Favorite Music Releases of 2012

Last year I was about 10 months late with this list, this year I am a month early.  Before I list my favorite 8 releases of 2012, I want to first list a few albums that nearly made the list.  In no particular order here are 5 albums that nearly made my top 8 list for 2012:

And, now, my favorite album releases of 2012.

8) Corb Lund: Cabin Fever. Canada’s favorite acerbic wit has released his most pop friendly album to date.  While straying from his folk roots he has given up none of his biting sarcasm and good time sound.

7) Kid Rock: Rebel Soul.  Detroit’s favorite rapper returns with another pop album.  Two Detroit based post-rap countryish albums made this list, I really enjoy the sound.

6) Ryan Bingham: Tomorrowland.  Bingham returns with another gravelly voiced album chronicling America’s underbelly.  This album seems more electric than his previous albums.

5) Wrinkle Neck Mules: Apprentice to Ghosts.  You can call them Southern rock or roots country, but their sound remains eternal.  Traditional instrumentation with a wholesome plaintive sound.

4) Bob Wayne: Till the Wheels Fall Off.  More Hank III than Hank III, Wayne hits all of the themes of the country outlaw: trucks, exes, and fighting the law.

3) Uncle Kracker: Midnight Special.  Less auto-tuned than his previous album, Kracker hits all of the right notes to make this Detroit post-rapper’s latest album a fun album.

2) Chuck Mead: Back at the Quonset Hut. This ex BR-549 front man returns with his second solo album.  This album is made up of a dozen country and rockabilly standards, a fun album.

1) Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson: Wreck and Ruin.  This is the second collaboration between this Aussie married couple.  Like any great collaboration the result is more than a sum of its parts.  If you like old-timey with modern sensibilities, this album may be for you.


Last Minute Election Thoughts

We should know the results fairly early.  Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia polls all close at 4 PM PST.

The media are pretending that Pennsylvania is in play, I think this is just to keep us in front of our TVs.  There are 9 states in play: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Of these nine, I think three will go to Obama quickly: Ohio, Nevada, and New Hampshire.  That leaves him just 6 electoral votes short of victory.

If Romney does not sweep Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida (all close at 4 PST) then it is over.  Florida appears to be close, Virginia leans Obama, and North Carolina leans Romney.

Predictions: Odds are at least 50 to 1 for an Obama victory.  And we will probably know the definitive answer by 8PM PST.

None of this is meant to imply that it makes one whit of difference who wins.  While the media hypes this election as one of the most vitriolic in history, I think we have never had an election where the candidates agreed on so much.  And maybe that is why they resort to name calling, there are no differences in their political leanings to debate.

Catch the results here.

Election Eve…ho hum…

Tomorrow we will elect either Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum to be president, and nothing will change.  Obamacare will be implemented as scheduled, the Federal debt will continue to balloon, foreign intervention will continue to escalate, sabres will be rattled at Iran, the presidential kill list will be continued, the sun will continue to rise in the East and set in the West.  Never has a presidential election hinged on so little.

3rd parties were kept out of the debates and so we had mutual masturbation sessions where nothing of import was discussed.  What would a President Romney administration be like?  It is the night before the election and we have no idea, but I suspect it would be very much like a President Obama administration (which really is not all that different from a President Bush administration).

And the cycle will continue until we wake up one day to find that we are paupers living in a third world country.

On Paul Ryan as VP Choice

Until today I had little reference to Ryan.  Other than the “Ryan Budget”, which I knew from news reports was the Republican House counter to the Obama budget, I knew nothing of Ryan.

First, something I don’t understand.  Romney, a business man who is running on nothing else than his supposed business savvy.  Where Romney seems deficient is foreign policy experience, logical choice would have been a VP who gives him a lift in this regard.  Instead Romney picks a candidate whose only strength is economics.  Maybe Romney feared someone who helped balance the ticket would only serve to highlight his own lack of foreign policy experience?  Was Ryan the least distasteful of the right wing of the Republican party?  Did Romney need right wing cred so much that he had to kiss their butts while attempting at least somewhat to appeal to the middle majority (the folks who actually get people elected in this country)?  I don’t know.

What I do know is that Ryan’s budget proposal is bullshit, it will not lead to balancing of the budget.  Titled, The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal, it is solely tax cuts and decreased social spending.  It makes no pretense of actually balancing the budget…at least not in the first 10 years.

Most nations have debt, but none to the extent that we do.  Most industrial nations have more social programs than we do.  Most of them manage to feed the poor, educate the young, heal the sick, and maintain the infrastructure with only a small amount of deficit spending.  While we (by first world standards) don’t manage to do any of these things well; yet we are the ones with an escalating debt crisis.  The difference comes down to a single word.  Empire!  Empire was the downfall of Rome, and Empire will be our downfall, unless we act decisively and quickly to reign it in.  Neither the Obama budget nor the Ryan budget address this.

We have troops stationed in 150 nations.  We have covert operations in 30-40 more.  We have never left any country that we entered.  With the fall of the Soviets (also rotted from within by Empire), American hegemony has been pushed to every corner of the Earth, usually with the force of military intervention.

Our infrastructure crumbles, our children are more and more hungry and uneducated, we are floundering in our attempts to compete in a global market, health care reform is a sham, and only a few metrics allow us to claim that we are number one; high school dropouts and incarceration.  Empire is a parasite and it needs fed, no regard can be given to the health of the host.  Empire, by its very nature;  feeds, gorges,  and dies.  It has happened over and over throughout history and across the planet, rarely does the host survive in a recognizable manner.

We have more Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb politics, not debating how much we should sacrifice to Empire, nor debating an attempt to save the host by not feeding Empire, but instead caught in petty debates about how much to cut social spending.  What part of 16 trillion dollars in debt do the candidates not understand?  Why are they not laughed off stage when they mention tax cuts?

They will stand on stage and disagree on details, but they will both offer policies that similarly lead to our nation’s death at the hand of Empire.

Interesting unrelated fact: For the first time ever, there are no WASPs on the presidential ticket.  Ryan and Biden are both Catholic.  Romney of course is a Mormon and Obama isn’t white.

Choosing a President

Per usual, the nominations were already decided before we had a chance to vote here in California.  Our choices are, once again, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.  Two political hacks with nearly identical ideology.

My liberal friends are aghast when I tell them that it really doesn’t matter to me who wins, because I can’t tell the difference.  It always puzzled me that they would challenge this assessment…until recently.  I finally figured out that it is our placing different levels of importance to the issues that guides our belief (or non-belief).

While I won’t here challenge their beliefs, I do want to lay out mine.  When choosing a president, these are the issues that I find of the most import (in no particular order).

  1. Decentralization
  2. Human/Civil Rights
  3. War/Imperialism
  4. Planetary Stewardship

Let’s take a quick look at each in turn.

Decentralization: I want to be free, there is no compromise on that.  Increasing centralization places increasing limits on personal freedom.  The further away I am from the power structure, the more I am confined by the soul-less bureaucracy.  For every proposal. I ask, “Does this centralize power or does it lend itself to a dispersal of power?”  I look at a candidate’s record, I listen to his/her rhetoric, and I attempt to determine if the candidate’s platform lends itself to a devolution of power.

Human/Civil Rights: I care about human rights on a global level.  Will the candidate respect human rights, will the candidate ostracize those who violate basic human rights?  I don’t think we can impose human rights, instead we need a leadership that will lead by example.  This includes not allying ourselves with tyrants.  Civil rights are an extension of human rights but at the national level.  Neither Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum respect Habeus Corpus, a cornerstone in protecting us from government overreach.

War/Imperialism: These go hand in hand.  War should be a last resort, waged only when your own life is threatened.  A standing army prevents peaceful resolution.  Imperialism is what got us into our debt crisis and will eventually lead to our demise, the same as it has every imperial civilization in history.  The candidates are in lock step on foreign policy, and neither value peace.

Planetary Stewardship: Environmental carnage threatens the future of human existence.  Nuclear waste, desertification, species extinction, de-forestation, and global climate change are all threats to our continued prosperity.  There is a crisis of mass magnitude, but both candidates are business as usual.

If you add my second tier issues of the prison industrial complex, debt, collapsing educational system, and food security; it all becomes pretty clear.  There is no difference between Obama and Romney and the entire election hoopla is a charade played out for idiots.

Looks like I will be sitting another one out.