, you're talking about choices not everyone would have made but they're choices that DuVernay isn't afraid to throw back into people's faces. She's the artist. Everyone else has to go deal with that.

As historical inaccuracies go, her film commits no terrible sins and the parts that the "LBJ Loyalists" are mad about aren't that important, but, damn. Everyone should see Selma and focus on the fact that this country was wrapped around a horrible injustice to people because of the color of their skin. DuVernay's decision to make LBJ look like an ass doesn't compare to the cold, hard historical truth of blowing up little girls in churches. She has given people that rare gift--a film that inspires the right kind of soul searching.

Goddamn, people. Priorities, here. If history was that precious, you wouldn't even know the name George Armstrong Custer and you damned sure wouldn't be seeing Andrew Jackson on a twenty dollar bill.

The Last Ship

As an artistic achievement, The Last Ship ranks fairly highly among the more ambitious Broadway musicals. This particular effort, which draws from Sting's Soul Cages album, probably isn't going to get the kind of respect it deserves.

I'm still annoyed with Sting, but not because he's trying to do things like this.

As his albums go, the Soul Cages is perhaps his best. It's the least annoying and has actual rock tunes on it, you know, with guitar and things like that. It's the one show of his that I saw that didn't make me wonder why I was there.

They should make this into a movie. That'll work.

Hindrocket The Troofer!

John Hinderaker at PowerLine believes that there is something amiss, and that makes for blogging gold on the Internet! Yay!

As a Reid Troofer, Hind Rocket just had to speculate that Senator Harry Reid was possibly beaten like a cheap drum by some Las Vegas thugs or casino muscle. Would it be irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to! Right? Right.

No, of course we're not being told the truth about Harry Reid. He's a Democrat, and liberals are the real haters and this is all payback for George W. Bush and his run-in with a pretzel.

Another cherished moment of a life spent watching insanity flicker in front of you on a computer screen. Is it 2005 again? Jeebus.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Give One Artist Everything and See What Happens

I've tried to end this blog several times now, and something about the old music I like keeps pulling me back into this shitty, shitty world.

Taylor Swift, who probably hasn't had a Diet Coke in years, has decided that she needs to have a billion dollars. Good for her. That kind of ambition and desire used to be shared across broad genres in music. You'd have people working for years to attain modest livings and incredible music would be made in the process. In the time it took R.E.M. to go from Chronic Town to Document, Taylor Swift has made herself the most powerful person on Earth who still makes music and isn't named Beyonce. And we're supposed to complain about the fact that she uses advertising revenue to make up for the fact that nobody buys albums anymore.

I realize Gawker is an elite thinking person's blog but, damn, son. Nobody pays for music anymore. Advertising revenue is mandatory now. And music all sounds the same because no one can dare take a risk on spending the money needed to create 11 or 12 songs people will actually buy.

Another Billionaire Hypocrite

The people running things don't seem to have any idea how economics work. The media should ignore the pronouncements of such people in the future. They won't, but they should call David Siegel on his bullshit the next time he threatens to fire a lot of his workers because they don't want to vote for Mitt Romney.

One thing I can guarantee you about American politics--anyone who has money has a voice that the poor will never have.

They Can't Find the Philae Lander

When it comes to space and scientific exploration, you have to keep it boring so that you won't capture the interest of the general human population. Things like this should be played out behind closed doors. The let down is just a little too much...

The Curious Case of Julia Shields

the case of Julia Shields.

A few days before Christmas, Shields was driving around the city of Chattanooga, shooting at people and at cars while wearing body armor:

Take a moment and consider this. Take a long moment. It is a good thing that officers took her in “without incident or injury,” of course, but can we imagine that result being universally the case if a shooter looks different? Would this episode have ended this way if the shooter had been male, or black, or both?

It’s an unanswerable question, but nevertheless one that deserves pondering. Every case is different. Police officers are human beings making split-second decisions — often informed by fears — about when to use force and the degree of that force.

But that truth is also the trap. How and why are our fears constructed and activated?

The American mind has been poisoned, from this country’s birth, against minority populations. People of color, particularly African-American men, have been caught up in a twister of macroaggressions and micro ones. No amount of ignoring can alleviate it; no amount of achieving can ameliorate it.

And in a few seconds, or fractions of a second, before the conscious mind can catch up to the racing heart, decisions are made that can’t be unmade. Dead is forever.

It’s hard to read stories like this and not believe that there is a double standard in the use of force by the police. Everyone needs to be treated as though his or her life matters. More suspected criminals need to be detained and tried in a court of law and not sentenced on the street to a rain of bullets.

It's difficult to second guess the police work involved in apprehending Shields. She may have fully cooperated with police and presented them no threat while acting like a maniac in public. But Blow has a point--

white privilege while carrying guns in public

seems to be a real thing.

Shields presents a problem for society. She's a middle-aged white woman who looks crazy in her mugshot but might simply be on drugs or mentally ill. How do you reconcile the fact that she's alive and can get treatment and then, conceivably, end up rejoining society while so many African-Americans are dead because the police shot them for being unarmed?

Shields had a gun and she lived; we have numerous incidents where black men have been shot dead while unarmed. And there's no such thing as white privilege? Please.


Not guilty by reason of insanity, of course. Well, at least she was still alive to be told that. Many, many others were sentenced to an immediate death.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Mr. Moyers Would Like to Retire Again

Bill Moyers is retiring again, and I think that his absence will have a profound impact on PBS. There are precious few liberal voices in the media, to be quite honest about it, and Moyers could be counted on to present his liberalism in a way that actually fought against evil, not for a triangulation of its effects on people.

At no point in my lifetime do I expect someone who clearly identifies themselves as a liberal to have a legitimate presence in American public life. You absolutely can't be a liberal and not have someone threaten your life or try to defund the network for which you work.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Nostalgia Sells

I think this trend has more to do with the fact that nobody has figured out what to do with their music so they're staying home and playing a few records instead of trying to arrange a collection and manage it through a computer.

The experience of listening to a vinyl record requires a level of attention that you can't get with a computer. Years ago, I bought a computer that came with RCA jacks, figuring that I would hook it directly to my stereo equipment and bridge the technology gap. After a few frustrating days of trying to get that to work, I gave up. I kept ripping CDs and I kept all my vinyl, adding a few titles here and there. But the ability to take music and play it and enjoy it remains as elusive as it was when vinyl went away.

Someone out there is going to figure out how to make, distribute, and survive by giving people an experience with music that won't be corrupted by format changes and business interests looking to cheapen things for the masses. I don't know what we'll see this year, but I doubt it will be cheap or worthwhile.

The saddest thing is, everyone bought that Pink Floyd record thinking they were going to get something. It was the cynical repackaging of twenty year-old material deemed not worth putting on an album, reworked and recycled so that the name could hit the shelves and trick everyone into a moment of nostalgia. It didn't consist of anything more than a few new vocal takes or overdubs and it sold like crazy because we don't have anything new happening in music that's worth anything at all.

The Most Important Story of the New Year

In the year ahead, the most important story isn't about who is up and who is down. It's not about who is going to position themselves for re-election or for the presidency in 2016.

No, the most important thing about today and the year ahead is that a good number of Americans are going to have a little more money in their pockets to spend and take care of themselves and their families. A heartbreaking number of people are going to have a few more dollars to live on and might just have a little less stress and a little more quality of life.

You can't measure what that means--a job that pays just a little more, a little more to go on, a little less to worry about--that's the human condition being understood just a little better.

For the last few years, things have been exceptionally tough for people making the minimum wage in America. In 20 states that aren't batshit crazy and run by howling cranks, life will improve enough for someone somewhere to have a little less heartache and stress. Damn if that isn't something important to note. Shame on all of us for not working harder to make life easier for people who have to work for a living.