Wednesday Indie Music Day–Cherry Glazerr

If my Sunday morning First Day news guy likes a song that I play, then that’s saying something!

CherryGlazerrMichael Percha walked into my studio to tell me how much he enjoyed this week’s “Indie Song Of the Week.” Cherry Glazerr is a California-based band fronted by two teenagers, but they sound much older and sophisticated than your average high school students.

To learn more about the band and their debut album, Haxel Princess, visit their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Here’s “Had Ten Dollaz.”

Enjoy!

No More Free-Range Kids

ParentingColumnist Andrew Heller from MLive ponders why kids don’t have the freedom to roam like we used to do back in the day:

Today’s kids need social secretaries. They spend their lives going from one game, practice, meeting or event to another – all of them scheduled, sanitized and supervised for their protection by loving parents.

Seems smothering to me.

But I get why parents keep their kids constantly in sight. Bad things do happen, after all.

But sometimes I wonder if they really do happen more than they used to. As Danielle Meitiv said in response to claims that letting her kids run free was somehow neglect: “I grew up in New York City in the ’70s and nobody hesitated to let their kids walk around. The only thing that’s changed between then and now is our fear.”

I think there’s something to that.

I really do.

I’m not a parent. Perhaps I’d think differently if I were a parent. So, I understand all the criticism that will come my way if I say I agree with Andrew’s argument.

Which I do.

Fear is the driving force that rules our psyche and society. I’ve talked about the power of fear already a few times this year, and I think the lack of free-range children is another example of that fear. We are to fear the unknown. Companies make money off-of-fear.

The negative consequence is that kids don’t learn responsibility and how to deal with being on their own.

pat@wsgw.com

President Obama SOTU Reaction

The only thing missing from Obama’s speech was a mic drop at the end!

While watching President Obama’s State Of The Union address last night, I texted a friend asking them, “Where was this Obama in 2014?

Ever since the midterm drubbing, the President has become bold, strident, and most of all, confident. Combined with an improving economy (still too slow for my taste), a huge drop in gas prices, and ending a failed and unpopular Cuban policy, Obama appears to be leading the way many of us thought he’d lead when we voted for him in 2008.

It’s strange, but Obama has appeared more liberated ever since a handful of those southern Democratic senators lost last year. He’s picked-up the progressive mantle again, which is what led him to his ’08 election blowout victory. It goes to prove something I’ve always believed in both sports and politics: Stay on the offensive. Propose plans. Keep truckin’. The moment you become wishy-washy and defensive, you’ve given your opponent the daylight needed to blunt your progress.

Obama has stayed on the offensive a few times in the past, like getting Bin Laden, passing Obamacare, and campaigning against Mitt Romney. However, the majority of the time Obama has been playing defense.

I’m wondering if Senator Elizabeth Warren has played a crucial role in Obama’s sudden transformation. In many parts of his speech, Obama echoed some of her economic populism  by speaking to the middle class rather than talking strictly to those in the room.

While she may not run for president, Warren has deftly positioned herself as a Kingmaker within the Democratic Party corridors.

Here are some other reactions from last night’s speech.

Andrew Sullivan says Obama is showing Clinton the way to win in 2016:

This is a speech that revealed to us the president we might have had without the extraordinary crises – foreign and domestic – he inherited. I’ve always believed in his long game and in his bent toward pragmatism over ideology. Events can still upend things, but this is a president very much shaping the agenda past his own legacy. He’s showing Hillary Clinton the way, and has the midterms to point to as the result of the defensive crouch. If his standing improves still further, he will box her in, and she’ll have to decide if she’s going to be a Wall Street tool and proto-neocon or a more populist and confident middle class agenda-setter.

One of his best. And for the first time in his six years, he has the economic winds behind him. Stay tuned for my review of the GOP response, and for the Dish’s round-up of the blogosphere and Twitterverse.

The Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein wasn’t as enamored by the speech:

It was a fitting tribute to the contrast between the promise of his campaign rhetoric and the reality of his presidency that toward the end of his speech, Obama called for “debates worthy of this body and worthy of this country.”

Shortly after, Obama said, “I have no more campaigns to run” and Republicans cheered. Obama snidely shot back, “I know because I won both of them.”

Maybe he wasn’t quite ready to turn the page after all.

Adam Smith tweeted exactly what I was thinking during the speech:

Laura Ingraham was not a fan of Obama’s statement that global warming is an immediate crisis that needs attention, now:

Bill Maher had the opposite opinion and wasn’t too pleased to see Republicans sitting down when Obama talked about combating global warming:

Essentially, the speech was designed to set the economic policy/political debate, as Jonathan Chait explains:

Now, to be sure, it is not a remotely honest strategy. The Republicans have no plan to spread the benefits of the recovery more evenly. They can blame Obama for the economy’s longstanding trend to concentrate more income in the hands of capital and less in the hands of labor, but the Republican program would exacerbate this trend. (Bush’s promise of a tax cut that would give the biggest share to the poor was based on lies.) Republicans have formulated plans to benefit working-class Americans directly, but all these plans have foundered on the problem that Republicans have no way to pay for them: they may be willing to cut taxes for the working poor, if that’s what it takes to win an election these days, but they certainly don’t want to raise taxes on the affluent. (“Raising taxes on people that are successful is not going to make people that are struggling more successful, insisted Marco Rubio recently.”) This means the money to finance the new Republican populist offensive must be conjured out of thin air.

Thus the blunt quality of Obama’s plan: he will cut taxes for the working- and middle-class by raising an equal amount from wealthy heirs and investors. Obama’s plan is not going to pass Congress, of course. Probably nothing serious can pass a Congress that still has no political or ideological incentive to cooperate with the president. The point is not to pass a law. It is to lay out openly the actual trade-offs involved. Obama isn’t just looking to tax Mitt Romney. He wants to out-debate him.

Yes, Obama wasn’t completely providing details to pay for his goals, but he’s at least proposed a blueprint to pay for tax relief for the poor and Middle Class. One cannot argue that he hasn’t explained how to pay for it.

It’s now up to the Democrats to keep pushing the message Obama has provided for them.

pat@wsgw

Squirrel!

Click the link below to hear this week’s “Pat Political Point” from WSGW’s First Day show. The rough transcript is below the fold:

“Pat Political Point” from the 1/18/15 edition of WSGW’s “First Day.” “Squirrel!”

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That’s a classic scene from the animated movie, Up. The dog wears a collar allowing him to talk. And as those of us dog owners know full well, the dog’s attention in Up can quickly be diverted thanks to the presence of a squirrel!

Which leads me to a real life “squirrel scene” that occurred last week.

After Dr. Heather and I watched another solid Downton Abbey episode last Sunday, I perused my Twitter feed just to see what people were talking about as we approached a new week. As I was about to shut-down for the night, I ran across a Drudge Report tweet which screamed:

I knew exactly what was happening: Conservatives were going to pounce on Obama for not attending the huge anti-terror rally in Paris after the horrific attacks that caused shock-waves throughout France. I kept scrolling through my Twitter feed because I didn’t even recall there being such a need for President Obama, or any other high-ranking official, to attend the rally.

Then, I saw how Monday morning was indeed going to transpire after I saw another Drudge tweet:

The mass-media freak-out would indeed transpire on Monday as many criticized and questioned why in the world President Obama didn’t fly-out to Paris and lock arms with all of those world leaders. By not being there, Obama apparently gave yet another sign of his weakness to combat terrorism, and signaled his undying love for Muslim extremism. Well, that’s what I was reading in all of the comment sections regarding this so-called “scandal.”

Really? We’re losing our minds that our President didn’t make a flight overseas to attend a photo-op? In France? Wasn’t it just a short years ago that the French were the worst people in the world because they refused to join us in our Iraq War disaster? Have we forgotten Freedom and Freedom Fries?

Anyway, I could believe that Obama was being criticized by his adversaries for not attending the photo-op because that’s politics. If he had gone, he certainly would’ve been criticized for wasting tax-payer dollars by flying thousands of miles for a photo-op! And just think if Obama had locked arms with a less than savory world leaders? Oh, my!

I’ll be willing to grant you that perhaps Attorney General Eric Holder should’ve attended since since he was in France. Fine.

Still, I’m resisting calls for the guillotine for a photo-op! The rally was about the French people. If Obama had gone, I’m sure critics would’ve assailed him for trying to make the rally about him!

And if you think I’m belittling the photo-op, it’s because I am:

World "Leaders" separated from crowd for photo-op.

World “Leaders” separated from crowd for photo-op.

You see, I don’t get all into symbols. As George Carlin once said, “I leave symbols to the symbol-minded.”

What got my ire going through the roof was how all of these world “leaders” standing there in support of freedom of speech and press have some of the worst records when it comes to freedom of the press!

I’ll allow The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill to explain to you what I’m talking about. Scahill has traveled throughout the world, and most particularly, in the Middle East. He has written some of the best stuff on the intricacies of that region of the world over the years. When he speaks, I listen. And please, listen to what he says because while I spent the past couple of minutes defending President Obama, I completely agree with his criticism of Obama, which he discussed recently on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman:

Hypocrisy was on full-display, Mr. Scahill! You are correct!

You see, the national press doesn’t want to spend the time doing the real work of asking these world “leaders” why they are hypocrites when it comes to their horrific records on press freedoms. They could’ve asked President Obama to comment on his own record regarding the press freedom because let’s face it, he doesn’t have a stellar one.

Instead, the press told us to look at the squirrel!

pat@wsgw.com

Impacting Movies

GraduateDuring yesterday’s First Day show on WSGW, I talked about a couple of films that made a significant impact on my life. These films may have forced me to look at life or society in a different way that I may have never done before. These films may have inspired me, or they may have made me into more of a cynic.

Or maybe both.

As I was settling in for bed on Saturday night, I stumbled across one of those movies.

The Graduate didn’t impact me all that much when I first saw it in my early teen years. It wasn’t until I watched the it in a college film class that I fully appreciated the gravity of film and why it still survives today.

Mike Nichols directed many great films in his life, but for me, he was never able to surpass this masterpiece.

The Graduate spoke to me and many others in their late teens-to-early-twenties. The generational gap, the hypocrisy, the materialism, the silly rules, and the unknown are all on display in this story.

And as much as Benjamin and Elaine try to escape the society they so loath, they realize that they’re no better off in the end than they were at the beginning.

It’s a cynical view, yes, but it’s also a real view as well.

The film’s conclusion is legendary. Well acted. Magnificently shot. French Auteur style film-making is in full effect. Yet, it’s the end where the two of them sit at the back of the bus, and go through a quick transformation. When they sit-down, Benjamin and Elaine are relieved to leave behind that life. However, their smiles turn to blank stares and concern as they face the unknown future.

Is the life they’ve chosen going to be any better?

Which movies have impacted your lives? Let me know by emailing.

pat@wsgw.com

Note: The part where Benjamin uses the crucifix to lock-in the society he’s trying to escape has always been a favorite of mine. I don’t view it as anti-religious at all. I’ve interpreted it to illustrate hypocrisy of the people inside the church.

pat@wsgw.com

An Investment On Our Future

College

President Obama last week proposed making the first two-years of community college tuition-free for those wanting to obtain a Bachelor’s degree.

Predictably, Obama’s critics have jumped all over the proposal declaring how this is nothing but another government handout. Fox News’ Sean Hannity tweeted the following question to give his viewers/listeners a chance to vent their anger:

Yes, if you check-out the responses, you will see that I chimed in with my two-cents, and that Hannity even responded to me.

Is Obama’s proposal a government program that would cost billions. Of course, it is. But as Scott Martelle points-out, it’s money we can afford:

How to pay for it? One approach: Recalibrate some of our corporate subsidies (hello, Big Oil and coal – $21 billion a year, according to one estimate – and Big Ag – $14 billion a year, per this estimate). Taxpayers for Common Sense count $3.38 billion in the most recent budget for military programs the Pentagon doesn’t want (apparent gifts to weapons and other military contractors). We have the money. We just don’t spend it on the right things.

Janelle Ross lists reasons why Obama’s plan falls short, considering that a small percentage of students attending community colleges actually stick around long enough to gain enough credits to transfer to a four-year university. She also correctly states that many community college students eventually take less classes so they can work more hours in the day.

There are some drawbacks to the plan, no doubt.

However, here’s how I look at it.

With a more globalized job market, and with fewer and fewer manufacturing jobs (thanks to job-sucking trade deals), young people need post-high school degrees to compete. A more educated society can only benefit this country in the the long run. Considering the wasteful spending projects, I have a hard time understanding why someone would be against a program to help cash-strapped kids get started on a college degree. It’s similar to the G.I. Bill which helped lead this country to prosperity after World War II. And let’s not forget how Pell Grants have helped millions of kids through the years.

As Martelle concludes:

Ultimately, this is less an argument about tax dollars and whether the rich should be entitled to use an expanded free education system. This is about what we want our nation to be. Right now, we are a disjointed, disconnected people due, in part, to decades of government and corporate policies. Few think this is a good situation, and some fear this dichotomy is a recipe for social upheaval (a bit of a stretch, to my mind). At the very least, we live in a country that rewards those who have already achieved financial success while making it harder for the lower and middle classes to just tread water, let alone achieving some social mobility.

Free community college won’t change that, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Obama’s plan isn’t perfect, but it’s not wrong, either.

pat@wsgw.com