U.S. Army Pfc. Ali Hargis, assigned to 55th Signal Company, Joint Combat Camera-Iraq, interviews a soldier from the Iraqi Army's 37th Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division, about his two-and-a-half week training with U.S. Soldiers on how to spot and report unknown explosive ordinances and improvised explosive devices at Camp Taji, Iraq, Aug. 3. (Photo courtesy army.mil.)

Pissed Jeans
King of Jeans
Sub Pop


To people whose last whiff of Sub Pop came sometime in the late '90s—as grunge's last fart lingered just a little too long—Pissed Jeans probably sound like an evolution of sound. Their hard, slow-swinging punk is soaked in the patented, scuzzed-out heaviness that once made the label a king maker.

A critical distinction, though: Pissed Jeans have an absolutely ferocious angst creeping through each song, and deep punk roots, which makes them palatable to people (like myself) who could never get down with the Northwest grunge scene. Hailing from Allentown, Pa., the band draws its sound more from the old Amphetamine Reptile roster of noise rock or, going further, from the hectic noise of Touch & Go's Jesus Lizard and Butthole Surfers, or even Flipper.





 

Some must-reads to start your week:

Government refuses to provide even minimal information about detainees held in Bagram.

The map of failed banks.

Why newspapers are really failing.

The best-paid CEOs in the US.

Annie Leibovitz's personal financial crisis.

David Corn, Mother Jones' DC bureau chief, is on twitter, and so are my colleagues Daniel Schulman, Nick Baumann, and our editor, Clara Jeffery. You can follow me here. (The magazine's main account is @motherjones.)

 

Music Monday: Following @_M_I_A_

Best Female Hip-Hop Artist M.I.A. Thats funny coz my mum writes my raps

http://bit.ly/1dcgr BILL GATES / MICROSOFT SUPPORTS GENOCIDE!!

Neeto------Go ! n 2 cut my hair later!

TAMIL CAMP UPDATE!! "1,400 people dying weekly in the camps. At this rate there will be no IDPs in 4 yearS" Govment set release time. WTF?

So go the 140-character-or-less thoughts of Sri Lanka-born British artist/rapper/grimestar M.I.A., aka Maya Arulpragasm, aka pop's rebel princess, whose mash-up asthetic and exotic pedigree (the daughter of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, she split her childhood between South London, Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka) made her an indie darling long before "Paper Planes" was a noxiously overplayed stoner anthem, before she showed up to the Grammys on her due date wearing an enormous blue cupcake paper or joined the handful of South Asians nominated for a Slumdog Oscar. Back when she was remixing with Diplo and having her American visa suspended over her dad's ties to the Tamil Tigers and finally moving to Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy against Kanye's advice.

In case you're not familiar, M.I.A. is half of the musical genius behind the Slumdog Millioniare theme and the person you can blame for those neon jeans on the clearance rack at Urban Outfitters. After a pair of mega-watt albums, 2005's Arular and 2007's Kala, she's as recognizable for her DayGlo schizophrenia-as-fashion-sense as for her music. A song like "$20" layers New Order's "Blue Monday," The Pixies' "Where is my Mind," and Arulpragasm's own languid rapping: I put people on the map that never seen a map/I showed 'em something they never seen and hope they make it back. As of this second, she's back in the studio, making even more seizure-inducing gangsta mash. Distill that into 140 characters, and you've got liquid platinum. In theory, at least.

 

President Barack Obama speaks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) by phone in the Oval Office on July 17, 2009. He is joined by Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Phil Schiliro.

 

 

This shot says a few things:

Long live the landline.

It's apple season!

Nerf's not game enough for the Oval Office.

Healthcare Bleg

On the flight home from Pittsburgh I sat next to Jane Hamsher and we chatted about healthcare reform.  Our conversation got me wondering about something.

As you may know, there's a group of liberal Democrats in the House who are threatening to vote against any bill that doesn't include a public option.  Obviously they're hoping that this threat will be enough to force the conference committee to include a public option in its final report.

But even if this works, no one thinks that such a bill can get 60 votes in the Senate.  This means the only way to pass it would be via reconciliation.

So here's my question: supposing this happens, what are we likely to lose if we go down the reconciliation road?  The basic rule is that anything that doesn't affect the budget is off limits and would have to be discarded, but in practice only an expert could tell us which provisions are likely to fall foul of the reconciliation rules.  So who's an expert on this kind of thing?  I don't have a clue.  But before I decide what I think of this whole idea, I'd sure like to have a better sense of what I'm likely to get out of it.  On one side, I lose the public option but the rest of the bill has a pretty good chance of passing.  That's straightforward.  On the other side, I get a bill that includes a public option but loses a bunch of other stuff that can't survive reconciliation.  Like, say, community rating, which I suspect doesn't have enough budgetary impact to stay intact.  Ditto for just about everything else that reforms the private sector insurance industry.

So this is kind of a bleg.  Who knows enough about this stuff to give us the lay of the land?  If I have a choice between a bill that ditches the public option vs. a bill that keeps the public option but ditches a bunch of other stuff, which is better?  It all depends on what the "other stuff" is.  If anyone has any idea how to go about figuring this out, let me know in comments.

Reappointing Ben

Video of my session at Netroots Nation doesn't seem to be available anywhere, which means that I can't watch it to see how it went.  However, I got this from a friend who watched it live:

I thought you might enjoy the attached screen capture.  You couldn't see it, but throughout there were ads on the screen, most of which keyed off your name.  We got ads for Canon toner DRUMS and oil DRUMS and all sorts of musical DRUMS and don't you just love the way "targeted" advertising works on the Internet?  I'm watching Kevin Drum so it follows that I might be in the market for a good oil drum.

Ain't the intertubes great?  On a more substantive note, not a single one of the panelists was opposed to reappointing Ben Bernanke.  Not even Dean Baker!  Et tu, Dean?  This suggests to me that Bernanke is a shoo-in for winning a second term.  If you can't even get a bunch of liberals at Netroots Nation to oppose him, what are the odds that anyone else is going to lead the fight?

If you didn't get a chance to watch Kevin Drum's NetRoots Nation keynote live, this week's MoJo podcast is a short Pittsburgh dispatch from him. In it, we talk about the NetRoots Nation male-to-female ratio, Arlen Specter on the healthcare "death panels," and how fellow attendees are feeling about Obama. Listen to the podcast here.

If you didn't get a chance to watch Kevin's NetRoots Nation keynote live, this week's MoJo podcast is a short Pittsburgh dispatch from him. In it, we talk about the NetRoots Nation male-to-female ratio, Arlen Specter on the "death panels," and how fellow attendees are feeling about Obama. Listen to the podcast here.

#SSJ

As many readers probably know, on July 31, freelancer Shane Bauer, Sara Shourd and Joshua Fattal accidently crossed the Iraqi border into Iran where they are currently held. (Shane's article "The Sheikh Down" is in the current issue).

To follow news about the three, or if you'd like to tweet messages of support for them and for their families (highly encouraged), please use the twitter hashtag #ssj (the first letter of each of their first names).

Oh, and please RT word about the new hashtag! The more voices of concern, the sooner the three are likely to return.

Earlier today, the State Department issued the message below. (I learned of it from someone who tweeted using #ssj.)

Missing and Detained Americans in Iran

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
August 15, 2009

The United States is deeply concerned about the welfare of our American citizens who have been detained or are missing in Iran. We once again urge Iran’s leadership to quickly resolve all outstanding American citizen cases.

This includes the case of the American scholar, Kian Tajbakhsh, who has spent his career working to enhance mutual understanding between Iran and the United States. The government of Iran should immediately release Mr. Tajbakhsh from detention and allow him to depart Iran to continue his academic pursuits.

Regarding the three American hikers, Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd, who were detained by Iranian authorities on July 31, we once again call on the Iranian government to live up to its obligations under the Vienna Convention by granting consular access and releasing these three young Americans without further delay.

We also remain concerned about the case of Robert Levinson, who has been missing in Iran since March 9, 2007. We call on the Government of Iran to assist in providing any information on his whereabouts and in ensuring his prompt return to the United States.

Our goal is to ensure the safe return of all our missing or unjustly detained American citizens to the United States as quickly as possible so that they can be reunited with their families.