Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson Ad Infinitum

Thanks to the intertubes, there's actually some stuff worth learning. From Taplin again. (Taplin was Dylan's road manager before his real life began, so he speaks with some authority one could not expect from, say, Paul Krugman. Or Charlie Rose, that tool. One of his MJ interview subjects had only actually spoken to MJ twice in his life and the last about two years ago. I mean, that's just embarrassing.)
Michael Jackson’s greed singlehandedly wrecked the music business. In the 60’s and 70’s, even the most popular artists were simply advanced the cost of their recording sessions, which were then deducted from their first royalty payments. After Thriller was such a hit in 1982, Jackson asked Epic Records for a $50 million advance against his next 5 records. They foolishly agreed and the music business which had been totally fiscally sane, took on the characteristics of the movie business with outrageous star salaries with no risk on the part of the artists. That of course led to a “winner takes all” crowding effect, in which record companies had to make very large bets and could no longer afford the small bets (Bob Dylan’s first record sold 5000 copies) that might nurture true artistry.
Taplin commenter:
...he is unique and the only comparison I can think of is Beethoven. Take a puppy and chain it to the doghouse, then every time you give it food, hit it with a board. Beethoven was ripped from his bed at night, splashed with water and made to practice and then beaten about the ears if he didn’t perform perfectly. Jackson’s life had that and then when he became the golden child for all the Jackson fortunes until Janet, he lived a life where little was denied him and he denied himself little.

Truest Thing I Read On Saturday

If you want to wrap your brain around Taplin's item about declining corporate performance over the last 40 years and actually learn the difference between return on equity and return on assets, be my guest. I was too tired. I'm just gonna take his word that greed, deception and fraud suck.
But after a litany of wrongdoing from which I am not personally immune, this comment got me big time:

And then there’s the elephant in the room: The most enormous theft of wealth from the future, EVER.
Our consumption behaviors have all been in the general direction of stealing from the future, whether it’s depleting forests or fish or petroleum or topsoil or species diversity or CDOs and similar succubi, or just setting up threat-based tribal-loyalty political structures and conflicts that profit the few at the expense of the many. But even in Derivatives Forever BubbleLand, it looks like we can crow about a New First! A Highest and Biggest and Baddest Scam! We’re Number One! Here, son/grandson/daughter, here’s the chit I wrote for you, an IOU for each of you, in your name, for at least $50,000 present-value dollars, payable now, to me, from the “wealth” created by the belief that someday, whatever you might do, you will be able to pay back that IOU with interest. With enough left over to live on.

Sweet dreams.

P.S. Oliver Stone is bringing back Gordon "Greed Is Good" Gecko. Stone himself has adopted Buddhism as his defining philosophy. I wonder if he has a trophy wife. Sorry, I'm tired. Night.

Wanted: Buyers For America's Vanity Properties

Gold, just gold. With pictures. I love this kind of stuff.
No one is buying $100 million homes. Few are buying $30 million homes. Properties in that range are either being reduced by amounts similar to the national debts of small countries--Dunellen Hall, reduced by $50 million from $125 million to $75 million, and BootJack Ranch to $68 million, a reduction of $20 million from last year's asking--or are being pulled from the market entirely.
Mainstays like the $125 million Fleur de Lys in Beverly Hills, a 45,000-square-foot re-creation of Louis XIV's palace at Versailles, and the $100 million Tranquility, a Lake Tahoe 20,000-square-foot mountain home on 210 acres, are still at the top of our list, two and three years after they came on the market, respectively.

Lobster, Mmmmm

Sullivan is a gold mine today. Good thing I avoided the intertubes today, I never would have left my kitchen counter (and bought fresh eggs from the boy around the corner with the chickens, red lettuce from a Chimacum grower's back 40) and Shorty would never have met all those nice people at the farmers market. Next week, I leve Shorty home and take the camera. Can't do both.

They Call This Disappearing

"no news from persiankiwi"
"persian kiwi is arrested"

I am truly brokenhearted about all of it. Sullivan and Nico over at Huffpo just run the tweets and it filters in like rain, like ash, like the acid they say the helicopters were using against protestors last week. Was that just rumor, or did they run out of whatever it was?

Explosive Woman Artist

Rosemary Fiore, via Andrew Sullivan.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Health Care in Your State

New report out from your friendly, neighborhood federal government.
My state is Washington.

And another way to play politics on this. Get members of the progressive caucus in the House to promise to vote against any bill that doesn't include a public options. Do I think this works? I dunno.

Climate Change Bill Passes

Thanks, progressives.
In a triumph for President Barack Obama, the Democratic-controlled House narrowly passed sweeping legislation Friday that calls for the nation's first limits on pollution linked to global warming and aims to usher in a new era of cleaner, yet more costly energy.

P.S. Washington State's Dave Reichert and seven other R's crossed the aisle to support the bill. Two years and counting, Dave.

Gotta Love That Leviticus Guy

Er, Samuel guy, I guess. 
Anyway...Scratch climate change, the fence-sitters are coming round. I will keep you posted.
Save health care for Monday. Turn off the TV. Read yer efffing Bible! Now, I tells ya!
 King David was forgiven for his dalliance with Bathsheba  — and the murder of her husband — (after god killed their son in retribution and refused to let him build the temple) so ...
Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, Mark Sanford says he's a lot like the King of Judea.
Observation of the day:

Will Sanford (R-Judea)consult the witch of Endor to see if he should chop a baby in half?
Will Sanford claim to be Phinehas and run people through with a spear in mid-coitus?
 NOT Mark Sanford with Maria Belen Chapur
Yeah, they got her name, staked out her neighborhood and even dug out an old (1991) video. Google is not your friend.

Talking Points Memo

goes really good with my first cup of morning coffee. And now Josh Marshal is tweeting.
Luckily, Contrarienne lives in some sort of black hole location where devices for such nonsense are spotty at best. But for those of a taste for that sort of thing, have at it.

Jackson, Jackson, Jackson. Di, Di, Di.

I remember when our copy desk chief came in when the Di news first broke and filled the whole front section with pictures and wire stories for the morning edition. That was before the intertubes were plugged in directly to every human bean on the planet.
Those days are over, and I'm glad of it.
I don't have to have the TV on, or any talk radio either. TPM and other sane places have dropped MJ down below the fold and we're back on, wait for it...climate change, health care, Iran and the Argentina Tail (sic).

Okay, Had Your Coffee Yet?

I couldn't sleep last night, no idea why. Maybe it was this.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Onion Headline: Tomorrow

Obama's Socialism Killed Michael Jackson
Rush Limbaugh says Michael Jackson suffered fatal heart attack after learning how much stimulus/health care/climate money was coming out of his income tax increase.
"I mean, like the guy just couldn't take it anymore," Limbaugh said on his popular syndicated radio show.
"Socialism kills, folks, you heard it here first."

But for today, we have only this.

Nurse Jackie!

I love her. Carmella was brilliant. Jackie is indescribable. I love her the way I love Helen Mirren.

Falco, who stars in the Showtime series "Nurse Jackie, said she went without health care coverage for many years. Nearly 50 million Americans are without coverage and President Barack Obama's goal is to provide health benefits for all.
"I work in a business where they take great care of you if you are working," Falco told a crowd of several hundred at the rally.
"It's bad enough the emotional impact of not having a job," she said. "But to get sick on top of that, and worry every day that your symptoms are not getting better, figuring out what you're gonna have to do without so you can afford a doctor's visit — I am far more familiar with that than I am with my situation these last number of years."

Yeah, Nurse Jackie. Online, free. Or as long as it lasts. Enjoy, or buy Showtime. Weeds, hmm.

What Trail, Exactly

Everyone wants to start calling all political sexual picadillos the Appalachian Trail. But I've got a better one.
How about Argentina Trail?
Any takers?

Toast, I Tells Ya. No Kabuki Here

TPM is, like, all over this. I am glued. For you.
Remember that trip Sanford took to several Latin American countries, including Argentina, last summer, as part of a trade mission?
It turns out that, as suspected, he did see Maria while there. And he's paying the state back for the cost of the Argentina leg.

Oops, Politics Off The Front Page Again

 Mark who? Governor of what? What's a governor?
Michael Jackson is in a coma after a heart attack. Newsrooms believe these things come in threes.

UPDATE: Dead. Andrew Sullivan thought the below video appropriate, so do I.
Hey, only in America. Supertalented fuckup.

Get Off Your Ass

 As FDR said in the reelection campaign of 1936 when a lady insisted that if she were to vote for him he must commit to a long list of objectives, "Maam, I want to do those things, but you must make me."
Thanks, Bob.
Well, actually, we can stay on our asses and still do a helluva lot. I plan to create a special space at the top of this blog to give you instant access to anyone in Washington, D.C. by phone, email, snail mail and Free Fax.
Then, I'm going to keep reminding you who to contact and what to say. Okay? As soon as I get through reading up on Farrah Fawcett.

The Wife: Jenny Sanford

Kinda interesting Sanford thread over at TPM. Couldn't help but think of Mrs. Spitzer (sorry, can't remember her Hebrew exotic first name) and Hillary, and Laura. Michelle seems to breaking the mold for us.
"I thought about the things we do as Americans to women in our society as the array of photos of the governor's wife, an ex-investment banker who was the mother of his four sons, flashed across the screen, the things we do to idealize their femininity, while divorcing them from their sexuality, as if those four boys had popped neatly out of the accessories section of a Talbot's catalog. I thought of the perverse way the press has castigated any woman who has not fit their preconceived mold of proper political wife, whittling away all these years at the public's imagination until all we are willing to accept is the narrow field of view they have convinced us to adopt as our own."

Sanford Is Toast

As the Politico attempts to redeem itself with actual reporting.

Rush, Honey, You Look Tired

The progressive pundits were right. Rush Limbaugh is the first to blame Mark Sanford's problems on Obama.

Climate Change Bill Tomorrow, Farah Fawcett And You

Shit. This Mark Sanford thing just bumped the health care momentum to page A12 and now Farah Fawcett has died, which has been NPR's lead story all day.God I love the business, too bad it's dead.
Anyway, Drudge had a screaming headline suggesting that Rahm Emanuel was personally "Rahming" the climate change bill through, then linked to a very pedestrian report by Politico in which both sides agree it will pass and that everyone, including Al Gore, is on the phones today. SOP for big and even sometimes small legislation.
Normally, I would not link to Politico because they're really an embarrassment as their Appalachian Trail stenography showed, but this seems relatively harmless.
...Friday's vote on the measure is expected to be close, but multiple sources on both sides of the aisle say they're confident that the bill will pass — with some Republican votes — following a deal between House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson.
...The measure, which is likely to have a tough go in the Senate, is a linchpin of Obama's first-year agenda. A victory would give the White House momentum going into a vote on health care later this summer.

Cellulite Therapy? Forget It

EVERY summer a flurry of magazine stories suggest that cellulite is a battle women can win. Women think if they diet masterfully and exercise diligently, they will have a backside as smooth as a cheerleader’s. NYT
Contrarienne is personally waiting for that big resveratrol breakthrough.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Quote O' Teh Century (So Far)

Prize to Captn Chucky at TPM:
Vast numbers of South Carolinians will be surprised to learn that "paramour" isn't something you sit on to mow your lawn.

There Are Some Things You Just Shouldn't Know

but would kill for anyway.
There's a whole lot of handwringing going on over at TPM by the more fastidious commenters who either didn't read the emails between Sanford and his lover, or say they didn't.
Me, I read every word and cherish this comment most (so far, I had to interrupt to pass it along.)
Shattering the predawn traquility with the low roar of a diesel engine while hermetically sealed in an air conditioned cab tearing up the pristine wildnerness listening to country music...Pathetic. Thinking that it will impress a paramour...Priceless!!

Missing Governor Found

Getting off the plane from Buenos Aires. Bwahahaha!
Thank God for reporters. (Although Bill O'Reilly's little-boy producers do this all the time, ambush journalism it's called.)

I eagerly await Mark Sanford: The Movie. Real life is better than Primary Colors, Bullworth, Wag the Dog and The Candidate all together. But not better than Altman's classic (something) Tanner '88, a half-hour series he did for HBO during that year's presidential. He said it was the best thing he ever made. See Netflix.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Richard Nixon

on abortion ... and other things.
“There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white,” he told an aide, before adding: “Or a rape.”

...“It may be they have a death wish. You know that’s been the problem with our Jewish friends for centuries.”

The Press And The President

A Daily Kos post gets a few key clips from today's news conference that sort of says it all. He's really, really smart and they're a bunch of idiots playing to a slathering crowd. All except Nico, of course. He's gold.

The Women Of Iran

Neda Soltani

Two women talk it over, via Andrew Sullivan.

And then there's always Neda.

Who Cares?

The Republican governor of South Carolina has been missing since Thursday.
I know he's not a young blond woman, so we shouldn't care, but it's become rather delicious.
Where is Paris Hilton, anyway?

Money comment:
So, this has been mentioned tangentially, but what about the fact that his cell phone was being tracked? Combine this with the feds spotting him boarding the plane, and that his wife is not expressing that much concern about his being gone, and this is really getting interesting...

Health Care: 'Serious Money' At Stake

As if you didn't know that.
Anyway, from Huffpo:

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) laid out the battle over health care reform in simple terms on Tuesday.

"There's serious money made in health care in this country and all of that money is pushing back. This will be a fight and it will be an ugly fight. If anybody had some notion that this would go smoothly, or it was going to happen easily, I don't think they've been paying attention," she said before entering a closed-door weekly Democratic luncheon.

The push back from the financial interests opposed to health care reform is being felt strongly in Congress. But McCaskill warned that "whoever wants to be part of bringing all this down ... will have to own" the consequences of their resistance.

"Everybody's free to run whatever ads they want to run. I think there'll be real consequences if we don't provide stability to the American people as it relates to health care," she said.

A group opposed to health care reform -- she was unsure who funded them -- is currently running ads against her in Missouri, she said.

Nate Silver Is God

The intrepid progressive poll expert and all-round great pundit offers this today:

1. A good CBO score for the House (public option) bill;
2. Successful intervention on behalf of the public option by Obama;
3. The willingness and/or ability to proceed in a 50-vote environment, a.k.a. reconciliation

...I believe Democrats need at least two of these three things to occur to make the public option a realistic possibility, and perhaps all three to make it a likelihood.

If none or one of these things occur, progressives are probably better off devoting their energies to deciding whether they prefer Wyden-Bennett or some other "outside-the-box" alternative to the sausage that the Finance Committee winds up making.

His entire Health Care post is worth the read if you really want to get it. In the meantime, why isn't Maria Cantwell public about her position on the public option? I'm calling as we speak.

Obama On Health Care

From today's news conference, via TPM, which promises to keep on top now that its Capitol Hill reporter is back:
but despite refusing to insist on the public option, Obama was as combative as I've seen him on the greater issue of reform. He dismissed the idea that the public option would drive insurance companies out of business, noting that the argument is usually articulated by free marketers who contend that the private sector always outperforms the government. And he made sure to note, citing recent polls, that public opinion is on his side.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Yoo-Hoo, Johnboy, Over Here, In The Courtroom

Apparently somebody cares that they drove Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen, crazy for life.
In 2002, Justice Department lawyer John Yoo wrote a memo recommending that Jose Padilla, arrested in Chicago in the wake of 9/11 and held on suspicion of plotting a dirty-bomb attack, be classified as an enemy combatant. Yoo also wrote memos arguing that American law does not prevent the president from ordering such enemy combatants tortured. This January, after enduring years of abuse in prison, Padilla sued Yoo for violating his constitutional rights.

And a week ago, Judge Jeffrey White ruled that Padilla's allegations were plausible enough to justify denying Yoo's motion to dismiss the lawsuit. White was appointed by George W. Bush the year Yoo was writing his memos.
White's decision is the first of its kind: Until now, although other lawsuits have been brought, no government official has faced personal liability for his role in the torture or deaths of detainees. But it probably won't be the last.
...The continued pressure emanating from the federal courts could push Congress to establish a truth commission or even Attorney General Holder to appoint a special prosecutor. Accountability for torture has slipped out of the news lately. But it will come back.

Health Care:The Medicare Doughnut Hole

Obama this morning, with the AARP, which is still trying to recover from the fact that most of us remember how badly they screwed up the first time.
So as part of the health care reform I expect Congress to enact this year, Medicare beneficiaries whose spending falls within this gap will now receive a discount on prescription drugs of at least 50 percent from the negotiated price their plan pays

Who's Hot In D.C.

Huffpo is always doing these fluff pieces with the usual suspects, the other Michelle, of course, and Valerie Jarrett and Desiree Whatsername. Funny how they missed this woman, whose job has got to be nearly as bad as the president's and no effing perks to speak of. I mean no Camp David weekends, no Air Force One, no Marine helo, no funny looking presents from queens and prime ministers. I'm tempted to send her an apple.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Today In Iran

Andrew Sullivan said he couldn't help cheering when he saw the end of this BBC Persia video.

Today In The Garden

This guy figures if he just sits still the birds coming to the feeder won't notice death at the doorstep. His cohorts are smart enough to sweep through quickly and pick them off. If they can. I've never actually seen it happen, although I did see a larger hawk take a squirrel from a tree just opposite my kitchen window one day a few years ago.