Friday, October 22, 2010


Remember how Obama was going to save us all? He inspired everyone, provided hope, gave us a reason to believe that change in Washington, D.C. was a real possibility, not a pipe dream. Well, he hasn't been in office very long, though oddly it seems like an eternity. But, his accomplishments -- I mean REAL accomplishments -- have been few and far between.

Yes, he's been nagged by a bad economy, the remnants of George W. Bush's endless stream of bad policies. But Obama also has failed to do the one thing that a President needs to do: LEAD. Instead of driving the bus, he's riding on it, and too often he's sitting in the back. Health care reform was needed, and although the law that was passed was an improvement, it didn't go far enough. It also contains so many loopholes that most people aren't going to notice it.

The same goes for tax cuts for the middle class. Yep, he lowered taxes for many people, but it was a minor reduction, piddled out in nickels and dimes from one paycheck to the next. He did that by design so people would spend the money and help lift the economy. But taxes need to be LOWER for the middle class and HIGHER for the rich.

I know all you Tea Partiers think that no one should pay anything. Or have some misguided belief thanks the shit that spews from Glenn Beck's mouth, that taxes have gone up for everyone. They haven't. Glenn Beck would also have you believe that our founding fathers were against taxation of all people. This, too, is untrue. He was in favor of taxing the rich, asking them to support the poor as a means of making our country stronger.

To quote Thomas Jefferson:

"The rich alone use imported articles, and on these alone the whole taxes of the General Government are levied. ... Our revenues liberated by the discharge of the public debt, and its surplus applied to canals, roads, schools, etc., the farmer will see his government supported, his children educated, and the face of his country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone, without his being called on to spend a cent from his earnings."

Glenn Beck and the Tea Party folks are driving this country to ruin. Obama needs to take a stand and correct their skewed view of history. He needs to push his agenda forward and start making a case for why his ideas will work rather thank shrinking from the politics and allowing the right to drive the debate. He needs to do it quickly, too, before we our hearts are filled with disillusion and we once again believe that voting doesn't matter.

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Favorite Albums of 2009

Well, everyone else is doing it. So, I guess I should weigh in as well. Take these with a grain of salt. I don't get to hear half as much music as I'd like, and I inevitably will find things that came out this year that should be on this list but aren't because I haven't heard them yet. C'est la vie, right? I've included a link to reviews of the albums on my list. I'll do a separate post (hopefully sooner rather than later) of other interesting year-end lists. If I feel inspired, I'll do a decade-end list, though given my track record here, don't hold your breath!

1) Lucero - 1372 Overton Park - Some are complaining about this band having sold out. It's the same thing we always hear when an indie band joins a major label. Sometimes the compaints have merit. Other times, it's just a pile of crap. Major labels can bring the best out of a band. This one is full of punky southern grit that comes straight from the heart of Memphis.

2) Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest - For a relatively unknown band, this album received a lot of hype. It made me skeptical. Then I heard it. And it gets better with age too.

3) Neko Case - Middle Cylcone - I mentioned how much I love Case's voice earlier this year. Her new album is her best yet. The songs are finely crafted, and she sings the hell out of them.

4) U2 - No Line on the Horizon - A terrific set, if I must say so. Bono sings his heart out, and man, can The Edge play guitar or what!

5) Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - This album took a very long time to grow on me. It's bold, operatic, big music. What else could it be with a song called Lisztomania?

6) Moby - Wait for Me - I loved Play, but I haven't liked a thing he has done since. This one took me by surprise, and it still gets me. Moody and thoughtful.

7) The Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca - Indie rock so often misses the mark by sounding too indulgent. The Dirty Projectors get it right with this finely crafted piece of work.

8) Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion - This one wanders all over the musical map, and from the journey, the band creates a rich sonic stew. The Afro-Brazilian hybrid Brother Sport is the song of the year.

9) Cass McCombs - Catacombs - Another one that surprised me. There are some striking Dylan-esque comparisons to be made. It's a warm, alluring album, fitting since it's supposed to be a love letter from McCombs to his wife.

10) Phish - Joy - The best Grateful Dead album not made by the Grateful Dead. Hell, it is even better than many of the albums that Garcia and company did make. Even Phish haters will have to give props for the first few tracks. You just can't resist them.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Odds and Ends

First off, thank goodness we dodged the Olympics. Every city that ever hosts things things gets saddled with mountains of debt. I didn't realize until after the fact that South America had never played host to the Olympics. It's all the more reason why Rio was the right choice. I just hope they manage to do it without bankrupting the city or the country. They really need to find a way of making these things less of a burden on the communities they invade. Having said all this, I'm disappointed that I won't get to see the Olympics in person. It'd be kind of cool.

Second, I can't say I'm surprised at all about what David Letterman did. He has a long history of drooling over his female guests. What I can't believe is that a respected, Emmy-winning producer could be so stupid. Then again, these days people think they can get away with anything. Letterman has always been great under pressure. He's handled interviews with some very important figures better than the people who are supposed to get it right. With this, he's turned a very bad situation into something heartfelt, personal, and funny, yet horribly painful. You can see it in his face as he talks about what happened. He genuinely feels like a buffoon, and he should. He also hasn't tried to brush it off. Instead, he has embraced it right up front, dealing with it on a very human level. What he did was wrong, but in the end, he handled it just right.

I'm not a huge Michael Jackson fan, but I have to say I'm very curious about the upcoming move This Is It. I don't know if the police will ever bring charges against his doctor, but after the autopsy results showed that he was actually pretty healthy when he died, I'm left feeling pretty saddened by the whole thing. I didn't think I'd care, but it just doesn't seem right that the people who were supposed to take care of him wound up killing him, maybe not intentionally, but definitely out of their negligent, misguided actions.

Finally, I can't get enough of Jefferson Airplane's rampaging set at Woodstock. Yes, there are times when they fall into complete disarray. But Wooden Ships is so damn mind-melting I keep coming back.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Your GPS May Be Trying to Kill You

Oh, my, the machines really are out to get us. Exhibit A is this story from Yahoo Tech: Apparently, some guy was following his GPS a little too closely. Only a well-placed fence kept him from driving off a cliff. You have to wonder, though -- what was he thinking when the road became "increasingly perilous?" GPS is a great little device. I love mine. But you have to watch out or we'll all be playing a game of lemming. Fortunately, the GPS is still too dumb to know that if the car goes over the cliff, it dies, too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

President Obama on Letterman

I caught President Obama on the Letterman show last night. As always, Letterman did a terrific job querying his guest. There was something about the appearance that bugged me, though. I don't know quite why it did, but it was just very strange to see a sitting president on the talk show circuit. It doesn't seem right to me, and it just felt wrong. I understand why President Obama did it. He's trying to reconnect with the average American to push his agenda and his health care program, all of which I happen to agree with. Seeing him sitting there, joking about a heart-shaped potato and just was too much.

They don't have the full interview up at CBS yet, but here's a segment that features the President and Letterman chatting about racism.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

One More Reason to Go Vegan

I've been vegetarian for quite awhile, but I've had a really hard time going vegan. I like cheese, and I like eggs. And I use milk products from time to time in baking. The food just tastes better. It's also very hard to go out to a restaurant for dinner, because most vegetarian options are not vegan, so this has always given me reason not to make the switch. For home use, I do try to use organic options from humane farms.

The recent video footage shot by Mercy for Animals has convinced me to, at least, give up eggs:

It's disgusting and vile what the commercial egg farmers are doing to dispose of the unwanted male chicks. The video footage is revolting. And I don't generally like this kind of shock-mentality to get people to change their minds. I also don't tend to like Mercy for Animals' in-your-face Sometimes, though, that's what it takes. It worked for me.

Here's the good news: Morningstar Farms, Boca, and Litelife Foods are taking steps to rid their products of eggs. It's of little consolation to all the little chicks that were massacred by being tossed into a grinder, though, but at least it will stop this ridiculous process.

What is wrong with people anyway? Whoever came up with using bones from cows to process sugar?? I'm still baffled by that one, but that's a post for another day.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

America's Economic Collapse

After America's economic collapse, there is plenty of blame to go around. News programs and magazines have levied numerous charges at everyone from Countrywide to AIG. One thing I hadn't really seen or considered before is the role that Goldman Sachs played in the whole debacle. As it turns out, Goldman Sachs has a history of pumping up the U.S. economy, skimming a ton of money from the pockets of everyday folks, and then crashing the whole system. It's a way of life, and they've gotten away with it, too, because the company has managed to insert its executives, past and present, into every aspect of America's capitalist society. They've taken over both parties, Democrats and Republicans, and while I'm annoyed to no end with Ralph Nader for the role he played in putting Bush into the White House by stealing crucial votes from Al Gore, the recent article by Matt Taibbi that ran in Rolling Stone last month makes the case that maybe Nader isn't so crazy after all.