Blogs

L.A. Punk Has a Sense of Humor, Too

| Thu Nov. 15, 2007 7:32 PM EST
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The New Yorker has a great piece this week about how punk rock is again flourishing in Los Angeles, which in the early 80s was home base for a slew of Southern California's influential punk and hardcore bands like Black Flag, X, and the Weirdos.

Sasha Frere-Jones describes a vibrant new scene that resides primarily in a small, dingy, downtown Los Angeles space called The Smell, where a close-knit group of friends hang out, play punk-influenced music, make T-shirts, and release one another's records. I know the space well. While living in L.A. in the early 2000s, I saw a handful of shows there, including some extremely noisy and exciting performances by Nels Cline, before he joined the ranks of Wilco.

But to truly expose L.A.'s current punk scene, I'd be remiss if we didn't also mention an equally important venue in the Highland Park area (sort of between Hollywood and Pasadena) called Mr. T's Bowl, a former bowling alley that is now home to a funny, dorky, and quirky L.A. punk contingent.

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Coal Sponsors Tonight's Democratic Debate

| Thu Nov. 15, 2007 7:17 PM EST

cnncoal.jpgThink Progress points to the full-page ad in today's New York Times stating that tonight's Democratic presidential debate on CNN is sponsored by the "clean coal" industry. Wow. Aren't euphemisms fun? Sort of the magical realism of the political world. According to Think Progress, the coal industry's "clean" agenda would have us:

• Expand coal production by using government-funded technology to convert coal to vehicle fuels, thereby producing twice as much global warming pollution as gas production, and consuming huge amounts of water to boot. • Crank out as many new power plants as possible before limits on greenhouse gas pollution take effect. Nearly 150 coal-fired power plants are already on the drawing board. • Delay and weaken any limits on CO2 pollution, even though scientists tell us we need a 20% reduction by 2020, and an 80% reduction in 2050 [actually, we need more than that and faster too]. • Convince Congress to give coalies free "allowances" to emit greenhouse gases rather than force coal-fired plants to buy them in cap-and-trade auctions.

The coal industry's sponsorship of tonight's CNN debate in Las Vegas appears to be an attempt to pressure Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who has stood firmly against the construction of three proposed major coal-fired power plants in his home state: REID: "I want to help Nevada become the national leader in renewable energy and energy independence. We have vast wind, solar and geothermal resources and we're wasting energy every day we're not tapping into those free, clean, and reliable power sources… As proposed, these coal plants are old news, the way of the increasingly distant past."

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

Coal Sponsors Tonight's Democratic Debate

| Thu Nov. 15, 2007 7:11 PM EST

cnncoal.jpgThink Progress points to the full-page ad in today's New York Times stating that tonight's Democratic presidential debate on CNN is sponsored by the "clean coal" industry. Wow. Aren't euphemisms fun? Sort of the magical realism of the political world. According to Think Progress, the coal industry's "clean" agenda would have us:

• Expand coal production by using government-funded technology to convert coal to vehicle fuels, thereby producing twice as much global warming pollution as gas production, and consuming huge amounts of water to boot. • Crank out as many new power plants as possible before limits on greenhouse gas pollution take effect. Nearly 150 coal-fired power plants are already on the drawing board. • Delay and weaken any limits on CO2 pollution, even though scientists tell us we need a 20% reduction by 2020, and an 80% reduction in 2050 [actually, we need more than that and faster too]. • Convince Congress to give coalies free "allowances" to emit greenhouse gases rather than force coal-fired plants to buy them in cap-and-trade auctions.

The coal industry's sponsorship of tonight's CNN debate in Las Vegas appears to be an attempt to pressure Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who has stood firmly against the construction of three proposed major coal-fired power plants in his home state: REID: "I want to help Nevada become the national leader in renewable energy and energy independence. We have vast wind, solar and geothermal resources and we're wasting energy every day we're not tapping into those free, clean, and reliable power sources… As proposed, these coal plants are old news, the way of the increasingly distant past."

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

Ron Paul: The Only Candidate that Won't Land Catholics in a Pit of Eternal Fire. ... Or Is He?

| Thu Nov. 15, 2007 5:09 PM EST

The nation's bishops held a press conference yesterday to warn that the choices Roman Catholic voters make at the ballot box may put their eternal salvation at risk. In large part, they appeared to be talking about the candidates' stances on abortion. The take-home message: Vote for a Democrat, go to Hell. (more after the jump)

Edwards Announces "Plants for Hillary"

| Thu Nov. 15, 2007 3:29 PM EST

plants_for_hillary.jpg Earlier, David asked how nasty tonight's Democratic debate is going to get. Judging from the Edwards campaign's actions this afternoon, reeeeeally nasty.

Via an email to reporters, Edwards just announced the group "Plants for Hillary," parodying groups like Veterans for Hillary and African-American Women for Hillary and taking the frontrunner to task for the planted question scandal that isn't really a scandal.

There's even a website, plantsforhillary.com, which the campaign calls the "one-stop shop for all Americans interested in growing the Hillary plant movement." It's pretty crude, kind of mean, and a just a little bit funny.

The campaign calls it a "grassroots" website. I think it puts a new spin on slinging mud.

What is 'Sexy,' Anyway?

| Thu Nov. 15, 2007 3:21 PM EST
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Ira Glass' voice? Jeffrey Wright's widow's peak? And Owen Wilson's nose? I would argue that none of none of those features are inherently sexy, But the folks over at Salon, who have just released their second annual list of the sexiest men alive, disagree.

Salon's list is surely a welcome reprieve from those annoying sexy lists put out by the likes of People, FHM magazine, and who knows who else. Why? Because it's full of random choices like the cartoon character Strong Bad, novelist Javier Marías, and Cate Blanchett in her portrayal of Bob Dylan, and there are no signs of the likes of Justin Timberlake or Matt Damon anywhere on the list. Hey, there's nothing wrong with being sexy, but who's to say, as Salon demonstrates, that lantern jaws, bulging biceps, and Seacrest hair are prerequisites? So who's got nominees for a more creative, sexiest female alive list?

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No One Wants to Blog for Bush Anymore

| Thu Nov. 15, 2007 12:42 PM EST

blogsforbush.jpg Once upon a time, writing a right-wing website called Blogs for Bush must have been easy. But now, when the president has lost the confidence of the American people, alienated even his far-right base over the issue of immigration, shepherded a war in disastrous fashion, and failed to achieve a single significant and lasting domestic policy victory... what to do?

Bail on Bush, of course. Blogs for Bush is changing their name to Blogs for Victory. They're saying that it is in anticipation of Bush's departure from the White House, but let's not miss the PR aspect. Check out this very suspicious correlation:

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How Ugly Will the Democratic Race Get (Tonight and Afterward)?

| Thu Nov. 15, 2007 10:37 AM EST

How nasty will it get in Vegas?

Tonight, the Democrats will gather in family-friendly Sin City for yet another debate, and as they prep for this face-off, John Edwards and Barack Obama must be calculating how far to go in assailing front-runner Hillary Clinton. And she must be wondering how sharp to be in return.

The latest Iowa poll from The New York Times and CBS News depicts the race in the Hawkeye State as virtually a three-way tie (Clinton, 25 percent; Edwards, 23 percent, and Obama, 22 percent). Such results presumably scare the Clinton machine. If she falls in Iowa, so too does her campaign's double-sided argument of inevitability and electability. These poll numbers are obvious encouragement for the two men with the best shot of toppling her--and a sign that their recent moves might be working.

In the past week, both Obama and Edwards have intensified their attacks on Clinton. At the Jefferson Jackson Day dinner in Iowa on Saturday night, Obama, in a fiery speech, declared:

The same old Washington textbook campaigns just won't do in this election. That's why not answering questions 'cause we are afraid our answers won't be popular just won't do. That's why telling the American people what we think they want to hear instead of telling the American people what they need to hear just won't do. Triangulating and poll-driven positions because we're worried about what Mitt or Rudy might say about us just won't do. If we are really serious about winning this election Democrats, we can't live in fear of losing it....

I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over....They have not funded my campaign, they will not get a job in my White House....

I am sick and tired of Democrats thinking that the only way to look tough on national security is by talking, and acting, and voting like George Bush Republicans. When I am this party's nominee, my opponent will not be able to say that I voted for the war in Iraq; or that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran....I don't want to spend the next year or the next four years re-fighting the same fights that we had in the 1990s.

Whether or not the tired Iowan Democrats realized it, this was all an attack on HRC the hawkish, triangulating, hyperpartisan kingpin of conventional, lobbyist-fueled Washington politics--though Obama never mentioned her by name. He was offering a contrast deeply unkind to Clinton without coming across as a slasher.

Metal/Reggae: Music Designed to Confuse You

| Thu Nov. 15, 2007 2:15 AM EST
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I'm going out on limb here and guessing that few Mother Jones readers are big fans of heavy metal, but I'm not going to let that stop me from recommending a listen to Dub Trio's newest release, Another Sound is Dying, put out by Ipecac Recordings.

Ipecac was created by Mike Patton, the lead singer of the late-80s, early-90s rock band Faith No More, which scored the big MTV hit, "Epic."

Dub Trio mixes reggae with metal, which might sound like a pretty dumb idea, But this New York City-based group pulls it off, in part because this band has talent. They've recorded with hip-hop artists like 50 Cent, Mos Def, Common, the Fugees, Tupac (RIP), and Matisyahu, and toured with Gogol Bordello, Clutch and Helmet. This definitely isn't music to dance to, but it's a risky hybrid of two genres on the opposite end of the musical spectrum; which is why I like it.

Hip Hop Celebrates Itself This Month

| Thu Nov. 15, 2007 1:39 AM EST

I had no idea, but apparently November is Hip Hop History Month, according to hip hop event organizers at Hip Hop Elements and hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa's outreach organization Universal Zulu Nation.

If you're too busy to go out and support local hip hop performers (not a bad way to show the love) this month, get a crash course from some recent coverage of hip hop culture: The San Francisco Chronicle has a good coverage of an independent hip hop collective in Oakland, Mother Jones gives a new take on hip hop as a new civil rights movement, hip-hop historian Davey D offers up a history of hip hop, and VH1 gives top honors for hip hop in 2007.