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Friday Morning at The Confluence

North Dakota sunflower field (posted just because I like it)

North Dakota sunflower field (posted just because I like it)

Rather than posting lots of links this morning, I decided to highlight just a few stories that interested me.

New Jersey Governor’s race

First up, a story that will warm the cockles of Riverdaughter’s heart: Jon Corzine’s wealth has deteriorated so much that he has to beg for campaign donations. Karma’s a b&tch, ain’t it?

Mr. Corzine, 62, famously spent $60 million of his own money on a record-shattering Senate race in 2000, then $43 million more laying siege to Trenton four years ago.

But now, after a costly divorce and a steep decline in his net worth, Mr. Corzine, the onetime chief executive of Goldman Sachs, is in the unfamiliar position of seeking donations to help foot the bill for his campaign.

Awww…poor guy. Thanks probably to Corzine’s sellout of Hillary Clinton voters (Clinton won the New Jersey primary by 10 points) at the Democratic Convention last August, President Barack Obama showed up yesterday at a $5,000 to $10,000 a plate luncheon expected to raise around $1 million. But that’s just a downpayment on the $15 million Corzine hopes to raise from donations so he doesn’t have to spend more than $25 million of his own money.

Bernard L. Schwartz, the retired chairman of Loral Space & Communications, said a somewhat downcast Mr. Corzine visited him in Manhattan recently to ask for money. The governor offered a clear-eyed assessment of his chances against Christopher J. Christie, a former federal prosecutor and the Republican nominee, telling Mr. Schwartz the race would be costly and he could not guarantee a victory as a return on Mr. Schwartz’s investment.

“He said it was going to be a tough race,” said Mr. Schwartz, a major Democratic donor. “He was not happy about it.”

Mr. Schwartz wrote a $25,000 check.

Obama also attended a rally with Corzine, who is trailing in the polls behind Chris Christie, his Republican opponent. Ha. ha. ha.

Goldman-Sachs and the Bilking of the American Taxpayer

Matt Taibbi has a new post up about Corzine’s former employer Goldman-Sachs and their massive second quarter profits–even more massive than predicted.

So what’s wrong with Goldman posting $3.44 billion in second-quarter profits, what’s wrong with the company so far earmarking $11.4 billion in compensation for its employees? What’s wrong is that this is not free-market earnings but an almost pure state subsidy.

Last year, when Hank Paulson told us all that the planet would explode if we didn’t fork over a gazillion dollars to Wall Street immediately, the entire rationale not only for TARP but for the whole galaxy of lesser-known state crutches and safety nets quietly ushered in later on was that Wall Street, once rescued, would pump money back into the economy, create jobs, and initiate a widespread recovery. This, we were told, was the reason we needed to pilfer massive amounts of middle-class tax revenue and hand it over to the same guys who had just blown up the financial world. We’d save their asses, they’d save ours. That was the deal.

Instead the big investment banks–Goldman-Sachs most of all–are laughing their asses off at us taxpayers who were suckered into handing over the contents of the U.S. Treasury to a bunch of bankster greedheads. Instead of returning any of the money to taxpayers, the banksters are using their profits to pay out more million dollar bonuses to themselves.

Taibbi lists five types of government funding that have enabled Goldman to rake in the huge profits they just reported, including $10 billion in TARP funds and $13 billion more from the AIG bailout. Goldman has now paid back the $10 billion, which was basically an interest-free loan from you and me; but the government still holds warrants to buy G-S stock at low prices in order to make some money back for us taxpayers. Guess what? Goldman is trying to weasel out of that deal now; and they’ll probably succeed, since they are pretty much in control of our government.


Taken altogether, what all of this means is that Goldman’s profit announcement is a giant “fuck you” to the rest of the country. It is a statement of supreme privilege, an announcement that it feels no shame in taking subsidies and funneling them directly into their pockets, and moreover feels no fear of any public response. It knows that it’s untouchable and it’s not going to change its behavior for anyone. And it doesn’t matter who knows it.

Here is an interview with Taibbi and Mike Lux on the Goldman-Sachs “coup” by Laura Sanders.

How the Corporate Media Cannibalized Michael Jackson

I’m going to be honest. I never enjoyed Michael Jackson’s music or had any interest in him as a person other than realizing that he probably had a rather interesting psychological disorder: Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). People who suffer from BDD are obsessed with perceived flaws in their appearance and go to extremes to correct these imagined or exaggerated defects, often having multiple cosmetic surgeries. Jackson may very well have had several other types of psychological disorders. When Jackson died, it really had little effect on me and I was surprised to see how many Conflucians were very upset by his death. Nevertheless, Chris Hedges, a very fine writer, has a long piece at Alternet about Jackson that gave me a lot to think about. I highly recommend it. Here are just a few of excerpts:

The commercial exploitation of Michael Jackson’s death was orchestrated by the corporate forces that rendered Jackson insane. Jackson, robbed of his childhood and surrounded by vultures that preyed on his fears and weaknesses, was so consumed by self-loathing he carved his African-American face into an ever-changing Caucasian death mask and hid his apparent pedophilia behind a Peter Pan illusion of eternal childhood. He could not disentangle his public and his private self. He became a commodity, a product, one to be sold, used and manipulated. He was infected by the moral nihilism and personal disintegration that are at the core of our corporate culture.


The stories we like best are “real life” stories—early fame, wild success and then a long, bizarre and macabre emotional train wreck. O.J Simpson offered a tamer version of the same plot. So does Britney Spears. Jackson, by the end, was heavily in debt and had weathered a $22 million out-of-court settlement payment to Jordy Chandler, as well as seven counts of child sexual abuse and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent in order to commit a felony. We fed on his physical and psychological disintegration, especially since many Americans are struggling with their own descent into overwhelming debt, loss of status and personal disintegration.


The moral nihilism of our culture licenses a dark voyeurism into other people’s humiliation, pain, weakness and betrayal. Education, building community, honesty, transparency and sharing are qualities that will see you, in a gross perversion of democracy and morality, ridiculed and voted off any reality show….Life, these shows teach, is a brutal world of unadulterated competition and constant quest for notoriety and attention. And life is about the personal humiliation of those who oppose us. Those who win are the best. Those who lose deserve to be erased. Those who fail, those who are ugly or poor, are belittled and mocked. Human beings are used, betrayed and discarded in a commodity culture, which is pretty much the story of Jackson’s life….Compassion, competence, intelligence and solidarity are useless assets when human beings are commodities. Those who do not achieve celebrity status, who do not win the prize money or make millions in Wall Street firms, deserve their fate.

It’s an angry article. Hedges used Michael Jackson’s life and death to demonstrate the cruel emptiness of our media culture. But he could have found many other celebrity examples. We build these people up, and then we tear them down. And we tear ourselves and each other down at the same time.

Health Care “Reform”

Will we actually get reform? Frankly I doubt it, but you never know. A miracle could happen. Here are few health care stories I came across late last night.

Senator Max Baucus is complaining because Obama is opposed to taxing health care benefits.

Maybe Montanans will return Baucus to the Senate if he makes them pay taxes on their employee benefits. I don’t think it would go over that well here in Massachusetts. What about in your state? Could it be that public rejection of Baucus’s idea is the reason Obama changed his mind about using a benefits tax to pay for a windfall for insurance companies?

Someone leaked the news that more than 50 House Democrats have banded together to oppose a health care plan they see as unsatisfactory.

Progressive Democrats are taking a hard stand on health care reform, with a majority committing to oppose any health care reform package that doesn’t include a robust public option. On Wednesday, they got an inadvertent assist by an anonymous leak of their “whip list.”

A whip list, which is generally tightly guarded, is used by congressional leaders to keep track of the private pledges made by members before a vote. The list is kept private to encourage frank answers from members so that leadership can gather accurate intelligence.

Ezra Klein claims Senator Ron Wyden has an idea that will “save health care reform.” Then he goes into a long, complicated explanation of something that sounds to me like a very bad idea. What is heck is wrong with just expanding Medicare to cover everyone? Why not single payer?

Please feel free to use the comments to post any stories that have piqued your interest.

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81 Responses

  1. California’s annual budget crisis may be over, but nobody knows the details yet.


    (You may have noticed that I haven’t had much to say about this issue – that’s because this drama happens every year)

    • I thought it was worse than usual this year. It’s not? Mass. is in lots worse shape since the meltdown.

      • It’s probably worse because of the economy, but every year they’re shrieking “We’re all gonna die!” up in Sacto.

        • Oh, I see. Well I hope it does work out OK.

          • Only if the “big one” hits and LA falls off into the ocean.

          • Hey! I live *west* of LA! You just come down here and say that, you klown!

          • Yea, you grab on leg and I’ll pull on the other! He doesn’t know how bad Californians have it under Da Guvirner Ahnold…lord o mighty he has left the State at the edge of the poor house, about to go over a cliff and the poor and the working folks are not going to have a safety net at all.

            Any hoo, I hope myiq2xu is joking and not serious when he says it isn’t bad?!?

          • Is west of LA Sodom or Gomorrah?

          • We would grab your legs to get your attention no to do anything ‘sexy’ gees weez…aren’t you like 10 feet tall and scary KLOWN? Any hoo…I see ya can’t take a joke, for being a big CLOWN. 😦

  2. Yesterday, JP Morgan Chase reported quarterly profits were up $2.7 billion, a $700 million increase from the same period last year.

    I’m sure it had nothing to do with them doubling and tripling credit card rates on existing balances. Scumbags.

  3. Obama had plastic surgery. It is very obvious when you look at photos of him when he was in college and then there is a photo when he was working at that Chicago law firm, just out of law school. The photos show a wide nose — in Hawaii he’d pass as someone of Portuguese heritage. Suddenly his nose becomes narrow — he did NOT lose baby fat on his nose — he had a nose job. Plastic surgeons have commented on his plastic surgery. Mrs. 0zero has also had plastic surgery.

    What does this mean? I expect that whoever or whatever has been preparing him probably paid for the plastic surgery — and the press isn’t talking about how 0zero while shoving his “heritage” down everyone’s throats at the same time is making his features more white — rather than going for the surgery that would make him more look more like his father’s side of the family.

    • You think so? That never occurred to me.

    • I believe anything and everything anymore. This whole election was rigged and the question is open as to how far back the rigging goes.

      • I’d say Obama was being groomed since at least Columbia…. about where we aren’t allowed to see his records . Perhaps longer….We had to know every time Hill went to the bathroom during Bill’s two terms, but Obama school records are deep sixed and ( crickets)

      • oh the ridding of this particular election? Certainly from the 2004 Dem convention when Kerry had Obama, a not yet elected Senate candidate , give the key note speech about himself ( of course) . About that time Soros started buying up the likes of Movingon, etc….the caucus stuff , lord knows when that was put into place. But It was an upper crust full court press years in the making , plus a perfectly timed wall st melt down, add 8 awful years of Bush 2 and yet Obama still just was able to be dragged across the line.

    • This would give another reason for the lack of medical records. I am more curious as to IF he had a nose job, when did it happen and who paid for it…..
      I have often wondered about how Mr. Mom on Foodstamps was the globetrotter so early on.

      • Apparently, he fell on/off stage and broke his nose, and that was why he had the first one. After that…who knows. He said his perfectionism drove him to constantly be changing it.

        • One more thing: I saw Jermaine interviewed from a few years ago, and when asked about Michael’s surgery, he said, “c’mon, who doesn’t do it?” I was struck by the insular world in which they live, that makes radical cosmetic surgery “normal.” In celebrity LA, indeed, everyone does do it–but they have no clue how the rest of us live and go an entire lifetime without changing our faces etc. Just like the Beltway insiders or the Wall St. vultures, it’s all relative, because “everyone else is doing it.” No sense of perspective or grounding.

        • Wires getting crossed here, fif – indigo is talking about Obama rather than MJ. Never thought about the possibility of The Great Barry having had a nose job, but as he’s all ego all the time, this wouldn’t be surprising.

          Pretty trivial, but I ran across a h.s. graduation photo of MO some months back. The girl in that photo bears very little resemblance to the MO of today. The probability of a nose job – and other cosmetic work – is pretty high here.

  4. Thanks for the link about Michael Jackson, bb. I will certainly go read it.

    When it comes to MJ, I guess I was one of the mainstreamers, who knew and liked his music without being a fan. Who knew about and were chocked and saddened by his ever changing face – and why have I never heard any condemnation of the doctors who did this to his face? Do they even still have a license? Shouldn’t they be prosecuted? – who waited up late at night (European time) with millions of people all over the world to see the launch of his “It’s Black, it’s White” video, and were dumbfounded by it!

    I was always mesmerized by his dancing (and cursed the way videos are cut into 2-3 sec. segments!), his moves, the speed with which he moved, his flexibility, his innovations, and his utter musicality. He was so totally in synch with the music! Mesmerizing!

    To this day I don’t believe he was a pedophile. As I heard someone say “As a child he was uncommonly grown-up. Later as a grown up he was like a child” – and I think that sums it up pretty well. Something like Tom Hanks in “Big” if anyone remembers: “You mean you’re gonna sleep over”!

    I always felt kind of sad for him and even more so now knowing ever more about his sad, sad life, but after seeing more concerts and videos with him after his death than I ever did before, I’ve come to appreciate him tremendously. On a stage he was second to none! And the audience not only screamed and swooned – they truly seemed to love him and his performance. There is so much love and so much joy among his audiences!

    So, you know like a musical tune gets stuck in your head, like that Michael’s music, and even more so his moves, now gets stuck in mine. And I really don’t mind, lol! I have sort of rediscovered the truly genial Michael Jackson.

    Sorry for the lenght, bb. Didn’t mean to spam. :blushing:

    • I don’t know why Jackson would have paid millions of dollars to two different child accusers if there wasn’t something there.

      He may have been asexual, but nevertheless his behavior with children was damaging to them. Jackson was terribly abused by his father and really was never allowed to have a childhood of his own.

      Whatever happened, it was a result of his being warped from early childhood by his own family. It’s a familiar story–the cycle of abuse.

      • He didn’t pay millions of dollars to two different child accusers. As SOD stated, there was one payoff, forced by insurance, of one somewhat dubious claim and he was resoundingly acquitted of one, frankly, absurd claim. His trial was a farce.

    • Boomer — you may want to check out Ian Halperin’s new book that I posted about yesterday. I heard him in an interview and he said the insurance company forced Jackson to settle — I think Halperin (who has been following and journaling Michael’s life for the last 5 years) said that Michael opposed settling and maintained his innocence. He said it was devastating for Michael that they made him settle.

      Plus there is apparently evidence in Halperin’s book that the earlier accuser’s description of Michael’s “appendage” as circumcised was false. His book was very exculpatory and they were planning on releasing it in conjunction with his “comeback” tour.

      Shockingly, Halperin said that Jackson also had anorexia and needles broken off and under his skin from drug injection. He (Halperin) claims that the anorexia is what killed him. I think I’m going to get the book to read on the plane during my vacay.

      Funny, on the day he died I mentioned to my sister-in-law that he seemed to fall apart after the hair fire in the Pepsi commercial and lo and behold, that was the genesis of his drug addictions.

      Some very interesting stuff coming out.

      • I don’t think I could work up the energy to read a whole book about Michael Jackson. He just doesn’t interest me that much. The point I was trying to make is that even if Jackson did not engage in overt sexual behavior with the children he admits he slept with, the effect on the children would have been damaging. I don’t have any way of knowing what really happened, and neither does anyone else who wasn’t there.

        Jackson was a very messed up individual. It was obvious he had anorexia and I’m guessing he had other types of obsessive-compulsive issues in addition to Body Dysmorphic Disorder. He had a lot of talent and that led to him being exploited by his own family and lots of other people as well as the media. I was repulsed by Jackson’s father acting like a huckster even at his son’s funeral. The entire spectacle was repulsive to me.

        • At minimum, it might have set children up for having inappropriate relationships with other adults that might lead to sex. If it’s normal to have “harmless” sleepovers with Michael Jackson, why isn’t it normal to have them with “Uncle Pervy” until Uncle Pervy steps over the line.

          Yes, and Michael Jackson didn’t prefer being around children. He preferred being around young boys. And his house was a museum of little boy statues, etc. That’s a little warped. I think it’s at least the beginning of pedophilia. If he hadn’t been sued, he may have acted on it (assuming he hadn’t already).

          • If I’d been a parent of a child who spent time at Neverland, I’d have been creeped out by the little boy statues, and wouldn’t let my child go there.

          • Well, I think he was a pedophile, but I can’t prove anything. It’s just based on my knowledge of psychology in general and pedophilia in particular. Young boys sleep with adult men–especially men who aren’t family members is totally inappriate and any parent who allowed that is irresponsible, to put it mildly.

            Other commenters seem to have knowledge that he wasn’t. I don’t see how anyone who wasn’t there could know either way what happened.

  5. Interesting.
    I remember how the media (NYT) balked at Corzine buying his senate seat the same day it hailed Bloomberg for his victory (he had spent more, for only becoming Mayor, with a lesser margin). I used to admire Corzine for his voting record (IWR mostly). But like you, lost it for him, roll call time.
    And funny how soon the tricks with the bankers became obvious!
    Good article on Jackson, and I am with you all the way on this.
    Just like those reality shows where the viewers enjoy when someone is kicked off the island or otherwise humiliated, the celebrity media culture feeds the lowest instincts of the crowds – the pitchforks and torches for all the wrong reasons. Good distraction too.

  6. I’m in moderation. Please release me. Thanks:)

  7. Great blog post at Down With Tyranny on the rise and fall of WBCN in Boston. It was one of the first FM radio stations in the country to start playing free-form rock music (in 1968). Those were amazing days in radio–now history because of failure of government regulation and corporate greed.


    The reason for the post is a video of former ‘BCN news director Danny Schechter talking about our corrupt media culture. Really worth a listen.

  8. Holy Guacamole! Jimmy Carter:

    I have been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

    • Wow.

    • sure, get all the surrogates without fear of election to try to paint the picture that Democrats are the good guys. I will never trust Jimmy Carter again. Within the space of a year he went from saying BO lacked experience to be president to saying he was the best thing since sliced bread.

      It’s all theater and I’m not interested in tickets.

      Words…just words. These jokers have failed to show any “deeds” to match their “words.”

    • I don’t understand the timing of this severing of ties for women’s equality, but whatever.

    • Jimmy really pissed me off last year, but cheers for this! So, why wasn’t he speaking up about the sexism last year then, instead of piling on?

    • He would have done this 10 years ago if it were really important to him!

      • Exactly–it reminds me a little bit of Rev. Wright. Sat in the church for 60 years and didn’t know it was fundamentally sexist? We’re you snoozin’ in the pew Jimmy?

    • So I wonder what took so long.

    • Eff him. I could give a damn about his religion, and the proof is in the pudding. His grandson’s wishes were more important than opposing a stolen election.

    • This is very old news; this link is to an article, dated November 3, 2000, telling the exact same story.


  9. This looks interesting:
    (h/t Egalia)

  10. Here is an article from the Washington Monthly on healthcare I.T., Code Red How software companies could screw up Obama’s health care reform by Phillip Longman, arguing for the use of open source software vs proprietary software in computerizing hospitals, citing the examples of two hospitals having two different experiences.

    “Done right, digitized health care could help save the nation from insolvency while improving and extending millions of lives at the same time. Done wrong, it could reconfirm Americans’ deepest suspicions of government and set back the cause of health care reform for yet another generation.”


    • As someone who works for a HUGE software company, let me say Open Source is the way and the path for large projects like this. Proprietary software just locks you into their bugs so long that they become features.

      • Proprietary software just locks you into their bugs so long that they become features.


        So true. So very very expensively true.

  11. i got a qustion for RD or any other jersy pumas i know your gov sold you out & you got be right to be pissed i know i would be. what dose your gut say is going to happen in the GOV rece in your state .?

    • Corzine is down by almost 12 points at this point. Doesn’t look good for him.

      • I live in NJ – I can’t vote for Corzine – I won’t vote for Christie – I’ve learning as much as I can about Daggett (independent)

  12. Quelle surprise..

    Big Pharma is Getting Most of What it Wants in the Healthcare overhaul


  13. Great job with the news BB.

    The Body Dysmorphic Disorder seem fascinating, especially in relation to Michael Jackson.

    I’m always fascinating to find out what make people do certain things, how are those brains wired compared to “normal” brains.

    • I have a friend that struggled with that and it’s hard to watch some one with it hate themselves and just think lotions and plastic surgery will do the trick. Thankfully, she got help and is much better now, but I still think she’s haunted. Also, she was a model and acted in soap operas while young. She’s always been gorgeous. She just never seemed to see that. She only saw the faults.

      • It’s a variant of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. It’s an anxiety disorder. Those run in families, so there is a significant genetic component as to who gets them. It could also be related to brain chemistry (neurotransmitters) or other brain abnormalities. These disorders are very hard to recover from. A person has to be highly motivated and even after the symptoms are resolved they can always come back–so the person has to do maintenance work every day.

    • Thanks, MABlue. I don’t know how you did it every day for so long. I’m exhausted after the past few days of putting up news links and live blog posts first think in the morning!

  14. Did Goldman Sachs receive taxpayer money “from” Obama – or was it only from Bush last Fall?

  15. >>>>Instead of returning any of the money to taxpayers, the banksters are using their profits to pay out more million dollar bonuses to themselves.

    I thought Goldman Sachs repaid the $10B, maybe last month? But it all still smells fishy!

    • As I said in the post, G-S did repay the $10B, but wouldn’t you like to get a loan like that for no interest? Can you imagine what they would have paid if it were a commercial loan? Then there is the $13 billion they got from taxpayers through the AIG bailout. That isn’t going to be returned.

      G-S and other TARP recipients were supposed to further repay taxpayers by letting the government buy stock at low prices to be sold when it appreciates. Now G-S is weaseling out of that. If you read my post or the Taibbi article maybe you’ll understand how bad the ripoff of the taxpayers is.

  16. This is OT but some anonymous donor is trying to make us feel better about the recession, just look up (to the billboard)


    Dontcha feel better already?

  17. The Joy of Sachs
    By Paul Krugman

    Third, it shows that by rescuing the financial system without reforming it, Washington has done nothing to protect us from a new crisis, and, in fact, has made another crisis more likely.

    The huge bonuses Goldman will soon hand out show that financial-industry highfliers are still operating under a system of heads they win, tails other people lose. If you’re a banker, and you generate big short-term profits, you get lavishly rewarded — and you don’t have to give the money back if and when those profits turn out to have been a mirage. You have every reason, then, to steer investors into taking risks they don’t understand.


    • .… it shows that by rescuing the financial system without reforming it, Washington has done nothing to protect us from a new crisis, and, in fact, has made another crisis more likely…..

      lol! You bet! If the problems are never addressed, the banks will need constant “fixing” ie bailouts….why would they willingly derail the gravy train by actually reforming themselves?

  18. bb: I was surprised to see how many Conflucians were very upset by his death.

    I can only speak for myself, but I think the response is really tied to our own childhoods and a sense of mortality. Those emotional memories of his music, like the Beatles or whomever people had as the soundtrack of their early/teen years, is embedded in our sense of being. When the “end” of that music is final, it’s a deeply personal experience–the death of part of our lives, which of course, reminds us unconsciously of the Big Death. You know all this, you Dr. you…:)

    • Totally agree, I surprised myself at how much it saddened me.

    • I think you’re right. I didn’t grow up with Jackson’s music. When the Jackson Five started out it was 1968. I stopped listening to top 40 music after rock moved to FM. In 1968, I was listening mostly to blues, folk, or psychelelic music like Jimi Hendrix, Doors, Janis Joplin, Byrds, Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, etc. I still liked motown, but the Jackson Five weren’t equal to groups like the Temptations or Smokey Robinson, in my mind.

      • Me too-I never really listened to the Jackson Five or MJ. So much fantastic music out there.
        It was probably more for people who were under 10, during the 60s/70s.

        • By that I mean watching tv, listening to the car radio with their families.

          • Oh, I had the 45’s, and they were my first few albums. My brother was down the hall listening to Jimi, and each new Beatles album as it was released. I grew to love all that music too, but I was boppin’ to ABC & I Want You Back in my bedroom, and loved the funky clothing and coordinated dance moves. Dancing Machine with those robotic moves was groovy, man.

  19. I just read the excerpts from that MJ article, and the guy is a little full of himself. It’s one of those “look how smart I am! pieces. Yes, the media is parasitic, and it appeals to our basest instincts. In our stressed out lives, people turn to escapism, but I don’t think we are all empty, worthless, products falling into the pit of an anonymous hell or rotting corpse celebrities. Life is a bit more complex than that, and there are millions of good people living quality lives, contributing to the world.

    • I don’t think Hedges is saying that really. I got the feeling he wrote that article from a very angry place. He is a terrific writer. He used to be a foreign correspondent, but he almost became a minister. He has written several books. He wrote a really good book about the religious right called American Facism.

      I see what you mean about the article being a little over the top, but I sometimes get that same feeling–that if you’re honest, care about your family, work hard, a lot of Americans see you as a sucker or a loser. I guess I tend to get that feeling from television more than anything, so I hardly ever watch TV anymore.

      • Lately Chris Hedges has been one of the few people on the left who seems to really see how bad Obama is. Another one is Jeremy Scahill.

  20. OMG! The BLOB is here and it’s coming to get us. Spotted in Alaska heading our way, and they don’t know what it is yet.


  21. In other fun news, Wells Fargo Bank is suing itself. Apparently it’s trying to foreclose on a condo, which it owns and is suing to do it. And it has hired lawyers to defend itself from, well, itself. Isn’t this one of the four horsemen.


  22. bb: Yours is the first commentary I’ve read on MJackson I’ve found interesting. (Well, I guess that’s a bit unfair, because I’ve never gotten further than the first five words or so of any others.) I’ve felt much like you about his life, his career, and his death, minus the interest in his weirdness since I’m not a psychologist.

    I found your comments and Hedges about the need for “train wreck” narratives illuminating. It’s true. Practically everything except cartoons for toddlers have to be “dark” and “edgy” or they’re pap. The thing is, stories aren’t just stories. They’re how people figure out which way is up in a confusing universe.

    So that got me to thinking that stories of destruction have a more sinister effect than just making TV unwatchable (which it is). The worst thing isn’t even that they provide an excuse for not doing anything because, hey, look, I’m not as screwed up as MJ. The worst is that there’s no cultural road map for ways to get up and out of the morass.

    • Well, I have to admit I’m fascinated by the “train wreck” stories. My earlier life was kind of a train wreck, but I got better. I like it when the story ends up with the person recovering and becoming a better person. The part of the article that really resonated with the is the crassness, cruelty, and meanness of our popular culture.

      I was never really interested in Jackson’s wierdness, but in a class I was teaching last summer the students did a presentation on him. That’s when I learned a little bit about his problems.

  23. That article on the healthcare whip was very encouraging!! Go Real Democrats!!

    But THIS was my favorite part:

    Earlier Wednesday, Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), a health care leader in the Senate, said he’d rather have a good bill than a bipartisan one.

    HERESY!!! Does The One know about this??!??!!

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