Saturday, December 20, 2014

Digg's Top 15, errr 16, top songs of 2014

Top 15 new songs for 2014.  You will not find Taylor Swift, Robin Thicke, or any Hip Hop on this list.

15) Tie: Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene (Hozier) & Cardiac Arrest (Bad Suns)
14) Fire (Gavin DeGraw)
13) Dark Sunglasses (Chrissie Hynde)
12) I Wanna Get Better (Bleachers)
11) Tell The World (Eric Hutchinson)
10) California [Cast Iron Soul] (Jamestown Revival)
9) You Haunt Me (Sir Sly)
8) Back Home (Andy Grammer)
7) Shut Up and Dance (WALK THE MOON)
6) New York Morning (Elbow)
5) Don’t Look Back (Augustines)
4) Drive-in Movies (Ray LaMontagne)
3) Let’s Get Drunk and Get It On (Old 97’s)
2) Ghost (Jeremy Messersmith)
1) Red Eyes (The War on Drugs)

You're all I've got to wait
You're running in the dark
when I come to my sense
Well you can see it through the darkness
coming my way
Well we won't get lost inside again babe

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pictures Worth A Thousand Words

You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.  I call the Obama presidency successful while Bush…err not so much.

The hit Brandon Browner delivered to Ladarius Green was brutal, but of the NFL is serious about protecting players, it would mandate teams use the safest helmet and equipment available.  Until then, it’s nothing but lip service and window dressing.

 "I respect Derrick Rose and all of our players for voicing their personal views on important issues but my preference would be for players to abide by our on court attire rules." NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.  Yes Mr. Silver, your contract with Adidas is more important than crucial social commentary, necessary activism, and personal expression.

Sovereign nation extremists point guns at U.S. Marshalls, but 12 year old Tamir Rice with a pellet gun is the real public threat.

Conservatives like to call themselves the law and order Americans especially when it comes to immigration.  Yet several of them seem to sympathize with Eric Garner because they view him as someone who stood up to excessive taxes.  So it appears that according to conservatives, we are a nation of laws…when it suits a political aim.

Apparently the Ebola outbreak has gone the way of Malaysia Airlines flight 370.  The media may not feel the story is still worthy of reporting, but in Sierra Leone it’s not only newsworthy, it’s a tragedy.

Frackers vs the Sheiks…race to the bottom.  But that’s good news for Americans who will see the price drops at the pump put is they will see hundreds of dollars more in their wallets which will likely stimulate the economy further.  As for the Saudis, the likely outcome of the price war is consolidation in the North American oil producers as the strong will consume the weak.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

It’s politics stupid.

Why did President Obama suddenly change course on immigration and “go it alone”?  Politics of course.  The next election is still two years away, but the campaign and debate season starts long before the election and now he has put Republicans on the defensive again.  Although the President’s record on immigration has been checkered with increased deportations and lack of progress on immigration reform, he has kept the Democrats as the preferred choice of Hispanics.  The dreams of Reagan and H.W. Bush to champion immigration reform and make the Republican Party, the party of immigrants, especially Hispanics, have turned into nightmares thanks to the overly nativist ultraconservative wing that influences the GOP. Reagan once quipped "Latinos are Republicans. They just don't know it yet."  Perhaps today the more applicable quote is “Republicans are doomed.  They just don’t know it yet.”

In addition to keeping the Hispanic electorate away from the Republicans, the ever so pliable media will now seek out Republican leaders, especially Speaker Boehner, and ask when the House will take up the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate 62-38?  While the GOP responds with its “executive amnesty” and “Emperor Obama” talking points, they will be exposed and forced to respond to questions about what they plan on doing, and with every response will come a potential sound bite for Democratic campaign staffers.  If Boehner decides to move forward with legislation, he runs the risk of upsetting the “Yahoo Wing” of the party and its militant active base.
Thirdly, by keeping immigration reform on the front burner, President Obama has once again driven a wedge between the potential 2016 GOP candidates with John Kasich,  Jeb Bush and Chris Christie separated from Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and the rest of the ultraconservatives.  The more wedge issues like immigration are used to define the GOP, the longer they will be on the defensive and the harder it will be for its candidates to run primary and general election campaigns.  You can only go to the etch-a-sketch so often.

To love politics is to be a cynic.   And while many celebrate the words and acts of our favorite political leaders, make no mistake about it, there is always a political angle that motivates.  Perhaps that is why our voter turnout numbers are chronically low, and why so many Americans simply tune out the noise from DC.  Nonetheless, Machiavelli would surely love this move by President Obama. 

It's just politics.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Midterm Elections: Where Are The Voters?

As we come up on the midterm elections on Tuesday, the electorate is bombarded by television and radio ads and if you drive anywhere on Scottsdale’s Scottsdale Road the ubiquitous campaign signs blight the otherwise beautiful Sonoran landscape.  Even in the Arizona Voter’s Guide, where the candidates are given an opportunity to state why they deserve your vote, half the candidates (almost exclusively the Republican candidates) use the space to attack their opponents.  And the relentless television ads wouldn’t be so bad if there were at least some variety.  Unfortunately, the political ad selection playlist is as limited as Sirius-XM or Top 40 channels when it comes to playing something other than Taylor Swift.
So the electorate is already numb thanks to the relentless campaign advertisements, almost all of them negative, life is full of distractions and priorities and the time to research the candidates and ballot issues is often the first thing to get cut.  The biggest threat to a Democracy is an ignorant electorate and when the electorate is mentally bludgeoned from non-stop adverts and distractions, folks will be swayed by the sound bite and video clip.
And this is exactly what campaign operators and managers hope for to win an election. Campaigns have been won or lost based on a phrase or a comment, and it is even more critical considering that every cell phone is an audio and video recorder and every public and private appearance an opportunity to get caught.  Whether it was George Allen’s 2006 “macaca” moment, Christine O’Donnell’s “I dabbled in witchcraft.”, or the Todd Akin “the female body has a way to shut it down”, candidates are often their own worst enemy.  And I haven’t even mentioned what can happen on social media, am I right Congressman Weiner?
But what if there really isn’t a moment or gaffe that the campaign can sink its teeth into?  Well it can always manufacture something and the best way to do so is take something out of context.
Exhibit 1: "I want individuals to have their own insurance," Romney said. "That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone doesn’t give me a good service that I need, I want to say I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me." The highlighted words would be used over and over as part of the mosaic portraying Romney as a heartless vulture capitalist.  However, when looking in full context, who wouldn’t want the freedom to choose their insurance company, amongst other things.
Exhibit 2: “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The above was from a speech by President Obama in Roanoke, Virginia in 2012, and the highlighted text was immediately yanked out of context by the GOP and used to reinforce the Obama is an anti-business socialist and that government does it all.  Clearly, when looking at the full context, the president was making the point that businesses cannot succeed without government infrastructure investment.
Exhibit 3: "And don't let anybody, don’t let anybody tell you, that, you know, it's corporations and businesses that create jobs. You know, that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried. That has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly. You know, one of the things my husband says, when people say, ‘What did you bring to Washington?’ He says, ‘Well, I brought arithmetic.’ And part of it was, part of it was, he demonstrated why trickle-down should be consigned to the trash bin of history. More tax cuts for the top and for companies that ship jobs overseas while taxpayers and voters are stuck paying the freight just doesn't add up. This sound bite was pulled from a recent Hillary Clinton speech where she was making the point that cutting corporate taxes will not increase jobs.  Of course this was seized by the right that Hillary was actually saying only government can create jobs.  In fact, with 70% of the U.S. economy coming from consumer spending one could argue that it’s you and me that create the jobs.  But at the heart of the matter is corporations are not here to create jobs and reducing their tax burden will only swell their margins just as the inappropriately named American Jobs Act of 2006, that allowed repatriation of foreign earnings at lower tax rates and did nothing to increase jobs.
Exhibit 4: "Even as we face the most serious economic crisis of our time, even as you are worried about keeping your jobs or paying your bills or staying in your homes, my opponent's campaign announced earlier this month that they want to ‘turn the page’ on the discussion about our economy so they can spend the final weeks of this election attacking me instead," Obama said in the speech. "Sen. McCain's campaign actually said, and I quote, ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose.’"  This may be the nuttiest one of them all as the 2012 Romney campaign actually took a 2008 Obama speech and tried to take John McCain’s words and pawn them off as the president’s.  Out of context and off the charts.  And when confronted about it, the shameless Romney campaign just shrugged it off.
An apathetic and dispirited electorate leads to low voter turnout, and it is likely 2014 will not break the 40% turnout level like every other midterm election since 1970. Are Americans sick and tired of the Blitz Campaign Barrage?  Are those that plan on voting influenced by misinformation campaigns and ads like those referenced above?  When so many people are relying on cable news and cable news has become partisan PR entities, there really isn’t an escape from the noise, lies, and confusion, but that’s no excuse.  Voting is a right and educating oneself is the voter’s responsibility.  Yes it takes effort to fight through the BS and come to your own conclusions. 
As Lou Reed said “Don't believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.” Now I need to find out more about this campaign sign, Milhaven, and those drunks.