Monthly Archives: May 2010

WWTFUS: You said it was night inside my heart, it was

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Good stuff from last weekend’s landmark livestream event, The National Live at BAM, directed by the famed team ofChris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker, highlighting the group’s brand new release, High Violet, one of dozens of great new albums falling out of the sky this month. All videos (beautiful, high quality) from the show arehere. Proceeds from the event benefited theRed Hot Organization.

I haven’t fallen in instant love with this one yet the way I did withBoxer andAlligator, but it’s starting to work on me, I can tell. Love that neurasthenic white boy music.

Rand Gets Mitchslapped

Here’s the short version: Chinless Mitch to Rand, STFU, you tea partying doofus.For the longer version, click here.

EVERYBODY’S Heard About the Bird, Apparently: 4 Pelicans!

So I thought we’d get one Pelican. $200. I mean, in case you haven’t noticed the country’s kind of caving in on itself and everybody can name six people off the top of their heads who are unemployed or broke or both. So $200 would be nice. Little thing for us all to feel good about. Reasonable expectation.

As of today we have more than $800 in the Paypal account to send to the Center at week’s end. THAT’S FOUR PELICANS. That’s $800 to help the people who are cleaning up BP’s mess.

Dare we try for five?Lookit this guy. Don’t all his friends deserve a bath, too? You can give them one. You don’t have to do it by yourself. Lots of other people are helping your money stretch.Hit the tip jar, and put birds in the comments.

A.

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What Are They Supposed To Do?

From the Balloon Juice comments:

what exactly is the Obama administration supposed to do about the oil spill?

How about we issue subpoenas against those responsible?
How about finding what that big party on the rig was about before the explosion?
How aboutNOT allowing BP to gather their own evidence in advance of them being a defendant in a future trial?
How about taking action against the oil thugs that held survivors in
captivity for 48 hours while their family members worried about them?
How about taking action against the fatcat bubbas who tried to get
residents to sign a “we won’t sue BP” waiver for a $5k payoff?

How about getting adminstration officials on TV who know what the hell they’re talking about?
How about doing away with the last 30 years of laissez-faire regulation for the oil industry?
How about Obama making the decision to start acting like Huey Long instead of Ghandi?

Emphasis mine.

Some of the other suggestions — nationalize the oil industry, curb-stomp the motherfuckers live on television, draft the entirety of everybody with as little expertise in the Gulf as knowing where it is into military service and basically invade the oil well — are pure Democratic Armageddon West Wing pornography. I think they should all happen tomorrow, but even I know, okay. These, though? Good plans.

Playing nice with BP in the hopes that they can actually fix this is fucked up in the extreme. Expecting major corporations to act like partners instead of the rapacious bastards they’ve always been is fucked up in the extreme. Do I think they want to cap the well and stop the spill? Hell yeah, I do, I mean, if the oil’s in the water they can’t sell it, and I don’t know about you, but in my neighborhood people are driving past the BP stations with middle fingers extended no matter how low the gas gauge gets. I believe I’d rather fill up at an Exxon station at the moment.

But do I believe they’re going to be grown-ups and fix all the damage the spilling is causing without being forced to do so? Oh hell no. They’re going to fight tooth and nail to avoid paying anybody anything, and they’ll just shrug when some 7th-generation fisherman talks about his entire world caving the fuck in, because hey, it’s not their job to make sure somebody’s life always stays the same. Will Transocean pay for every single thing that any of the families of the dead will ever need for the rest of their lives, the way those who lost their lives would have provided for their families? Can you honestly pretend to a naiveté great enough to say you think so? You know what they’ll say.Only so much we can do. A terrible thing happened, and … how are they supposed to fix everything?

I mean, how many times do we hear that in America now? People who build cars, mill steel, dig canals, build bridges … how many times do we hear comfortably situated loudmouth assholes talk about the post-industrial age and how we can’t be expected to take care of the people who built this country with their hands? My grandfather was nearly deaf from working on a factory line; his pension took care of him and when he died it took care of his wife, because for years they’d lived their lives in the factory’s shadow. He came home from work in blue coveralls, fingers black with grease, smelling like the inside of a smelter.

We had a contract, once, with people like that, and they fought and they worked like dogs because they knew the other end would be upheld. When people bitch and moan these days that no one under 30 has a work ethic anymore, that people don’t want to stay in the same job for 20 years and settle down anymore, that there’s no loyalty or honor, well, I don’t frankly see a whole lot of reason why anyone would give a shit that much. Speaking for my generation, we watched our parents’ generation get screwed out of everything their parents’ generation had built. We watched pension funds disappear, we watched people who’d given 29 years of their lives to a job fired just before they hit a higher pay grade, we watched politicians mouth about “retraining” for new-age jobs like a 56-year-old steelworker can turn around and get a comp-sci degree just ‘cuz. We watched it all get stripped away and we listened while the excuses were made.

Some of us — later Tea Partiers and Sarah Palin voters — nodded along as peoplewho would never miss a meal explained away the decimation of all our parents’ middle-class hopes and their dreams of seeing kids graduate from college by talking about fucking stock prices and describing their raping and pillaging as some kind of natural inevitability. What can you do? Well, there’s a fuckload of a lot you can do, Daddy Warbucks. Give up your paycheck, for one. What are you willing to do? That’s the real question. Ask it sometime in a meeting of one of these corporate assfucks. They’ll look at you like you slapped them in the face with a bag of nickels.

p>This is how they act. This is what they do. It’s not new, even, except: We used to have something to balance the scales. And this is why anti-government screamers just do not get here: There is no place else big enough to fix this. There is nowhere else for us to go. Who do you turn to?

I’ll leave discussions of capping and booming and dispersents to those who know about these things. I don’t want a big showy speech from Obama, particularly. AsTreme is reminding us, Bush gave a big showy speech in NOLA after it was wrecked, and that solved fuck-all. I don’t particularly feel the need for him to demonstrate control of the oil spill and its response so much as I feel the need for all our leaders to understand that we don’t come to them for shit like this because it’s easy or it’s nice or it’s pleasant or we want some bunting draped around some stuff or we have unrealistic expectations of government handouts or some such other Reaganite bullshit.

We come to them because they’re the only ones left who even still bother to pick up the phone. And some of them don’t even do that anymore.

So what are they supposed to do here, now, today? Start with that list up there. That’s the bare minimum. That’s the first day.

A.

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The Least Offensive Thing a Hockey Fan Has Ever Said

I guarantee you:

ViaBeachwood.

And no, I’m not going crazy over the Hawks. I don’t really follow the NHL, nor the Hawks because they sucked for so many years and also because it’s too goddamn expensive to go to a game, and I feel lame jumping on the bandwagon now, like I haven’t earned it. Badger hockey starts in October, and I’m counting the days until then.

A.

It Came From Mexico: The Ixtoc I Oil Spill

We in the United States of Amnesia have short memories:

The exploratory oil well two miles below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico exploded in a ball of fire, spurting millions of gallons of crude into the sea. As weeks turned to months, oil executives grappled with capping the well. The growing slick turned into an immediate ecological nightmare.

The year was 1979. The blowout of the Ixtoc I, drilled by the Mexican-run Pemex, retains the dubious record of causing the world’s largest accidental oil spill, dumping an estimated 138 million gallons over nine months. Eventually, Pemex cut off Ixtoc I with two relief wells and a cement seal.

With top BP executives, scientists and Obama administration officials searching for a solution to capping the Deepwater Horizon blowout off the Louisiana coast, perhaps they could find a blueprint in the Ixtoc I experience, observers say. They also may find lessons from the Montara oil spill last August off the northern coast of Australia, where it took five tries and nearly three months to stop the flow of as many as 84,000 gallons a day into the Timor Sea.

If some scientists, who say BP and the U.S. Coast Guard are underestimating how much oil is leaking now, are right, the current gusher could easily eclipse the demise of Ixtoc I in the Bay of Campeche. By their count, instead of the 210,000 gallons leaking per day, it’s more like 4 million“Everybody keeps saying the spill in the Gulf is unprecedented,’ said geologist John Amos, president and founder of SkyTruth, a nonprofit that investigates environmental issues using satellite images. “That is such bull—-t. We had perfect precedence.’

Anguish And Anger In St. Bernard Parish

There was a community meeting in St. Bernard Parish last evening, which is facing a crisis worse than Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood. That’s saying a lot since Da Parish took it in the neck in 2005. One fisherman summed up the situation by asking BP and the assembled officialdom:“Can you replace my heritage?”

Here’s how WWL-TV’s Bigad Shaban covered the story last night:

http://www.wwltv.com/v/?i=94794709

Newspaper Crisis: Calm the Hell Down

You must chill. I have hidden your keys:

Of the roughly 1,400 American dailies, 11 have gone out of business
in the past two years, well under one percent. And among those that
did fold, a number were in cities with more than one major paper.
The Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, for
example, stopped print publication – but both were in markets with
daily newspaper competition.

What’s more, newspaper profit margins, after falling for many
years, may actually improve this year, according to a new J.P.
Morgan analysis, as revenue declines moderate and newspaper
companies reap the results of cost-cutting.

Perhaps the magazine had the timetable right – but the story wrong:
Rather than going out of business, many newspapers are beginning to
right themselves.

A.

Massa Contradictions

Goofball former Congressman Eric Massa is back in the news with more wild talk but no backrubs thistime around:

Aside from Massa’s media troubles, the profile also reveals his
claims that he was privy to the confessions of “four retired generals”
who told him that “General David Petraeus, a commander with soldiers
deployed in two theaters of war, has had multiple meetings with Dick
Cheney, the former vice president of the United States, to discuss
Petraeus’s candidacy for the Republican nomination for the presidency.
And in fact, that’s more than a constitutional crisis. That’s treason.”

“Were he to run and win,” Massa toldEsquire‘s editors,
“and if he were to run, he would win in a landslide — we would be
witness to an American coup d’état. It is the functional equivalent of
the political overthrow of the commander in chief.”

“When I go public with this,” he said, “they’ll come after me with
everything they’ve got, and I mean everything. But if I’m going to go
down in flames, I may as well do something good.”

Massa also said he met with several top Pentagon officials, and told
them his story. When asked if they took him seriously, Massa replied,
“Oh, oh yes. You could have heard a pin drop.”

I’m no fan of either Cheney or Petraeus but this doesn’t sound like treason to me. Unless you consider Eisenhower and Grant to be traitors too. Generals running for President used to be as common as kudzu.

Eric is clearly the Massa of disasta:

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Compare and Contrast on the Value of Journalism

CHUCK TODD WINS THE MORNING:

Chuck Todd began tweeting at 6 a.m. — “the big race is in WV where
another DC incumbent could lose a primary” — and now, nearly three
hours later, he is crashing minutes before airtime. Tapping on a
computer in a wrinkled blue shirt, Todd has just finished updating a
blog post on Arlen Specter when he asks a producer to find some
videotape for his new program, “The Daily Rundown.”

Meanwhile:

Armed with small handycams undercover Video Journalists in Burma
keep up the flow of news from their closed country despite risking
torture and life in jail. Their material is smuggled out of Burma and
broadcast back via satellite.

Joshua, age 27, becomes tactical
leader of a group of reporters, as Buddhist monks in September 2007
lead a massive uprising. Foreign TV crews are banned from the country,
so its left to Joshua and his crew to keep the revolution alive on TV
screens all over. As government intelligence understands the power of
the camera, the VJs become their prime target.

This was on HBO the other night and, curious, I taped the sucker. JESUS. It is intense. And while it’s tempting to say most of the work they do would be near-impossible without the modern technology to get their messages out over the Internet, you know if these guys had to smuggle their stories out handwritten on pieces of toilet paper they’d do it, becauseit’s what they are.


And yeah, it’s an unfair comparison, maybe. The job’s different from being a shallow, silly Washington bore, clearly.But that’s the point. There is no law that says news, especially TV news, has to be trivial. And there are issues in this country, like, say, the destruction of an entire region’s environment and livelihood, that merit this kind of intensity. I think sometimes we forget, in watching the neverending stupidity parade that is our national discourse, just how vital journalism can be. It can be all that is standing between a people and total despair, and we’ve not seen journalists conduct themselves like that’s the job here in quite some time.

A.

Blog for Birds Day 2: We Have Pelican!


Pelican In two days we hit more than $200 for the International Bird Rescue Center, which is taking care of injured, oil-covered wildlife on the Gulf coast.I had hoped we could do that by the end of theweek. Thank you to all who’ve contributed so far, and linked, and sent good thoughts the Center’s way.

We can officially adopt a Pelican. While I’m thrilled, and I plan on asking them to make out the adoption papers to The Internet, I’d like to see if we can’t get to Pelican Partner level. That’s $500, or more than twice what we’ve already raised, butlook at this.

That’s what the wildlife rehabbers and all the other volunteers down there are seeing right now. So let’s do something to help.Hit up the tip jar and put “birds” in the comments. Let’s help out, one bird at a time.

New posts begin below this one.

A.

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Dedicated To Rand Paul

“Accidents happen?” That reminded me of “stuff happens” and who wants to be compared to Rummy? I just don’t know where to begin:

Blogs for Birds: Something We Can Do for the Gulf

So we’re just screwed, basically.

Yeah, I said we. This is happening to the entire country. There is no part of America that America can live without. Our fate, as our Gulf friends have reminded us before, is your fate. We are all of us safe, or none of us.

Right now the answer seems to be none of us. And as usual, the institutions we once trusted to handle catastrophe are either paralyzed or incompetent and some of them are both. And as usual, a lot of us are trying to figure out what we can do to help.

The FD management team holed up in the catbus this week with 2 kilos of Scout’s leftover ganja and some tequila Tommy swears fell off a truck, and we came up with a plan. Here’s what we’re gonna do:

Duckling

We’re gonna adopt some birdies.

The International Bird Rescue Center (recommended through a list of ways to help from NOLA.com) has been finding and catching wildlife and washing the British Petroleum off it for some time now. At first it was just a few birds, butnow the numbers are starting to pick up:

Yesterday we received 3 more oiled birds at the Fort Jackson oiled bird rehabilitation facility. The included: OneBrown Pelican, oneRuddy Turnstone andSemipalmated Sandpiper. No other birds were received at any of the other facilities.

On
Wednesday of this week we received another three oiled Northern Gannets
in Fort Jackson and we continued washing and rehabilitating birds in
Louisiana.

Here’s what I’d like to do. Much like what we did with the Afghanistan care packages, hit upthe tip jar here and put “birds” in the comments field. This time next week, I’ma update you all on the total (hopefully we can get to Pelican level, or $200, and take care of one of those funky creatures) and send our adoption papers to the IBRC.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be a lot. I know the economy sucks, especially for those of you who are on the Gulf Coast watching fishing and tourism completely crater. There’s a bunch of us here, we pool our resources, we can take care of a lot of birds. Is it everything? Absolutely not, not for the people and animals who will have to live with this nightmare for years to come. But it’s something we can do, right now, today. That’s all I’ve got right now, people. Let’s help some birdies.

A.

Weekend Question Thread

What do you do when you can’t sleep?

I used to bake stuff, but lately I’ve begun to feel sorry for the neighbors hearing me banging around in the kitchen, so now I just watch TV. Which, when it’s like Elton John videos on VH1, DOES NOT HELP.

A.

Saturday Blogwhoring Thread

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Post away.

A.

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An incalculable loss

Had some shitty news this week when I found out that a good
friend had been “reorganized” out of his advising job. I like to think I’m a
hell of an adviser of student media, but I know that I couldn’t hold a candle
to this guy. The funniest thing is that he always sought me out at conventions
to critique his kids’ work because they listened to me better than him. A
“grass is greener” moment if I ever saw one.

This is the guy who spawned First Amendment Free Food
Festivals on his campus and helped bring them to other campuses across the
country. The idea was simple: he got a grant, bought a bunch of food and then
had a part of the campus roped off by staffers of his paper. Students were
allowed to enter and eat all they wanted. The catch was that they had to give
up their First Amendment rights. After they ate all they wanted, the “goon
squad” got to impose its will on them. The goons would break up groups of
people who were talking, as the students had given up their right to peaceable
assembly. They were given “pro” politician signs that were against their own
belief systems because they’d given up the right to free speech. And so it went
through the freedoms delineated in the amendment. It was awesome because the
kids never realized all the stuff they had until this guy took it away from
them.

His sessions at conventions were packed to overflow. He
taught ethics, design and more. He showed up in fatigues and handed out cigars
and jazz CDs. He held sessions at midnight where kids could get their papers
critiqued and fed them cereal.

Beyond that, he was a hell of guiding force in helping the
students under his watch. He pushed his kids to dig into a corrupt student
government. The kids found out that the student government had given itself
retroactive pay increases because it felt like it. When the paper reported on
it, the government kids tried to have this guy fired and the paper gutted. He
fought it out and managed to hold the fort. He also managed to squirm out of
danger when his kids found out that a number of gift cards bought by the
student government had gone missing and the student government kids had no idea
what happened. Or so they said.

The kids loved and adored him and every time one of these
things came up, they worried that he’d take the brunt of the backlash for their
journalism. He always had the same answer: Tell the story, tell the story, tell
the story. As much as he loved his job, he knew that the job wouldn’t be worth
much if he was allowed to keep it only by not doing it.

After the stun wore off a bit, I emailed him and gave him my
condolences. He told me that he had a good run, this was a long time in coming
and that he knew the “reorganization” was the only way to really fire him
without firing him. He said he didn’t know where he was going, but he’d be OK. I
doubt I would take it so well.

People like this guy are exactly what we need more of in
student journalism. Of course, he’s the LEAST likely person to keep a job of
this kind. Academia (and perhaps much of the job world at large) is all about
getting along now. It’s about keeping your emotions in check, letting everyone
play like it’s journalism camp and hugging it out when someone gets an ego
bruised. This guy was the antithesis of that. He pushed when he heard bullshit,
he went to his go-to people and if you didn’t like the outcome, that was your
problem, not his.

What’s funny about this is that he was in no way an asshole.
He was a tough adviser. Unfortunately, while the kids under his watch could
make this distinction, the powers that be couldn’t (or wouldn’t).

When people wonder why journalism is going down the shitter,
I’ll be pointing to this situation and saying, “because we won’t let guys like
him work with our kids.”

Friday Ferretblogging: Shelter Party

The ferret shelter held an open house recently. These are four of the youngest ferrets we had (all happily adopted now), who entertained the crowd mightily all afternoon. One ferret is fun, after all, but four ferrets in a playpen? AWESOME.

A.

More Malakatude

That wacky Rand Paul is at it again. He’s called President Obama’s criticism of BP un-American. I am not making this up:

Kentucky’s Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul criticizedPresident Barack Obama‘s handling of the Gulf oil spill today as putting “his boot heel on the throat of BP” and “really un-American.”

Paul’s defense of the oil company came during an interview in which
he tried to explain his controversial take on civil rights law, an
issue that has overtaken his campaign since his victory in Tuesday’s
GOP primary.

“What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort
of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,'” Rand said in an
interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.” ‘I think that sounds
really un-American in his criticism of business.”