Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In Which The Devolutionist Tries To Remember His Yoga Breathing Exercises

It's Election Day 2010.  A few hours ago your Devolutionist cast his ballot for the most important issue of the midterms: Prop 19, the ballot proposition that would legalize marijuana in California.  Also, there was something about a governor, a senator, state budgets getting passed by simple majority instead of two-thirds of the Assembly, blah blah blah.

The temperature hovers around ninety here in L.A. today, which matches the Devolutionist's mood: overheated and angry.  This election season has been nothing but depressing in the quality of both the candidates turned out by both parties (particularly the Republicans/Tea Partiers) and in the discourse.  Once upon a time it seemed that even if we disagreed on solutions to problems, the major parties at least agreed on the issues.  Now it feels as if we're living in two different dimensions.  The noisiest of the Republicans see an America under assault by some sort of fascist socialist who wants the government to control everything and will stop at nothing, including using union thugs from Chicago or something, to achieve a country in which everyone is a slave to the state.  The rest of us live in reality.

Unfortunately, it's the loud voices that are most audible.  And that is depressing.

Tonight there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth here in the world headquarters of the Devolution, with long breaks to watch last night's Castle.  Fantasies of Stana Katic cuffing him to a headboard may well be all that will save the Devolutionist's sanity.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

In Which The Devolutionist Finds Yet One More Reason To Never Watch Network News

In reaction to this news, can we lay to rest this idea that the mainstream media has some sort of liberal bias?

The networks are so determined to pretend to be impartial, they won't take five seconds to ask if maybe the right-wing nuts they are inviting onto the airwaves are in any way going to contribute to meaningful discourse.  Thus we have CNN now employing Erick Erickson of RedState, a man who once called a sitting Supreme Court justice a "goat-fucking child molester."  In the last year the Sunday show This Week has invited both Michelle Malkin ("Interning the Japanese during WW2 was the right thing to do") and Meghan McCain to participate in panel discussions.  Meghan McCain, it should be said, got schooled on Bill Maher's show last year, and ABC invites her to sit at a table with Christiane Amanpour?  You might as well have had a lightbulb sit in Meghan's chair.  A burned-out one, as that's the only kind of bulb that would be dimmer than Meghan McCain.

But then, Breitbart has been schooled on Maher's show too. Apparently looking like a fucking ignorant moron on freewheeling HBO is now a pre-requisite to being invited to participate in political forums on ABC.  There was a time that would have been considered failing upward, but given the recent trend I'd say Bill Maher has the upper hand.

Now that I think about it, Maher was once fired from ABC for saying something controversial and wound up on HBO a couple of years later. So there you have it: liberal says something controversial on ABC and gets fired, conservative proves himself not smart enough for an HBO audience and goes to ABC instead.  Somewhere Ted Koppel is laughing into a bottle of schnapps.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

In Which The Devolutionist Pitches An Exciting New Reality TV Series

Well, not exactly new.  Your Devolutionist stumbled across a blog called WingNut Comments the other day and it gave him an idea for the next season of Survivor.

Survivor: Blog Commenter!

Here's the idea: lock a dozen people in their own small room with a four-pack of Red Bull, some of that dehydrated food astronauts eat, and a dedicated DSL line.  Each person must spend a certain amount of time reading and engaging with the commenters at certain sites: Free Republic, Hot Air, Red State, WND, Newsmax,  Reason, just to name a few off the top of my head.  You could rotate it, give each person particular sites on particular days and have them engaging each other on the comment boards without knowing it.  One person could secretly be designated as the Imposter Wingnut, writing the most outlandish shit he or she can think of and trying to drive the other contestants completely nuts.

There could also be challenges like the Troll Challenge, where an individual has to play Imposter Wingnut on the comment boards of some of the more earnest liberal sites: HuffPo, DailyKos, Firedoglake.

Contestants would be eliminated as they crack and beg to be let out of their room, smash their computers, put their heads through the wall, curl up in the fetal position under their beds while crying and muttering gibberish to themselves, and so on.  Maybe we even put them on Suicide Watch and take away all belts, bedsheets, and shoelaces for a time before elimination.

Hey Mark Burnett: call me!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

In Which The Devolutionist Cannot See Reason

It's no surprise to anyone who follows our always-devolving political discourse that one theme always running through libertarian/conservative thought is that of Victimhood.  All those Tea Party folk?  Victims of liberal elitists, the lamestream media, racial politics, Jon Stewart, activist judges, big government, Alinsky tactics, George Soros, illegal immigrants, puppies, kittens, what have you.

The Devolutionist will now break out the world's smallest violin and play a rousing rendition of "My Heart Pumps Purple Piss For You."

Over at Wonkette tonight a Reason reader implored your Devolutionist to read this smarmy post but replace the word "Teabagger" with the word "n*****" and then tell him if it still seemed satirical.  Apparently in Teabagland "Teabagger" is an epithet on a par with a word used to dehumanize an entire race of people for at least the last three or four hundred years.  Apparently we're supposed to respect a bunch of shouting anger bears with no coherent set of beliefs, no respect for a progressive viewpoint, really nothing but high BMI and a shitload of tricorn hats, even when they compare their struggle of the last eighteen months to the centuries-long struggle for civil rights for blacks.  Apparently, according to this guy, "dehumanization is dehumanization."

Meh.  Your Devolutionist does not need a psychology lecture.  Really, it's not about dehumanizing anyone.  He's just sick of the whining.

Friday, October 8, 2010

In Which The Devolutionist Tells Arthur Laffer Where He Can Put His Famous Curve

Your Devolutionist does not make a habit of reading the Wall Street Journal, mostly because he assumes it is written for one (admittedly large) demographic only: wealthy and selfish assholes.  Today's editorial by "economist" Arthur Laffer does nothing to dispel that impression.

Laffer is of course the man who thought up the infamous Laffer Curve, which we're not even going to try to sum up here.  Suffice to say that it has always sounded to your Devolutionist like magical thinking, and the results of the Reagan and Bush tax policies, which cited Laffer, have borne out this contention.

In his WSJ editorial Laffer rails against Bill Gates and his father, who have been pushing an initiative in Washington state to impose a 5% income tax on individuals making over $200,000 a year and couples making over $400,000 (the state currently has no income tax.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

In Which The Devolutionist Makes Reading Recommendations

The Devolutionist is not a huge fan of Matt Taibbi.  He's got passion, but sometimes he does not seem to have a clear handle of his subjects (his writing on the Wall Street bailouts, for example, came off, in the Devolutionist's opinion, like a college paper written by someone who had given up understanding his research even as he continued to cite sources.)  He should stick to writing articles like this one.  It doesn't break any new ground, but it does put insightful context around the Tea Party:

Tea & Crackers

As a complement, this article from the Village Voice works nicely.  VV writers have a habit of not pulling punches, so it's refreshing to read a piece in which the author begs people to "stop believing a word this pus-bucket, Breitbart, utters."  The Devolutionist has the same thought every time he sees Andrew Breitbart in any forum:

White America Has Lost Its Mind

One wonders if the media coverage of the Tea Party and "humans" like Breitbart and Palin and their ilk has less to do with their importance and more to do with that same urge that causes people to rubberneck at accidents on the freeway.  It's as if the media is collectively saying "What a fucking mess, are you kidding me?"  It's a theory, anyway.

In Which The Devolutionist Throws Up In His Mouth A Little

When oh when will this douche noodle's fifteen minutes be up?

Levi Johnston Makes Gross Porn Video With Some Old Lady

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In Which The Devolutionist Swelters And Gives His Opponent Ninety Seconds To Sweat In Response

The temperature in Los Angeles hit 113 on Monday, the highest temperature ever recorded here since the city started recording temperatures in 1877.  Your Slow-Roasted Devolutionist does not have air-conditioning in his 1920s-era apartment, and so he has spent much of the last two days in the library and a variety of Starbucks. Even though the apartment does not get much in the way of direct sunlight and is only on the second floor, it still felt like a blast furnace the last three days.

Some would say that Los Angeles is already hell and the temperature finally caught up, but your Devolutionist is not one of those people. This city may be far from perfect, but it has its charms.  And the Bare-Ankled Devolutionist appreciates any place where he can go for months at a time without putting on a pair of socks.

Now the state of California has its problems, and tonight Jerry Brown and Meg "The Forehead" Whitman will debate for the right to spend the next three years trying to fix those problems.  The Forehead has already spent something like $119 million on her campaign.  Why she could not just donate that money to some sort of charity that might help people who need the help now, instead of on a vanity gubernatorial campaign, is beyond the Devolutionist's understanding.

Not that it will matter if we are all doomed, and it is possible the damage California has done to its economy and tax base and general mindset is irreversible.  But someone still had to command the Titanic even after it hit the iceberg.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In Which The Devolutionist Is Happy His Lack Of A TV Prevents Him From Watching Bill Maher

Oh, your Devolutionist used to enjoy Bill Maher.  He was smarmy and brooked no bullshit.  The man once went into his audience to physically throw some 9/11 Truthers out of the studio before security could do it.  So it's a little disconcerting that he brings on guests like Andrew Breitbart, who spouts more nonsense in thirty seconds than CNN's entire anchor line-up spouts in a year.  And CNN has Rick Sanchez.

Anyway, your Socially-Networked Devolutionist was reading some quotes from Maher's latest show on Facebook and he saw where Breitbart is pushing the right-wing meme that made its way into the GOP's Pledge to America: conservatives were shut out of the healthcare debate, the congressional town halls were dominated by leftist union members, and so the entire bill must be repealed, and we need to start over with an open and honest debate about the whole issue.

Now, Andrew Breitbart might actually know this is bullshit, but his shtick requires him to pretend otherwise, nay, to shout otherwise as loudly as he can.  But the Devolutionist paid attention to that debate, and he remembers things a little differently.  To wit:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In Which The Devolutionist Makes a Point So Obvious Even Greg Gutfeld Could Grasp It If He Was Not Such a Blithering Jackass

Fox douche noodle Greg Gutfeld has a post that would insult the intelligence of Fox News website readers if your average Fox fan had the intellectual curiosity of even your average house plant.

Sometimes Ye Olde Devolutionist wonders how people much more passionate than he can spend all day every day correcting the record on this sort of lazily-written crap.  Gutfeld parses the number of Americans without health insurance and finds that nearly 20% make between $50,000 - $75,000 per year, and another 20% (give or take) makes above 75K per year.  Thus his conclusion: "So while we've been constantly told that people cannot afford insurance, these numbers say otherwise."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In Which the Devolutionist Discovers Jesca Hoop is Not an Unlikable Kate Bush Knock-Off

Yr. Musical Devolutionist has been aware of Jesca Hoop in the same sense that he’s aware of vegan food: it exists, people seem to like it, but though he has heard good things, it does not sound interesting enough to actively seek out.  If the Devolutionist is hungry, he likes to eat chicken or hamburgers or sushi.  If he is jonesing for pop music sung by female voices, the ipod is chock full of Tori Amos, Cat Power, and bands like Stars and LAKE. 

Seeing as how the ipod’s hard drive has a couple of unused gigs, I figured I’d give Hoop’s new album Hunting My Dress an audition.  I’m pleased to report she’ll likely find a spot in the rotation.  This record is full of off-kilter loopiness guided by Hoop’s unpredictable voice, which can soar into higher registers or slink into a sultry purr, all with an unclassifiable accent that clips off some words and draws out others.  It’s as if the Corrs were channeling Fiona Apple, filtering out all the moody angst.

The songs on Hunting My Dress come at you from odd angles.  Hoop is not grounded by her own piano playing like Tori or her guitar like early Liz Phair, which frees her and producer Tony Berg to explore the sonic spectrum.  The album opens with the slow-burning “Whispering Light” and its hippie-drum-circle beat, expands to the crashing drum machines over the chorus of “Angel Mom” and the dance-beat pop and overdubbed vocals of “Four Dreams” (easily the best cut on the record) to the violin-backed acoustic guitar pickings of the album’s title song, a meditation on love that, like the rest of the songs here, is shot through with naturalistic imagery (“And the tall trees all fell down/And they scattered seeds on the ground.”)

Perhaps the best way to describe this album is through what it lacks: devotion to any particular style, fear of exploration, or desire to please one subset of listeners over anyone else.  In other words, there is something here for every fan of pop music.
The lack of a constant –either in instrumentation or lyrical themes or Hoop’s voice – is what gives this record its power.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In Which The Devolutionist Hears The Sound of Saint Bartlett

Damien Jurado has always been about simple.  Strumming his guitar and accompanied by a hushed violin, some tinkling piano keys, or brushes caressing a tom, he spins tales of heartbreak set in sparse landscapes, conjuring images of flat Texas plains and old trucks zooming along dirt roads, trailing clouds of dust.  But Saint Bartlett, his ninth album, calls to mind a different geography: the lush greens of the Seattle native’s Pacific Northwest (the album was recorded in Oregon): rain dribbling on tree leaves, a melancholy soul with a picture window, a cup of tea, and time.  It is a record of ramshackle beauty.

Jurado has continued the work he began in isolated spots on 2008’s Caught In The Trees: orchestral arrangements, overdubs, and his usual melancholia replaced by a sense of wistful – dare we say it – playfulness.  He has left behind the hard-bitten working-class lives of 2003’s Where Shall You Take Me and the heartbroken suburban adulterers of 2006’s And Now That I’m In Your Shadow.  Still, the melancholy bard retains a tinge of darkness as he spins tales of growing up and accepting.

Saint Bartlett was recorded in a week, with Jurado and producer Richard Swift playing all the instruments.  There was little in the way of rehearsal or polishing.  The album opens with “Cloudy Shoes,” a song Jurado reportedly wrote in six minutes while producer Swift was taking a phone call, and for which he recorded guitar and vocals in one unrehearsed take (other instrumentation was looped in later.)  The song is a stunner, a story of a man trying to live up to an ideal self he pictures in his head.  When he tells this image “You have a way about you/I wish that I had” one can hear the longing in his voice, the knowledge he has work to do, shaded with the hope of someone who believes he can achieve this longed-for state of grace.

This sense of hope and longing permeates the entire album.  “Rachel and Cali,” a throwback to the simpler arrangements of his past work, is a sort of call-and-response about an unrequited love between two young people that ends on the melancholy note of one telling the other “Sometimes I wish you knew/How I keep living for you/A friend is just a lover/You’re not committed to,” punctuated by lonely taps on a xylophone.  “Kansas City,” a sparse throwback to Jurado’s past work, is underscored by the sounds of a car braking and voices on a radio fading in and out of the static as the singer tells himself over and over “I know someday I will return.”  On “Kalama” Jurado sings of regrets over a son’s efforts to retain his distant mother’s affections, and his gradual coming to grips with the impossibility of achieving this goal, and in “Beacon Hill” he learns to accept the loss of someone who may not have loved him after all.

Saint Bartlett may not sound like your typical Damian Jurado record, but it is a natural evolution: the sounds of an adult learning to let go and not spending time moping over past youth (the twelve songs clock in at a brisk thirty-six minutes.)  It’s a new direction for Jurado, and one with territory he has the talent and maturity to mine.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In Which The Devolutionist Gives Props to a Personal Favorite

It is well known to Shearwater fans that frontman Jonathan Meiburg was once a graduate student in ornithology who named his band after a type of bird that flies just above the surface of the water.  As part of his academic studies Meiburg has done field research on remote islands all over the world.  Such studies demand a discipline and attention to detail one does not usually associate with indie rock bands.  The Golden Archipelago, inspired by Meiburg’s time tramping through delicate island ecosystems that are changing and disappearing as a result of environmental catastrophe, has been billed as the third in a triptych of records that began with 2006’s Palo Santo and continued with 2008’s Rook, and the band has saved the biggest for last.

Meiburg’s background informs every second of the band’s sixth full-length album.  The songs are as delicate as the hollow bones of a small bird, as formal and structured as a PhD dissertation.  There is undeniable passion in Meiburg’s voice when he sings of “summoning the holy light/on their citadels/the blackening light/the collapsing sun” on “Castaways,” encourages the listener to “look down on the rolling waves/that strike the crumbling reef now” on “Black Eyes,” or even just repeats the lyric “oh my my my my my” over and over on the stunning “Corridors.”  The record clocks in at a brisk 38 minutes, which feels like the perfect length.  Any longer and the listener might be exhausted.

But while Meiburg is undeniably the driving force behind this band, it is the percussion work of Thor Harris that holds these songs together.  Whether he is beating a standard drum kit, tapping on a glockenspiel, or working over one of the several homemade instruments he utilizes, Harris underscores Meiburg’s singing while also keeping his voice from overpowering the work being done by the rest of the band (Kim Harris plays bass, and in concert Shearwater is joined by multi-instrumentalists Jordan Geiger and Kevin Schneider.)

When I saw Shearwater play the club Spaceland in Los Angeles recently, Meiburg told a story about participating in a charity event at the Forum a couple of years ago, when the band got its biggest cheer ever for their first thirty seconds on stage before the crowd realized they were not Coldplay.  The Golden Archipelago is a startling maturation from the rambling and wonderful weirdness of Palo Santo and the rock-band ambitions of Rook.  If there is any justice in the music world, this album will be the one that finally earns Shearwater the recognition the band’s musicianship deserves.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

In Which Your Devolutionist Makes the Mistake of Seeing What's Up on Open Salon. Again.

Like a bug to a porch light, a child to an abandoned refrigerator, or women to Charlie Sheen, Yr. Hypertensive Devolutionist finds himself drawn into blog flame wars every now and again.  Usually this happens when he visits Open Salon, reads an interesting post, and then idiotically checks out the idiotic comments from the contrarian and ill-informed conservative/libertarian/wingnutty morons who think they have the most clever and well-thought-out arguments to make to educate us liberals about our lunatic naivety.  All without getting personal, of course!  Because only left-wingers are nasty, thuggish name-callers!  Because right-wingers are really nice people reluctantly drawn into the fight to hold the line of freedom agaisnt the encroaching government-run politically-correct socialist communism the liberals would love to ram down the freedom-loving throats of great patriotic Americans everywhere!

Sorry, the Devolutionist almost went off-track into an angry rant there.  But yes, this happened over at Open Salon again this morning, as it does every three or four months.  Your humble editor should know better by now: people are assholes and you can't change minds with logic or truth.  It's unfortunate, but if people want to be misinformed who am I to stop them?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In Which The Devolutionist Looks Ahead to the 2012 Election

This morning your Devolutionist followed his usual morning routine: roll out of bed around 8:30, get the coffee maker going, turn on the laptop, and giggle at the public discourse of our political class. Because it really is funny, I swear!

The 2010 elections are still eight months away, so you know what that means: time to check on what the frontrunners for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination are doing:

Mitt Romney has released a book, and Spencer Ackerman has his review.  There is little your editor can add to Mr. Ackerman's takedown, other than that the MormonBot 2012 really will need a processing power upgrade before the primaries in two years.  Too bad the computer guy who may have had a hand in swiping the 2004 Ohio elections for W is dead!

Meantime Sarah Palin continues her canny bid to lock up the nomination by courting an audience made up of people so old that many of them could be dead by 2012.  I'm speaking, of course, of the audience for "The Tonight Show," hosted by that unfunny dude with the chin whose name shall not ever be spoken by the Devolutionist. Not that the Devolutionist was a Conan fan, or owns a TV, or ever bothered to watch the show online...in this house it's "The Daily Show" or GTFO.

So, Sarah Palin, who is only unintentionally funny, apparently did a stand-up routine (!!!!) and submitted to an interview with The Chin. Your editor only read the excerpts, suspecting as he does that watching the video will give him heartburn, anal leakage, chlamydia, and the irresistible urge to kill puppies.  For those with stronger constitutions, video is here.

Thankfully Mike Huckabee does not appear to have done anything insane to appear in the news this week.  But it is only Wednesday.

Friday, February 26, 2010

In Which Yr. Devolutionist Packs a Bindle

Rep. Dean Heller is worried about hobos on the march (H/T to Wonkette):
Heller said the current economic downturn and policies may bring back the hobos of the Great Depression, people who wandered the country taking odd jobs. He said a study found that people who are out of work longer than two years have only a 50 percent chance of getting back into the workforce. “I believe there should be a federal safety net,” Heller said, but he questioned the wisdom of extending unemployment benefits yet again to a total of 24 months, which Congress is doing. “Is the government now creating hobos?” he asked.
The Devolutionist has been pondering this statement while playing the blues on his harmonica and waiting for his campfire to heat up a can of beans: Heller thinks there should be a federal safety net but questions whether the government should be extending unemployment insurance? Um, if the government extends UI, doesn’t that at least delay the creation of hobos? 

Or perhaps this safety net is an actual net to sweep up all newly created hobos and take them to the nearest Soylent Green processing facility, where they will be ground into a protein-rich paste that can be fed to poor people who at least still have homes?

Oh who am I kidding, the paste will be used by our moneyed class to re-grout the solid-gold tiles in their bathrooms.

Ha ha, hobos are funny, with their adorable little beards and their feet wrapped in newspaper.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In Which the Devolutionist Stifles the Urge to Hate-Fuck the Rotting Corpse of Time Magazine

Anytime a right-winger whines about the mainstream media and its propagandistic pushing of evil liberalism on the unsuspecting mass of idiot sheeple that populates America (said right-winger is not one of these sheeple, having awakened just in time to the "truth" of the world as spouted by Limbaugh, Beck, et al.), you can always point this person to Time.

Yr. Hungry Devolutionist was in line at the grocery store buying the ingredients for a large pot of chicken chili on this cloudy and cool Southern California Wednesday when he saw that the cover of the current issue of Time touts an essay by Newt Gingrich entitled "A Blueprint for Bipartisanship."  Newt Gingrich.  The guy who shut down the federal government in 1995 in a snit because his seat on an Air Force One flight was too far back and that was apparently The Last Straw.  Newt Gingrich rides in the front of the plane, dammit!  And he gets all the little bags of peanuts he wants!  

Newt Gingrich.  A Blueprint for Bipartisanship.  

Yr. Devolutionist should know better, but he was having trouble focusing on a badly needed rewrite of his novel today and sometimes anger provides the fuel he needs to work, so he took a peek at the article.  The first sentence of the second paragraph jumped right out: "Obama should not be afraid to drop the 4500 pages of Democratic health legislation."  That Newt!  What a card.  Of course Obama should be afraid.  The Congress has spent an entire year putting those pages together and getting them through votes in both chambers.  If they dropped the whole thing now and started over, there would be about two Dems left on the Hill after November.

But let's assume that Newt was not higher than Charlie Sheen when he wrote that sentence.  After all, if anyone in the history of American politics has been prone to intellectual honesty, it's the Newtster.

Ahem: "The summit is an opportunity for Obama to reunite with the American people by dropping the Big Government bill and opening up to a genuine bipartisan solution."

Newt must have been in a tequila coma for the last nine months or so.  Otherwise he would know that the liberals in the Democratic Party have been tearing their hair out that a) Congress has never considered any type of single-payer system and b) the Senate dropped the "public option" in about two seconds when it became obvious that conservatives, particularly sock monkey lookalike Joe Lieberman, would welcome Osama bin Laden into the Republican caucus before they would vote for a provision that might give the insurance companies a hint of competition.  He would also know that the Dems have already compromised and put quite a few Republican ideas into the current Senate bill

Yr. Nonplussed Devolutionist is not even going to get into the competing polls on this matter, both the ones Gingrich mentions in his piece and the ones that completely repudiate him.

This is all just mental masturbation, of course.  Newt either knows these things but he is being disingenuous, or he does not know these things and is blind to any evidence that contradicts his personal ideology.  Believe it or not, the Devolutionist is betting on the former.

In any case, never let it be said that the mainstream media does not give conservatives a forum to air their opinions.  On health care, as on more than a few issues over at least the last ten years, the right has been given more than enough chances.  The fact that they have so often turned out to be wrong does not seem to be slowing them down.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Which The Devolutionist Ponders President Obama, Teddy Roosevelt, and the Amoral Selfishness of Certain Wealthy Angelenos

President Obama speaking to BusinessWeek in early February regarding enormous bonuses paid to Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein:

“They’re very savvy businessmen.  And I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth.  That’s part of the free market system.”

Teddy Roosevelt in a 1910 speech (via Jonah “My Mommy Says I’m The Smartest Kid in School!” Goldberg):

“We grudge no man a fortune which represents his own power and sagacity, when exercised with entire regard to the welfare of his fellows…We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community.

It goes without saying T.R.’s was the more inspirational quote and the old Rough Rider obviously went farther in making a connection between the gathering of wealth and the communal good.  The Devolutionist chalks that up to a) the difference between giving a major policy speech and an interview in BusinessWeek and b) T.R. was naturally more of a fighter then the pragmatic Obama.  Still, interesting similarities.

And then there is this article from today’s Los Angeles Times following the trials and tribulations of Frank and Jamie McCourt as their divorce plays out (emphasis mine):

“The McCourts…jointly pocketed income totaling $108 million from 2004 through 2009…(o)n that sum, they paid zero federal and state income tax… the McCourts deliberately structured their business at least partially to allow them to live tax-free.” 

Frank and Jamie McCourt own the Los Angeles Dodgers, the fourth-most valuable franchise ($722 million) in Major League Baseball as of 2009, according to Forbes.

Like presidents past and current, Your Curmudgeonly Devolutionist does not begrudge business people their success, even those who inherited family real estate empires and used that fortune to buy a baseball team.  He also does not like writing a check to the federal government every year any more than the next taxpayer, though he’s not going to fly a plane into an I.R.S. office over it.

No, the objection here is that, in case the McCourts have been too busy redecorating one of their eight houses to notice, the economies of California and America recently crashed down around our fucking ears.  The city of Los Angeles alone faces a budget deficit of $300 million or so and rumor has it the cops and parking enforcement have been given a green light to go stone cold nuts writing tickets to try and squeeze out a little more revenue from the people.  

This is your community we’re talking about.  The citizens are your customers.  They come to your stadium 81 times a year to overpay for Dodger Dogs and cheesy souvenirs and cups of warm Bud Light and even just to enter the friggin’ parking lot.  Yet your refusal to pay taxes means even more of the burden of paying for city and state and federal services falls on us.  Which actually hurts you, because the more we get squeezed on taxes, the less we have to spend on Manny Ramirez wigs. 

I’ll give Frank McCourt credit for starting the ThinkCure charity, which funds research on cancer cures.  Personally, I think a guy who is worth several hundred million dollars could be even more involved in philanthropy, but I’ll let that pass for the moment.  I’ll be satisfied if he and his soon-to-be-ex-wife just start paying their fair share of taxes.  Think of it as an investment in your customers so you can continue to rip them off at the stadium.  Because we’re all in this together.

You fucking dolts.

Friday, February 19, 2010

In Which Yr. Devolutionist Wonders What Has Happened To Ann Coulter

A few short years ago, Ann Coulter was the gold standard for sarcastic, nutty, nasty, incoherent, ill-informed, and all-around batshit crazy right wing female.  In fact, she was the only one that the Devolutionist knew of who regularly made the news for saying something outrageous.  She blazed the trail for the nutty right wing females who now overshadow her: Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Liz Cheney, Michelle "Crazy Eyes" Malkin, even Peggy "Bartender!  Another-Percocet-and-Gin Martini!" Noonan.  Cheney and Noonan are regulars on the Sunday morning political talk shows, and even Malkin made it all the way to the roundtable on Good Morning America, where she proved she was not ready to sit at the big kids' table.  Which is probably why she apparently shows up on Fox News regularly (yr. Devolutionist no longer owns a TV and relies on the intertube to bring him news of Malkin's latest high comedy act on some media forum or other.)

So it was almost nostalgic to catch a CNN clip of her (via Talking Points Memo) waxing philosophic to Rick Sanchez about the similarities between World War II and the Iraq war.  Since I can't seem to figure out how to embed the clip here, I'll let you go watch it before I continue.



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Check NBA scores, curse Celtics for beating Lakers by one last night...

The Devolutionist is forever amazed by the stupidity and incoherence of the comments made by America's pundit class, which is perhaps why he is also addicted to watching it.  It's as if the entire collective IQ of America has become one of those car wrecks that you can't stop gawking at as you inch by in a traffic jam caused by the pile-up.  Yes Ann, WW2 and Iraq are both wars.  In other news, the sky is blue except at night, when it's black.

I would have also loved for Rick Sanchez to have followed up (and perhaps he did) by asking ol' Ann of La Mancha to expound on the benefits of the Iraq War we are now enjoying.  Did oil drop to ten dollars a barrel since the Devolutionist last drove past a gas station this afternoon?  Is the massive debt brought on in part by Bush and Congress starting a war while passing huge tax cuts now considered a benefit?  A stronger and more aggressive Iran that no longer has a strong Iraq as a regional counterweight is a good thing?  That explains all those neocons demanding Obama bomb the shit out of it yesterday!

Maybe she's particularly ecstatic that we no longer have to patrol the no-fly zone.  Okay Ann, you can have that one.

While I'm on the subject of Ann Coulter, this seems like the right place to throw in this old clip of Al Franken smacking her down in a debate and Ann not getting his point that there's a difference between paraphrasing and taking a quote completely out of context and investing it with meaning that the original writer CLEARLY did not intend.

Yr. Devolutionist hopes for socialized medicine soon, as he is sure some blood pressure medication would come in handy. 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

In Which The Devolutionist Ponders The Politically Punk'd

Frank Rich gives Sarah Palin way too much credit. I don't think she punk'd anyone:

I do agree with Albert Brooks though. Back in the early 80s this would have been an Alan Funt reference, today we get Ashton Kutcher:

Who would have thought that Punk'd would become a political meme years after the show went off the air? On the other hand, the thought that we're all being punk'd by one political stunt or another makes perfect sense.

If you really want to go down the rabbit hole, of course, the Birthers will tell you Obama has punk'd us on his birth certificate. The Truthers would say the government punk'd us on 9/11. The rational would say that Bush punk'd us to invade Iraq.

Apologies to all rational people for lumping you in with Birthers and Truthers.

Friday, February 12, 2010

In Which The Devolutionist Makes Recommendations For Your Reading/Listening Pleasure

The Great Deluge, Douglas Brinkley - Simply horrifying. I had forgotten so many of these Katrina details. If Satan is reading this (and I have no reason to doubt it) please make sure that when Michael Chertoff gets down there he has to spend eternity wading through chest-deep, fetid sewage towards a Superdome that never gets any closer. And make sure he's surrounded by pissed-off black people.

Haunted, Chuck Palahniuk - Took me half an hour to get through one early ten-page section because it was so disturbing I kept stopping to look up and yell "Arrrrrrrgh" into the void of my studio apartment.  A waiter at Doughboys who saw the book on my table told me if I could get through that the rest of the book is worth it.

The Golden Archipelago, Shearwater - Streaming on NPR until it's released on February 23. One of my favorite bands. Jonathan Meiburg has a high voice and the lyrics are tough to decipher (so pretty much like every other Shearwater album) but the songs have a delicacy and an almost academic formality to their structure. Haunting in a good way.

In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (but not really), some artsy girl named Madeline Ava - The original Neutral Milk Hotel album is one of the classic indie rock albums of all time and has inspired thousands of Jeff Mangum groupies (including Yr. Humble Devolutionist) who salivate if Stereogum reports the reclusive singer was so much as spotted taking a leak in the men's room of a Denny's in Amarillo. Madeline Ava has recorded an all-ukelele-and-kazoo cover of the entire album. Weird and weirdly compelling.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

In Which The Devolutionist Understands That There Would Be No Math

Good news! According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, 70% of Americans now consider Sarah Palin unqualified to hold the presidency. The other 30% are either coma victims or lab apes.

When that number hits 100% I'll be genuinely happy.

Seventy percent. Even Orrin Hatch would have to admit that's a majority. Poor Orrin. Maths is hard.