Monday, November 19, 2007

For American Ears Only, also Music Awards

As ever, no apology for the delay. But if it happens again, you get your money back. Anyway...

> Something I feel's been getting lost in the Pakistan stories. Musharraf has been very adamant about saying that yes, yes, he'll definitely allow elections to go ahead in January, don't you doubt it, no delay, nosir.

Have you noticed that these pronouncements have done exactly zero to quell unrest in Pakistan? Here's why. He's not making those declarations for the good people of Pakistan. He's making them for us.

To be sure, Musharraf will hold elections on schedule. I don't doubt it for a second. Here's the thing. We Americans hear that and think, "Oh, I guess all will be well. The Pakistani people will be able to vote again, they can get Mushie outta there if they don't like him. That sounds good. You better hold those elections, Mr. Musharraf!"

This logic would work fine, if the Pakistani government worked like ours, or even like, say, Britain's parliament. But it doesn't.

In Pakistan the people don't elect the president. He takes over via military coup. Just kidding! Really, he gets elected by the parliament, who are in turn elected by the people. Just kidding! Really he takes over by military coup. But theoretically, totally that other thing.

The thing is, that sneaky Musharraf had parliament vote to give him a new five-year term over a month ago, before the people had a chance to elect new MPs (Members of Parliament).

In short, Musharraf pulled a mandate out of his ass from politicians about to leave office. Then when the Supreme Court was about to smack that down he, just kidding, took over via military coup.

(That's an oversimplification of course, because really the court was ruling on the legitimacy of electing as president the acting army head, something that is totally illegal, assuming the president didn't take over via military coup.)

The point is, Musharraf's election rhetoric is aimed squarely at the West, Musharraf's only allies. Why are we such good pals with Mushie? Well remember how in the cold war, all an enterprising tin-pot dictator had to do was say they hated the commies and presto, they were a staunch US ally? Musharraf realized that post-9-11, Musharraf dug up that old script, replaced "commie" with "terrorists" and voila - instant alliance. Hey, that's never worked out poorly for us in the past, has it?

Now, until a few weeks ago, Musharraf didn't look near so bad as those guys we propped up during the Cold War. Now? Um... yeah, about that.

My thinking? We need to distance ourselves from Mushie STAT. Otherwise, when he gets toppled, as he is oh so likely to get toppled, we're going to have an Iran situation on our hands all over again. Most likely, a Muslim religious faction will take the government, and will say, "Hey, remember what a bastard that Musharraf guy was? Totally a US puppet. Those US guys are bastards."

And if that happens? Then you have a nuclear-armed hostile nation that happens to harbor al Qaeda and the Taliban and border a major military theatre (Afghanistan). In short, if that happens we are fucked. Hard. The war on terror is essentially lost. Terrorists will have a cozier home base than before all of our idiotic post-9-11 knee-jerking kicked in.

But hey, things will be fine. He's holding an election and everything.

> While we are on things said for US ears, Ehud Olmert's latest political posturing sounds great over here in the US. "Let's be straight," Olmert said. "We committed ourselves in the road map not to build new settlements and we will not build any."

Yeah, let's be straight, Olmert ol' buddy. You haven't actually built a new settlement in 10 years. You just keep expanding current settlements, something that, ohbytheway, you also promised not to do in your meaningless "road map."

(Sidebar: Is anyone else disturbed that such an idiotic marketing label has crept up to the level of political terminology? You aren't mapping any
fucking roads. You are making inane and toothless timeline declarations that you will swiftly ignore.)

Olmert's statement wasn't just disingenuous - to the Palestinians it was ostensibly aimed at it was straight up nonsense. Don't take my word for it:

"What Olmert announced today is nonsense," said senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. "Olmert has to understand he either declares a full settlement freeze in all occupied areas including East Jerusalem, or it's nothing."
See, told you!

Olmert wasn't angling to actually appeal to Palestine. He's angling to get a round of wire headlines saying "Olmert tries to bolster relations with Palestinians!" That way, if things go ass-over-teakettle in Annapolis, he can throw up his hands and go, "Hey, I tried!" without actually conceding anything, and providing ammunition for political opponents who call him "weak" at about the same rate Hillary calls Obama "inexperienced."

> Okay, is it wrong that after all of that shit, and all the shit I cover every day, nothing made my blood curdle more than this.

Now, like many of you, I'm ever so tempted to cover my eyes, open Pandora and turn a blind ear to the neverending misbegotten sonic shitfest that is modern popular music. Mostly I do. Mostly, this makes me happy.

But here's what I hate most about this. They determine the nominees for this award by album sales. They determine the winner by internet vote.

It's like a stunning admission that yes, this is all crap, we have NO IDEA how to critically review and pick a winner from this pile of pig shit, so we will let the rampant consumerism of teenagers dictate the champions of "American Music."

Wouldn't it be lovely if the award could in some way be based on merit? Couldn't that bring sunlight to quality stuff the way the Academy Awards do?

I know, I know, the Grammys do it that way, and the Grammys are to the AMAs as the Oscars are to the Golden Globes.

Two problems:

1). Can you imagine even the Golden Globes saying "Fuck it, you pick"?

2). Christina Aguilera won a Grammy last year.

Sigh, never mind. I give up. Let American Idol burn the last vestiges of self respect from the rotting husk of American pop, I don't care. Obviously, our generation ceded its right to taste-making to the teeny boppers a long time ago, preferring to root out obscure bands than to crown one king.

But once, just once, I'd like someone or thing in the music pantheon to stand up, and call a spade a spade, to call shit shit, to call Justin Timberlake Justin motherfucking Timberlake. Just once I would like a shining beacon of taste to burst forth and say, "This! Pay attention to this you stupid motherfuckers!" I would like the next Radiohead to go on American Idol, I would like the AMAs to find me the next Beatles. I would settle for some sign, any sign, that the music industry can someday shake off the nightmare parody it's become.

For now, we're going to vote on it. For now, the teenyboppers get the exact empty reality contestant stars they deserve.

And they couldn't be happier.

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