Friday, March 20, 2009

Shell Oil Bails On Renewable Energy

This is very, very bad. Shell Oil's putting all their chips behind biofuels instead.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Before The Market Goes To Shit

Wall St. weasels' change their performance bonuses into "retention bonuses." Kevin Drum explains:

Of course they got their comp locked down when they saw the storm ahead of them...

What happened at AIGFP is standard practice throughout corporate America. America's corporate titans like to talk endlessly about performance-based pay and how capitalism rewards risk, but in real life compensation packages are almost always constructed to avoid as much risk as possible. If you work in a growing industry, your bonus depends on raw growth rates. If you work in a declining industry, your bonus is linked to relative growth rates. If the market is up, your bonus is paid in stock. If it's not, suddenly deferred comp and increased pension contributions are the order of the day. Heads you win, tails you win.
We may not like it. Hell, we rarely even know it. But the public, we're always the ones stuck assuming the risk. We literally pay for their mistakes.

Mr. Drum points to Hilzoy's take on AIG's contracts:
I hope the Obama administration is looking very hard at this question. The introduction to the contract says that one of its aims is to "recognize the uncertainty that the unrealized market-valuation losses in AIG-FP's super-senior credit derivative and originally-rated AAA cash CDO portfolios have created for AIG-FP's employees and consultants."

That certainly suggests that AIG-FP was aware that there might be significant losses, as does the fact that they got their compensation locked down in a way that made it independent of their profits or losses. (Unless their bonus pool exceeded the amount guaranteed in the contract -- then they got to keep more!) And hard as it is to imagine that AIG's general management had somehow overlooked the signs of trouble in the subprime market in early 2008, it's even harder to imagine that whatever whoever signed off on this would not have asked: why does AIG-FP want this? How bad do they think it's going to get?

I imagine it would be worth scrutinizing the public comments of AIG executives between the first quarter of 2008, when this contract was written, and September, when it collapsed. But that's only one point. I hope that every law enforcement agency with anything resembling jurisdiction goes over everything about AIG-FP with a fine-tooth comb. There are more than enough peculiar aspects to this story to warrant it.

I hope the Obama administration is looking very hard at this question. The introduction to the contract says that one of its aims is to "recognize the uncertainty that the unrealized market-valuation losses in AIG-FP's super-senior credit derivative and originally-rated AAA cash CDO portfolios have created for AIG-FP's employees and consultants."

That certainly suggests that AIG-FP was aware that there might be significant losses, as does the fact that they got their compensation locked down in a way that made it independent of their profits or losses. (Unless their bonus pool exceeded the amount guaranteed in the contract -- then they got to keep more!) And hard as it is to imagine that AIG's general management had somehow overlooked the signs of trouble in the subprime market in early 2008, it's even harder to imagine that whatever whoever signed off on this would not have asked: why does AIG-FP want this? How bad do they think it's going to get?

Over at Digby's joint dday digs deeper. Bottom line: AIG execs brazenly lied to everybody -- the Fed, the Treasury, SEC, regulators, investors -- about everything. How AIG chose to conduct their business positively drips with fraud.

Somebody's gonna go to jail for this.


Wall Street Entitlement: Family edition

Great stuff on AIG’s disgraceful bonuses by people smarter than I... The TPM crew rips away here, here, here plus AIG's internal bonus docs. Jane Hamsher dismantles the “Blame Dodd” fib. Digby takes down Limbaugh & the GOP’s new “AIG Stimulus” mantra.

On Tuesday, Rush Limbaugh claimed Wall Street firms' “salaries are pretty small. They work on bonuses, via contract based on merit." This is where my father would say, "Does what you're saying to me, make sense to you?"

If the current AIG contracts specify compensation is to consist primarily of bonuses "based on merit", the bonuses wouldn't have been paid at all. Fer chrissakes the AIG & Merrill-types not only have done a spectacularly shit job but they've also completely cocked up the world economy! How can they possibly justify "merit" bonuses? Simple. Regardless of their companies' profitability, Masters of the Universe believe huge bonuses are their god-given right.

Case in point: I just got off the phone w/my 75-year old mother. Mom's income is largely dependent on her modest portfolio. Sadly, it's w/Merrill Lynch for the foreseeable future. (Due to the nature of her investments it's currently too complicated & costly to switch).

Last week Mom spoke with her Merrill "financial advisor." Her "advisor" was whining about the cost of putting her two kids thru private school. Mom chimed in, "You did recently received a big bonus." Advisor snapped back, "I deserved it!"

This financial advisor's sense of entitlement & her disconnect goes a long way towards explaining Tim Geithner's inaction, Larry Summers' "The government cannot just abrogate contracts" position & the Fed's inability to inform Obama about AIG's bonuses until the day before (WTF?!?).

It's bad enough stopping AIG, Merrill & BOA's bonuses didn't occur to any of them. But it's astonishing they failed to foresee the oh-so-predictable outrage to follow.


*Update: More TPM on potential fraud charges for AIG here & here.
**Edited slightly for clarity.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bring Me The Heads Of The Jonas Brothers #3

"Retention" Bonus My Ass


The bonuses that the American International Group awarded last week were paid to 418 employees and included $33.6 million for 52 people who have left the failed insurance conglomerate, according to the office of the New York attorney general.
(Emphasis added).
I'm betting Ed Liddy's explanation will sound something like: "AIG is contractually obligated to award retention bonuses regardless of whether or not we actually retain an employee."


Monday, March 16, 2009

Punker Than You

Early this morning I stumbled across a recent NYT piece, "This Band Was Punk Before Punk Was Punk." Needles to say Death had my undivided attention immediately. In the fine tradition of The Chambers Brothers, the three Hackney brothers are brothers. Oh, and they flipped off Clive Davis too!

I was smitten with Death before I heard a note. That never, ever happens. Bolting to iTunes I downloaded their entire 7-song catalog.

Recorded in 1975, but released just last month, Death's ...For the Whole World to See's is fantastic. It's the missing link between Detroit's proto-punk MC5/The Stooges generation & the later Negative Approach et al. All but one tune motors along at breakneck speed. Singer Bobby doubles on bass; his voice a dead ringer for Bad Brains' HR.* (More properly the other way around as Death predates Bad Brains). Bold enough to nick a bit of Zep, guitarist/songwriter/founder David, spits out muscular yet melodic riffs. Death's secret weapons comes courtesy of brother Dannis. His drumming is crisp, propulsive & he has a helluva right foot.

To the eyes & ears of the vast majority of the local scene, these kids might as well have been space aliens. This was a mid-'70s Detroit musical landscape that had Bob Seger (Ugh!) at one end, Funkadelic at the other and disco looming large on the horizon. Playing futuristic politically charged punk rock to an at best indifferent Motown club or house party crowd circa 1973 ends one of only two possible ways: a band gets mighty tough or it dies before its time. After three years of ever-increasing frustration, Death packed it in for good.

The stones music remains. Dig the "A" side of Death's 1976 single "Politicians In My Eyes". If it tickles your pink, snag the rest of ...For the Whole World to See from iTunes, Drag City's website or better yet yer local indie shop.

*After writing this I discovered The Chicago Reader 's Peter Margasak concurs. The similarity is that obvious.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bribery? This Isn't Bribery.

It's wasta.


Bring Me The Heads Of The Jonas Brothers #2

Only they could make Milie Cyrus look like Lydia Lunch.


Friday, March 13, 2009

I Was Just Thinking...

Writer’s block is a bitch.

Fresh off a verbal castration by Jon Stewart, the smartest thing Jim Cramer can do is go away. Surely his portfolio provides for his retirement.

I’m no rubbernecker. However, the Michael Steele train wreck stops me in my tracks every time.

I don’t wanna say he’s out of his depth but making Steele RNC chair was akin to throwing a baby tied to a cinder block into the Marianas Trench.

It’s probably a Northeast thang. Friendly’s Butter Crunch ice cream rocks my world.

The Republican Party needs an “ideological vasectomy.”

Doesn't that mean they’re all pricks?

Ari Fleischer should shut the fuck up. We’re wise to your lies. When Chris Mathews won’t tolerate it any longer, you gotta give up the jig & move on.

Didn’t Ari quit on Bush six years ago? Since Freedom’s Watch wasn't a smashing success, I guess he needs something to keep busy.

All the Bushies have too much time on their hands. Sucks to be them.

Always knew Chuck Norris was crazier than a shit house mouse. Didn’t realize is he’s a bloody seditionist.

"Weasels" is too kind a word to describe those who crashed our economy.

Citigroup would be smart to quit organizing against EFCA. They really do have more important things to do.

Make a principled stand but first ensure it makes sense, OK?

GOP governors refusing StimPakTM cash couldn't be more stupid. Their respective electorates get more pissed off by the day.

National exposure makes you look tone deaf + foolish = political doom.

Amity Shlaes is metaphorically challenged & her diatribes on FDR's New Deal are complete BS.

I’m a total sucker for anything brickley, butterscotch, toffee or caramel.

This is sarcasm. However, were we ever to use DNA or retinal scans for voter ID, GOP voter caging bastards are finished.

Is it me or does Lindsey Graham become more and more cartoon-like each time he’s on TV?

Either that or the pharmaceutical grade LSD I took back in '98 is creeping up on me again.


They Said It. I Repeat It.

There’s a market for cocaine and hookers! So what?

Jon Stewart's response to Jim Cramer.


IAVA's Rieckhoff Talks Vet Head Injuries, Etc.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Did Bush's SEC Willfully Blow Enforcement?

George Bush's SEC sounds more hinky by the minute. Every day we hear about another massive Ponzi scheme, illegal trading or dodgy manuever. Bernie Madoff lead-offs the list but if you're like me you've had trouble keeping track.

So I skimmed SEC's website. I found Billion Coupons, Locke Capital, Diversified Lending/Applied Equities, Sunwest Management, North Hills, UBS/Blackstone, Elucido Fund, ProTrust, Scoop Capital/Scoop Management, CRE Capital, Joe Forte, Stanford Financial Group. There was a $40 million Ponzi scheme reported just yesterday. Earlier this month 14 top Wall Street "specialist firms" were popped for "unlawful proprietary trading" to the tune of $70 million. That's this year alone!

So far we discover these crooks when they run out of money to shuffle around & make 'em look legit. It's painfully clear under Bush the SEC has completely blew its enforcement responsibility. Fer crissakes, they couldn't be bothered to follow up on Bernie Madoff's decade-long whistleblower. How did we come to this? It can't entirely be chocked up to misplaced priorities & the SEC/Wall Street crony culture, right?

It's not. In an appearance yesterday before a House appropriations subcommittee, new SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said something I found interesting:

Schapiro asked lawmakers to allow the agency to use $17 million from previous budgets that went unspent. She said the money is needed to maintain adequate staffing levels and upgrade technology.
$17 million in previous SEC budgets unspent? Budgets being plural. That's craaazy. Government agencies, particularly Bush administration government agencies, typically overspend & do a shitty job.

By its underspending during the Bush years an understaffed & technologically backward SEC went totally against type. (Other than doing a shitty job that is). SEC's techological shortcomings & budget surplus do not square with former Chairman Christopher Cox's oft-stated tech upgrade mandate.

A private sector manager desperately needing additional staffers & an IT boost will likely spend every last cent available to correct it. Almost all public sector managers, save the SEC, would do likewise. It's only natural to do anything possible to make your job better, easier.

George W. Bush's SEC literally couldn't have done a worse job if they tried. That the agency left $17 million on the table demonstrates pronounced apathy towards it performance. This apathy allowed Bernie Madoffs to swindled thousands of investors around the world.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Randy Bewley R.I.P

PYLON - "Feast on My Heart"

Pylon guitarist Randy Bewley died of a heart attack last week.* He was 54. Randy's playing style was of the singular kind only art students with no formal training develop. Angular. Jagged. Slashing. (See: Wire's Colin Newman & Gang of Four's Andy Gill both Bewley contemporaries ).

Way back in the Dark Ages, rock music was destroyed and built back up again for the 2nd time in about three years. A slew of brilliant music was created at an incredible pace. And at that time there was a moment in time when no song better was than "Feast On My Heart." This sucker positively jumped out of the radio at you.

*I meant to blog about it Friday but I was still in deep in the throes of my Zanaflex holiday.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Things I Have Learned

Blogging, cervical vertigo & zanaflex don't mix. Certainly not with Spanish red wine. Something had to give and that something was blogging.

This has been an edition of "Things I Have Learned."

Thank you.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Political Equivalent of Shooting Yourself In The Face

Stunning. We just watched Bobby Jindal obliterate his Presidential aspirations. Yes, Obama is a hard act to follow. But, Bobbeh blew it big time.

Gov. Jindal reached for ballsy and ended up clutching stupid. That sing-song delivery immediately telegraphed amateur hour. Sure, he didn't know exactly what Obama's speech would contain. But how can you hope to lead your party when you show a remarkable incapacity for anticipating the issues your opponent would raise and how he'd address them?

Before he even opened his mouth Jindal made that one colossal mistake. Slavishly crafting his party's response entirely from weary talking points & thoroughly discredited GOP-fabricated myths rather than by direct, honest challenges to the President's stated positions, revealed Jindal's political immaturity. It was piss-poor strategy.

Someday GOPers will realize strict adherence to the traditional condescending/tone-deaf/out-of-touch/scaremongering Republican modus operandi is a major tactical handicap. Today was not that day. All Bobby could muster was the same tired old story, the same sad old song and dance.

The "substance" of Jindal's speech was painful & embarrassing. Blunders abounded. Jindal's attempt to turn George Bush's (R) Katrina response into a negative for Obama!?!?! Wow, that's plain crazy. Americans can do anything? Hate to tell ya the Prez has claimed that line, sez it better & tonight told us how his administration will facilitate it. Irresponsible Congressional Democratic leaders? With the GOP's recent record I'd ixnay that subject. StimPakTM cash supposedly budgeted for a magnetic Vegas to Disneyland train? Not true, Bobby. It's not in there. It doesn't fucking exist!

Healthcare? Bobby told us the GOP doesn't want anyone to lose it. Duh. Then why refuse to allow everybody to get it? Gas price paranoia? C'mon, you gotta do better. School vouchers over improvingour schools? A mad, terribly expensive posture benefitting a select few. Government ethics? Bobby, you're a politician (R) from LA. I'd get off that topic tout de suite. Transparency? Go to the website, silly.

Obama's gonna dismantle our defenses? You're off your rocker, Bobby. Rejection of the Pentagon's admittedly inflated budget dismantles only waste & greed. The Iraq pull-out, Army & Marine troop increases, an assured end to extravagant, impractical Cold War-style weapons systems (See: F-35 here & here or the hole in the sea we've tossed a billion dollars into AKA "littoral combat ships") and pledges honored to our service men & women -- y'know the ones Bush never kept -- will strengthen both our military and our economy too.

As odd as Gov. Jindal's performance was, I found his party's performance odder still. Republicans dropped this ball completely. Was their self-deception so complete i.e. their belief Bobby was up to the task, they didn't bother to assemble the de rigueur GOP "A" team to prep Jindal? 'Cuz if that was their "experts" at work, they need a new "A" team pronto.

And where was the GOP stagecraft we've become accustomed? It was MIA. Man, I thought these guys were the masters. How could you not bus in some friendly Republican faces for Bobby to speak at? Especially since you billed this as a peek at the new-look GOP full of bold & different ideas. Probably would have helped Jindal's delivery as well.

As a result millions watched Obama address a cheering Congress. In contrast, considerably fewer saw Jindal drone at a deserted state house to a bunch of TV cameras. The out-of-touch, amatuerish, small-time production made Bobby Jindal look small. Very small. Tiny. Rather than Presidential material, he looked more like cannon fodder.

Incredibly, the Governor, the Republican Party & everyone else involved flat-out botched tonight's launch of Bobby Jindal -- "Rising Republican Star." It's a failure made all the more embarrassing coming from the party who not all that long ago sold us George W. Bush.

**Wednesday PM: Edited for clarity. Remember, friends don't let friends post drunk.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Top Army Charity Gets 'F' for "Hoarding"

The Associated Press probed the Army Emergency Relief fund charged with helping our soldiers returning from Iraq & Afghanistan. The results are ugly:

Most charity watchdogs view 1-to-3 years of reserves as prudent, with more than that considered hoarding. Yet the American Institute of Philanthropy says AER holds enough reserves to last about 12 years at its current level of aid.

Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, said that AER collects money "very efficiently. What the shame is, is they're not doing more with it."

We're chest-deep in the worst financial crisis ever to face our nation. It's having a disproportionately negative affect on our veterans. What is the AER doing? Saving up for 2021. Fuck!

Oh and the AP also found coercion, banned incentives, promotions canceled or delayed if AER loans are not repaid and other heavy-handed tactics in play. Now this is not nearly as bad as the deeply embarrassing VA/Walter Reed fandango. But I'm nonetheless sickened the folks we trust to take care of our service men & women let them down once again.


**Update: Here's the AP story.

Politico Is All About The Politico

Steve Benen points us to this Politico story: The Obama Cabinet is a CEO black hole.

Holy shit! Call the cops! Obama hasn't surrounded himself with CEOs!

Ludicrous. If Obama had two CEO’s in his cabinet, Politico would write it's at least two too many. They’d say he's repeating the failed strategies of George Bush.

Politico will write about almost anything as long as they can do so in a way that will keep people talking about Politico. We fall for it every time.


Ron Paul Is A Dope

So are his libertarian/free market pals.

A moment ago I finished watching the latest Real Time with Bill Maher.* Like his cohorts in delusion, Paul maintains we should let the banks go bankrupt. End "corporate" welfare. Prevent passing the bailout/StimPakTM cost onto "future generations." This one I like the best -- exercise even less government oversight & regulation. In brief, blow up our whole economic model.

In a year somehow the US economy will magically right itself. The rest of the world will be either unaffected or greatly changed for the better.

Yeah, right. I won't waste time arguing this dogma's abject stupidity. However, they completely whiff on several assured major repercussions. Not the least of these is the libertarian/free marketeers operate as if forced bankruptcies of Citibank, Bank of America, etc., will be a free ride. They forget about the lil' thing called the FDIC. We've just never had to use it.

Once the banks go bankrupt, taking the money of depositors with them, the Federal Government has insured, has guaranteed, a huge chunk of our cash. FDIC is bound to pay as much as $100,000 for all deposits except retirement accounts i.e. IRAs which are insured up to $250,000. Anything over those amount is gone. Effectively removed from our economy.

Under Ron Paul's criteria is this not another form of "welfare"? Where would the money come from? Does Ron Paul believe this FDIC bill wouldn't be passed on to "future generations"?

Further proof Libertarianism is stupid and a reliably unrealistic posture. There's little or no chance their ideology will ever be employed wholesale. As such it affords them the ultimate out. It's not their fault when "it" doesn't work. When "it" does work they carp on and on about how it would work much better if only we'd only listen to them.

*Standby for a whole heap of They Said It I Repeat Its.

The Silly Cost Of Healthcare

I just received the bill for last months ill-fated hospital stay. The two-day tally for a "private" room alone was $8600. Now I'm fortunate to have health insurance. But $8600?

Yeah, I know I had nurses checking on me. They served meals -- shitty even by hospital standards. (First one was chicken. This after I alerted them I was allergic 6 hours prior). Plenty of people worked hard there and deserved to get paid. Blah Yah Blah Yak.

Still, for $8600 I could spend three weeks at the Waldorf-Astoria in a deluxe 2300 sq. ft. room and have a couple grand left over for cocktails & vittles.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

What Jindal Is Trying To Prove

Jindal's bid to be the GOP's next Presidential candidate faces many obstacles. Not the least of which is Bobbeh must overcome the simple fact he's not a Caucasian cracker like the majority of his party. (See: Pat Buchanan's latest racist rant here).

Jindal has officially rejected $90 million in StimPakTM cash. In doing so he fucked over 25,000 constituents. This goes waaay beyond pure partisan politics.

I've been rattling his strategy around in my head most of the week. There's only one way it makes sense. Closeted Republicans rail against gay rights. Some Jews in WWII covered their tracks by out-Naziing the Nazis. African-Americans who "passed" acted bigoted in the process.

One common deceitful aspect of human nature is a willingness to misrepresent ourselves as something we are not to get ahead (or at least to stay pat). In the animal kingdom, it's a pervasive survival mechanism. For humans it can be an innocuous strategy to get a date with the green-eyed beauty at the end of the bar. Or it can be an insidious, cynical power-ploy.

Here Jindal is trying to prove he can out-cracker the crackers. He wants to show he can out-cracker the competition too.

Naked, unbridled ambition is an ugly thing. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is positively dripping with it.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Mr. John Legend Applies The Smack Down

Ol' Rupe is the recipient:

Dear Editor:

I'm trying to understand what possible motivation you may have had for publishing that vile cartoon depicting the shooting of the chimpanzee that went crazy. I guess you thought it would be funny to suggest that whomever was responsible for writing the Economic Recovery legislation must have the intelligence and judgment of a deranged, violent chimpanzee, and should be shot to protect the larger community. Really?

Did it occur to you that this suggestion would imply a connection between President Barack Obama and the deranged chimpanzee? Did it occur to you that our president has been receiving death threats since early in his candidacy? Did it occur to you that blacks have historically been compared to various apes as a way of racist insult and mockery? Did you intend to invoke these painful themes when you printed the cartoon?

If that's not what you intended, then it was stupid and willfully ignorant of you not to connect these easily connectable dots. If it is what you intended, then you obviously wanted to be grossly provocative, racist and offensive to the sensibilities of most reasonable Americans. Either way, you should not have printed this cartoon, and the fact that you did is truly reprehensible. I can't imagine what possible justification you have for this. I've read your lame statement in response to the outrage you provoked. Shame on you for dodging the real issue and then using the letter as an opportunity to attack the Rev. Sharpton. This is not about Sharpton. It's about the cartoon being blatantly racist and offensive.

I believe in freedom of speech, and you have every right to print what you want. But freedom of speech still comes with responsibilities and consequences. You are responsible for printing this cartoon, and I hope you experience some real consequences for it. I'm personally boycotting your paper and won't do any interviews with any of your reporters, and I encourage all of my colleagues in the entertainment business to do so as well. I implore your advertisers to seriously reconsider their business relationships with you as well.

You should print an apology in your paper acknowledging that this cartoon was ignorant, offensive and racist and should not have been printed.

I'm well aware of our country's history of racism and violence, but I truly believe we are better than this filth. As we attempt to rise above our difficult past and look toward a better future, we don't need the New York Post to resurrect the images of Jim Crow to deride the new administration and put black folks in our place. Please feel free to criticize and honestly evaluate our new president, but do so without the incendiary images and rhetoric.


John Legend
He's not just musically talented and easy on the eyes, ladies and gentlemen, he's damn eloquent too.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

From The "What Have We Done?" Dept...

Michael Steele Thinks He's Hanging with Snoop

I'm pretty sure Michael Steele doesn't know hip from hop. Still, how long before this kinda talk starts freaking out the GOP faithful?


As If We Needed Any More Proof

Michelle Bachmann is bat shit crazy.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wow! (Part Deux)

It was pointed out to me that my shitty little blog has confounded, enraged and delighted over 15000 visitors. I do solemnly swear to do more of the first two and less of the last.


Gwen Ifill

Well-know Democratic shill.


Pure Partisanship Is Most Important

Now that it's passed, look who loves dem dat StimPak.TM

GOP governors should take a cue from their more experienced Congressional counterparts.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rising GOP Star Bobby Jindal's Mouth

Writes check his ass will will regret. This would have been a true test of Bobby Jindal's mettle. Sadly for him, he's painted himself into a corner with no good way out.

If he rejects StimPack cash, Jindal will garner praise from GOP hard-line fiscal conservative types nation-wide. However, the clash of naked Presidential ambition vs. his resposibility as governor of Louisiana will open him wide up to attacks from all other sides.

How on earth does Bobby-Boy gonna justify turning down StimPack monies? LA was already struggling mightily before our national economic crisis. So if/when he caves and accepts that sweet, sweet StimPack cash, Jindal will look like a flat-out pussy. Whatever his decision, you can count on it being used against him in the 2012 GOP Presidential debates.

A more seasoned politico would have waited to get a better read on the lay of the land before spouting off. Once he was picked to respond to Obama's address, Jindal just couldn't keep his trap shut.

**Update 02/18/09: More GOP govs whining whining over the prospect of receiving StimPakTM cash.

I'm Here

Went to Boston for mom-in-law's 87th B-Day. What a great lady.

Was going to blog today but woke up with a great fictional story idea that had to be put to paper - gotta love those trazodone dreams.

Belated thanks to VastLeft for the plug. Now if only the Correntians would grant me the power to comment at their site.


Friday, February 13, 2009

So What If A Song "Sounds" Great

It doesn't make it a great song.

In "Why That Shitty Song Sounds Good Anyway" "Auto-Tune: Why Pop Music Sounds Perfect", Time magazine discovers the evil that is Auto-Tune. Biz Markie* aside, no one wants to hear a singer massacre a great song by warbling out of tune. However, the injudicious use of Auto-Tune has literally given careers to "singers" who have no business being singers.

There's another huge reason why I'm down on Auto-Tune and similar studio gimmicktry: Imperfections or mistakes can make an OK song good, a good song great or a great song greater.

I’ve experienced this in the recording studio with bands. I’ve watched or asked musicians to do take after take of a song. Sure, by the 23rd (or 63rd) take the guitar player may have perfected his solo. Yet for some reason it frequently didn't sound nearly as good as the sloppy lead he laid down on take 3. The “perfect” take just didn’t have the same vibe. Crummy guitar solo, take 3 wound up on wax and the album was far better for it.

In pop music hits, such errors can be so subtle as to be almost subliminal. Sometimes they are in-your-face wrong. I'm not talking about the so-bad-someone-thinks-it's-kinda-good song. (See Biz Markie, Doctor Demento, etc.).

Well, you say, then what the hell are you talking about?

Off the top of my head here's these examples: "Louie Louie" wouldn't have proved nearly as inspirational to garage bands everywhere (or as interesting to everyone else) had the singer started the last verse on time instead of jumping the gun. The Mamas and The Papas “I Saw Her Again” does more or less the same thing. Hmm...too obtuse or too obscure?

OK, how’s ‘bout the backwards singing bit on The Beatles' "Rain" and that glorious opening note of "I Feel Fine"? Kurt Cobain's I-don’t-give-a-fuck-that-I’m-recording-I-feel-sick cough during "Serve The Servants"’ lead break? The majorly out-of-sync guitar intro to Dave Edmunds "I Hear You Knocking"? Whoops!

Every Picture Tells A Story”'s Rod Stewart premature vocalization? Michael Stipe’s total cock-up in REM's "Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight" vocal? (Not a great one for remembering words, I've seen Stipe sing lyrics off a music stand more than once). Parts of almost every song on Todd Rundgren’s tour de force Something/Anything? LP?** Need I say more?

Brilliant mistakes all -- definitely not what the creator(s) originally intended.***

Perhaps such timely blunders make these songs stand out simply by confounding listeners' expectations. Or it could the power of je ne sais quois. (Underestimate JNSQ at your peril). Maybe it’s some other factor your smartass writer has missed.

Regardless of the mechanism, imperfections humanize songs. For art isn't meant to be perfect. Perfect is for machines.

In our Pro Tools/Auto-Tune perfection-oriented musical world, we risk sucking the humanity out of popular music. No, Auto-Tune wouldn’t have corrected the aforementioned gaffes. (On the other hand, Pro Tools & digital technology could and probably would have). But Auto-Tune might’ve scrubbed the urgency out of Levi Stubb's classic Four Tops vocals. Damn it, there'd be no Billy Bragg!!!

I'm exaggerating. This technological leap isn’t all bad. (And there will always be Billy Braggs). Pro Tools in particular has allowed many thousands of artists to roughly simulate big time studio recordings made in their bedrooms. The problem arises when these would-be pop stars ape their heroes and suffocate the crap out of their music thru technological perfection.

That's today's style. I predict that sooner or later the trend will swing back with a vengeance. There will a backlash against Pro Tools and Auto-Tune technology. There will be music fans starving for music that sounds and feels "real." The irony about the most popular musicians to lead this charge? Some of them will be the exact same ones who early on embraced this self-same technology. (Hello U2).

My bottom line: Perfection is overrated. Embrace your mistakes. Mistakes can lead to greatness. If nothing else, they’re a helluva more interesting than processed perfection.

Vive l'erreur!


*For the life of me tha Bizter's one I'll never understand.
**Fer chrissakes, Radiohead's "Creep" was a colossal mistake.
***Not to be confused with "mistakes" certain groups now add to songs purely to make them seem cool. If you listen closely and/or know the artist well enough, you should be able to tell the difference.

Don't Bury Me 'Cuz I'm Not Dead Yet

I just feel like death. Back with a post on the evils of Auto-tune in a few hours.

Stay tuned...


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sick of It All

Sick. Sick. Sick. Been under the weather for the past few days. I'll get back to blogging tomorrow with some belated Grammy & early Obama stuff. 'Til then, NYHC heroes Sick of It All rip thru "Stepdown."


Saturday, February 7, 2009

My New Favorite Website

Simple but effective.

(My friends worked closely with them & say they are great guys. I just don't get it).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sign O' The Times

I kid you not. Come April, Blackwater will offer firearms training to professional atheletes.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Your Mind Is On Vacation..

And Your Mouth Is Working Overtime by Mose Allison.

I clipped this song to title a prior post describing Republican antics last week. Mose Allison is 81 and still touring. He's been on "The List" for years.

"The List" requires some explanation. My start in the music industry came before I got my driver's license. 30 years later I've easily been to over 1,000 gigs/shows/musical performances.

Believe you me. It's not all fun & games. Understand when you work in the "industry," you are required to endure any number of acts whether you like it or not. Certain bands, usually those you work with directly and their tour mates, you hear over & over & over again. You begin to hear them in your sleep.

After the Foresters went thru a terrible 3 years (car accident, TBI, lost bigstupidmusicbiz job, seizures , 9/11 WTC collapse (rocked our building), hospital merry-go-round et al), we fully grasped life's transitory nature. A pact was made: We'd make an extra effort to catch select musical greats for our first time before they either died or dissolved the band. iants, for some reason or other, we've just never seen live.

"The List" was born.
(All-time #1 lister Bo Diddley post w/more "List"specs)

Currently Mose Allison tops the "List". Mose first came to my attention thru The Who's ferocious, stone-cold classic cover of "Young Man Blues" off Live At Leeds. (The Who here & The Foos there). Few years later I stumbled across "Your Mind Is On Vacation." I was hooked.

I'm in good company. Mose's music influenced artists from The Rolling Stones, John Mayall, Eric Clapton, J.J. Cale, Jeff Beck & even The Pixies who paid tribute via "Allison" on Bossanova. The true tale of the tape is told by culling through Allison tunes as done by dozens of devotees...

The Yardbirds, and The Misunderstood interpreted "I'm Not Talking". The Clash laid down "Look Here" for Sandinista!). Leon Russell got "Smashed!". Elvis Costello hit "Everybody's Cryin' Mercy" (Kojak Variety) & "Your Mind Is On Vacation" (King of America Rhino re-issue bonus disc). Van Morrison released an entire album(!) Tell Me Something: The Songs of Mose Allison.

One of his songs in particular, "Parchman Farm", inspired scads of versions. As a result it's Mose's best known track. Parchman Farm, the infamous Mississippi prison, located in the county adjacent to Allison's birthplace. It looms so large in regional culture as to require elaboration.

Those once incarcerated at Parchman Farm include Elvis' dad, Stokely Carmichael, dozens of Freedom Riders. BBC doc subject Edward Earl Johnson was executed there. William Faulkner, August Wilson & John Grisham's works prominently feature the former plantation. Delta blues titans Son House (shot a guy in the leg), Bukka White (murder) and a passel of lesser bluesmen were jailed there too. White was recorded there by Alan Lomax in '39 and wrote "Parchman Farm Blues" upon his release.

For his Parchman Farm", Moses Allison's taps into his inner Faulkner. It's a chilling prisoner's story told first-person POV style . It's compelled covers by Blue Cheer, The Blues Image (of "Ride Captain Ride" fame), Blues Project, Cactus, folkster Michael Chapman, Chris Spedding, Hot Tuna, Ray Condo, Rick Derringer, Georgie Fame, The Kingston Trio, John Mayall, Johnny Winter, Bobby Gentry and others.

I just learned 81 year-old Mose Allison plays The Jazz Standard in NYC March 13, 14, 15 & 16 -- two shows each night!!!

I can't wait.

*Late Atlantic Records' producer Jerry Wexler called Mose Allison "The William Faukner of Southern Blues.""

Sunday, February 1, 2009

They Said It. I Repeat It.

"I’m sort of the Sarah Palin of orchestrators."
-Rufus Wainwright/Spectacle: Elvis Costello with...

Spectacle: Elvis Costello with... is not only the best new music show I've seen in years, it's the best new show period. It's airing now on The Sundance Channel.

I know. I know. You don't believe I can be objective re: anything Elvis. Trust me. Spectacle is really, really good.

Age, Diana Krall* and twins have mellowed Elvis Costello. It comes as no surprise Elvis is a skillful interviewer, a good listener, and well-prepped. However, what's shocked this veteran Elvis Costello watcher is E's become playful (see: A Colbert X-Mas) and **gasp** goddamn charming!

Dig Spectacle's guest list: Lou Reed, Julian Schnabel, Bill Clinton, James Taylor, Tony Bennett, The Police, Rufus Wainwright, Kris Kristofferson, Rosanne Cash, Norah Jones, John Mellencamp, Renée Fleming, Herbie Hancock, She & Him, Jenny Lewis, Jakob Dylan, Diana Krall and Smokey Robinson!

The sole downer? Spectacle lasts a mere 13 episodes.


I'm So Bitchy About Working For Hillary

Reportedly The Rodster Gets Way Freaky At Parties.

"Non-partisan" State Dept. vet, David Rodearmel, is suing to revoke Hillary Clinton's Sec. of State appointment. He sez he can't be "forced" to work for Sec. Clinton because of a "fix" used to sidestep an archaic part of the Constitution.

What's predictably, nearly hilariously funny (at least to me) about this "fix"...drum roll please...

The Republicans Invented It!

Mad irony this. The very nub of Rod's suit, the Saxbe fix, was devised by GOP Prez. William Taft in 1909. Republicans have used it 4x: Once each by Taft (Sec. of State Philander C. Knox), Harding (Judge William S. Kenyon), Nixon (Atty. Gen. William Saxbe's post-Saturday Night Massacre nod) & Poppa Bush (Treas. Sec. Lloyd Bentsen for Bill Clinton). 1980 saw Carter tap Sec. State Ed Muskie to technically become the only Dem to hit the fix until this year.

It doesn't take a poly-sci degree to pinpoint the true motivation behind D-Rod's lawsuit. However, his cover story may originate with Reagan. Back before George W. Bush, the Judicial and the Executive Branches of our government were separate. When St. Reagan (R-Heaven) sought to appoint Orrin Hatch to The Supreme Court, Ronnie consulted the Justice Dept. Justice nixed the fix. Their opinion was "rollbacks" wouldn't appease the Ineligibility clause

On this singular point St. Ronnie (R-Heaven) seemed to effectively proclaim: "Republicans Shall Not Fuck with The Constitution!" Looks like "Rowdy" Rodearmel was the only one listening. This Reagan Justice Dept. ruling offers him the slimmest & only possible "non-partisan" pretense to contest Hillary Clinton's gig.

Just one thing doesn't quite make sense. If "Hot" Rodearmel was convinced the Saxbe manuever posed an imminent danger to our republic, why didn't he raise an objection to George Sr.'s 1993 "favor" to Bill Clinton? Inquiring minds want to know.

What you're really dying to ask is exactly where has this sexy bit of man candy been all your life? I've pitched all the boring stuff to give you the bullet points. The Rodman's State Dept. career started w/Pres. George H.W. Bush's administration. His years in the military include a USAF Academy Asst. Professor post. A Newsmeat search of his campaign contributions revealed a $250 contribution to the Swift Boaters. Perhaps worst of all, Roddy's a flat-out bald-faced liar.

Bankrolled by right wing sugardaddy Richard Mellon Scaife , it's brazenly disingenuous of Rodearmel to claim his suit is "non-partisan." The Rodster's sponsor, Judicial Watch, has waged an almost 17-year war against the Clintons filing 18 lawsuits against Pres. Bill Clinton and his peeps.

That says it all.

*Re-edited for clarity.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lie. Obstruct. Lie. Repeat.

Special Bonus Double-Edition:

"What's In A Promise?"

Earlier this month Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell promised not to filibuster the stimulus package. On NPR this week uber-conservative crank Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) promised a filibuster. Not to be outdone McConnell's #2, Senate Minority Whip/uber-conservative crank Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), is mustering the troops for some filibuster fun. Think Progress has the skinny.

"Your Mind Is On Vacation
(But Your Mouth Is Working Overtime)

For all their whining and bitching about lowering taxes and creating jobs, House Republicans' slapped together Stimulus Plan not only could raise taxes but also used some crazy-assed calculations to contrive their job numbers.

*Gotta love Mose Allison.

Another Little Piece Of Me Just Died

Found out last week the commercial radio show I started 23 years ago was taken off-the-air due to budget cuts.



RNC Website Update?

OK, maybe I'm being picky here. Maybe not. Almost 24 hours after historic election of its first African-American chairman, the Republican National Committee has yet to update a key part of their website.
Not be all superior and shit but you can be certain within minutes of choosing a new chair, especially a "first" of any kind, the DNC site would reflect it throughout.


This Is Why I Don't Gamble

Boy, was I ever wrong. Ex-MD Lt. Gov. Michael Steele is the RNC's first black chairman. A very bold move indeed. The money quote from RI national committeeman Joe Trillo:

"It's a diverse party. We're tired of being labeled as white supremacists."
Easy Joe. Putting an African-American at the top of the food chain doesn't wave a wand and instantly change decades of racist GOP bullshit. Not when your chair is despised by the black populace. Not when your party engages in massive voter caging, voter suppression, voter caging, etc., specifically targeting the African-American community. You were doing it as recently as 13 weeks ago!

Once again the party of Lincoln proves to be the party of delusion.

Five fun things to know and tell about Steele. Think Progress has much more.

*Update #1: TPM jogged my memory about the new RNC chief's 2006 attempt to fool Dems re: his party affiliation w/his "Steele Democrats" signs.
**Update #2: Steele is one of only 5 black RNC members out of 146 or just under 3%. Two of the five ran for chairman.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Then There Were Five

Chip Saltsman*, the idjit cracker of the infamous "Barack The Magic Negro" Xmas CD mailer, didn't make the cut for the RNC Chair ballot. Clearly lacking any magic of his own, Chip failed to find the six backers required. Loser.

So who's left? Allow me to have a go at handicapping the race...

  1. Current RNC Chairman Mike Duncan. Toast. Invisible and ineffectual (see: 2008 elections here & here).
  2. Ex-MD Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. High profile. Couldn’t be worse than Duncan. Dumb as dirt tho' (see: silly contrived "Oreo incident"**). Steele’s only possible chance is if Republicans get crazy & take the “we’re-makin’-our-top-token-black-person-GOP-chair-to-make-like-we’ve-really-changed-even-though-we-haven’t-changed-at-all” route. A super long shot but don't count him out given this narrow field.
  3. Ken Blackwell’s partisan bona fides are as good as it gets. But Kenny’s Ohio election shenanigans were waaaaaay too high profile. Find me one person who doesn’t deep down think this sucker belongs in prison. One person. And there's that Diebold thang. And the he's black thang (see: Michael Steele). Not a hope in hell. Next.
  4. Katon Dawson’s strengths are he’s white, from the South and appears to be baggage-free. Major bonus points for truly impressive outreach to SC’s African-American community. Smells like teen spirit to me.
  5. Will Saul Anuzis' moniker be enough to trigger widespread RNC nomatophobia? Republicans do have a marked tendency to get afeared of "unusual" names. Anuzis is a 2nd generation immigrant & former Teamster too. Could cause queasiness amongst the RNC's sizeable anti-immigrant/anti-labor Kool-Aid drinkin’ crowd. See-ya Saul.
That leaves us Michael Steele and Katon Dawson.

If successful, Steele’s installation would come in the wake of President Obama’s thunderous debut. The first black RNC chief can't look anything but pathetically bandwagonesque. You gotta think right about now committee members, at some subconscious level, can't exactly be predisposed to any black candidate. Bitterness runs deep here.

Pay no mind. This is not the time for two consecutive weak Committee chairs. And Steele is simply not strong enough. It's gonna take a far more powerful contender than he to overcome an RNC rank & file as of yet unready for an African-American head. Say sayonara to Steele.

Smart money’s on Dawson. The dude has the biggest upside. His proven fundraising ability alone could've sealed it. But the clincher is unlike the brothers on the ballot, Dawson has yank with his African-American communities. In fact, both Blackwell (voter suppression) and Steele (laughingstock) set back Republican-black voter relations in OH & MD respectively by years. It speaks volumes about the GOP when their two most prominent African-American politicians are persona non grata in the hood

Dawson, and only Dawson, brings desperately needed street cred with home state African-Americans to the party. The kinda cred that offers the GOP their first, best step towards transforming from the “underhanded tight-ass whitey-only political club” into something slightly less awful.

Stay tuned...


*Could there be a name whiter than "Saltsman"? What's whiter than "salt"? Seriously.
**Damn, how the late great Steve Gilliard was all over that one.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Reminder Re: Sen. Holy Jim DeMint (R-SC)

An April 20, 2003 AP story "Fellowship finances townhouse where 6 congressmen live" is unfortunately no longer available on the ‘net.* However, since he's been shooting his mouth off, it seemed a good time to recall Sen. DeMint's (R-SC) unique Washington housing arrangement.

Holy Jimmy DeMint (R-SC) is so righteous he lives in a DC townhouse with 5 other Congress members. It's courtesy of a secretive religious group known as The Family AKA The Fellowship AKA The Fellowship Foundation AKA National Fellowship Council AKA Fellowship House AKA The International Foundation AKA National Committee for Christian Leadership AKA International Christian Leadership AKA the National Leadership Council.

I'm not much of a Christian nor am I a fan of organized religion. My perception is there's at least as many organized worshipers of any given faith up to no good as there are doing good works. So I dunno about you but I find it more than a little hinky that a "Christian" group requires more aliases names than your garden-variety grifter.

It also strikes me as odd that while spending his time in the Capitol, a bible-thumping homophobic Senator chooses to live with 5 other guys instead of his wife. For the uninitiated, it looks kinda gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

But what about Senators and Congressmen living rent free through the kindness of this lobbying entity? Because make no mistake about it, that's what The Family is. Under these circumstances i.e. getting a posh rent-free townhouse might make you powerfully inclined to vote in the interests of your "landlord."Surely something is wrong with that.

Nope. Miraculously, Jesus' involvement makes this A-OK. That's messed up. If The Family was a secular group, rather than a secretive religious group hell-bent on influencing Congress, "subsidizing" housing for member of Congress wouldn't only be viewed as inappropriate. It would be illegal.

"The Family" skinny per Sourcewatch.

*I have this article saved somewhere as a PDF for such an occasion. If I can find it, I'll try to figure out how to post it.

They Said It. I Repeat It.

The GOP vs. the stimulus package, pt. 2:

"I think they had pretty good talking points initially on some of these spending issues and look they got the President to knock down a couple of them on the National Mall, on contraceptives as well. So they had some tactical skirmishes that they won. But what you see at the end of it is a party that is struggling for definition and direction. And without clear leadership, some of them are going in one ideological direction and others are just looking after their own skins and their own district.

There are confident predictions inside The White House not just that they will pick up votes in the Senate, but you’re going to see Republicans in the House voting for this final package when it comes back to them. In other words, there a going to be Republicans out there who say they voted against it before they voted for it."
Richard Wolffe/Newsweek
Countdown with Keith Olbermann 01-28-09

This first big test of the "new" GOP is gonna be pass/fail. Stay tuned...


Lie. Obstruct. Lie. Repeat.

Jim DeMint (R-SC) edition. In which DeMint (R-SC) rips the stimulus package for "not doing anything" to help the housing market or to ensure "the credit market works." Even though our now-ruptured false economy was largely based on those two things, I agree they need to be addressed further in some way at some time. But wasn't Republican President Bush's TARP plan supposed to get the banks lending again? Nevermind...

More DeMint (R-SC):

"They rejected every Republican ammendment so this idea of bi-partisanship is a bunch of rhetoric. There is no bi-partisanship on this massive spending bill. But I think it is going to help define the Republicans and the Democrats once again. Because every Republican in the House rejected this, and I think every Republican in the Senate might do as well."
Jim DeMint (R-SC) is a fool, a homophobe, xenophobe, a misogynist, school prayer crusader and, unsurprisingly, a far-right Christian. He topped The National Journal's 2007 list of most conservative Senators. Voted against Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's confirmation too.


They Said It. I Repeat It.

There are many people in The White House who think that Republicans opposing a popular President and a popular spending package are effectively driving themselves off a cliff.
Richard Wolffe/Newsweek
Countdown with Keith Olbermann - 01-28-09

It's Official: The New Sheriff's In Town

The Boston Globe has collected a slew of amazing inauguration photos here.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Separated At Birth?

Ex-Wall Street Kingpin John Thain and Devo mastermind Mark Mothersbaugh.

*Thanks to Mrs. Forester for the graphics assist.

I'm A Posting Fool Today

Yesterday I was in the city all day.


What Widespread Belief Is More Irrational Than Creationism?*

Mrs. Forester sent me the above picture. I haven't laughed so hard in a while. Then again I'm clinically depressed and the Forester family has long had a Darwin Fish on the back of our car.

(If our car were red, it would look like this:)
Don't get me wrong. I'm not against spirituality either-- far from it. But there's something about creationists that's plain ol' nuts. Here's a quote from a stem cell research "article" on Creation Wiki:

The fact that embryonic stem cell research requires the murder of a human has become a major concern for Christians.
Requires the murder of a human? Requires? Murder? Human? These folks say little or nothing when these cute lil' blastocysts pass their freshness date and are tossed in the dumpster. Just don't you try to ease the suffering of your fellow man. **sigh**

Look, I can do crazy with the best of them. However, to match crazy with crazy is a complete waste of time. Lord knows I've tried. It's because I'm only mostly crazy.

Creationists are entirely crazy.


*Barack Obama is a Muslim wins hands down.

No Plane For You!

President Obama puts the hammer down on Citigroup's jet deal.

President Obama. I do so love the sound of those words.


Lie. Obstruct. Lie. Repeat.

When they're not obstructin', they're a lyin'...House Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) can't stop lying about the CBO's non-partisan stimulus package eval (CBO stuff here & here). He did it last week. Cantor's at it again this week even though the target of his original lie has been removed.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) is dutifully following misguided Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) into the abyss. From the AP:

Hours earlier, according to officials who were present at a GOP meeting, none of the Republicans in attendance spoke up in disagreement when urged to oppose the legislation by their leaders. Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the party's leader, and Eric Cantor of Virginia, the second in command, said they wanted "100 percent" opposition to the measure, which they argue includes billions in wasteful spending, these officials said.
Good luck with that. We are hemorrhaging jobs, small businesses are dropping faster than flies, homes are being ditched/foreclosed at an unprecedented rate, Wall Street is an absolute catastrophe and we haven't even seen the beginning of the end of this mayhem! Really. We haven't.

Over the past eight years the GOP has exposed itself as an unmitigated fraud. If Boehner & co. are convinced that these methods will be an effective way to rebuild the Republican Party, they've got another thing coming. I'm wicked cynical but I'm certain America won't stand for this. The 2010 Congressional elections will bear me out. So keep up the good work fellas.

It's not like our very nation's at stake or anything.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Do You Feel Used, Rep. Tiahrt (R-KS)?

Very. Nice. Ride.

Earlier this month Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kansas) had a "no corporate jet" provision tossed from the Troubled Assets Relief Program Reform and Accountability Act of 2009. At that time Tiahrt described the jet ban to The Wichita Eagle thusly:

"That is a bad signal for Kansas (and) a bad signal for the industry. This sends the wrong message that you cannot use a productivity tool like corporate aircraft. It says you can't use modern technology."
Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kansas) didn't want to risk layoffs at the Canadian-owned Bombardier Business Aircraft factory in his district. By now Tiahrt should have known these bailed-out banks are always one step ahead in their fucking of the American people. Oh-so-predictably, Citigroup then turned around and blew $50 mill on a French jet.

Do you feel used, Todd (R-Kansas)? I know I sure do. Not just by CitiGroup either.

If you had done your homework job Rep. Tiahrt (R-Kansas), you'd know that there was no reasonable expectation these banks would buy American. You'd have learned over the last ten years Citi had bought only French-made Dassault Falcon 900 EXs. Then, maybe then, you'd have thought to ensure that any such planes bought by banks receiving TARP cash would be required to buy American-built planes.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Think Progress has the lowdown.


P.S. I first moved to NYC almost 18 years ago and opened an account with Citibank. I can testify that they are the absolute worst in every possible way.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Who Knew?

Rahm Emaneul is a former ballet dancer.


I'm So Glad I Don't Live On Butt Hole Road

Those English sure have some funny names for places.


Funny How Loser's Good Ideas Suddenly Become Winner's Bad Ones

McCain was the top sponsor of 2005's The Community Broadband Act. A program to give tax breaks to companies increasing broadband access to rural communities was the nucleus of his 2008 Presidential campaign's technology platform. McCain now sez it's a wasteful part of the stimulus package since it "will take years."

It's a bad idea now only because McCain is unable to take credit for it & he has nothing to gain from its passage.


Friday, January 23, 2009

"You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It)"*

or Straight Outta MIDEM: Ten Years On, The Music Industry Goes All Napster?

It used to make me cry but now this shit just makes me laugh. Every year music company big wigs from around the world get together to literally save their world. With worldwide music sales plummeting and iTunes sales flat, The NY Times reports from Cannes that "The Industry" pins its hopes on unlimited "free" access to millions of songs to save their sinking ship.

OK, so nothing's "free" here. The cost is added on to yer cell phone or broadband bill. Sounds simple enough. I'm left with any number of unanswered questions:

  1. How much is this "free" service?
  2. Will consumers embrace any cell/broadband bill increase, for what is in essence a luxury, during the greatest worldwide economic catastrosphe ever?
  3. Which record companies are participants?
  4. How are the proceeds split amongst participants i.e. a flat rate split for each or split according to percentage of total tunes downloaded or something else?
  5. What is the projected average cost per song to the consumer?
  6. What is the projected revenue per song for the record company?
  7. What is the projected total yearly net profit from this service?
  8. How much revenue does each record company project receiving?
  9. Does this make it easier for us to get more, and more rare, songs for less?
  10. Will this kill iTunes for which we still pay a buck a cut?
Feargal Sharkey's beaucoup punk rock bona fides aside, I cannot grasp how this gambit will save the day. The music industry has proven time and time again that its stupidity is surpassed only by its greed.

Blah! After a major Blogger crash, it's taken me most of this week to get this far so...
Next up: How we came to be hear here.

*1979 single by genius No. Irish pop-punkers The Undertones featuring a young Feargal Shockey on vox. Highly recommended. Much loved.

I feel an Uncle Anacher's Punk Rock Tales coming on.

London Flies US Flag For Obama Inauguration

I've been at a loss to add anything to the hyper-extensive coverage of Barack Obama's inauguration. The news that the City of London raised the Stars & Stripes over City Hall gave this admitted Anglophile a double shot of pride. My ancestor was the Town Clerk of London in the reign of Henry V & Henry VI and Founder of The City of London School.

(HT: Scott Horton)

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's The End Of The World As We Know It

Three more horsemen of the economic apocalypse?

In the "if it plays out properly, and that is a big if, this should be eventually good in the tear-down-a-structurally-compromised-M. C. Escher-of-a-high-rise-to-erect-practical-home" department: The End of Banking as We Know It

In the meantime, we foot the banks' bill. So if you were seething with bailout rage before, your head will now explode: Bailout Is a No-Strings Windfall to Banks, if Not to Borrowers

I don't pretend understand the financially rarified air of the hedge fund manager. But I'd love it if stories like this would do away with the practice of short selling: Hedge Funds, Unhinged

By my count this brings the horsemen of the economic apocalypse running total up to about 27.


Hate Rears Its Ugly Head: Anti-Semite Edition

I've mentioned previously that I cannot stand nor understand bigotry in any form. It's so goddamn irrational. While I was searching for Andrew Wyeth obits for the post below, I stumbled across the most deeply disturbing, naked anti-Semitism.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Andrew Wyeth's The White Dory

Here's the print I mentioned earlier.

Thanks to Mrs. Forester for the assist.


*Update: Boston Globe obit, NY Times obit, WaPo obit, AP obit, LA Times obit, AP sez: Wyeth's death reignites debate over his legacy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Reagraham Lincool