The World According to JazzBumpa

Proud Amateur
- Writer
- Composer
- Musician
- Philosopher
- Skeptic
- Speculator
- Smart Ass

What I lack in youth, I make up for with immaturity

Feb 19

Lost in the Swamp - or - Who is a Conservative?

American history for well over a hundred years has been following a great arc of expanionistic imperialism - irrespective of who is in Congress or the White House.  The main drivers for imperialism are ego and the desire to take other people’s stuff: wealth, goods, trade routes, natural resources. The beneficiaries of American Imperialism have been corporations - formerly American, now International.  Repugnicants and Damorats are two branches of the same Corporatocracy.  The Repugnicants are worse, and the only thing the Damorats have going for them is that they are not Repugnicants.

Back in 1963 my father told me that every once in a while, if a crumb falls off the plate, the Dems might let you keep it.  The Reps won’t even do that.  At the time, I had no idea what he was talking about; but it stayed with me, and, by God, he was right.   I loath the Damorats, but dammit, they’re all we have.

People who think that they are conservative think that I’m a Liberal, but I’m not sure that’s true.  I believe the Repugnicants have so corrupted political discourse with their agenda of the unitary President, American Imperialism and hegemony, and their war on the middle class; along with their use of hot-button, but ultimately politically meaningless non-issues like gay marriage, abortion, and “family values” (whatever that is supposed to mean) that very few people have noticed that they no longer represent any valid platform of political principles that make sense in a republic or democracy.

The last real conservative in American politics was Barry Goldwater, and he evicted Nixon from the White House.  By current standards, he would be a flaming Liberal.  The Reps lost their soul under Nixon, and their mind under the vacuous Ronald (trickle down economics, government is the problem) Reagan.  This set the stage for the souless, mindless George W. Bush.  Note the thread of political actors going back to Nixon.  Karl Rove learned all his dirty tricks at Lee Atwater’s knee.  Cheney and Rumsfeld go back through Reagan to Nixon.

In this political swamp, the old labels of “liberal" and "conservative" don’t mean much, and, in fact, can be horribly mis-leading, relative to political parties.  Under cover of darkness, the Repugnicants have sailed off any political map that is recognizable to thinking Americans, into the region of authoritarian despotism, with a rich-take-all, international-corporatist mentality that has at its end-game either European medieval feudalism or South American banana-republic-style dictatorship.

Since their allegiance is to multi-national corporations, not the citizens of the U.S. (remember, we the people?) they are traitors.  Clearly, they don’t believe in democracy (which requires a strong middle class) separation of church and state, the bill of rights, or any of the Constitutionally guaranteed liberties. They are bad at government, because they do not believe in governance.  If you don’t believe me, just ask Grover Norquist.

I believe in real family values (including education, health care, a living wage and old age security) progressive taxation, liberty, justice, and the U.S. Constitution — You know, the same as Thomas Jefferson.  I think I am the real conservative, and the Repugnicants and their fellow travelers are mainly (and often unwittingly) proto-fascists.

There are many good, honest ordinary people in this country who are legitimate conservatives.  But, alas, there are among them many who are thoughtless dupes, poor saps who follow anyone who claims to be a “conservative" (frex: Rush Limbaugh) right into perdition.

Don’t be that guy.


Comments (View)
Feb 18
Depression Era GDP Growth in Perspective
The track record for GDP growth in the first half of the 20th Century was less than stellar.  This graph shows Yr over Yr GDP growth per presidential administration from 1900 through 1960.  Republican and Democratic administrations are indicated by red and blue line segments, respectively.  Averages per presidential term are shown in Heavy horizontal lines covering the respective terms in office.  The continuous horizontal line represents the average of GDP growth for the period 1800 through 2007 of 3.77%.  The snaky yellow line is a 21 year moving average.
Note that the only periods of GDP growth that were significantly above the long average occurred during the terms of FDR and Truman.  FDR term averages are broken into two segments, 1933 - 1940 and 1941 - 1948, though the averages of the two segments are nearly identical.  Despite a nasty post-war recession, Truman’s elected term achieved close to the FDR average.
Note, in particular:
1) The roaring 20’s.  From a high in 1923, DGP growth slid throughout the decade, then plummeted in 1930.
2) The recession of 1938, brought on by FDR’s scaling back on spending programs, and attempting to balance the budget.  This brought him a chiding letter from John Maynard Keynes.

Depression Era GDP Growth in Perspective

The track record for GDP growth in the first half of the 20th Century was less than stellar.  This graph shows Yr over Yr GDP growth per presidential administration from 1900 through 1960.  Republican and Democratic administrations are indicated by red and blue line segments, respectively.  Averages per presidential term are shown in Heavy horizontal lines covering the respective terms in office.  The continuous horizontal line represents the average of GDP growth for the period 1800 through 2007 of 3.77%.  The snaky yellow line is a 21 year moving average.

Note that the only periods of GDP growth that were significantly above the long average occurred during the terms of FDR and Truman.  FDR term averages are broken into two segments, 1933 - 1940 and 1941 - 1948, though the averages of the two segments are nearly identical.  Despite a nasty post-war recession, Truman’s elected term achieved close to the FDR average.

Note, in particular:

1) The roaring 20’s.  From a high in 1923, DGP growth slid throughout the decade, then plummeted in 1930.

2) The recession of 1938, brought on by FDR’s scaling back on spending programs, and attempting to balance the budget.  This brought him a chiding letter from John Maynard Keynes.


Comments (View)
Ln of GDP and Best fit trend line through 1900 - 2000 data
With all the New Deal denialism going on, it’s worth taking a closer look at GDP during the depression years, as visited here.
http://jazzbumpa.tumblr.com/post/70116180/real-gdp-for-the-u-s-1920-to-1960-in-constant
A recession ends when GDP starts to increase.  By that measure, the Depression ended in 1934.  Still, there was a long way to go in returning the country to something that had a vague resemblance to prosperity.  GDP drew equal to the 1929 high in 1936.  Was that the end of the Depression?
The most conservative criterion I can think of is to end the Depression at the point when GDP returned to the trend line of the entire 20th Century.  On that basis, the Depression ended in 1941 — just in time for WWII.
This methodology comes from economist David Beckworth.  The line of reasoning is my own, more or less.
http://macromarketmusings.blogspot.com/2009/01/great-depression-debate-in-one-picture.html

Ln of GDP and Best fit trend line through 1900 - 2000 data

With all the New Deal denialism going on, it’s worth taking a closer look at GDP during the depression years, as visited here.

http://jazzbumpa.tumblr.com/post/70116180/real-gdp-for-the-u-s-1920-to-1960-in-constant

A recession ends when GDP starts to increase.  By that measure, the Depression ended in 1934.  Still, there was a long way to go in returning the country to something that had a vague resemblance to prosperity.  GDP drew equal to the 1929 high in 1936.  Was that the end of the Depression?

The most conservative criterion I can think of is to end the Depression at the point when GDP returned to the trend line of the entire 20th Century.  On that basis, the Depression ended in 1941 — just in time for WWII.

This methodology comes from economist David Beckworth.  The line of reasoning is my own, more or less.

http://macromarketmusings.blogspot.com/2009/01/great-depression-debate-in-one-picture.html


Comments (View)
Jan 26

Did you Ever Think Rush Was Patriotic?

Here is the one and only Rush Limbaugh hoping that President Obama fails.

Notable Quote (emphasis added):

"Why would I want that to succeed? I don’t believe in that. I know that’s not how this country is going to be great in the future, it’s not what made this country great.

So I shamelessly say, no, I want him to fail, if his agenda is a far- left collectivism, some people say socialism, as a conservative heartfelt, deeply, why would I want socialism to succeed?”

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,481484,00.html

Uh, because the success of the country ought to be more important than your putrid ideology, you moron!


Comments (View)

Worst Pop Singer Ever?

Ron Rosenbaum uses this long Slate article to excoriate Billy Joel:

http://www.slate.com/id/2209526/pagenum/all/

My first thought in reading Mr. Rosenbaum’s screed was - All right, you don’t like Billy.  We get it.  Then, geeze, man, it’s pop music.  Get over it.  Then, what the hell is this guy’s problem?  I mean, Billy is mostly harmless. And when he isn’t harmless, as in “Allentown” or “Down Easter Alexa,” he is speaking up for the downtrodden common man, and not with the sneering condescension that Mr. Rosenbaum imposes on him.  And throughout the article, Mr. Rosenbaum expresses his opinions - to which he has every right - as if they were facts - to which he has no right at all.

When you read an attack piece like this, it often tells you more about the writer than the subject - which in this case it illuminates not in the least.  To masochistically wallow in an entire boxed set of music you can’t stand, just to invigorate your hate-fest reveals some deep-seated personality problem.  And to fear the whithering opinion of the record store clerk: that borders on psychosis.   And what about judgement?  To take the time, and the mental and emotional effort to eviscerate Billy Joel suggests that Mr. Rosenbaum has no awareness of the real problems in the real world.  But what is really wrong-headed is that Rosenbaum uses his disliking for the music to attack Billy Joel as a person.  Basely done, Mr. Rosenbaum.

And why the comparison to Bruce Springsteen?  Is that of any relevance?  But, since it’s there, I’ll retort.  Billy is a composer.  He writes melodies that are often finely crafted, and always singable.  He was able to use a Beethoven piano sonata for the bridge of one of his tunes, without sounding ridiculous or pretentious.  Springsteen’s songs are meant to be intoned, rather than sung, because, underneath the grit and the gravel, the man has no voice.  Consider “Born in the USA”  That song has exactly six notes.  Six.  Notes.  Six notes, repeated and repeated and  … . .

Equally irrelevant is the off-hand reference to Barry Manilow.  But, there it is, so I’ll admit it — I hate Barry Manilow.  Not the man, who I understand to be quite a splendid fellow, but his body of work.  But I have to give him this: his music has a melodic, harmonic, and textural richness that is rare in pop music.  My not liking it is mere personal preference, not, I trust, a deep flaw in either Mr. Manilow or me.

As a final point, how can a reader ever take seriously a writer who considers anyone from Lon Guyland to be the worst pop singer, in a universe that contains Bobby Vinton?


Comments (View)
Jan 25

Praise Song for the Day

I have mixed feelings about Elizabeth Alexander’s Inauguration Poem, PRAISE SONG FOR THE DAY.  It is better read than heard. That might not be a defect, but it certainly is not a strength.

Some examples:

Repairing the things in need of repair” scans like a half-line from a limerick. In a serious poem, it’s awful.

There are some good lines (notably excluding “about to speak or speaking”) but there are also these:

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

The first tercet is a big, vague, poorly organized “so what?” The second is as well, and so random it verges on incoherence. It isn’t even especially good prose. Nor does it scan. “Begin.” just thuds.

I’m not much of a poet,

http://jazzbumpa.tumblr.com/post/71954472/inaugural-poem

but I would be embarrassed by those verses.

The words of the next tercet seem good, both for reading and for hearing.  It has vivid imagery and is evocative of our history as nation, but it is also clotted with inelegant multiple redundancies.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

The middle section is stronger.  I like the rhythms, the word choices (but not the word repetition,) the images, the specificity of the ideas expressed, the invitation to think on things only hinted at.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

There are still problems, though.  Upon rereading, I find less in it, not more.  And, too often, the lack of logical flow makes lines seem just thrown together.  After these verses, she loses her way again, sinking into platitudes, redundancy, repetition that looks and feels like padding, and incoherent scansion.

Rule number 1 of the musician’s code is “Always end on a good note,” and Alexander finds the poet’s equivalent with this fine final line:

praise song for walking forward in that light.

All in all, a very uneven effort.  Not everyone agrees with my assessment, of course.  For a more charitable opinion, follow this link.

http://biancasteele.typepad.com/bianca_steele/2009/01/praise-for-the-day.html


Comments (View)
Jan 23

Two Views of the Inauguration Address

I have mixed feelings about Time Magazine’s Joe Klein.  Today, I’ll give his commentary on the Inauguration address a passing mark.

Notable Quote:

"And let it be recorded that Obama’s first act as President was to correct Chief Justice John Roberts, who managed somehow to mangle the 35-word oath of office, misplacing the word faithfully, as in “faithfully execute the office of President …” Roberts then mangled it a second time, Obama raised an eyebrow, and Roberts moved on, a bumpy beginning and something of a metaphor: one of the new President’s functions will be to correct the mistakes of George W. Bush’s benighted tenure. Obama made that very clear in his sharply worded address, which contained few catchphrases for the history books but did lay out a coherent and unflinching philosophy of government.”

http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1872924,00.html

I do not have mixed feelings about Paul Krugman.  But he has mixed feelings about the Inaugural Address.

Notable Quote:

"But my real problem with the speech, on matters economic, was its conventionality. In response to an unprecedented economic crisis — or, more accurately, a crisis whose only real precedent is the Great Depression — Mr. Obama did what people in Washington do when they want to sound serious …"

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/23/opinion/23krugman.html?_r=1&th&emc=th


Comments (View)
Jan 22
Some Abortion Facts.
One of the most viscous, dishonest and disturbing mischaracterizations of Obama was as a baby-killer.  This goes beyond Obama’s pro-choice position, to actually accuse him of being in favor of killing babies that have been born.
Notable Quote:
"But there’s something else going on here, and it speaks volumes about our broken political culture. Apparently we are so divided that it seems perfectly reasonable to at least some voters that a major-party presidential candidate would support murdering newly born infants.
Red and Blue America don’t just misunderstand each other - we don’t even recognise one another as having come from the same planet. All Obama can do is fight the lies and hope for the best.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/08/uselections2008.barackobama
I’ll set that aside, and focus on the abortion issue.
Since Roe v Wade became the law of the land in 1973, legal abortions have been performed in this country.  The actual number number performed peaked in 1990, at slightly over 1.6 million.  Since then, the number has dropped to slightly over 1.2 million in 2005, the most recent year for which I can find a number.During the terms of Reagan and Bush I the number per year was relatively constant, averaging about 1.57 million.The decrease in the number of abortions during the Clinton administration averaged 26,989 per year.  The decrease during the Bush II administration averaged 21,358, through 2005.Abortion is a complex socio-political problem.  Let’s recognize that the politics and platform of whichever party is in power is only one factor in the equation, and that Democratic policies, based on resultant numbers alone, have been more effective than Republican policies at reducing the number of abortions, both over time, and in almost any given year since 1980.  The attached graph shows the actual information.  Data is from the National Right to Life Foundation website.  Their numbers are higher than those of the CDC.
http://www.nrlc.org/ABORTION/facts/abortionstats.html

Some Abortion Facts.

One of the most viscous, dishonest and disturbing mischaracterizations of Obama was as a baby-killer.  This goes beyond Obama’s pro-choice position, to actually accuse him of being in favor of killing babies that have been born.

Notable Quote:

"But there’s something else going on here, and it speaks volumes about our broken political culture. Apparently we are so divided that it seems perfectly reasonable to at least some voters that a major-party presidential candidate would support murdering newly born infants.

Red and Blue America don’t just misunderstand each other - we don’t even recognise one another as having come from the same planet. All Obama can do is fight the lies and hope for the best.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/08/uselections2008.barackobama

I’ll set that aside, and focus on the abortion issue.

Since Roe v Wade became the law of the land in 1973, legal abortions have been performed in this country.  The actual number number performed peaked in 1990, at slightly over 1.6 million.  Since then, the number has dropped to slightly over 1.2 million in 2005, the most recent year for which I can find a number.

During the terms of Reagan and Bush I the number per year was relatively constant, averaging about 1.57 million.

The decrease in the number of abortions during the Clinton administration averaged 26,989 per year.  The decrease during the Bush II administration averaged 21,358, through 2005.

Abortion is a complex socio-political problem.  Let’s recognize that the politics and platform of whichever party is in power is only one factor in the equation, and that Democratic policies, based on resultant numbers alone, have been more effective than Republican policies at reducing the number of abortions, both over time, and in almost any given year since 1980. 

The attached graph shows the actual information.  Data is from the National Right to Life Foundation website.  Their numbers are higher than those of the CDC.

http://www.nrlc.org/ABORTION/facts/abortionstats.html


Comments (View)
Jan 20

Inaugural Poem

On the Inauguration

A Villanelle

It started with a call of “Yes, we can!”
While focusing on all we have to gain.
Now we await unfolding of the Plan.

Hope began to flourish as he ran,
Thinking of the things we could attain.
It started with a call of “Yes, we can!”

Throughout this land we hold and all we scan
From mountain, on to ocean, over plain,
Now we await unfolding of the Plan.

Encountering the words as partisan,
Overcoming hatred, lies and pain,
It started with a call of “Yes, we can!”

All in common, all within the span
Of America, and what we can obtain:
Now we await unfolding of the Plan

Now, with hope, we stand behind the man
We’ve chosen for his spirit and his brain.
It started with a call of “Yes, we can!”
Now we await unfolding of the Plan.


Comments (View)

Thought on the Inauguraton

Does anyone else feel that, at long last, there is an adult in charge?


Comments (View)
Page 1 of 20
{