Monday, March 31, 2008

The B-52s - Funplex

The B-52s are out with a new studio album, Funplex; their first album with new material since 1992.

Funplex was produced by Steve Osborne, and it was a great choice considering that the band wanted a bit more modern sound with programming involved. I was simply amazed when I first listened to Funplex, how the B-52s were able to keep up and not remain dated as many will probably try to in their reviews.

The album is meant to be fun, and it is. All tracks are up tempo, and rarely leave one without a smile.

Check out the music video, for "Funplex."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bush's Effect on the Economy

Is President Bush really at fault for the current state of economy? I cannot be sure, but I am willing to propose a deal. I'll assign blame to President Bush if he continues to espouse claims that he is responsible for the economic growth that we had since 2003.

Here is a post from Dan Froomkin showing a cornucopia of articles that have recently been written regarding President Bush and his economic policies. Moreover, the sampling of articles shows that the president has taken credit for the economic growth that followed after the small recession in 2001.

But what does the President really affect? Well, Robert Samuelson answered that question here:

We have a $14 trillion economy. The idea that presidents can control it lies between an exaggeration and an illusion. Our presidential preferences ought to reflect judgments about candidates' character, values, competence and their views on issues where what they think counts: foreign policy; long-term economic and social policy -- how they would tax and spend; health care; immigration. Forget the business cycle.
So, where does the President fit in to our current predicament? Well, if you are looking to assign blame to him, the best you can do is to exclaim that President Bush has once again been inept in at least the rhetoric towards our economy. In order to make sure that he does not give a "Malaise Speech," President Bush has provided a continuing rosy picture. In essence, our president has risked his personal image of intelligence - or whatever was left of it - in order to not be blamed for affecting consumer confidence, or be blamed for being pessimistic as Carter was.

Unfortunately, avoiding a nation's gripping concerns does not help. Also, from what I can see now and in the history books, our country could still stand to grow more in hearing bad news, and deal with larger problems as adults and active citizens. Barack Obama's campaign is essentially revolving around that theme of active citizenship. If Obama is elected, maybe our mindset as citizens will change in how we tackle problems together as a nation.

One thing that an election of President Obama, or Clinton, or McCain will
not provide is immediate economic relief. While the President can help push, or veto, certain bills regarding spending and taxation, an economic downturn that is spurred continuously by a lack of confidence in the recent securitization of mortgages is not something that this president, or any president could have been responsible for.

And even then, why all of a sudden now, do so-called "Republicans" start acting and speaking as if they were Democrats? A large collection of officials have jumped to the fore in advocating the Federal Reserves need to help out the economy. Why jump the "invisible hand of the market" ship now? Well, as IOZ would tell you, those who are elected and espouse claims of their love of capitalism are not really selling you the idea of real capitalism. Rather, we tend to forget all the taxes on imported goods and agriculture, but that seems to be okay because they will tell us we are protecting our own interests. Even our own Federal Reserve system operates in a way that is not free-market principle. The Federal Reserves hand is anything but invisible in our market.

The machine of what we denote as capitalism is far too large to assign blame on one man, President Bush. But, maybe he deserves it. If he can say that the policies he's been pushing for our economy are responsible for the economic upturn after our short recession early in his presidency, which is a stretch, then how is he
not responsible for the economic downturn?

In either case, we all still miss the issue that there is a war going on, and while wars help in the economic short run, in the long run, wars prove to be a drag on our economy. (Let alone the "soft power" costs of fighting an unjust war.) Now that definitely has people signing off on it. And at the top of that list of approval, is a man by the name of Bush.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mike Doughty - Golden Delicious

Mike Doughty is out with a new album: Golden Delicious. So far as I can see, it is a natural progression from what he has always been doing without the band backing of Soul Coughing.

Before I go on any further, I think it is imortant for us to realize that fans who attached themselves to Mike Doughty during his Soul Coughing days mistook a lot of the sound the band did collaberatively, as Doughty's sound personally. While Doughty's influence within the band were heavy, Doughty kept the sound of Soul Coughing to the band of Soul Coughing. This is evidenced by his demo of Skittish, which was during his tenure at Soul Coughing, but was a departure from the sound of Soul Coughing. However, with that said, people still hold onto those sounds as Mike explains here:

So the surprise which is no surprise is all the people saying that it's OK, but nowhere as good as Haughty Melodic. I joke about this all the time, but it's so bafflingly true: everything I put out, there's a general reaction of, Well, it's not as good as his genius ______, which he put out two years ago.

So all the terrible stuff I read about Skittish--why did he make that awful mistake of leaving the Soul C sound for the acoustic thing?--has turned into, Why did he leave the acoustic sound for the Dan Wilson vibe

With that being prefaced, Golden Delicious is a fine record on its own. "27 Jennifers" is the obvious single, but there are other tracks that I hold onto personally as I do with any other album, especially the track "Luminous Girl."

Here is the video for "27 Jennifers."

Hot Chip - Made in the Dark

Hot Chip has done most of the work in explaining their latest album in the You Tube video below.

In my view, this album is even more eclectic than their prior two releases. And since this was the desired goal of their album; mission accomplished.

If you are looking for an electronic album that is rife full of syncopation and dissonant tones, mingled with catchy riffs, Made in the Dark might just have everything you are looking for.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

What is Fair

Is it me, or has Paul Krugman really gone to town on Senator Barack Obama? And is it not mostly because of the mandate in Senator Hillary Clinton’s health-care policy?

Now, before I go on, let me please state that I still admire and respect Paul Krugman. And, in fact, he has
admitted that he would rather not write about such items, but write more along the lines of textbook economics. Moreover, I have to admit that when he is grilling Senator Obama, he is doing so on policy grounds. Or, at least, that is what he is trying to do.

But why does it seem so vicious? Why is it that when
Sebastian Mallaby or Robert Samuelson discuss Senator Obama, their criticisms seem less attacking?

Some more caveats. Firstly, Krugman is the kind of man who prefers tackling opposition head on. That is to say, when you think the other side is wrong, you must call them out on it, even harshly at times. Obviously Obama's rhetoric has tried to go more toward the middle of the road. With that said, going towards the middle of the road brings us to another reason why Krugman is so stringent on Senator Obama. Because Senator Obama voiced his concern against mandates on health insurance, Krugman noted that Senator Obama was attacking Senator Clinton "from the right." By attacking Hillary Clinton "from the right," Krugman was noting that this would not help either candidate - and more importantly to Krugman, the health care plan - in the general election.

Yet, the tone of Mallaby and Samuelson differs from Krugman's. And I have to wonder why when I think of the disparity because Mallaby and Samuelson have raised valid concerns regarding Senator Obama.

What it all comes down to is why Krugman becomes silent when Senator Clinton makes an argument against Obama? Why is it okay for her to attack Obama from the right by saying that she and Senator McCain have more national security experience than Senator Obama? Once again, Krugman's arguments are not necessarily wrong, but he seems to miss the counterpoints. Whereas Mallaby and Samuelson make specific arguments against a ploy, tactic, or misconception, Krugman seems to not address the times when other candidates (i.e. Senator Clinton) do the same thing. So, he's not wrong, but I just get the feeling that I'm not being told everything.

And if I am not being told everything, I wonder what the average American is missing?