Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dennis Prager Speaks to the Wives of America

Dennis Prager argues, in his latest article, that wives should have sex with their husbands whether they want to or not.
Why would a loving, wise woman allow mood to determine whether or not she will give her husband one of the most important expressions of love she can show him? What else in life, of such significance, do we allow to be governed by mood?

What if your husband woke up one day and announced that he was not in the mood to go to work? If this happened a few times a year, any wife would have sympathy for her hardworking husband. But what if this happened as often as many wives announce that they are not in the mood to have sex? Most women would gradually stop respecting and therefore eventually stop loving such a man.
Not sure what to say to that. Maybe nothing need be said.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Presented with little comment

Coalitions of environmental, anti-nuclear, anti-capitalist, sustainable-agriculture and anti-globalization forces have coalesced in Europe to form and support socialist parties. This has yet to happen in the United States. The left never rallied in significant numbers behind Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader. In picking the lesser of two evils, it threw its lot in with a Democratic Party that backs our imperial wars, empowers the national security state and does the bidding of corporations.

If Barack Obama does not end the flagrant theft of taxpayer funds by corporate slugs and the disgraceful abandonment of our working class, especially as foreclosures and unemployment mount, many in the country will turn in desperation to the far right embodied by groups such as Christian radicals. The failure by the left to offer a democratic socialist alternative will mean there will be, in the eyes of many embittered and struggling working- and middle-class Americans, no alternative but a perverted Christian fascism. The inability to articulate a viable socialism has been our gravest mistake. It will ensure, if this does not soon change, a ruthless totalitarian capitalism.
Chris Hedges, Why I am a Socialist

It's entirely possible that he's right. Society certainly seems pretty shattered right now, and I'm not convinced that Obama is going to be able to fix things. We'll see.

Obama has his Whitewater

And by Whitewater I mean bullshit scandal that Conservatoid ideologues will use to taint Obama whenever possible, despite knowing (and they surely know) that the whole thing is nonsense.

Here it is - Rod Blagojevich, corrupt Governor of Illinois, tried to sell Obama's seat, and described him as an MF because he wasn't willing to go along with this corrupt scheme. Clearly Obama is as guilty as Blagojevich, and should be in jail, not the White House. Or this is the opinion of Floyd and Mary Beth Brown.
If the intention was to send a message to Blagojevich, then some members of Obama's inner circle may be facing indictment. It takes two to tango and all of those who actively participated in the alleged negotiations to sell a Senate seat are just as guilty as Blagojevich.

As for the other option, an attempt to actually put a stop to the "shakedown" scheme, may be viewed, at first glance, as an exoneration of Team Obama. But not so fast... having knowledge of such a scheme and not reporting it to the authorities is a serious offense as well.
Great. Now of course Obama will be legally exonerated. He clearly didn't do anything wrong. Doesn't matter. They never got Clinton on Whitewater. They never got Hillary on the Foster suicide. Didn't stop them from bringing it up. The point isn't to get to the truth; the point is to destroy Obama.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Movies, Charity, and Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh talked about Love Actually yesterday on his broadcast - a well loved movie by at least a few. He made this comment.
I found, aside from liking the movie, what I found was here's a movie that's got things in it that you would not dare recommend, especially with your young children. I don't know what the rating is. I didn't pay any attention to the rating of the movie, but I don't know how it got away without being an R. It's got nudity in it, yeah, it does, well, partial nudity, it's got really questionable language in little spurts. But would you let me finish the thought here so I can go grab a phone call. What amazed me was all of these liberals thinking it's a Christmas classic.
I'm not exactly sure why a movie can't be both a Christmas movie and aimed at adults. Don't adults get Christmas every year as well?

He also talked about charity.
But I've always been amazed at how one climbs the ranks of society by being involved in "charities." Many of these people don't donate a dime to the charity. They go out and raise money for a gigantic party, or series of balls or what have you -- where the women put on their finest clothes and jewelry and the men reluctantly, you know, stuff themselves into tuxedos; and they head to these fabulous places where the cost to put the whole thing on may be a million dollars and the net amount raised is a hundred grand. All of the newspaper society reporters are there. All of the photographers are there; all the phony baloney, plastic banana, good-time rock 'n' roller people who are impressed with people who have wealth.

They might be reprobates. They might be worthless. They might be mean. They might be dull, boring. But because they have a lot of money, they are fascinating and what they do is considered fascinating. So this creates a cycle where these sometimes dull, boring, dry, phony frauds that are not donating a dime but are going out there and asking everybody else to give them a dime, then get their pictures in the society pages and written up.
This is in relation to the Bernie Madoff scandal, and a story about how Conservatives give to personal charity. To me it's somewhat telling in how some Conservatives look at charity and at the poor and needy. They despise them and they kind of despise people who want to help them.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Shallow Pride

That's not Pride that happens to have the quality of being Shallow, but rather Pride in being Shallow. It is an odd phenomenon that you see among many on the right; the perverse joy they seem to take in admitting they can't get into art or thought or what not. I suppose it is intended to makd them seem more like normal folks.

Humorist Burt Prelutsky's latest article talks about how sad it is too allow poor people access to college. He spends some time complaining about diversity and noting that he had no interest in his classmates whatsoever.
The truth of the matter was that my interest in my fellow scholars, and I don't think my attitude was at all atypical, was limited to wanting to date the more attractive coeds and wanting to eviscerate those brainiacs most likely to raise the class curve.
What a deep fellow this Prelutsky is.

I don't know - anti-intellectualism has deep roots in American history, and I don't suppose it's going away. But it's always disappointing to me to see it.

You just might be a liberal.

Do you sacrifice babies while having bi-sexual orgies and worshiping nature? Well then, you just might be a liberal. Or so goes this charming article by Matt Barber.
In fact, today's liberalism is largely a sanitized retread of an antiquated mythology – one that significantly predates the only truly progressive movement: biblical Christianity.

. . . In his sermon, Pastor Mabray illustrated that, although they've now assumed a more contemporary flair, the fundamentals of Baal worship remain alive and well today. The principal pillars of Baalism were child sacrifice, sexual immorality (both heterosexual and homosexual) and pantheism (reverence of creation over the Creator).

Ritualistic Baal worship, in sum, looked a little like this: Adults would gather around the altar of Baal. Infants would then be burned alive as a sacrificial offering to the deity. Amid horrific screams and the stench of charred human flesh, congregants – men and women alike – would engage in bisexual orgies. The ritual of convenience was intended to produce economic prosperity by prompting Baal to bring rain for the fertility of "mother earth."
What a nice message - and so Christmasy.

But wait you say - is this Barber fellow really talking about modern liberals?
Modern liberalism deviates little from its ancient predecessor. While its macabre rituals have been sanitized with flowery and euphemistic terms of art, its core tenets and practices remain eerily similar.
I guess he is.

It's hard to know what to write about this article; I guess I'll settle with a pithy "Go to Hell Mr. Barber".

Friday, December 19, 2008

We are all one people

Hey holiday festivities and work are getting in the way of regular posting, but did want to point you this article at Common Dreams, about Colin Powell, Rush Limbaugh and what it means to be American.
Powell also derided a campaign appeal beat into paste by Sarah Palin - that rural islands of small-town homogeny represent America values while more diverse urban centers do not.

"Most of us don't live in small towns," Powell told CNN's Fareed Zakharia last weekend. "I was raised in the South Bronx, and there's nothing wrong with my value system from the South Bronx."
Damn straight. I grew up in Southern California and there's nothing wrong with that either.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Paul Weyrich

Conservative writer and leader of the Heritage Foundation has died at 66. Kind of sad; although Weyrich's Heritage Foundation I find more of a Limbaugh Conservative organization than it's counterparts, the guy himself didn't bother me that much.

Here's our posts on him.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Freedom of Religion

Or, Can a Non-Christian really be an American Citizen? Michael Medved's latest article would seem to imply that no, non-Christians really don't belong here. He notes that the founders intended Christianity to be the dominate religion (a dubious theory as we've discussed). Then he brings it back to Christmas.
For more than two centuries, government at every level followed this approach, making no "attempt to level all religions" and recognizing the privileged position of Christianity as the faith embraced by the vast majority of the nation's citizens. If municipalities or other public entities authorized Hanukkah displays to accompany the Christmas trees that became common everywhere, they did so because the Christian majority supported these gracious concessions to a tiny Jewish minority, not because the Constitution required them.
So basically Michael Medved is clearly arguing that other religions should be treated as legally and politically inferior to Christianity. I'm pretty sure I disagree with that.

Another minor point; Medved does pretend that the big threat to Christians celebrating Christmas comes from Festivus and the Flying Spaghetti monster; I suppose this protects him from the implications of his opinions to the millions of Jewish, Muslim, Hindi, Bhuddhist, Atheist, and Agnostic Americans.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bush'll be Gone Soon

But he left his mark, and it's not a good one. Consider this from Glenn Greenwald.
The policies which the Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously concludes were authorized by Bush, Rumsfeld and several other top Bush officials did not merely lead to "abuse" and humiliating treatment, but are directly -- and unquestionably -- responsible for numerous detainee murders.
Tortured to death. Depressing to say the least.

Tuesday Beats - M83 - "Saturdays = Youth"

Upfront I should admit I have had this album only 4 days, so this might be initial enthusiasm talking, but so far I really really like it. I have been aware of M83 as a band that does atmospheric, ambient tracks (like Lower Your Eyes To Die With The Sun which I encountered on Adam Freeland's contribution to the Back to Mine series (which I also recommend)). Now there's plenty of atmospheric noodling on "Saturdays = Youth" but he combines it with a real 80s vibe on this album, and the kind of 80s music I liked. I hear echoes of OMD, Dave Stewart and the Eurythmics, and so on. Anyway check out Graveyard Girl which I quite like.

More Politics coming.

Do You Believe in Shame?

Dennis Prager does; he's written a whole article about how much better white American heterosexual Christians are because they can express Shame. Even though they shouldn't have to. Sort of. He starts off mocking black pride and mourning the lack of opportunities for white Christians to really enjoy themselves. I'm not sure about that; it seems like to me we spend plenty of time celebrating white Christians.

Then he trots out an old chestnut.
For a generation, college students have been taught that it is impossible for blacks to be racist because only the racial group in power, i.e. whites, can express racism.

Of course, that is nonsense. A black can be a racist just as a white can be one. A minority race might not have the power to implement racist national policies but that hardly means that no minority group, or any individual, can be a racist.
Prager kind of gives himself away here. Of course a Black person can be surly to a White customer or co-worker. But Black racism against White people has little to no effect on white people other than a few awkward moments (and occasional and deplorable violence). White power over society constantly affects Black Americans.

Prager laments that black people are rarely required to express shame for their racial crimes; the flip side is that every black male is seen as a potential criminal (and let's not forget Arab Americans who have it even worse). When a white guy gets caught doing a horrendous crime, nobody worries that now society will judge white males more harshly.

At the end of the day, Prager pretends like he's writing to America's minorities, but his real focus is White Christian Males who read Townhall, and he's just telling them what they already believe; that they are the greatest.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chicago is a Magical Place

Just being from there taints you forever, and ensures that you will be held responsible, after a fashion, for everything that happens there. Consider this recent article from Michael Barone.
It is a reminder that, for all his inspirational talk of hope and change, Obama, like Blagojevich, are both products of Chicago Democratic politics, which is capable of producing leaders both sublime and sordid.
Look for eight years of this; Republicans constantly reminding us that no matter how good Obama looks, he's from Chicago and therefore suspect.

Good Advice for the Republican Party

Brian Birdnow, writing at Townhall, is taking on the tough question of where should the Republican Party do now. He's not the first, but he's not that far off. He argues that the Republican Party needs to oppose the Democratic plans, which makes sense.
They must organize and present a principled opposition to Obama’s neo-Social Democracy by offering clearly defined conservative, market based alternatives. It is critically important that the Party reinvigorate its relationship with the conservative think tanks so that it can again become a party of ideas and not simple politics.
Now I sort of agree with this plan and sort of disagree with this plan. I do think that Republicans need to be more about more than "We really hate Liberals." As long as the Republican Party and Conservative Movement is under the thrall of Limbaugh Conservatism, well, I don't know how they can play a positive role or a successful one.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

New Look

Ok I wasn't very satisfied with the former look so going to this. Also I am starting to use Blogger Comments instead of Haloscan Comments for a couple of reasons. Finally I added a link to my Blogomatic 5200 which I have been meaning to do for a while. Check it out.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Happy Sparkle Season

I haven't bothered much with the "War on Christmas" this year, mostly because other people aren't bothering as much with it. You see Conservatives thrive on portraying themselves as persecuted (as do many liberals), and at a time when they run everything (like they did from 2002 to 2006), well, it's hard to find examples of persecution. So you are stuck pretending there's some kind liberal War on Christmas in order to show how rough Conservatives have it.

There are other elements explaining why that debate bubbled up, such as the Bush Administration's lack of enthusiasm for fulfilling the desires of traditionalist conservatives, and the sense that the War in Iraq was moving from being a winning to a losing issue. Suffice it to say those elements that made the War on Christmas such good policy in 2005-2006 are in 2008 no longer that big a deal. In 2008 they have lost the House, the Senate, and the White House; rather than complaining about trumped up Persecution, they have actual problems to confront.

But that doesn't mean there aren't some Conservatives out there fighting the good fight; in this case Floyd and Mary Beth Brown are taking on a group from Wisconsin who put up an Atheist Sign in Washington, in their latest article.
The saga all started in October when Washington State gave a permit to a Wisconsin-based atheist group to display its sign alongside a Christian Nativity scene in the state's Capitol in Olympia.
It turns out that Freedom From Religion is a national group, headquartered in Wisconsin. I guess the implication that this is an example of Wisconsin's picking on Washington is not factual.

Then there's this touching bit.
Stickney summarizes: "The constitutional right to exercise free speech anytime and anywhere applies to liberals and their politically correct causes and classifications only."

Outraged by this sign that mocks religions, this week more than 500 demonstrators rallied on the steps of the state Capitol to protest.
That's Larry Stickney, President of the Washington Values Alliance. So Stickney is upset that Christians don't have freedom of speech and then, in the very next line, the authors note that Christians exercised their freedom of speech to protest, seemingly, their inability to exercise their freedom of speech.

I suppose I must also point out the hypocrisy of complaining about your freedom of speech being trampled when your argument is basically that somebody else shouldn't be allowed to speak. Freedom of Speech for Christians only, eh? I'll also note that this offending sign was set up near a nativity scene, implying that equal space was given to the Christian Point of View. Probably more than equal.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Chicago Way

Well It's going to be fun to watch Rush and other Limbaugh Conservatives say "Obama" and "The Chicago Way" as close together as they possibly can as often as they possibly can, without actually saying that Obama has done anything wrong (because, as it turns out, he hasn't).

Steve Chapman has an interesting take on this; Obama has an opportunity to rise above his homeland by allowing Patrick Fitzgerald to keep his position as US Attorney.
As president, he can exercise the customary prerogative of replacing all U.S. attorneys with his own appointees. During the campaign, he indicated he was willing to leave Fitzgerald in place. But he is bound to come under pressure from politicians back home to name someone less obsessive about official vice.

Until this week, that option might have been appealing, since the resulting controversy would have been of interest only in Chicagoland. But now it has become a matter for national attention. For Obama to cashier Fitzgerald would make him look complicit in corruption.

In truth, the Blagojevich affair gives Obama the perfect excuse to do the right thing, no matter what the cost to his political friends. Then, for a change, the sun will keep shining on Illinois.
What a switcharoo. Conservatoids used to lambaste Patrick Fitzgerald for pursuing the Plame Link with uncalled for vigor. Now that he is going after (stupid and corrupt) Democrats his position must be preserved.

Of course not all Conservatives see Obama keeping Fitzgerald on as an act of principal; Rush Limbaugh described it as an act of desperation.
However, what are the odds that the US attorney in Chicago will be replaced by Barack Obama when he is inaugurated? Can you just see the headline now? "Patrick Fitzgerald, he of the Scooter Libby conviction and the indictment of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich today was fired by incoming President Barack Obama and replaced by X." People will say, "Wait a minute, Fitzgerald is fired? Why, after he indicts Blagojevich, a Democrat?" I don't care how tone deaf they are in Obamaville -- and they're not tone deaf -- that's not going to happen. So he might fire 92 US attorneys, but he's not going to fire 93 US attorneys.
So you have the specter of Obama either getting rid of Fitzgerald and proving his corruption and connection to the "Chicago Way" or you have Obama keeping Fitzgerald out of fear and political expediency. You can't win for losing with guys like Chapman or Limbaugh dealing the cards.

I'll also parenthetically note that Rush Limbaugh misspoke during this particular rant, implying that Bush had kept all of Clinton's attorneys. Not actually true.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Is Now the Time to Fix Health Care?

Most Washington Pundits and Politicians would say no. Coincidentally most Washington Pundits and Politicians receive money from the medical industry, either through campaign contributions or through advertising revenues. Probably no connection there.

The editors at the New Republic, on the other hand, say yes, in an article over there today.
. . . most proposals for universal coverage start with a federally financed expansion of Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program. That means more poor people would get health insurance right away. And, as economist Jonathan Gruber argued recently in The New York Times, expanding those programs provides a superb economic stimulus. When poor people get health insurance, they purchase medical goods and services. More important, they start spending money on other things, since they no longer have to put aside money to pay for medical emergencies. That funnels cash back into the economy, promoting growth. "Health care reform," Gruber concluded, "is good for our economy."
I can't disagree, and I don't want to. Let's fix this mess.

The Fairness Doctrine

Conservatives are up in arms about the Fairness Doctrine, despite scant evidence that Liberals are serious about bringing it back. This shows the disproportionate influence of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity; their oxs would get gored if it came back and they are letting people know they don't like the idea. And Tony Blankley's latest article is in their service.
. . . there is no ambiguity about this issue. The Fairness Doctrine would require every show to be balanced in its political opinion, thus ending the viability of any business plans for a successful -- either liberal or conservative -- radio host. But because almost all successful talk radio shows are conservative, liberal Democrats are trying to kill it. They have been explicit. They say they want to take Rush Limbaugh's voice off the radio, as well as the voices of other leading conservatives.
A few points. First of all Democrats aren't really going to make the Fairness Doctrine a priority, no matter how much conservatives might want them too. For exactly the same reasons Conservatives are spoiling for this fight; Democrats know that it will make them look bad.

Secondly, there has to be ways to encouraged a diversity of views on our public airwaves without resorting to these ham-handed strategies suggested by Tony Blankley. But any attempt to promote differing view points or locally produced radio content will be a threat to Clear Channel and will be painted as an attack on Freedom of Speech.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Is Obama Legally Allowed to be President?

Yes. Yes he is. He was born in the United States and is a United States Citizen. A few conservatives, very few, are asserting that this is not true - they held a press conference yesterday at the National Press Club, in which they made several outlandish assertions, according to this report by Salon's Mike Madden.
Taitz -- the lead attorney in the case the Supreme Court declined to hear Monday morning -- kept making stranger and stranger assertions. At one point, she asked why the government had fined broadcasters for Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction," but didn't intervene to force the media to report on Obama's allegedly phony birth certificate. She claimed Obama holds passports from at least four countries, compared him to Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver, equated the "controversy" about Obama to Watergate, and finished her tour-de-force presentation by saying that if Obama can claim he's a U.S. citizen and win an election, then so could just about anyone. "If a person can become a presidential candidate only based on his own statement," she said, "then somebody like Osama bin Laden, theoretically, can come and write a statement, 'I'm eligible,' and we should put him on the ballot, too?"
Now here's a sentence I didn't think I'd ever write; let's turn to David Horowitz for some perspective.
Conservatives are supposed to respect the organic nature of human societies. Ours has been driven by profound disagreements that have been deepening over many years. We are divided not only about political facts and social values, but also about what the Constitution itself means. The crusaders on this issue choose to ignore these problems and are proposing to deny the will of 64 million voters by appealing to 5 Supreme Court Justices (since no one is delusional enough to think that the 4 liberal justices are going to take the presidency away from Obama). What kind of conservatism is this?

It is not conservatism; it is sore loserism and quite radical in its intent.
I suppose it says something about these claims that even a guy like Horowitz finds them a distraction. And that something is that these claims are very very shaky indeed.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Farewell to the First Golden Age (of Conservatism)

Conservatives don't really know what to do in this new era. The are the minority party, when, not four years ago, they were crowing about a perpetual majority, and relegating their political enemies to the dustheap of history. Well I guess we are all in that dustheap now. Some Conservatives, like Rush Limbaugh, see this as a time to renew the parties opposition to everything liberal. Others think this is a good time to renew the spirit of getting along and feeling like we are all in the same boat. We all want what's best for America. In this latter camp, slot Terry Paulson, at least based on his latest article.
If there is one thing that Americans ought to unite on, it is our commitment to work to improve and sustain our great country. We may disagree on what path to follow, but there should be no difference in our commitment to preserve and improve this blessed republic.
Sounds very nice. And I agree with the sentiment; we are all in this together, we can talk about things we really disagree on while still treating each other with respect.

Of course the more combative side of me notes that I doubt Paulson would be writing this were the situation reversed.

Oh and Ann Coulter has a new book, advertised just to the right of his article. It's called "Guilty: Liberal 'Victims' and their Assault on America." Good stuff.

Friday, December 05, 2008

My Highest Rated Electronica Songs, December 2008

'New Life (Remix)', Depeche Mode, June, 1981
'Love Action (I Believe in Love)', Human League, October, 1981
'Everything's Gone Green', New Order, December, 1981
'Situation (12" Mix)', Yazoo, August, 1982
'The Upstairs Room', The Cure, December, 1983
'The Flat Earth', Thomas Dolby, February, 1984
'Talking Loud and Clear', Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, April, 1984
'Close (To the Edit)', The Art of Noise, May, 1984
'Shake the Disease', Depeche Mode, April, 1985
'The Swing of Things', a-ha, October, 1986
'As the End Draws Near ', Manufacture, January, 1987
'Left to My Own Devices', Pet Shop Boys, October, 1988
'Big Car (3AM Vocal)', Severed Heads, April, 1990
'Stars ', Erasure, May, 1990
'Little Fluffy Clouds (Orbital Dance Mix)', The Orb, June, 1990
'Disappointed (Single Mix)', Electronic, October, 1992
'Liberation', Pet Shop Boys, September, 1993
'Cowgirl', Underworld, December, 1993
'Glory Box', Portishead, August, 1994
'1963 (1994 Mix)', New Order, November, 1994
'Setting Son', The Chemical Brothers with Noel Gallagher, October, 1996
'Possibly Maybe (Lucy Mix)', Bjork, October, 1996
'Building Steam With a Grain of Salt', DJ Shadow, November, 1996
'Breath', Prodigy, November, 1996
'Trip Like I Do', The Crystal Method, September, 1997
'Brimful of Asha (Norman Cook Edit)', Cornershop, September, 1997
'Squirt ', Fluke, September, 1997
'All I Need', Air, January, 1998
'History Repeating ', Propellerhads feat. Shirley Bassey, January, 1998
'Ray of Light', Madonna, May, 1998
'You Must Learn All Night Long (DJ Swamp Mix)', Fantastic Plastic Machine, September, 1998
'Praise You', Fatboy Slim, October, 1998
'Tequila (Mint Royale Shot)', Terrorvision, November, 1998
'Vikrum the Vampire ', Talvin Singh, November, 1998
'Don't Stop ', Freestylers, April, 1999
'Woman in Blue ', Pepe Deluxe , May, 1999
'Natural Blues (Mike D Remix)', Moby, March, 2000
'Come', Lemon Jelly, June, 2000
'Autoharp', Hooverphonic, September, 2000
'Everything In It's Right Place', Radiohead, October, 2000
'It's Automatic', Zoot Woman, January, 2001
'In the Waiting Line', Zero 7, April, 2001
'Illuminate', Orbital Feat. David Gray, July, 2001
'Losing my Edge', LCD Soundsystem, July, 2002
'Season Song ', Blue States, October, 2002
'Dream Machine ', Mark Farina feat. Sean Hayes, October, 2003
'Insomniac Olympics', Blockhead, March, 2004
'Put it Back Together ', Fatboy Slim feat. Damon Alburn, October, 2004
'Close Your Eyes ', The Chemical Brothers with The Magic Numbers, January, 2005
'Feel So Free', Ivy, March, 2005
'Feel Good Inc.', Gorrillaz, May, 2005
'There they Go', Krafty Kuts feat. Dynamite MC, October, 2006
'D.A.N.C.E.', Justice, June, 2007

This includes both Synthpop and Downtempo/Trip Hop tracks.

How to Get Ahead in Politics while doint the Right Thing

Thomas Frank, over at the Huffington Post, has argued that Democrats should look into doing something about American Health Care. Not just because it's good policy but good politics.
Still, conservatives have always dreaded the day that Democrats discover (or rediscover) that there is a happy political synergy between delivering liberal economic reforms and building the liberal movement. The classic statement of this fear is a famous memo that Bill Kristol wrote in 1993, when he had just started out as a political strategist and the Clinton administration was preparing to propose some version of national health care.

"The plan should not be amended; it should be erased," Mr. Kristol advised the GOP. And not merely because Mr. Clinton's scheme was (in Mr. Kristol's view) bad policy, but because "it will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests."
For a long time I had basically bought the theory that Health-Care should stay private rather than being in the hands of an inefficient government. Then I needed some health care, and some friends needed some health care, and it occurs to me that maybe the system we have isn't the world's greatest. So I'm pretty receptive to this idea; I just hope our representatives in Congress feel similarly.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Two Points of View

As some of you know, Obama is no longer planning on passing a windfall profits tax on Oil Companies, which was a campaign promise. Well here are some responses to this choice, the first by David Sirota.
Between this move and the move to wait to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, it seems like the Obama team is buying into the right-wing frame that raising any taxes - even those on the richest citizens and wealthiest corporations - is bad for the economy. Of course, that frame is debunked by history. And while sure, it's OK to rack up deficits so as to spend our way out of the economic crisis, it's sorta silly to ignore the tax moves that could be implemented to limit those deficits where possible.

Oh, and one last thing - if oil prices are down and oil industry profits are truly down, what's the harm in passing a windfall profits tax?
And here's a contrasting view by Josh Marshall
I'm not sure I get the response to Obama's apparent decision to shelve the windfall profits tax on the big oil companies. As the name implies, windfall profits taxes are intended to tax windfall profits. But the cost of oil has now dropped to something like a third of what it was when this idea was floated. So I'm really not getting how this is breaking a promise or currying favor with the oil companies. This seems like a pretty straightforward case of adjusting policy to take account of demonstrable and undeniable changes in the economic picture.
I think the factor both gentleman leave out is the political capital which must be expended to keep this promise, which causes me to lean a bit more towards Marshall's point of view.

Bush Derangement Syndrome

Jason Lee Steorts has written an article that supposedly explains how McCain lost the election but really covers and is entitled Bush Derangement Syndrome. For those unfamiliar with this affliction, it is applied to people who opposed the President and his policies. Or rather that was the old definition of it. The new definition of it, put forward by Steorts, are those who looked at Bush's foreign policy screw-ups with insufficient charity.
That the influencers tended to see Bush as a jingoistic, fundamentalist idiot rather than a worthy adversary with whom they had profound disagreements inevitably influenced their presentation of his policies. They are supposed to specialize in nuance and subtlety; the assessment of a war fought against an appallingly cruel autocrat, on the basis of flawed but sincerely believed intelligence, would seem to cry out for such virtues. Their narrative instead combined the nuance of an infomercial with the subtlety of a morality play.
Oh my heart bleeds. Poor Bush. He was just doing his best; why couldn't we see him as an intellectually flawed but ultimately good guy?

I suppose it might have had something to do with him and his administration's tendency, particularly in 2004 and 2002, to portray everybody who disagreed with him as a traitor or a dupe. Bush got off light compared to what he and his followers tried to do to liberals. And now, that his moronic plans have failed, his followers still want to pretend that it's all due to the hated liberals.

For the record, that's also why we weren't too impressed with Sarah Palin. Yeah it'd be nice if she learned to speak a bit better, but our real problem with her was that she promised a continuation of the same Rovian politics that had poisoned our political discourse.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Obama's Picks

There is a certain amount of discomfort with President Elect Obama's selections for major positions in his administration. Robert Scheer argues, in his latest article, that his economic team's track record is less than promising, given their involvement in Citigroup's meltdown.
As opposed to the far tougher deal negotiated on the bailout of AIG, the arrangement with Citigroup leaves the executives, including Rubin, who brought Citigroup to the brink of ruin, still in charge. Nor is there any guarantee of the value of the mortgage bundles that taxpayers will be guaranteeing. That is because, as candidate Obama clearly stated in his major economics address back in March, the deregulation pushed though during the Clinton years ended transparency in banking.

Why then has he appointed the very people responsible for this disaster to now make it all better?
It's a good question. Is Obama going to be a status quo guy, who talks a good game but sells out the base at every opportunity? Probably. It worked for Clinton after all, and it'll presumably work for him.

Joe Conason, big Clinton defender, has a more hopeful assessment in his latest article, however. He argues that as long as Obama is in charge, these centrists will have to toe his line.
Indeed, Mr. Obama has steadfastly refused to scale back his platform of spending initiatives, from infrastructure to health care, despite all the tut-tutting commentary. Instead, even as he rolled out his team, he pledged a very substantial spending increase during the first two years of his term as the only means to prevent the recession from plunging into something far worse.

And his appointees will implement the Obama program, not only because that is what he tells them to do but because that is what they have come to believe is best for the country.
I'd like to believe in Mr. Conason, and until Obama is actually in the Oval Office, I suppose there's no reason not to.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

My Highest Rated Rock Songs, December 2008

'Strychnine', The Sonics, January, 1965
'Subterranean Homesick Blues', Bob Dylan, March, 1965
'Rain', The Beatles, June, 1966
'Garden of My Mind ', The Mickey Finn , January, 1967
'Somebody to Love ', Jefferson Airplane, April, 1967
'Manic Depression', Jimi Hendrix , May, 1967
'My Eyes Have Seen You ', The Doors, September, 1967
'Mr. Soul', Buffalo Springfield, November, 1967
'Piece of My Heart ', Big Brother and the Holding Company, March, 1968
'Gimme Shelter', Rolling Stones, December, 1969
'Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)', The Buzzcocks, September, 1978
'Transmission', Joy Division, November, 1979
'Guns of Brixton', The Clash, December, 1979
'Real Child of Hell', X, July, 1982
'Pretty Persuasion', R.E.M., April, 1984
'Gratitude ', Oingo Boingo, November, 1984
'Kundalini Express', Love and Rockets, September, 1986
'Shoplifters of the World Unite', The Smiths, January, 1987
'Exit (Live)', U2, July, 1987
'All that Money Wants ', Psychedelic Furs , January, 1988
'Monkey Gone to Heaven', The Pixies, April, 1989
'God Knows It's True', Teenage Fanclub, November, 1990
'Until the End of the World', U2, November, 1991
'Low', Cracker, August, 1993
'Heart Shaped Box ', Nirvana, September, 1993
'Fall Down', Toad the Wet Sprocket, May, 1994
'Scenery', Neil Young, June, 1995
'Bullet with Butterfly Wings', Smashing Pumpkins, October, 1995
'Wonderwall', Oasis, October, 1995
'When She Was Happy', Pluto, January, 1996
'Mouth', Bush, November, 1996
'Song 2', Blur, February, 1997
'Everlong', Foo Fighters, May, 1997
'It Hurts When I Laugh', Love Spit Love, August, 1997
'Step Into My World', Hurricane #1, September, 1997
'This Time', The Verve , September, 1997
'In Hiding ', Pearl Jam, February, 1998
'One of These Days', Spacehog, March, 1998
'Runaground', James, June, 1998
'Legal Man', Belle and Sebastian, May, 2000
'Bohemian Like You', The Dandy Warhols, August, 2000
'The Whore's Hustle and the Hustler's Whore', PJ Havey, October, 2000
'The Twelve Steps', Spiritualized, September, 2001
'Light and Day/Reach for the Sun', The Polyphonic Spree, February, 2003
'Myxomatosis. (Judge, Jury & Executioner.)', Radiohead, June, 2003
'When You Were Young ', The Killers, September, 2006
'Melody Day', Caribou, August, 2007
'The Night Starts Here', The Stars, September, 2007
'Supernatural Superserious', R.E.M., February, 2008
'Love is Noise', The Verve , August, 2008

This is for right now; some of these songs could drop out or be replaced. Just an attempt to put together a really good and comprehensive rock list. Also this excludes Folk Rock, which I will post tomorrow or the next day.

Obviously I'm not a big fan of the 1970s.

Interesting Star Trek Story

Was just reading a review of Star Trek Season 3 over at Popmatters - and there's an interesting story about the first on air interracial kiss.
Just putting blacks and whites on the bridge together was innovative, but Star Trek went a step further during its third season. The show staged the first interracial kiss ever aired on television. The backstory is typically complicated. Captain Kirk, Spock, Lieutenant Uhuru and Nurse Chapel are captives of a vindictive society with the power to control minds. Their captors are putting on a show – Spock sings and plays the harp, Kirk and Spock fight and, finally, the two men are forced to kiss the women.

In an interview on disc seven, Nichols says that she saw the kiss in early drafts of the script and kept expecting it to come out. By the day of filming, the kiss was still in the script. The cast filmed the scene, and immediate chaos ensued. The director shut filming down, called in executives and the whole group of “suits” as Nichols called them, debated whether to allow the kiss. Finally, Gene Roddenberry broke the impasse, suggesting that two versions be filmed, one with a kiss, one without. They’d decide later. It was Friday afternoon. Nichols recalls the William Shatner dragged out the “kiss” filming, insisting on take after take until, finally, there was only time for one take of the non-kiss version. At the crucial moment, Shatner crossed his eyes. No one noticed until later…too late to reshoot the scene. The kiss stayed in.
I just wouldn't have thought Shatner capable of that on a couple of levels; I'm impressed.

Limbaugh Conservatives or McCarthy Conservatives

Neal Gabler has written an interesting article over at the LA Times about the Origin of modern Conservatism, in which he argues that it's real patron saint is Tailgunner Joe McCarthy, not Ronald Reagan.
But there is another rendition of the story of modern conservatism, one that doesn't begin with Goldwater and doesn't celebrate his libertarian orientation. It is a less heroic story, and one that may go a much longer way toward really explaining the Republican Party's past electoral fortunes and its future. In this tale, the real father of modern Republicanism is Sen. Joe McCarthy, and the line doesn't run from Goldwater to Reagan to George W. Bush; it runs from McCarthy to Nixon to Bush and possibly now to Sarah Palin. It centralizes what one might call the McCarthy gene, something deep in the DNA of the Republican Party that determines how Republicans run for office, and because it is genetic, it isn't likely to be expunged any time soon.
It's a pretty convincing argument, actually.