CRAWFORD, Tex., Aug. 24 — President Bush said today that there was a benefit to the government’s fast-dwindling surplus, declaring that it would create “a fiscal straitjacket for Congress.” He said that was “incredibly positive news” because it would halt the growth of the Federal government.
In a 45-minute news conference in a community hall next to a recreational-vehicle park here, Mr. Bush avoided giving specific answers to several questions about how he would find the money for his next big initiatives — from missile defense, to overhauling the military, to reforming Medicaid — without dipping into Social Security surpluses that both parties have declared off-limits. And he made it clear he would not re-think his tax cut, saying, “I can’t tell you how proud I am to be traveling around the country and people say, `Thanks for the $600.’ “
At the same time, Mr. Bush talked in some detail about the economic slowdown, which he called a “correction,” and left open the possibility that he might dip into the Social Security surplus if a further economic stimulus was needed.
“I’ve said that the only reason we should use Social Security funds is in the case of an economic recession or war,” Mr. Bush said.
Just yards from the ancient Temple Mount, site of the Islamic Dome of the Rock, Glenn Beck told a sparse crowd: “We are leaving the age of manmade miracles of spacecraft, and we are entering the age of the miracles of God.”
God, apparently is getting tired of Beck’s shtick, himself, because he offered the former Fox News personality absolutely no help whatsoever in getting asses into seats yesterday: According to eye-witness, Israeli writer Ami Kaufman, Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Courage” religious rally in Jerusalem yesterday was a total bomb, with around just 1000 people attending. With such a small number, you’d have to wonder how many of these folks were “ironic” attendees? Surely a number of Israeli hipsters, eager to point and laugh at a pudgy, paranoiac, self-important, delusional American Moron Mormon with a messiah/martyr complex sporting a yarmulke, would turn out for this, right?
If this happened in Los Angeles, hey, I’d have gone to see the Glenn Beck show myself, so if you factor the ironic attendees out, does the indifference seen towards him in the Holy Land foretell curtains for Beck’s cultural cachet even with American idiots? I mean, getting 10,000 Christian evangelicals to show up to a Glenn Beck rally in Jerusalem a year ago would have been like shooting fish in a barrel. Box office boffo. Still, Beck should do well in Texas next week. But we’ll see, won’t we?
If you are looking for one word to sum up how Glenn Beck went from drawing 3 million viewers nightly on Fox News to seeing his audience plummet and Fox severing ties with him, that word would be dull. By believing his own hype while taking himself too seriously, Glenn Beck bored his fans into leaving him. After his Restoring Honor rally bombed last year, it was the height of self-delusion for him to think that thousands would follow him to Israel.
Glenn Beck was fine when he was the conservative rodeo clown providing a nightly dose of entertainment to the blue hairs that make up the Fox News audience, but his program became too dark, too paranoid, too religious, and too stuck on one paranoid conspiracy theory note to maintain its appeal.
Yossi Sarid seemed to speak for many Israelis who weren’t thrilled with having Beck’s circus in their country either, “Beck, Hagee and their swarm are anti-Semites, who are not even aware of their anti-Semitism and the extent of its ugliness. Or maybe they are. In recent years this anti-Semitism has not been directed mainly against Jews, for they have found the Arab substitute for it. Now they are using the Arabs to scare Israel and the Muslims to scare the world. And the white, Aryan lion will devour them and their undercover envoys such as Barack Hussein. The visit ended yesterday, the circus is folding its tent and moving elsewhere. Let’s pray it will not return soon. Mr. Beck, don’t come back. We’re not short of dangerous wackos here.”
The turnout for Restoring Courage proved one thing. Glenn Beck needed the platform of Fox News more than Fox News ever needed Beck. The media platform to push his dark wares is gone now, and for most of America it is out of sight out of mind as it relates to Glenn Beck.
Below, Beck talks about what a terrific guy (and leader) he is and mentions, all casual-like, the death threats that have been made against him. The pathology on display here is impressive even by Beck’s high standards.
Some words of wisdom for the Republican Party from last night’s Rachel Maddow Show:
“If you were the Republican Party, and you were going to give one of these groups of Americans veto power over who was going to be your presidential nominee…which of these groups would you [choose]? I mean, really? You’d give that power to the one at the very, very bottom, underneath the atheists? Really?”
In their hearts, they know she’s right…
But how does this explain why the Obama administration kowtows to the Tea party?
“Baby Marx” is an ongoing TV pilot project by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes currently on exhibit at the prestigious Walker Art Center in Minneapolis from August 11 to November 27.
Reporting on the advent of the Second French Empire in 1851, Marx famously repeated an insight he had read in a letter from Engels, itself a variation on Hegel: if all great world-historical facts and personages occur twice, the first time they do so as “grand tragedy,” the second as “rotten farce.” A century and a half ago, Marx and Engels regarded this repetition with despair, brandishing the category of farce as a denunciation of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte’s dictatorship.
In the context of advanced capitalism, however, Pedro Reyes (Mexico City, 1972) asks us, with Baby Marx, to re-evaluate the political inheritance of both repetition and farce.
Taking up a recent trend in the production of Hollywood blockbusters, Reyes proposes to “reboot” the nineteenth century debate between socialism and capitalism. Media moguls such as Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) and J.J. Abrams (Star Trek) have similarly resurrected dystopian, Cold War-era visions of the future to great commercial success. Repetition recommends itself in these latter contexts principally as a means of streamlining the production process itself: brand recognition has been subsidized in advance, capitalizing on consumers’ prior emotional investments in the franchise’s narrative.
Reyes and his team are actually shooting new scenes for “Baby Marx” at the Walker Art Center. The behind the scenes process is what the exhibit is all about. I think this is a funny idea, but I don’t think it’s funny enough. I’ve read that Reyes hired two writers from an Adult Swim show to help punch it up a bit in that department. “Baby Marx” has been pitched to HBO and Japanese TV execs, who both apparently turned it down. In the age of The Daily Show, South Park and Bill Maher, something like this would require an absolutely savage satirical wit to make it come alive and so far this project lacks that, in my never so humble opinion. It’s cool, but it could be a lot better.
The first installment of “Baby Marx,” produced for Japan’s Yokohama Triennial in 2008:
More “Baby Marx” (and Monty Python’s “Communist Quiz Show” sketch) after the jump…
Soul and pop music lost one of its greatest songwriters on Monday, with the passing of Nicholas Ashford, one half of the duo Ashford and Simpson. Have a quick flick through Ashford and Simpson’s songwriting resumé and you’ll be pretty gobsmacked at some of the tunes they’ve had a hand in - they’re without a doubt one of the best songwriting duos of the modern age, writing huge hits for Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terell, Sylvester, Ray Charles, Marlena Shaw/The 5th Dimension and lots more.
London-based producer and dj Kirk Degiorgio has put together a special Nick Ashford tribute mix, featuring some of the man, and the couple’s greatest work. This is a fitting tribute indeed, and if you were in any doubt as to how good these guys were, wrap your ears around the following. Damn you cancer, but at least we know the man’s legacy will live on for a long time.
In a very revealing interview published in the Guardian this week, ex-Throwing Muses singer and solo artist Kristin Hersh admits that she hates music and the role it has played in her life:
“Yeah, I hate music. Everyone knows that about me. Even my kids hate music. When they’re watching a kids’ show on TV, as soon as a song comes on, the TV is muted.” She reconsiders. “Maybe hate is the wrong word. We can’t bear it. The intensity of good music is too much to bear. And bad music is so offensive that that’s also too much to bear. I’m in heaven when it’s good, but that doesn’t happen very often. And anyway, you don’t want to be crying over the breakfast table. I don’t want that life.”
She is wary of the romantic notion of a link between great art and mental illness. Maybe, she concedes, in certain circumstances. But in the end the sums don’t add up. “The disease is far more dangerous than the music is valuable.”
She mentions her friend, the US singer Vic Chesnutt, who sang songs of love and loss and who died from an overdose two Christmases ago. “The fact that it killed Vic, it’s not worth it for me,” she says. “I think he’d have been a better man without music. And, even if not, he’d be here. He was more precious to me than he was to himself. And I know that I play that role for people too. My husband has begged me to stop. I’ve tried and it doesn’t work. Vic didn’t even want to. I want to.”
Hersh was at the Edinburgh book festival to promote her memoir Rat Girl - you can read the whole interview here.
Willy DeVille was born 61 years ago today. He died in 2009. I was a huge fan of his music, particularly his early work with Mink Deville, and wanted to share this documentary and video clip with you.
In the first video, DeVille and the producer of three of his albums, the legendary Jack Nietzsche, are in a hotel room in New York City and Willy is serenading his dear friend. It’s a lovely, intimate, scene in which you can see how close the two artists were and the creative energy that existed between them. Willy sings John Hiatt’s “The Way We Make A Broken Heart” and “Carmelita” by Warren Zevon.
This looks like it was filmed sometime in the mid-90s a few years before Nietzsche died. It’s from the documentary Fools Upon The Hill directed & produced by Julien Gaurichon of which there is no information on the Internet that I can find.
This moves me to my soul.
This second piece was directed by German film maker Diethard Küster for German television.
It’s 1997 and Willy has kicked his morphine habit and is living the life of a country gentleman in Louisiana.
A Fistful Of Dub is video mix featuring new and old dub and reggae recordings with clips from Spaghetti Westerns - not a mashup but an imaginary soundtrack where cowboys meet engines of rhythm.
01. ‘Black Panta’ - Lee Scratch Perry
02. ‘A Ruffer Version’ - Johnny Clarke and The Aggrovators
03. ‘Dread Are The Controller’ - Linval Thompson
03. ‘Cool Rasta’ - The Heptones
04. ‘Tel Aviv Drums’ - Glen Brown
05. ‘Dubbing With The Observer’ - King Tubby
06. ‘Funky Ragga’ - Dave and The Supersonics
07. ‘A Useful Version’ - Prince Jammy
08. ‘Magnum Force’ - The Aggrovators
09. ‘Electro Agony In Dub’ - The Grynch featuring Tippa Irie
10. ‘President Mash Up The Resident’ - Shorty
11. ‘Steel Plate’ - Fat Eyes
12. ‘Diplo Rhythm’ - Diplo
13. ‘Streetsweeper’ - Steely and Clevie
14. ‘X- Perry-Ment’ - Lee Scratch Perry