Wednesday, February 25, 2009


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Friday, January 16, 2009

Profoundly Thankful for Your Legacy Tour, George

I would like to extend my personal thanks to George Bush, Dick Cheney and the rest of the members of the outgoing administration for their efforts over the past few weeks in trying to define the last eight years on every media outlet with the possible exceptions of the Jim Rome Show and Howard Stern.

By doing so they have reminded us in ways those of us who have been writing about them, since what seems to be the dawn of time, could not. They have, point by point, word by word and image by image both reinforced and re-inventoried every evil deed and mistake they have made while in office.

Bush himself has re-affirmed the advanced extent of his mental illness. Cheney has given us reason to nod our heads and think, "Yes, he really is the most dangerous man in America." The rest of the cast has been wonderfully consistent in their roles, too. Thank you Ms. Perino.

Unless more is revealed about how they have done everything in their power to fuck up the United States of America (a good bet), this is the last weekend many of us will be forced to write about these chi-ractors.

I won't miss them, even though they are easy targets. The problem is that they do not and will not reap what they sow.

We do and we will.

That said, Tuesday is the real New Year's Day.

Happy new year, America!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Bad Democrats Begin to Surface

A lot of people have done a lot of complaining about Congressional Democrats, especially Senate Democrats. Were they briefed about torture and illegal wiretapping? Did they know and do nothing? Are they complicit?

And who are they?

Today we know who two of them are. Dianne Feinstein and Jay Rockafeller came out of the closet and showed their true Blue Dog colors by opposing Leon Panetta, or at least opposing the manner in which his appointment was announced (or leaked).

We're going to be seeing more of this. And when some Democrats oppose people like Panetta, who was a strong opponent of torture and wiretapping, they identify themselves as the same people who secretly pushed the Bush agenda along in Congress, giving in at every turn.

President Obama is bound to piss off a lot of people, even those who support him. Rick Warren is a good example. I'll take a dozen Rick Warren's moose-like bellowing to God in public in exchange for Obama appointees Dawn Johansen, David Ogden, Elena Kagan and Tom Perrelli who will help rehabilitate the Justice Department.

Progressives cannot behave like right-wingers and begin to jump ship when Obama does something that steps on their own personal agenda. Your agenda is yours and Obama's is his.

So far he is living up to his campaign promises, pretty much.

The next time you find yourself getting pissed off at Obama, say these words out loud,"George Bush."

But Blue Dog Democrats be warned. We're watching you very carefully. Your butts are at stake.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Finally: The Death of "Greed Is Good"

It's not all about the Benjamins anymore, baby.

Although it is still the defining principle in many people's lives, the concept that "Greed is Good," is dead. It rose to its despicable zenith in tandem with the rise of Reagan, and has been the guiding principle of industry, finance and government ever since.

Greed has been with us since the dawn of time and will remain, but in cyclical bursts, greed destroys enough to make those in the path of the inevitable result of unchecked greed take notice and do something about it.

Like regulations on how much greed is allowed.

Greed brought us to this place…unregulated, untrammeled, vicious greed. Greed has no morals or ethics. Greed has no regard for others. Greed feeds only the greedy and feeds on every thing and every one within grasping distance.

This Christmas Eve there will be no ghosts of the past, Christmas or otherwise, disturbing the sleep of the greedy. The greedy will be in danger of losing a percentage of their riches as a result of their greed. The rest of us feel a primal danger, one that most of us have never felt.

Yes, fear is upon the land. The fear of not being able to keep a roof over your head. Of not knowing where to turn when you watch your sources of income fall, one after another in the twinkling of an eye.

The week before the crash of 2008, I had been hired to write industrial presentation scripts for a company which was very successful at making them. They told me I could expect maybe five a week, if I could handle that. I assured them I could. That was on a Thursday, as the stock market crashed.

The following Monday went by without a word. Then Tuesday. I emailed them on Wednesday and got a worrisome replay on Thursday that said, "Stuff is hitting the fan this week. Clients are pulling out before the initial interview. Waiting for news, as far as what the fallout is., but things are much different than just two weeks ago. I’m sorry Tom… I’ll give you news as I get it."

I replied, "That was one chilling email." The reply? "Word."

On Thursday, I got an email which said that the company had lost so much of its upcoming business over the past week that would not need my services. Two weeks later another company, for whom I had been writing for a year-and-a-half fired my editor and was going to re-think its whole operation. I'm still waiting for my last check from them.

My story is being repeated over and over throughout America. The root of our misery is greed and the greedy.

And President Obama says it's going to get worse before it gets better.

The safety net is in place for the greedy who caused this mess. Where is the safety net for the rest of us? There is no place under the TARP for us to get out of the rain and cold.

The Greed Is Good pack are thieves. They've stolen our money, our hope and any sense of safety we had. And then we rewarded their greed with more money.

It's a cliché to some of us, other may have never heard it, but I will paraphrase Woody Guthrie who said, "Some will rob you with a shotgun and some with a fountain pen."

Or a handful of keystrokes.

For now, the concept that "Greed Is Good," has been discredited and for at least the next four years, we will have an executive branch of government which at least considers the rest of us.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Read Art Levine's Ecnomic Meltdown 101

My friend and Blogtalkradio co-host has put together a roundup of misery. He also posted this on huffington but it first ran on his blog.

November 17, 2008
Economic Meltdown 101: How We Got Here and How We Might Dig Ourselves Out
Here are some basic primers on the economic crisis:
This is the simplest presentation, with captioned pictures, one after the other:

A clear explanation of how Fannie Mae wasn't the primary cause of the subprime crisis, but unregulated private sector loans subsequently packaged by Wall Street, has been done by McClatchy:

If you hear this presentation from This American Life, or skim the transcript, it can bring home the issues home pretty clearly and in a personal way:

Then here's a well-written lively overview in layman's terms:

A video presentation of subprime mortgages, by PBS:, with props and an effort to make it clear:

Paul Solman also uses simple cartoon images and other props to explain the screwy world of "credit default swaps" -- insurance policies on risky securities composed of risky subprime loans. Much of the world's leading economic institutions invested in assorted financial instruments that were built on the sandy of risk loans -- and no one factored in falling house prices as even a possibility.
Newsweek explains how credit default swaps became "The Monster That Ate Wall Street"

A mix of captioned pargraphs, with charts underneath, explaining how we got in this mess:

Here's a detailed look in The New York Times how each deregulating or short-sighted institution and key player failed the public and the economy. Everybody with real power got it wrong, or did the wrong thing; others who tried to do the right thing were ignored or marginalized as greed and ideology triumphed:

A more crisply written, anecdotal three-part series on the collapse of the subprime mortgage market and how it brought down Lehman brothers, etc was in The Washington Post in the "Bubble" series:

You can keep up on economic news from a progressive perspective with Brad DeLong, among others, here:
here. And you can hear his explanation of our current crisis , the underlying shakiness of the economy, and why major domestic spending initiatives shouldn't be put off , heard in the second half hour of the "D'Antoni and Levine" radio show here, starting at 44 minutes, from mid-October:

And NPR's Planet Money (useful if "objective") is also informative:, plus a daily podcast posted online:

Finally, this month:
Michael Lewis takes us inside the world of those few analysts who realized what a flimsy house of mortgage-related cards the greedheads in the financial institutions had built their wealth on, how it was going to come crashing down, and few people in power bothered to listen. It's so long it's worth buying the magazine for it, but it's only for those who want a long narrative.

That's how we got here, and let's hope our leadership can dig us out.

How to get out of this mess? Read Paul Krugman , Brad DeLong, and the Center for American Progress for some sound ideas.

-- Art Levine

Friday, November 14, 2008

This Week's Music Blog

I'm still unsure if this is going to go up on, so in case it doesn't:

While waiting to hear what's up with this site and my blog…..

Just got in from the Stephanie Schneiderman CD release at Doug Fir. She had Keith Schreiner with her, of course. James Beaton joined on keys. She said her dress made her look like a slutty cupcake. Like there's something wrong with that?

They did pretty much all of the tunes on Dangerous Fruit and added a Pete Krebs tune and another with Keith on didgeridoo. Aside from the usual rude Portland audience, everything was lovely.

Ran into Mercy Corps' Laura Guimond at the show. She is a music maven. I remember when she used to help Pepe (and the Bottle Blondes) Raphael by working the merchandise table at the Crystal. She was a full-time fan at the Fir.

I had Stephanie on my KMHD show last Saturday night. She told me Keith has a new solo Auditory Sculpture album pretty much ready to go. And just when were you going to tell me, Mr. Sculpture?

Plans are shaping up for Mayor Sam's inauguration celebrations. I'm sworn to secrecy at the moment, but it sounds like (a) great party(ies).

There's a thing called Pecha Kucha. They tell me it's "Japanese for ‘the sound of conversation and has spread to over 100 cities world-wide, including Portland. It is intended to gather creative individuals, designers, architects and artists to meet, network, and to share and discuss their work in an informal, public environment."

There is one of these things on Tuesday, November 18 at The Plant, 939 SE Alder. The deal? "Presenters are allowed 20 images, shown for 20 seconds each - giving 6 minutes & 40 seconds per presentation. This allows the audience to experience a diversee group of speakers in a relatively short space of time. After the presentations, the evening continues with drinks and music."

I've been told to write blogs through the end of the month. After that, I have not been notified. I'm very sorry to see Liz Hummer, LivePDX's editor, get laid off. She's a fine editor and I've enjoyed working with her here and at PDX Magazine. I hope to get to work with her again sometime.

These are not good times for creative folks…musicians, writers….pretty much all across arts and entertainment….editors, too.

Singer Barry Hampton is at it again. He writes:

Come join us for a special evening of sounds featuring Nefasha Ayer, Gabriel Teodros, and of course, The Triple Grip.
Nefasha Ayer, loosely translated from Amharic as "the wind that travels", explores a sublime mixture of influences: Ethiopian, South Indian, and American jazz to create a colorful imagery that makes one remember the simple power of music.
Featuring Vocalist Meklit Hadero, Guitarist & Composer Todd Brown, South Indian Saxist Prasant Radhakrishnan, Drummer Sameer Gupta, and Bassist/Flutist Eliyahu Sills.

Gabriel Teodros will explain in quite simple terms his love of verse with a transcendent set of his honest and truly haunting style of Hip Hop. He is also a featured artist on the Nefasha set.
Barry Hampton and the Triple Grip offer the original soul style that rings true, yet truly different, as they sound off with harmonies and a groove for the mind, body and soul.

Monday, November 17th @ the Someday Lounge. 125 NW 5th. $6 9pm

I don't usually run stuff like that verbatim, but I just did anyway.

I was talking with my friend and Blogtalkradio co-host
Art Levine
the other night. He was on his way to a post-election party in D.C. He had investigative reporter Murray Waas in the car with him. Waas has broken many earthshaking stories, mostly about the Bush administration's criminal activities. Anyway, I had never talked to him before. He wanted to talk about music. Turns out he claims that his dad wrote the Mister Softee tune that has been annoying the hell out of me and a major portion of the universe for decades. He said his dad had sold the rights for $400 way back.

So now do you have that song in your head?

I have achieved my goal.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sarah, How Can We Miss You If You Won't Go Away?

They're missing the story again.

Remember when Hillary was a lock to win the Democratic nomination? And so was Romney? And watch out for Fred Thompson?

Obama winning? Not a chance.

Conventional media wisdom has been wrong much much more than it has been right.

So when 14 million people are out of work, the American auto makers are about to close up shop and Secty. Paulson appears to have lost his mind… When President Barak Obama is putting together his administration at a time of great emergency…why is it all I see is Sarah Palin?

I mean, I like watching Republicans make fools of themselves as much as the next guy, something they have, thankfully, not ceased for a moment.

I suppose she thinks she's saying things that people like her want to hear, but she looks like a polar bear on an ice floe, floating out to sea, bellowing on her way out.

Note to TV and radio news directors and producers:

We nevah liked her. When Peggy Noonan says, "It's over," upon setting her eyes on Palin... When Palin's negatives went so far South, you'd think they were in Brazil looking for Summer… Maybe you should consider covering something else. A demolition derby. A lost dog….

Or an Obama administration that is about to sweep away as much of the Bush administration as it can, as fast as it can.