Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Met All My Heroes, Found Out They Were Zeroes.*

What a total letdown.

I grew up watching Tom Brokaw. Millions of us did. As a long time broadcaster myself, I respected Mr. Brokaw for many things not the least of which was his unimpeachable journalistic integrity. Boy, was I wrong!

MoveOn sent me this:

Dear MoveOn member,

Sunday on Meet The Press, Tom Brokaw moderated a debate between McCain strategist Steve Schmidt and Obama strategist David Axelrod on topics ranging from Iraq to the Wall Street bailout. At the end, Tom Brokaw did something strange. He opted to give himself the last word and told the audience:

In fairness to everybody here, I'm just going to end on one note. And that is that we continue to poll on who's best equipped to be Commander in Chief, and John McCain continues to lead in that category despite the criticism from Barack Obama by a factor of 53 to 42 percent in our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Gentlemen, thank you very much.

We checked, and the latest NBC poll actually has no question about Commander in Chief. We contacted NBC about this, and it turns out Brokaw was referring to a poll taken weeks ago--right after the Republican convention and well before Friday's big national security debate. And in each of NBC's last two polls, Americans chose Obama over McCain.
(MoveOn link with sources here).
(Demand an NBC retraction thru the "Meet The Press" feedback forum here).

"In fairness to everybody here"? is a bizarrely inappropriate us of the phrase. There is no goddamn "fairness" whatsoever in quoting out-of-date poll numbers to inaccurately portray one candidate as strong and the other as ineffectual. I was dumbstruck before I clicked on Media Matters to find this:

On Sunday's Meet the Press, NBC's Tom Brokaw allowed McCain strategist Steve Schmidt to falsely claim that John McCain had called for Don Rumsfeld to be fired. That's an old lie that the McCain campaign had abandoned long ago -- but Brokaw let Schmidt get away with bringing it back.
What the fuck?!? This fucking guy is moderating the second Presidential debate on Oct. 7th! How could it possibly get worse? Oh, it can and it does.

HuffPo tips us to today's NY Times Brokaw profile:

But less widely known is that Mr. Brokaw has also played a pivotal role out of public view, both within NBC and in its dealings with the campaign of John McCain in particular.

In an interview here after Sunday’s broadcast, Mr. Brokaw said that over the summer he had “advocated” within the executive suite of NBC News to modify the anchor duties of the MSNBC hosts Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews on election night and on nights when there were presidential debates. Their expressions of strong political opinions from the MSNBC anchor desk has run counter to the more traditional role Mr. Brokaw played on “NBC Nightly News” for more than two decades. NBC said earlier this month that the two hosts would mostly relinquish their anchor duties to Mr. Gregory, while being present as analysts.

“Keith is an articulate guy who writes well and doesn’t make his arguments in a ‘So’s your old mother’ kind of way,” Mr. Brokaw said. “The mistake was to think he could fill both roles. The other mistake was to think he wouldn’t be tempted to use the anchor position to engage in commentary. That’s who he is.”

Mr. Brokaw said he had also conducted some shuttle diplomacy in recent weeks between NBC and the McCain campaign. His mission, he said, was to assure the candidate’s aides that — despite some negative on-air commentary by Mr. Olbermann in particular — Mr. McCain could still get a fair shake from NBC News. Mr. Brokaw said he had been told by a senior McCain aide, whom he did not name, that the campaign had been reluctant to accept an NBC representative as one of the moderators of the three presidential debates — until his name was invoked.

“One of the things I was told by this person was that they were so irritated, they said, ‘If it’s an NBC moderator, for any of these debates, we won’t go,’ ” Mr. Brokaw said. “My name came up, and they said, ‘Oh, hell, we have to do it, because it’s going to be Brokaw.’”

So Brokaw is acting as mediator/go-between/chief-sucker-upper for NBC to McCain-Palin 2008. If this sort of interaction occurred between a kid running for high school class president and his high school's paper, it would be considered unseemly. This is one of the Big fucking Three! NBC's use of Tom Brokaw in this role is not only distasteful, but it also spells the very death of their news division's integrity and objectivity. This is absolutely one of the strangest moves I've ever seen a network pull.

NBC's motivation is unclear. Is Brokaw moderating this debate in order for NBC to guarantee McCain's participation? Or were McCain's handlers' complaints about Keith & co. a successful blackmail campaign+ that forced the network to ensure a McCain-friendly Brokaw as moderator? Or both? Or something else entirely? Dunno. And why the hell, at this stage in an otherwise stellar & legendary career, would Tom Brokaw willingly let NBC pimp him out?

But wait...There's more:

Last week during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, Mr. Brokaw said, he spoke briefly with Mr. McCain, who has not appeared on “Meet the Press” since Mr. Russert’s death. While Mr. Brokaw said he and the Republican nominee are not personal friends, he did say they are “friendly” and “always had a great relationship.”

Of the prospects for a potential booking, Mr. Brokaw said: “We’re going to get him. I don’t know exactly where or when.”

As for Sarah Palin, the Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee, thus far she has passed over “NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams” in favor of interviews with “World News With Charles Gibson” on ABC and the “CBS Evening News With Katie Couric.” She has also yet to accept an invitation to appear on “Meet the Press,” a point Mr. Brokaw said he raised with her when they met for a moment at the Clinton Global Initiative.

“I told her, ‘I’m the only one in this business who ever had Susan Butcher as a house guest,’ ” Mr. Brokaw said, referring to the Iditarod champion, who died in 2006. “Susan Butcher is to Alaska what Cal Ripken is to Baltimore.”

Ugh. I cannot tell how much of this Brokaw bungle can be attributed to: intense NBC News' pressure to secure McCain and Palin for "Meet The Press", individual ideology, diminished ability, the network's and/or his personal desire to overcompensate (for the Olbermann/Maddow faction's many "sins"), poor judgment, weariness, a massive McCain man-crush or what have you.

What I do know is that the Tom Brokaw I grew up with would never quote a three-week-old poll and present it as current. What's worse is I now find it entirely conceivable that Brokaw's lil' poll faux pas may been accidentally on purpose. That's a very bad thing.

C&L's Nichole Belle has more here and here.

-AF

*(I'm paraphrasing some damn song and it's driving me crazy that I cannot recall the title). +McCain has obviously adopted the Bush administration "punish any critical news media" credo.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Frank Rich Rips "Angry Old Ironsides McCain" McCain A New One

Rich has no patience for John "Drama Queen" McCain's antics. McCain’s Suspension Bridge to Nowhere:

What we learned last week is that the man who always puts his “country first” will take the country down with him if that’s what it takes to get to the White House.

For all the focus on Friday night’s deadlocked debate, it still can’t obscure what preceded it: When John McCain gratuitously parachuted into Washington on Thursday, he didn’t care if his grandstanding might precipitate an even deeper economic collapse. All he cared about was whether he might save his campaign. George Bush put more deliberation into invading Iraq than McCain did into his own reckless invasion of the delicate Congressional negotiations on the bailout plan.
(Emphasis added)
I couldn't have said it better myself.

-AF

NY Times On Economy: "People Failed"












Don’t Blame the New Deal:

This year’s serial bailouts are proof of a colossal regulatory failure. But it is not “the system” that failed, as President Bush, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and others who are complicit in the calamity would like Americans to believe. People failed.

For decades now, antiregulation disciples of the Reagan Revolution have eliminated vital laws, blocked the enactment of much-needed new regulations, or simply refused to exercise their legal authority.
Because he refuses take any responsibility for any error, Bush must to blame the "system." If he didn't he'd have to confront the reality that this disaster was set in motion by "Saint" Reagan (R), President Bush, Bush cabinet financial wizards, the GOP's tragically misguided, patently dishonest "trickle down"/laissez-faire bullshit economic philosophy & the Republican Party as a whole.

-AF

Saturday, September 27, 2008

John McCain's 'Lil Gambling Problem

The NY Times has everything you ever wanted to know about John McCain, his lobbyists/advisers and the gaming industry.

-AF

Paul Newman 1925-2008

The impact of Paul Newman on film as actor, director & producer cannot be overestimated. He was that rarest of rare Hollywood personalities: A bona fide movie star, an actor's actor and a devoted family man. His death leaves a massive void that cannot be filled.

List the crème de la crème of Newman's movies and the result is astounding:
Somebody Up There Likes Me
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Long Hot Summer
The Hustler
Hud
Cool Hand Luke
Hombre
Rachel, Rachel
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The Sting
Towering Inferno
Absence of Malice
The Verdict
The Glass Menagerie
Mr. and Mrs Bridge
Nobody's Fool

Paul Newman played another 80 or more parts scattered across stage and screen. It wasn't unusual for Newman's performance to salvage an otherwise mediocre production. In the 25 years since he introduced his Newman's Own line of foods, Paul Newman became a peerless philanthropist too.

We shall not see the likes of Paul Newman again.

*Update: Here's a few links:
Newman's Own website eulogy.
NY Times obit: Paul Newman, a Magnetic Titan of Hollywood, Is Dead at 83
NY Times appreciation: An Actor Whose Baby Blues Came in Shades of Gray
NY Times: Newman Remembered as a Good Neighbor and a Good Friend
LA Times obit: Actor Paul Newman dies at 83
LA Times appreciation: Paul Newman wielded his beauty like a craftsman
The Chicago Tribune: Tribute to Newman from Hollywood and beyond
The Chicago Tribune: Paul Newman had the last great movie star grin
The Chicago Sun-Times' Roger Ebert: Paul Newman dies at age 83; Ebert: "He lived a full life"

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bail Out Cause Of Liquidity Panic?



















Over at TPM Cafe, Elizabeth Warren tells how she spent yesterday:

At a Harvard panel discussion yesterday, economics professor Ken Rogoff made an interesting point: The liquidity crisis isn't real. Or, to restate it: Any liquidity crisis is caused by the promise of a government bailout. Ken said that his many friends in investment banking said that there is plenty of money to invest in financial services, but right now it is "sitting on the sidelines." Why? Because the financial services industry does not want to pay the terms demanded. As he put it, why do business with Warren Buffett who will negotiate a tough deal, if you believe that the government will ride in soon with cheaper cash?

Ken also talked about the need to shrink the financial services sector. He thinks it is good that the investment banking houses are failing and many people on Wall Street are losing their jobs because, in his view, we have an oversupply in that sector and our economy just can't support it.
Mind-blowing but it this makes sense to me. Rogoff is a very smart man -- possibly the keenest economic mind of our generation. Sadly, no one in Congress is listening and/or can hear this voice of reason over the lobbyists' din.

As I said the other day, I vote we don't give any cash to Wall Street until they stop acting like crack addicts. Congress' compulsion to give these financial wizards $700 billion+ worth of "crack" can only make the problem worse.

-AF

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Holy Shit! Bail Out Brawl.

The New York Times:

The day began with an agreement that Washington hoped would end the financial crisis that has gripped the nation. It dissolved into a verbal brawl in the Cabinet Room of the White House, urgent warnings from the president and pleas from a Treasury secretary who knelt before the House speaker and appealed for her support.

“If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down,” President Bush declared Thursday as he watched the $700 billion bailout package fall apart before his eyes, according to one person in the room.

It was an implosion that spilled out from behind closed doors into public view in a way rarely seen in Washington.

Our nation's economy is at stake and these jackass politicians are grandstanding:

But once the doors closed, the smooth-talking House Republican leader, John A. Boehner of Ohio, surprised many in the room by declaring that his caucus could not support the plan to allow the government to buy distressed mortgage assets from ailing financial companies.

Mr. Boehner pressed an alternative that involved a smaller role for the government, and Mr. McCain, whose support of the deal is critical if fellow Republicans are to sign on, declined to take a stand.

Here's the most striking and damning part:

In the Roosevelt Room after the session, the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr. literally bent down on one knee as he pleaded with Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, not to “blow it up” by withdrawing her party’s support for the package over what Ms. Pelosi derided as a Republican betrayal.

“I didn’t know you were Catholic,” Ms. Pelosi said, a wry reference to Mr. Paulson’s kneeling, according to someone who observed the exchange. She went on: “It’s not me blowing this up, it’s the Republicans.”

Mr. Paulson sighed. “I know. I know.”

Nice work fellas. It's not like we were depending on you or anything.

-AF

Carl Bernstein Rips McCain's "Devolution"

The Palin Pick -- The Devolution of McCain. Here's a taste:

John McCain is a serious man, as anyone who has spent time with him knows. But he has not run the kind of serious campaign he once promised.

Not for the first time, as many of his fellow Republicans (as opposed to friendly reporters and sympathetic Democrats) had long maintained, McCain's more reckless inclinations and lesser impulses prevailed. A great political movement that would transcend rabid partisanship and hard ideology does not seem in the cards.

Ouch!

-AF

McCain Surprise Sabotages Bail Out

John McCain:
Pretty pleased with himself tonite.









Since early yesterday, we been told that a "fundamental agreement" had been reached on the big bail out bill. That is sooo yesterday. That was before John McCain rode into DC and, this time with his House GOP henchmen at his side, tossed a surprise bail out bomb on America. McCain did this just before the bi-partisan Congressional bail out confab with President Bush. (musta delighted our panicked Preznit). The very meeting Johnny planned as his big photo op.

Think Progress
has the deets. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D) describes the drama:

All of a sudden there was some new core agreement floating around, which no one had heard of before, until we sort of got to the White House...

...we’re told it came out of the Republican House. We were even told at one point that this was, maybe, John McCain was floating the idea. That Hank Paulson was considering it. And of course Barney Frank and I, along with Republicans from the House and the Senate, of course, had spent three hours this morning working on a different core. We were told for the last seven days this was the core issue that would give the secretary the authority to move, to deal with the crisis.
As Johnny has confessed to know jack-all about economics, it's a sure bet that this "new core agreement" was whipped up by key McCain advisors. A CBS News report that this new plan features more, not less, deregulation seems to confirms my theory.

Obviously, the plan his top lobbyists advisors, didn’t pass the sniff test.

This could be a win-win-win-win-win-win move by Johnny.

McCain gets to say:

  1. “As promised, I rushed to America’s rescue.”“The reckless Obama-led Dems want America to continue suffering."
  2. “Instead of debating tomorrow, I’m crawling into the corner w/my blankie & my top lobbyists advisors.”
  3. “Delay my debate & we hafta delay the VP debate too.” Johnny wants this baaad.
  4. This one's huge: the McCain camp gets the chance to craft a brand new "core agreement" in which any “compromises” will still be incredibly advantageous to McCain’s Wall St. donors.
  5. There will be less time and greater pressure on the "do nothing" Dems to make new McCain plan law.

Gee, I thought John McCain was desperate before when he sold his soul to the evangelical nuts the first time. Then crazy Johnny went all drastic pushing himself deeper in bed with these Jesus freaks going so far as to let them pick his running mate. But this shit takes the cake.

Will the media and the voters fall for it?

Stay tuned...

-AF
*Update:
McCain sabotage central@HuffPo.
**Update: The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder sez:
Republicans like John Boehner brought up the concerns of House GOPers and McCain acknowledged hearing about their concerns. McCain, and staffers, did seek to gauge the level of support of the GOP working group's white paper. The Democrats were left with the impression that McCain endorsed the GOP efforts, but they concede that he did not raise them directly.
Smartly, McCain's well insulated on this one.
***Update: That completely contradicts Ambinder's report one hour earlier:
During the White House meeting, it appears that Sen. John McCain had an agenda. He brought up alternative proposals, surprising and angering Democrats. He did not, according to someone briefed on the meeting, provide specifics.
Armbinder needs to get his stories straight.
(HT:TPM)


They Said It. I Repeat It.













The last refuge of a scoundrel regulator, is to shout 'systemic risk.'
George Kaufman
Finance Professor
Loyola University Chicago
via The Chicago Tribune

Newsflash: Andrew Sullivan Is Still An Asshole















(Above: Andrew Sullivan strikes a sensitive pose)

Almost skipped reporting the latest antics of this humble blog's idiot namesake, Andrew Sullivan. I wasn't sure I could stomach transcribing his nonsense. There's something about Andy's misdirected animosity, condescension and all around chicanery makes me sick.

Last Friday, Real Time With Bill Maher's panel consisted of will.i. am, The Shock Doctrine author Naomi Klein and our zero, Andrew Sullivan. Klein happened to be the sole guest qualified to discuss the ramifications of free market capitalism. She's also consistently ranked high on various lists of top global smarty pantses -- a group old Andy need not fear of ever joining.

The first topic was the economy. Natch. Sully was immediately on the offensive. And I do mean offensive. From jump he was dismissive of and openly hostile to Naomi Klein. "Free Market" Andy attacked her calling her a "socialist." In fact, he called Republicans "leftist" and "socialists" too. But he saved his most vitriolic verbiage for the American People:

The American People have had since the ‘70s have had stagnating incomes so they’ve decided to get something for nothing. And their government never told them they couldn’t...

Ordinary Americans are as complicit in this as Wall Street and as complicit in this as the government.
I can't make this shit up. Yes, we bear plenty of blame for this mess. But I find it curious how "Free Market" Andy refused to point a finger at deregulation, predatory lending, the financial sector's extremely aggressive marketing efforts, his one-time soul mate George W. Bush's "ownership society" con, Wall Street's dubious accounting practices, etc. He talked over anybody who did. More from Sully the economist:
This doesn't validate Noam Chomsky, it validates Ron Paul.
Hey, if you can't outsmart them, out-weird them. That's what I always say. Now Naomi, whatever you do, don't you dare call free market economics an ideology to "Free Market" Andy's face:
The free market is not an ideology. It's just the best way human beings have ever discovered of creating wealth.
Technically, Sully's's right. Free market economics is not an ideology. However, he glosses right over the reality that it takes a whole lotta, whole lotta ideology to create free market conditions. Andy must have slept thru that part of the class.

The absolute pièce de résistance was when Sully gets all choked-up talking about "our" Constitution and invokes Patrick fucking Henry(!?!):
To throw our Constitution out the window for the phony idea of security is crazy. Give me liberty or give me death, OK? The first Americans would say to al Qaeda "Come and kill us. We will never give up out freedoms. Never. That's why we came here."
Carefully calculated to get maximum applause. Ron Paul fans are definitely Digging it.

But hold on. What's with this our Constitution shit, Andy? It's The Constitution to you, lad. Last I checked one Andrew Sullivan is still a British citizen.

It can be awfully confusing. Because when it's to his advantage, Sully willfully misrepresents himself as an American citizen. This is the guy who scored his greatest hit repeatedly intoning "I voted for Bush in 2000 but I wouldn't vote for him again." That 2004 whopper opened the door for all the liberal love he's received since (including his Time gig).

The nerve of a Brit trying to school US about "Freedom" with an ab-zurd first Americans vs. al Queda analogy. That takes brass ones. Perhaps our early pioneers would tell al Queda to "Bring it on!" They'd soon learn that a musket is no match for an M136-AT4. As for poor abused Patrick Henry, I can't decide whether he's plain rolling over in his grave or ROIHGL* at this clown.

-AF

*Trans: Rolling Over In His Grave Laughing

Can't Sell Your House?

Hold a raffle.

-AF

Fun Facts To Know And Tell











The Sunlight Foundation sheds light on how Wall Street has been spending what is now essentially our money to buy their best possible bail out deal:

If you haven’t been under a rock lately, you know that the Bush Administration is proposing a $700 billion bailout for Wall Street. What you might not know is that there have been 258 parties this year alone for members of the House Financial Services Committee-the very folks who are making crucial decisions about this legislation-a number of them hosted by lobbyists for the finance, insurance, and real estate industries.

For example, last week, on September 16, lobbyists were invited to a “financial services” luncheon for Rep. Dean Heller at the Capitol Hill Club. The cost for entry was $500 for individuals, $1,000 for PACs. Heller has collected $190,252 from the financial sector for his congressional elections out of a total of $1,242,583, or 15.3 percent.

Then there was the invitation from the Real Estate Roundtable PAC on September 14 for folks to join Rep. Gregory Meeks to watch the New Orleans Saints play the Washington Redskins play at FedEx Field. The cost: $1,000. Meeks has taken $1,015,432 from the financial sector over his congressional career, 27.8 percent of his fundraising total-$3,657,984.
(All emphasis mine).
Heller is a Republican and Meeks is a Dem.

This is craziness.

-AF
(HT: Harper's Ken Silverstein)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

McCain's Blames Other Bail Out In Debate Bail Out Bid

Say that 10 times fast.

Paying rapt attention to the research, McCain's campaign doesn't at all like what they see. With American voters rightly blaming Republicans for our lil' national economic castrosphe and Obama surging in every poll, they gotta put the brakes on this juggernaut.
The top McCain lobbyists' advisors' bold stroke? Shut her down. Yep, Johnny's pledged to "suspend" his campaign tomorrow TFN. No word when The Mighty McCain Puppet Show shall resume. To use this brazen Big Bail Out ploy to bail on Friday's scheduled debate smacks of desperation. It's also the very worst kind of cynical politics.

"Must...Slow...Him...Down..."

McCain and his handlers would give anything to delay the inevitable. Today's classic GOP fear-mongering technique had the added benefit of blindsiding his opponent. At 8:30 this morning, Sen. Obama called Sen. McCain to suggest they issue a joint statement:

outlining their shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal and urging Congress and the White House to act in a bipartisan manner to pass such a proposal.
Six hours later, McCain's campaign replied:
We're down with that.
Not thirty minutes later -- Surprise! Johnny-in-the-box pops up to to claim:
Listen up all you lefty reporter assholes and trollops. America, damn it, needs John McCain too much for me to let any black youngster hand me my fucking head on TV in front of every-fucking-body. All that campaigning shit and polling shit just ain't all that important right now. So don't any of you pay no goddamn attention to it. I am not fucking kidding here you commies. Remember, America needs John McCain.

Now all you fuckers get off my lawn err...out of my office. It's past my nap time.*
Obama's camp can explain this time line five ways to Friday. We'll see how it rolls out. No doubt about one thing. they were bushwacked. Obama will have to be much smarter next time.

Normally, he doesn't like to worry his angry little head about money stuff. That's women's work. He's too big, rich and powerful for that kind of a buzz kill. McCain leaves all that hard thinking to his closest lobbyists advisors. But the playing field has changed dramatically these past few months.

Our country's worsening economy has McCain all jammed up. He's confessed to not understanding economic issues. His policies, many shaped by his closest lobbyists advisors, lie at the core of this crisis. No "I'm-a-war-hero-that's-gonna-win-the-war-and-keep-America-safe" schtick will save him here. Thus the very thought of speaking about The Bail Out, no less sharing the stage with an exceedingly articulate younger and smarter man who knows numbers 'n' stuff, scares the ever living shit out of him.

"Must...Buy... More...Time..."

Should he actually keep his commitment to debate Friday, McCain will have to talk about other grownup issues too. Real important shit like the Wars, healthcare, his 26-year record as an avid deregulation booster and more potentially politically fatal shit like that will be bandied about. The kind of stuff his closest lobbyists advisors haven't finished telling him what his positions are on yet. America is dying to see that, Johnny Boy.

That is some clever strategy framing McCain's debate bail out bid as a necessary to deal The Big Bail Out. If he doesn't play along, Obama appears to put himself above country. He shows less urgency to address an urgent problem of historic proportions. If he does go along, Obama is not as smart as I thought he was. This is not the time to play follow the leader and quash your surging momentum now, sir. That is precisely what McCain and his closest lobbyists advisors pray you will do.

Do not cave in. I repeat: Do not cave in. This is the time to go for the jugular, Barack. On the big stage and in front of the American people, You must get McCain to try to explain some of that numbers stuff to us. Let Johnny give us his best shot at rationalizing his two-and-a-half decades** supporting financial deregulation.

America doesn't just want to see it. We need to see it.

WaPo's "The Fix" on McCain's manuever.

-AF

*Guaranteed 100% actual dialogue -- I swear.

**Apparently this streak ended this week.

***Update: Shazam! <>Per the AP Obama sez:
"it's more important than ever" that the country hear from its next president.

"It's my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who in approximately 40 days will be responsible for dealing with this mess," Obama said in a news conference in Clearwater, Fla. "It's going to be part of the president's job to deal with more than one thing at once."
Rejected! Very deftly done that was. (Gotta give some credit to Johnny's closest lobbyists weasels advisors for taking their best stab at it, tho').

How will McCain and his closest lobbyists advisors respond?

Bad Religion "Infected"


You gotta love a band that names themselves "Bad Religion" and kicks off their debut album with the likes of "We're Only Gonna Die from Our Own Arrogance." "Infected" is an all-time great song from what I believe is BR's best, most consistent record album. Ace Andy Wallace production too. This will have to tide me over until I find my copy of Stranger Than Fiction. Get yours here.

Some twenty years-and-change ago, in my incarnation as commercial Radio Boy v. 2.0, I spent much time kicking against the pricks. As the station's Music Director, I had to deal all record company representatives. There was a certain unbelievably obnoxious & totally relentless VP/Promotion from a label that shall go unnamed (hint: rhymes with bArista). He wouldn't stop jamming me (and I do mean jamming me) to play records songs that there was no fucking way we were ever going to play.

I was new in the job so I tried my hardest to be patient and polite. One day, I had had enough. During an especially exasperating conversation about some particularly foul piece of AOR fodder, I snapped at bArista Records' VP of National Promotion:

Me:"I don't know how to get it through to you, we're not that kind of radio station. Fer chrissakes I played The fucking Wipers' "When It's Over" on-the-air last nite! Ever heard of them?"

VP: "Did you know that I was the original drummer for Bad Religion?"
Me: "Get the fuck out! Really?"
VP: "Really"
Me: "Then why are we even having this conversation?"
We had reached an understanding. VP was only mildly obnoxious from then on out.

When I last ran into him he was a helluva lot more mellow. Ex-VP had an absolutely stunning Brazilian or Argentinian girlfriend on his arm and had started his own alt-Latin company. I had never seen him happier. How could he be not?

More on The Wipers soon come.

-AF

US Financial Meltdown Cause Explained

It's all about the Underpants Gnomes .

-AF
(HT: Raw Story)

Fox's "Fringe" Based In Boston. Sure It Is.

As a budding screenwriter and one who's interested in all entertainment off the beaten path, I have to laugh out loud at Fox's Fringe. I find the plot compelling in an X-Files sorta way but, as a Bostonian born and bred, many of the exteriors are laugh-out-loud funny.

A very non-Logan looking Logan airport? A Harvard that's a dead ringer for MIT? A large bridge and a waterfront in the oh-so-very land-locked Stoughton? (C'mon, I grew up two towns over!) Aerial camera shots of a baseball stadium unlike any that exists in New England? This Boston as portrayed in Fringe is not a Boston that ever existed. It's pathetically generic and unimaginative.

It sucks and badly at that.

I remember back a million years ago when Spenser: For Hire was filmed locally. For months at a time, the whole crew was based out of Boston to faithfully film exteriors. The problem was the late Robert Urich (as Spenser) would be chasing some dude near Berklee and turn a corner only to have an edit suddenly transport him to South Boston. It was unbelievely jarring to anyone who knew Boston intimately. Still that's something a reasonably small number of TV viewers would notice. We natives chuckled some and let it slide.

It's obvious that Fringe's creators were wed to the "crazy" Harvard professor father character's back story from jump. That I can deal with. Even with the dollar's decline it is still frequently much cheaper to shoot in Canada than it is in the States. OK, reality blows. I've read how the City of Boston had promised to cut Fringe production breaks only to later renege. Shit happens frequently . "Fringe" cut a deal with New York City & the great Silvercup Studios to film in Queens, Brooklyn, etc. You gotta do what you gotta do

But there is no sane fucking reason for Fringe's "creators" to hinge a major plot point around a goddamn bridge on the "waterfront" of a town miles from the fucking water? It's not like we have a shortage of harbors and bridges in Metro Boston or anything. (Quincy/Weymouth's Fore River Bridge came immediately to mind). What is the point in setting a story in a well-known, beloved and an unusually idiosyncratic city only to neuter said locale all completely Vancouver-generic? Is Hollywood's fake (Canadian) America now officially more real than real America?

This is some stupid shit.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
-AF

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Nightmarish Vision Of Future America

Since this year began, China has blasted the Bush administration's handling of all things economic (here, here, here and most recently calling for "a diversified currency and financial system" independent from the United States here). I can't say that I blame them.



A total US fiscal crash would devastate the so-called global economy. Still, if the US economy continues its nosedive, would Japan, China, England, the UAE and our other creditors start acting akin to common hardcore bill collectors? You know the kind. The ones who go through your finances telling you what you can & can't spend money on all the while pushing for payments you cannot presently make. What might happen then?

I dozed a bit yesterday awakening with a start. Now it's true that I'm prone to spectacularly vivid dreams. (It has to do with one of my meds -- seriously). However, this particular phantasm had an unusually ominous tone. It went sorta like this...

The US economic stumbling persisted. Our creditor-nations ratchetted up their pressure. We first fained* rights to our biggest national monuments: the ICBC Statue of Liberty, Jefferson Memorial brought to you by Dubai Holdings, etc. That barely covered the vig and accordingly had a negligible effect towards steadying Wall Street. Panicked, our creditors pressed that much harder. They sought to collect whatever they could before the whole damn shit house burned to the ground.

America faced a classic Hobson’s choice.

Backed into this corner of their own making, our government was forced to choose between yet another desperate attempt to save this country’s foundering financial system orbennies for old folks” i.e. re-election. AARP or no AARP, the banks and big business won the day as they are wont to do. Every. Single. Fucking. Time.

As our government mortgaged the last bit of our future -- the future we had already bought and paid for -- we had limited options at best. We dared not give voice to our rage lest it queer the entire decidedly dicey and desperate scheme. Social Security benefits would be absolutely worthless in an America without a stable economy, banks, gainful employment, health insurance, government regulations et al. Like good little citizens, we kept our fucking mouths shut. We sucked it and hard. (I am sooo not the ”suck it” type).

We did this knowing full well that -- despite the scope of these Herculean efforts, our numerous collective sacrifices and all of the great gnashing of teeth -- we could not foresee a successful result. But if we neglected to act the imminent failure would surely leave us with nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. 没有什么东西.

We rolled the dice and fail it did in glorious fashion. America's insolvency had worldwide ramifications. Nowhere was the impact more dramatic than here at home. Corporations fell. Banks closed. Jobs evaporated. Infrastructure collapsed. Our democracy as we knew it ceased to exist.

Armed mobs rioted and looted until there was no reason left to riot or anything of value left to loot. What they couldn't take with them was destroyed. Those who survived by going into hiding reappeared desperate to eke out some kind of life without getting themselves killed for it.

A few years on, here's a snapshot from the average person's life in this grave new world:

“Look Grams. You know I love you. Every one of us loves you. Bunches and bunches. I’m really, really, really sorry. We tried so very hard. Yet even with many deeply humiliating acts of prostitution, our entire monthly gross firewood sales and much spinning of wool, the most we can afford is the finest back-alley gall bladder surgery. That’s with the whole family eating nothing save Krill** Wafers and cellulose patties for months on end too. Grams, hang in there, OK? We’ll see you next week after your surgery…I hope.”
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the anointed ones, who come to be known as the “Bush-CheneysTM***,” led a blissful existence. Named for its unquestioned leaders, this cabal consisted of the rich and privileged -- both conservative and liberal alike. These unlikely bedfellows banded together over time. After the terrifying Trump kidnappings, it was agreed that the world at large had become too damn dangerous for the moneyed to move freely amongst the rest of us.

The Bush-Cheneys became increasingly isolated. They boarded heavily armored VH-451 jet copters to shuttle betwixt various Halliburton-built and Blackwater-protected bubble fortress-communities strewn about the world. Except for some minor concerns (i.e. inevitable in-breeding without an fresh influx of Western Europe's richest blood and/or carefully selected Esnian stock), they had nary a care in the world. In fact, they were substantially better off than at any other time in history. What is truly remarkable is how years earlier they so quickly and easily boosted their fortunes.

For when U.S. markets stabilized post-9/11, each original Bush-Cheney clan leader flipped every last dollar for euros.

That’s all it took. Later, other currencies, as well as other markets, were manipulated to further swell their coffers. While we watched this future America burn to a cinder, they cashed in every step of the way.

Yikes! I said it was a bad dream. I mean large parts of it didn't make any sense whatsoever. So something like this could never happen, right?

-AF


For the record: My sister use to tease me, quite effectively I might add, by saying: "The trouble with you, Anacher, is that you have no imagination." Ha!

*OK, so maybe I watched Hamlet today. What of it?
**Yes, I have read everything William Gibson ever wrote.
***This list ultimately includes everyone ranging from the Gates, Corzine, Soros, Buffett and Winfrey families to the Walton, Paulson, Adelson, Pickens, and DeVos tribes.

They Said It. I Repeat It.

Sarah Palin said today one more gaffe from McCain and she’s going to drop him from the ticket.
Bill Maher
Real Time With Bill Maher
9/19/08

-AF

Friday, September 19, 2008

Musings On Bush's Economic Folly, Pt. 1

Yesterday a "smart" money fella claimed the total Wall Street-bailout cost to the American taxpayer would max out at $2,000,000,000,000. (In a perverse show of brainiac couching, he scribed this number as $2,000 billionas if that would cushion the blow!) This absurdly large number wasn't what threatened to expel liquid out my nose at supersonic speed. My autonomic response was triggered by the sheer fucking audacity of anyone to be so quick to put an ultimate price tag on this unmitigated disaster.

It’s early days yet, folks. We’ve just stepped onto Mr. Bush’s Wild Ride through our shambolic economy. Mark my words: Wall Street’s tagger will easily top $5 trillion. I’m nuts, you say? True. But what do you think would have happened yesterday if we were told anything near the real final cost? Exactly. Presto! Changeo! Out trots a Harvard economist to low-ball the final freight and jumpstart the market. It worked spectacularly. The stock market gained 780 points in 48 hours closing the week right back where it began.

Reactions run the gamut. I'm particularly fascinated that people have found comfort in the knowledge that George Bush was foiled in his quest to allow Wall Street’s GOP pals to plunge their grubby sausage-like fingers into that sweet Social Security pie. Social Security is safe from harm! Can I get a huzzah? Huzzah!

Let’s get real. Regardless of whether or not our Social Security fund is currently intact or not is immaterial. Either way it’s as good as gone.

Inna Wall Street stylee, the Bush administration mortgaged our future – the future we citizens are entitled to and have paid for up front no less – many times over. The Georgie and Dick Show has spent a preposterous pile of cash fast on their Greater War For Oil, endless campaign contributor spiffs and the exorbitant expense of the Republican-led “privatization will save Americans money” scam. Hell, we won’t begin to know the score until these crooks are out the door.

No surprise that. Cleaning out the cupboards is what Republicans do best. However, this smash-and-grab was decidedly different. Skillfully wielding twin bludgeons of “patriotism” and fear, George & Dick looted our treasury on an epic scale. Failing that they did what any average American would do -- they charged it.

Color me oddly impressed with the mad skilz of Bush and his henchmen. They not only managed to prop up their financially bankrupt regime long enough get reelected, but they also almost gave themselves time to scoot out the door unscathed. Ironically, it’s through the Bush administration's financial fairy tales that George finally lived up to his advance billing as “ the CEO President.” His dazzling display of bullshit business acumen was a treat to watch. Seriously. Because if there was even the tiniest hint we could default, Japan, China, the UK and the “oil exporters” will quit snapping up our debt tout de suite.

T
hat would have left us profoundly fucked.

-AF

Tomorrow: My Fantastically Dire Vision Of Future America

An Open Letter To All You Chickens Little


















I know only too well how we live in anxious times. Given the shenanigans of the last eight years, it's only natural to be mighty apprehensive about the upcoming elections. The stakes have never been higher.

But I swear that if I hear even one more Nervous-fucking- Nellie Democrat whining about how it "looks like we're gonna lose this election", I will completely fucking snap. No, I'm not saying we can ever afford to be over-confident and smug just because our candidates are extremely intelligent, thoughtful, rational, experienced and computer-savvy. We've been down that dark road twice before. That we're already getting reports of swing state voting problems is far from comforting.

I need you Your country needs you to stop your goddamn hand-wringing. Swallow your angst and stuff your negativity. Direct your energies towards a positive goal. Get up off your fat ass, get out and fucking do something. Be a part of it.

There are oh-so-many things you can do:

  1. Reach out to your local Democratic committee.* Even if your town has its own committee*, be sure contact your county Democratic committee too. They'll be grateful for what ever time you can spare. Rest assured there's work there waiting for you: phone banks to man, doors to knock, lawn signs to place, leaflets to leaf, voters to register, etc.
  2. Give what you can, where you can, when you can.
  3. Put a sign in your yard, a T-shirt on your back, a button on your breast & a sticker on your car. Your Obama-Biden gear is here. Snag your local candidates' stuff on-line or at their HQ
  4. Get informed. Peruse the "issues" section on your candidates' website. Know your candidates' stands cold. When you're sporting team colors, you never know who you'll run into.
  5. Engage. The GOP smear machine is at full throttle and our news media is absurdly lazy. Misperceptions and outright lies have taken root in our collective consciousness. Talk to people. Pull up those roots. Make the truth known.
The benefits of becoming involved in local politics are many. My personal fave is how you get to meet so many dynamic, like-minded people. For shy retiring types such as myself (surrounded in a NY state red zone no less), it's proven to be a fantastic way to make new friends. It's a cinch 'cuz these folks are pre-screened for ideological compatibility!

This a starting point. Now time's a wasting. Get to work!

-AF

*If your town doesn't have a Democratic committee, start one. But let's put this election to bed first.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stupid Bill Bennett Calls Palin Lies "Small Stuff"

On last nite's NBC Nightly News, Sarah Guthrie went all specific re: Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin's numerous lies about "the bridge to nowhere", her "trips" to Ireland & Iraq, Alaska's role supplying energy to the lower 48 and her non-existent foreign policy résumé.



This morning
The Today Show invited massive Republican tool, racist/gambling addict/abstinence peddler+/all-around-hypocrite Bill Bennett, to attempt to rebut Sarah Guthrie's report. Bennett's defense: "It's small stuff."

That's rich. Republican rich. Especially so coming from America's least fave and most visible bloviating Republican "moralist." It's not small stuff, Bill. No fucking way. No fucking how. Bill, it's really really really really really important. Got it? We're talking about a potential vice president fer chrissakes. I suppose in your warped little world murder isn't so bad as long as you stick to killing midgets. Preferably black midgets.

Like her running mate John McCain (and the GOP in general), Sarah Palin is lying her fucking ass off about her qualifications for our country's the second highest office. That is so not cool. Her pattern of behaviour is a deafening scream she is an unsuitable candidate. This alone is bad enough. But these are really fucking stupid lies easily exposed by anyone with an internet connection! This reveals the McCain/Palin campaign's equally unacceptable hubris and abject stupidity.

We don't need another lying, stupid, prideful Presidency. The United States is staggering at the verge of wrapping up a monumentally disastrous eight years of the lyingest, stupidest and most prideful administration in this damn nation's history. And we have had a few.

We shall not accept more of the same.

-AF

*Shorter version:
A politician who cannot lie well is no politician at all.

+
OK, so his wife, Elayne, technically runs this crazy little shop but hubby Bill's fingerprints are all over it.

(HT: Mrs. Forester)

Bill Bennett cartoon borrowed and modified from www.blackcommentator.com.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Remake/Remodel

I've tweaked ASIAF's looks slightly -- hope ya like it.

-AF

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Richard Cohen Comes Clean

One of the all-time great McCain media shills goes off the reservation:

Following his loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 South Carolina primary, John McCain did something extraordinary: He confessed to lying about how he felt about the Confederate battle flag, which he actually abhorred. "I broke my promise to always tell the truth," McCain said. Now he has broken that promise so completely that the John McCain of old is unrecognizable. He has become the sort of politician he once despised.

The precise moment of McCain's abasement came, would you believe, not at some news conference or on one of the Sunday shows but on "The View," the daytime TV show created by Barbara Walters. Last week, one of the co-hosts, Joy Behar, took McCain to task for some of the ads his campaign has been running. One deliberately mischaracterized what Barack Obama had said about putting lipstick on a pig -- an Americanism that McCain himself has used. The other asserted that Obama supported teaching sex education to kindergarteners.

"We know that those two ads are untrue," Behar said. "They are lies."

Freeze. Close in on McCain. This was the moment. He has largely been avoiding the press. The Straight Talk Express is now just a brand, an ad slogan like "Home Cooking" or "We Will Not Be Undersold." Until then, it was possible for McCain to say that he had not really known about the ads, that the formulation "I approve this message" was just boilerplate. But he didn't.

"Actually, they are not lies," he said.

Actually, they are.

But that's not the most remarkable part of Cohen's op-ed. This is:

I am one of the journalists accused over the years of being in the tank for McCain. Guilty.
Ho-lee She-it!

Let's just hope Cohen sticks to his guns and aggressively pushes this issue.
If he does, will any the other 2045 some-odd journalists in thrall to "honest" John McCain follow suit?

Cohen's entire mea culpa is here.

-AF

(HT: Raw Story)

Update: The St. Petersburg Times chimes in with "Campaign of Lies Disgraces McCain"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Because we already had McLies.com...

All you really need to know about "mavericks" John McCain & Sarah Palin: mclobbist.com.

-AF

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Oh, To Be Hot, Young & Chilean

SANTIAGO, Chile — It is just after 5 p.m. in what was once one of Latin America’s most sexually conservative countries, and the youth of Chile are bumping and grinding to a reggaetón beat. At the Bar Urbano disco, boys and girls ages 14 to 18 are stripping off their shirts, revealing bras, tattoos and nipple rings.

The place is a tangle of lips and tongues and hands, all groping and exploring. About 800 teenagers sway and bounce to lyrics imploring them to “Poncea! Poncea!”: make out with as many people as they can.

And make out they do — with stranger after stranger, vying for the honor of being known as the “ponceo,” the one who pairs up the most.
Whew! Now all kidding aside, Chile is a very conservative, very Catholic and up until now (and still only among teens) extremely repressed. A predictable dearth of sex education coupled with the aura immortality that comes with youth makes this a ticking time bomb. Yes, the majority of these kids appear to be only "making out" but seems only a matter of time before they take it further. Even if they do not, there's a slew of pretty nasty things you can catch from swapping spit with as many people as you possibly can including: mono, herpes, hep C, hep B and meningitis/septicaemia.

Read the whole cazuela from the NYT here.

-AF

They Said It. I Repeat It.

“Basically all they're showing you of the Arab world are the rednecks of the Arab world.”

Comedian Russell Peters on mainstream media.
From his new Red, White & Brown Showtime special.

-AF

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

How Amateurs Always Manage To Screw It Up For The Rest of Us

I came of age in the late-'70s. I've done a lot of recreational drugs. I'm neither proud nor ashamed of this. It is purely a statement of fact. Some of it was purely for kicks. Much more of it was the product of a lifetime spent self-medicating my depression and ADHD.

Due to the ole traumatic brain injury, I can no longer do my fave recreational drugs.(Actually, I can do them. I'd like to do them. They just don't get me high anymore so what's the damn point?) Nevertheless, as I've previously mentioned, I have a great deal of personal knowledge of and respect for the subject.

It's with great curiosity I've watched the medical community again turn its interest to hallucinogens:

Before hallucinogenic drugs became popular with the counter culture, they were at the forefront of brain science. They were used to help scientists understand the nature of consciousness and how the brain works and as treatments for a range of conditions including alcohol dependence.
The explosion of recreational drug use, the resulting legal issues and pressure from the mainstream medical research community made it impossible for this line of research to continue. Thankfully, that has changed:
Scientists are exploring the use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD to treat a range of ailments from depression to cluster headaches and obsessive compulsive disorder.

The first clinical trial using LSD since the 1970s began in Switzerland in June. It aims to use "psychedelic psychotherapy" to help patients with terminal illnesses come to terms with their imminent mortality and so improve their quality of life.

Another psychedelic substance, psilocybin - the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, has shown promising results in trials for treating symptoms of terminal cancer patients. And researchers are using MDMA (ecstasy) as an experimental treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Now my shrink laughs when I bring this up as a possible course of treatment (I am joking, really I am). However, I do see an eventual benefit from this line of inquiry. Now I ever was hugely into hallucinogens. (I hated to feel out of control tho' every now and then I did like to add a little special sparkle to the proceedings). I personally know how, when taken in a controlled setting, a high-quality sample of any of the above can safely open your mind right the fuck up.

Who knows what could be learned from new research? There's always the chance of a happy accident such as that which led to the discovery of penicillin and, yes, LSD, too. And let's face it, without penicillin, billions would be dead. More importantly, without LSD, popular music would absolutely suck.

I've never tried Salvia Divinorum. I have read a lot about it mostly in anthropologic books & journals. It's widely considered to be the most powerful of hallucinigenic herbs. What makes Salvia such a crucial research subject is its one-of-a-kind mechanism of action:
Its primary psychoactive constituent is a diterpenoid known as salvinorin A, which is a potent κ-opioid receptor agonist.
In layman's terms, nothing else works this way.

Thus it angers me to read that a valuable avenue of research could be closed due to a bunch knuckleheads getting blasted and posting it on YouTube. Yesterday's NY Times has the dope:
Though older Americans typically have never heard of salvia, the psychoactive sage has become something of a phenomenon among this country’s thrill-seeking youth.
The problem lies in that Salvia is currently legal in 37 states. Powerful high + power of the internet = amateur hour. A massive amateur hour. The US government estimates that a whopping 750,000(!!!) tried Salvia in 2006 alone. Lawmakers nationwide are scrambling to get Salvia outlawed. That's bad for scientists. More Times:
“We have this incredible new compound, the first in its class; it absolutely has potential medical use, and here we’re talking about throttling it because some people get intoxicated on it,” said Dr. John Mendelson, a pharmacologist at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute who, with federal financing, is studying salvia’s impact on humans. “It couldn’t be more foolish from a business point of view.”
Even by my admittedly loose standards 750,000+ is a tad more than "some people." But the good doctor is correct. Though it will certainly result in a bunch of people getting wasted, that is not this particular type of research's goal. This research is to learn about that most important, and still most mysterious, of all our organs: the brain. It's about finding ways to help people in physical and emotional pain.

Regardless of the legal future of Salvia amongst the masses, we cannot allow this type research to stop as it did with LSD (when acid was outlawed in '66). With the current neuvo wave o' ignorance and Puritanism sweeping the nation, I'm not terribly optimistic.

-AF

Just for the record...
I liken recreational drugs to the ocean: you disrespect them at your peril.

NP: "Rainy Day, Dream Away."