Friday, August 05, 2011

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Yesterday's stock market collapse, panic induced selling, and overall malaise has been attributed to many things, from the jobs data this week (which bears mixed news) to frustration over the austerity debt ceiling bill passed last weekend. That's not why the market dropped, in my view. For one thing, the outline of that debt deal was known for days and while the markets slid, the collapse happened four days after it was announced. We can safely ignore that as a cause. Similarly, had yesterday's horrible jobs news been enough to tank the market, the Labor Department could have whispered the numbers released today, and the panic would have stopped. So what caused it?
Italy. Well, Italy and Spain. The sense I get is that there's a big Italian bank teetering right now, and the smary money is getting out of the markets now, before the meltdown happens. Italy supposedly had its house in order, or at least was not on the level of Greece or Ireland, but between Berlusconi poo-pooing an austerity budget and rumours of bank's all a house of cards, is what I'm saying.
2) On a related note, would you pay a fee to a bank to put your money in a savings account? You might have to.
3) How will this depression end? It won't be easy. My guess is, the most effective way to end the depression is to monetize the debt (meaning print more money), risk inflation-- which in this case may actually be a good thing-- and re-run a stimulus program the right way: from the bottom up. Nobel laureate Krugman, being all shrill and unserious again...
4) A fascinating story published in The New Yorker about how SEAL Team Six got bin Laden. Not surprisingly, the 101st Moron Brigade has a problem with it.
5) The most remarkable thing about this piece is the author, former Bush special assistant David Frum, admits conservatives have it all wrong. Of course, despite the fact that he himself still identifies as a conservative and despite the fact that his views still hew conservative, he's officially a liberal.
6) The Arctic *may* (emphasis added) not be in as bad of shape as previously thought. needless to say, moron conservatives want to burn more oil. "May" is a useful term here: it all depends on wind direction. This is not a chance I'd care to bet on, if its all the same to you idiots.
7) How desperate is North Korea for money? They're stealing Bitcoins and online casino points.
8) I told you, it was just a matter of time.
9) Many of us agree, he should not have given up his day job.
10) Oh, the irony! Remember Jimmy McMillan, the New York city resident who ran for governor as the candidate of "The rent Is Too Damned HIgh" party? He faces eviction.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

OK, This Is Big

OK, really *muddy* water, but running water nonetheless.

Uhhhhhhhhhhhh, Senator Santorum?

I'm not sure handing out jelly is a move a man with your sobriquet wants to make.

Americans Are Idiots

Falsified reports? On climate change? Really?
Do we even *get* science anymore?

Well, This Is Different!

Conservative columnist cries for a socialist approach.

Yea. Thanks, Roberts Court

You really did democracy a favor with Citizens' United.

Huh? She Gets Preferential Treatment At FOX?

Sarah Palin works for the liberal lamestream media after all?

"People Are Ready To Listen"

I expect there will be a massive turn-away once they've heard his illogic.

Watch The Skies

(photo courtesy)
On Friday, there may be a massive nothern lights display in your area.
And have a nice day!

Y'know, It's Only 300 Feet Down

I can practically strap a tank to my back and go take a look...

Pink Floyd Was Right

There is no dark side of the moon really.

Little Noticed In This "Arab Spring"


While the world has been focused on the anti-government movements that sprang up during the Arab Spring, the largest protests in Israeli history have been sweeping the country for the past two months, threatening to destabilize the government with calls for extensive change.

The protests began with a Facebook petition over the cost of cottage cheese. They now include a litany of demands, including a return to the days when the government took a more active role in subsidizing costs. Protesters also want changes in the tax system, more subsidized government housing and more spending on health and education.

Last weekend, more than 150,000 people participated in a nationwide march to protest high housing costs. The organizers are calling for another march this weekend and promising an even larger turnout.

Israeli officials admit surprise at the strength and staying power of the protesters, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded this week by canceling a scheduled increase in the price of gasoline that was to have gone into effect Tuesday.

That's not popcorn popping, that's the sound of the heads of neo-conservatives and right wing Zionist bloggers like Pam Atlass exploding.

In a time of austerity measures in America and much of Europe, tiny Israel is deciding, yes, we the people need more.

In fairness, Israel is a nation built on socialist values. As a small island of Judaism in a larger hostile environment, people who are crammed together learn the importance of looking out for one another.

Here in America, we could have adopted the same basic moral values, but chose instead to live with the romantic illusion of "rugged individualism."

Bollocks, as the British would say. "No man is an island," as John Donne put it. Opportunity in America is defined as the culmination of the tribe fostering the one. No one gets rich in this nation on his own, and our tax codes and social constructs ought to recognize this. For behind every rich person in this nation lies an entire community and network of people who work to support his or her opportunities. 

And since greed drives the acquisition of wealth, you can guaran-damn-tee he or she ain't rewarding those folks adequately.

America stopped being about "fairness" a long time ago. It stopped being about opportunity more recently, but still, the barriers to entry in any market are in direct violation of the basic principles of laissez faire economics put down by Adam Smith (who believed in soaking the rich, by the way.)

That kind of rugged individualism, where a person through the sweat of his own brow and the dirt under his fingernails, could carve out a modest life for himself that allowed him to be free of working as an indentured servant on someone else's farm, that kind of rugged individualism one can admire. But it's not the rugged individualism people think of today.

It's not the rugged individualism of free enterprise and competition. Now, markets close to competition. Companies will patent everything in sight, including your own DNA, to claim rights to them. Try "going Galt" when you leave your DNA everywhere.

Today, if you don't wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle, you're a rugged individualist. An idiot, but an RI nonetheless. Note that you're middle class enough to *afford* the motorcycle in the first place. You were not someone's slave who suddenly freed himself through dint of hard work and savings.

Americans have a very hard lesson to learn. We are not individuals. We pretend we can be. And in some small ways, we can be, but not in ways that matter.
A friend of mine said to me recently, "You can be a slave to the corporatocracy under Republicans or a slave to government under the Democrats." There's at least some truth to the latter, and a lot of truth to the former-- altho I challenged him to show me how he could be a slave under Democrats. I got a lot of talk about Spain. Not sure it was relevant.
We are slaves. Nearly all of us earn a living making someone else wealthy.
A few of us earn part of our living making someone else wealthy, and part of our living siphoning wealth off other people: in other words, with an economy that is effectively a zero-sum game, you are either being sucked dry or sucking someone else dry. Neither is a particularly pleasant moral position to take.
That the corporatocracy has dug it's siphons so deeply into our society was an inevitable outgrowth of Republican policies (and sadly, many Democratic ones, too.)
For my part, I'd rather be a slave to a government that at least once in a while has to get my authorization to enslave me, and that every so often, gets overruled. It sure beats an autocracy of boards of directors and CEOs with no fealty to shareholders, much less other stakeholders like employees or vendors.
Americans could learn a lesson from the Israeli people. When the notion of fairness goes out the window, the best strategy is not to be more antisocial, but less.

Godspeed, Bubba

Bubba Smith Dies
It's rare that a big scary athlete known for the violent manner in which he pursued his vocation turns out to be such a lovable and cuddly guy, but Bubba Smith was that rare breed.
It's sad to see him go so young.

Why Is It...

...Conservatives are all about private charity, but liberals are the ones actually spending the cash?

Poor Sucker, Good Thing He's Rid Of Her

Without judging the events of the marriage or divorce, it's hard not to feel for this shlub.
Set up in a sting of giant proportion, which included a couple of corrupt police officers. Wow. I mean, wow.
That's not to dispose all responsibility from his shoulders, to be sure. You shouldn't even drink and drive, no matter the circumstances, but particularly when it's by choice.
But wow.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Captain Obvious Presents

Look! It's Obviou!
(image courtesy)

And Whose Fault Was That, Shithead?

Mitch "Obama Will Be A One-Term President" McConnell is all butthurt because his pwecious debt ceiwing is dirty.

I'm Surprised Obama Didn't Call The Big Dog

Clinton managed to smack down the Congress while sticking to principles

Can We Get Matt Damon To Primary Obama?

I'd even be his Secretary for Head Polish if he won.

Leading From The Rear

Oh, Barack, we hardly knew ye....

China May Like The Debt Deal

But Korea? Not so much
They think things are so bad over here, they are buying gold at the top of the market.

China Central Bank Is Relieved

They won't have to use our bonds for toilet paper now.

April Is The Cruelest Month

August is the slowest month.
Hey Gawker, I do all this shit already the other eleven months. Up your game.

Kudos To Micronesia

The world's largest shark sanctuary is just a vote away.
If only more people were as foresighted.

I Wonder If He'll Have To Wear Nightbraces

Wait. What?

But Taxes Are Low!

And jobs are trickling down on us, just like they said!

As God Is My Witness...


At Work, I'm An Idiot!

Oh wait. I'm not!

Flat Tax Flounders

Inherent in the current sooper sekrit budjit soopercommittee Congress is setting up in response to the budget crisis, a re-write of the tax code is inevitable.
The time has come for an overhaul of the tax code, to be sure. Right now, taxes on the rich are the lowest they have ever been since Herbert Hoover was President (You'll notice the bookend of terrible unemployment and low taxes on the wealthy, too.) The effective tax rate on the wealthiest one percent (i.e. the rate the wealthy actually pay in total, after deductions, deferrals and exemptions) is the lowest it's ever been.
In turn, deductions that are available to the middle class that promote what had been good public policy (for example, the mortgage interest deduction in order to encourage home ownership) have become warped and twisted to such an extent that they actually create bad public policy. The recent collapse in the housing market is a terrific example of too much of a good thing, in terms of taxes. It only occured after the right to deduct the first $125,000 off the gain on the sale of a home, which had been limited to senior citizens as a one-time-only deal, was expanded to include practically the sale of any residence.
The alternative minimum tax (AMT), originally devised to ensure that the wealthiest pay a fair share of their income in taxes, has become a bane of the middle class. It was never indexed when first implemented in 1986 (at the $30,000 threshold for individuals, $40,000 for a married couple) and only peaks this year at $48,450/$75,000. It drops again next year to $33,750/$45,000. The AMT penalizes people who live in expensive states with high taxes, people who own homes (it phases out the mortgage interest deduction,) and/or have children, and people who like to give money to charity to lower their tax burdens.
It is, in other words, effectively a flat tax of 26% (28% if your income is over $175,000).
Which leads me to today's topic: the flat tax.
Now, given that there are so many "libertarians" who would call for a flat tax in the midst of this rigamarole, I thought it would be a useful prophylaxis to examine why it's a bad idea.
First and foremost, the flat tax is highly regressive, penalizing the poor while subsidizing the wealthy. On it's face, it seems fair (this is part of why many have euphemistically called it a "fair tax".) After all, dollar one gets taxed at, say, 10%, dollar one hundred at 10%, dollar one million at 10%. The guy making a million pays $100,000 in taxes. The guy making $100 pays $10.
Flip the numbers, tho. The guy making $100 is left with $90 to buy food, clothing, shelter. The guy making a million is left with $900,000 to buy the same things. Granted, the millionaire is likely to buy more expensive stuff, but here's the thing: he has a choice as to how much he can spend, but not how little. It's that last, how little to spend, that comes into play.
The guy left with $90 has to meet a threshold to feed, house and clothe himself. Let's say that will cost him, in total, $80. He's left with $10, and must make a choice what to do with the rest of his money: put it away for retirement, splurge on a movie, save it for a rainy day. Thr guy making a million, also spending that $80, is left with $899,920 to just go nuts.
How is this subsidizing the wealthy? Glad you asked. Unless you want to assume private roads and private infrastructure, the government is going to be the one who wires the community, who paves the roads, who builds the subways. You'll notice the poor soul can't afford a car, and walks to work, yet his taxes are paying for things he can't possibly avail himself of, much less benefit from.
A guy making a million bucks is part of a population that is less than one half of one percent of the whole. Good thing, too, because it will take 10,000 people making $100 bucks to equal his income (and to be fair, his tax liability.)
None of whom can benefit from the spending that he benefits from.
So it's regressive in terms of the actual taxation, but also regressive in terms of the benefits derived from that taxation. The poor will receive less from the government than the rich under a flat tax system, by definition.
Too, the income tax helps mask another annoying fact of the American tax code, which is that other taxes are highly regressive: sales taxes, property taxes, excise taxes, tolls on highways, mass transit fares, all have to be paid by rich and poor alike in direct proportion to the value of the benefit obtained, which means the rich skate by yet again on the backs of the poor.
There are other reasons the flat tax is a ludicrous proposition. For one thing, it discourages savings, since that would become effectively a double tax: you're taxed on the wages and the interest earned on the money you've socked away. It discourages investment in businesses, for similar reasons. It discourages saving for retirement, since the income that is building towards that is taxed now.
Some might argue, well, Social Security would be off the table. OK, except that the employer portion is taxable at the corporate level (since we're flat taxing all income, no restrictions) so you're double taxing the same money. Revenue is fungible, it doesn't matter how it's apportioned.
Plus, you'd have to raise Social Security taxes to cover the now-heavily-reliant population. And that means wages would now be double taxed even more heavily (you pay SSI and Medicare tax on gross income. You pay income taxes on gross income.)
In other words, a flat tax would kill the few American businesses still left.
Lower the corporate tax rate to compensate? American corporations already pay a marginal rate that's among the lowest in the world, and the effective tax rate of the corporatocracy is (based on the Fortune 500) about 18%. So if anything, a flat tax would raise taxes on corporations. Not a bad thing, in my book, but you can bet your bottom dollar ExxonMobil would disagree vehemently, and continue to offshore money.
Proponents of the flat tax point to the success its had in other nations (Montenegro and the bankrupt Iceland, neither of which is an economic model I'd choose to follow in any other respect,) conveniently forgetting that no state that currently has a flat tax had to transition from a progressive taxation to the flat tax.
And in many of these countries, adding in the equivalent of the Social Security tax raises their tax levels *higher* than many if not most states with progressive rates.
It seems to me the Clintonian shibboleth about welfare, "mend it, don't end it" applies to the progressive tax system, too.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Why Teabaggers Should Love Federal Spending

See that chart up above? The greener the state, the bigger surplus the Federal tax coffers run from it.
Notice that red states seem to hew nicely with Red States.
This is from The Economist. Not exactly your hyperpartisan progressive journal.

Day Of The Dolphin

It's not bad enough to send our troops into harm's way, but marine mammals, too?

So How Bad Is The Drought Down South?

Zombie spacecraft are rising from the murky swamps.

Old & Busted: Excusing Yourself By Saying "I Don't Recall."

New hotness: Excusing yourself by saying "My Twitter was hacked!"
Where have you gone, Anthony Weiner, you've started a brand new Internet meme, woo woo woo....

They Must Be Scientitians

Couple "cheats" lottery using "math"
Only FOX News would consider this cheating.

Old And Busted: LOLCats

Chemistry Cat is Bonding With You
New Hotness: Chemistry Cats

Oh, That's Just Sad

The former Speaker of the House, ideological icon of the conservative movement, FOX News pundit and current Presidential candidate New Gingrich has to make up Twitter followers to stay relevant.

Out Of Crumpets


Today's Odd News

Wait. What?

Turn Your Webcam Off

Or you might become the victim of identity theft.

Man Tells Truth

Man gets fired. Well, put on administrative leave pending a full investigations for reasons that have nothing to do with his work and everything to do with the fact that the truth hurts.
Shame on you, President Obama.

Oh, But They're Not Racists, Nosirrreeeeeeeeeeeeee

Obama's a "tar baby"? Really? In the 21st century someone still uses this language?

If True, Fascinating

There's a book here, somewhere.

Like I Needed An Excuse

Wine in the sun. Drink it.

This Panhandler Went The Extra Mile

Apparently, the snake was desperate for change.

Tim, Not Helping!

The whole point behind a debt deal was to ensure a) no default and b) people could have faith in American bonds.

Bifurcated Democracy


OUR nation isn’t facing just a debt crisis; it’s facing a democracy crisis. For weeks, the federal government has been hurtling toward two unsavory options: a crippling default brought on by Congressional gridlock, or — as key Democrats have advocated — a unilateral increase in the debt ceiling by an unchecked president. Even if the last-minute deal announced on Sunday night holds together, it’s become clear that the balance at the heart of the Constitution is under threat.

The debate has threatened to play out as a destructive but all too familiar two-step, revealing how dysfunctional the relationship between Congress and the president has become.

The article talks about how Presidents have decided to exercise power unilaterally, like Obama's Libyan adventures (although the practice goes back decades to Reagan and even Nixon,) while the Congress has been unable to rally itself to challenge the President's usurpation of power. Either the Congress is divided (like now) or reinforces the person holding the Oval Office (as under Bush the Younger.)

This is what the punditry tells us we want, over and over again: divided government. Given what we've experienced for over three decades now (absent the six years of Bush the Younger) is this really what we want? An ineffectual Congress hamstrung by the tyranny of the minority and a Presidency who usurps power like a king?

Mind you, none of this is partisan: Republicans and Democrats have been to blame in BOTH branches. Clinton was forced to legislate by executive order, much as Obama is. Both Bushes declared wars without making a firm case to the American people as to the need for them (this wasn't dominoes toppling or any such credible threat.) Reagan tossed American troops around like candy and American armaments to enemies.

In Congress, John Boener can't even get a centerpiece of legislation passed trying to keep the party's dog-and-pony show from tearing each other up. When Pelosi was in charge, she had to placate Blue Dog Democrats, rather than muscle them into line.

Hell, about the only thing any Congress since 1990 has been able to agree upon is that Bill Clinton needed to be impeached and a bunch of Asian desert bombed!

This has effective emasculated an entire branch of government. Power seeks a vaccuum. It's almost understandable that the President would unilaterally legislate.

Plus, members of Congress don't have to take a stand on anything controversial. Take the EPA actions earlier this year to regulate greenhouse gases. Now, long time readers of this blog know there are few people more concerned with global climate change than me. Maybe Al Gore. So while I don't have a problem with Obama taking the bull by the to speak...I worry about the fact that Congress didn't vote on this.

Note: it wasn't voted down. The bill stalled before a vote could be taken. It's probably still in the hamper, waiting to be aired out. Look at what this saves Republicans from, say, Montana, where people believe climate change is real and a problem. The party would insist they vote against the EPA actions. Their constituencies would say "We need a better Congresscritter." No responsibility, yet they can parade around touting how angry they are that they didn't get their say.

The more a controversial issue remains undecided, and the more critical that issue becomes, the less likely it is Congress will ever actually take action. And the more likely it is they will cede that issue to the Executive branch. Fine for a liberal like me when a semi-liberal like Obama is in charge, but what happens when another Dumbya hits the Oval Office? One a little more clever?

Congress will still feel this is expedient.

But it is unhealthy. It is unhealthy for an economy, it is unhealthy for a Constitution and it is deep unhealthy for a society and its people.


Monday, August 01, 2011

Ramadan Mubarak!

In case you weren't aware.

America, The Chicken

I agree. The space shuttle is indicative of a time when America was not afraid of the future.

"To The Moon, Alice!"

Now, you can win a trip to space.

Hope For America, Part Deux


Hope For America Yet

Car racing attendance is becoming a problem.

Not Sure I Completely Agree With Krugman On This, But...

He has the Ph. D. and Nobel Prize, and I do not

A deal to raise the federal debt ceiling is in the works. If it goes through, many commentators will declare that disaster was avoided. But they will be wrong.

For the deal itself, given the available information, is a disaster, and not just for President Obama and his party. It will damage an already depressed economy; it will probably make America’s long-run deficit problem worse, not better; and most important, by demonstrating that raw extortion works and carries no political cost, it will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status.

Where I disagree with Krugman is in the details. This package has to be reviewed this fall. On the same date that the Bush tax cuts (extended two winters ago) expire. That will immediately raise revenues, and lower the deficit tremendously. In this, it seems, Obama gets to keep his campaign promise (two years too late, of course) of eviscerating those horrid cuts.

Disaster avoided? Maybe. Maybe not. Certainly Krugman is right to point out that the last thing we need right now is spending cuts (unless they're carefully targeted, like farm subsidies for corporate farmers) and the long term effects to the economy could be irreparable if Obama is unable to persuade Congress (absent Boener, of course) that the tax cuts must die.

The inference from reading the reactions of various House leaders indicates to me that the crux of this deal with Obama is the death of the Bush cuts. Yes, he gives up stuff first, and so there's no promises or guarantees that he is ultimately successful in his pursuit of this goal.

On the other hand, it sure looks like the political kabuki I've been talking about has taken form.

I don't support the deal as it appears on its face, but if Obama has managed to deduct the Bush tax cut burden from the American economy, then I can get behind most of the rest of this, enough that I can move on.

Y'know The Problem With Pay Inequality, Guys?

Eventually, the Corporatocracy notices.

I Guess Maybe They Saw The Commie "Captain America" Instead

Palin's film dies


Look, as a SCUBA diver, I love Shark Week on the Discovery channel.
Not for the sharks, but to revisit destinations I've been to and to watch people SCUBA dive. Sort of preps me for the season, keeps me motivated, and reminds me of stuff that is really important, like the oceans, fish and the whole "circle-o-life" thing.
But Shark Week can be dangerous.
"Rogue Shark," "Killer Sharks," "Top Ten Shark Bites," Shark Kills Through History," are (or could be) shows that will air this week (OK, I'm making up the last two, but...)
Nowhere is there a discussion of what we do to sharks. The closest Discovery comes is a program called "Shark City," which purports to show the fun side of sharks. With "comedian" Andy Samberg.
Y'know, nowhere is a real in-depth discussion that we kill close to 100,000,000 sharks each year, that we've decimated entire species of shark and upset the entire fragile ecological balance of the entire ocean, the true breadbasket of the world. There are one millionth as many attackson humans...not kills, attacks...worldwide each year.
Do you know what happens when a shark gets finned? It gets caught by a fisherman. Still alive, barely, it's fins get sliced off: dorsal, tail, pectoral. The entire living animal is then tossed back into the ocean as bycatch.
Imagine you're out for a swim, just cruising along the water, and someone sticks a hook in you, drags you onto a boat, chops off your arms and legs, then tosses you back into the ocean?
That's what happens to a shark.
I've made about 250 dives in my diving career. I've seen sharks on six of them. Only once have I ever felt even close to threatened and that was because I didn't see the situation developing behind me (a camera had swum in underneath me to get a money shot) and the shark was coming to investigate. If I had known what was going on...well, the water would be a little less yellow right now.
Meanwhile, I've been hooked by fisherman a few dozen times, nearly knifed by another diver who was being careless, and bumped my head into any number of humans who decided they needed to be exactly where I was or was heading.
Trust me, I'd rather dive with a pack of hungry bull sharks than deal with a pack of humans any day.

Microwaved Wheat

Physics seems to have come up with a really good explanation for crop circles that doesn't involve ET.

My Only Surprise With The Debt Deal Is... came about twelve hours too early. I had noon EDT in the pool.

MTV And The Death Of Democracy

It was thirty years ago today, Robert Pittman taught the band not to play.
MTV launched on August 1, 1980 and literally changed the face of music forever, altho you wouldn't know it from the first video Video Killed The Radio Star by The Buggles, a band composed of Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, both later joining Yes. In the video, the lighting and the costuming and set were all designed to be particularly unflattering to a band whose members were not exactly Hollywood star-material.
OK, so Downes was not ugly, but...did you know that Video charted at #444 years before MTV used it?
I digress.
The immediate impact of MTV's popularity was the development in earnest of the music video. Prior to the launch, artists since the 1960s created promotional films for top 40 songs, sometimes even albums. The first true "music video" was for Surf City by Jan & Dean in 1964. The later Beatles' albums featured several of these, which were distributed to variety shows worldwide so that the "Beatles" could make an appearance on the show.
These were mostly performance clips of the band, although with the release of Sgt. Pepper, The Beatles went a little avant garde with theirs.
More and more, bands provided short films for their record companies to show in movie theatres, on television variety shows and to various conferences and conventions to promote a band's music.
The music. Not the band. MTV changed that.
I noticed this over the weekend while watching an old Journey video for the song Seperate Ways, and realizing, damn! That band was uggggggggggleeeeee! The song was released in the MTV generation, to be sure, but the band predates it.
No longer was it enough to be able to sing or play an instrument and/or write a song. Now you had to have "it." You had to be good-looking enough to wet panties and cause wet dreams worldwide. Or, failing that, you had to hire a really expensive and really creative producer to set up your video so it featured really pretty men and women. That means money and that means your record sales and music were beholden to the suits at the label. There was corporate rock before MTV (hello, Monkees!), but the visual aspect and the brand spanking new markets it opened up to songs made corporate rock inevitable.
There weren't bands anymore. They became brands. Brands, the goal of so many people in the blogosphere and even Blogtopia (© Skippy).
Sure, there were exceptions and parodies, most notably Money For Nothing by Dire Straits, but these were few, far between and badly needed.
Corporate music begets a bland, pablum of ear candy designed and honed over the years to not offend but to not excite either. It's meant to not make you think: no longer did you have to ponder the lyrics to a song. All you had to do was turn on MTV and voila! Some suit had decided what the song means to you. It moderates everything. There is no radicality except in small pockets of outliers who never really gain acceptance in the mainstream.
To me, it's no surprise that we haven't had another Beatles since MTV. Nor have we had a significant new direction in music since punk, pre-1981. Sure, there was rap, but rap rose without the benefit of MTV and the moment MTV got its hands on rap, that was the deathknell for bands with a point, like NWA. It stopped being about the music and started being about the heavy rotation.
We all started listening to the same things. Maybe not identical, but all the same things in form. We all needed like-minded entertainment.
It gets worse. MTV created an entire new requirement for film makers, who had to somehow reconcile movies and TV to the new form of entertainment. No longer could the camera linger on a scene, establishing mood. Two cigarettes burning down in an ashtray meant two people making love. Now that all had to be established immediately and undeniably. You couldn't infer. You had to state. The attention span of America was quickly narrowing and no one wanted to think anymore.
Maybe you've already guessed from the headline where this is going, and maybe you've started to put the clues together. I'm tempted to stop here but like I just said...
MTV gave us reality TV, too. It started with "slice-o-life" videos depicting the singer/band in a real-world scenario (usually lost love, or famously Madonna's Papa Don't Preach about teen pregnancy). It moved onto the Real World programs and continues to this day with Jersey Shore. We've become conditioned to accepting, no, demanding a titillating look into people's closets from MTV. We won't accept a thick line between the public persona of someone and their private life. We *know* there's something illegal or illicit or just plain immoral going on behind the scenes that they must be hiding and we want to know, if only to celebrate the fact that, there but for the grace of God, go us.
Birthers are the logical outgrowth of this. Birthers and shrill harpies of the right who find boogeymen in little children camping on an island.
I could probably go on, from talking about how MTV made it possible for fashion to become really pretty crappy to the fulfillment of Andy Warhol's "fifteen minutes of fame" prophesy to any number of terrible impacts on society.
That's not to say MTV has been all bad. For instance, it was MTV that broadcast Live Aid to try and fight famine in Ethiopia, and it was MTV that gave Bill Clinton the youth vote (and probably Barack Obama, as well.) And Jon Stewart got his start on MTV and became a nightly treasure on a spin-off of MTV's Ha! channel. I'm sure if I really sat and thought more on it, I could probably balance this post out with more positives.
But that would make this corporate blogging :-)


...Christians have joined Muslims in hating the Jews.
And World War II never happened. Or the Inquisition. Or the Black Death. Or 2,000 years of Papal decrees...