Sunday, September 28, 2008

US Presidential Debate #1 | BBC NEWS

Obama, McCain square off in first debate

"All things considered, it's about a draw"
~ Matthew Yglesias, Think Progress

Synopsis: US presidential rivals Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama have attacked each other over foreign policy and the economy, in their first debate.

Mr Obama said a $700bn (£380bn) plan to rescue the US economy was the "final verdict" on years of Republican rule.

He said Mr McCain had been "wrong" on Iraq and tried to link him to President Bush. The Republican senator described his rival as too inexperienced to lead.

Neither landed a knockout blow but polls suggested Mr Obama did better.

An immediate telephone poll by CNN and Opinion Research Corp found 51% said Mr Obama had won, to 38% for Mr McCain.

A poll of uncommitted voters by CBS News found that 39% gave Mr Obama victory, 25% thought John McCain had won, and 36% thought it was a draw.

Both campaigns claimed victory, with Mr McCain's team saying their candidate had shown a "mastery on national security issues" while Mr Obama's aides said he had passed the commander-in-chief test "with flying colours".

Tens of millions of Americans were expected to watch the debate on TV, with only about five weeks to go before the 4 November elections. (Source: BBC NEWS | Americas | US rivals spar in first TV debate)

McCain Obama shake after debate


Yes, the debate was a technical draw. The thing about that, however, is subjectively the debate will thus be a win for the Obama camp. Why? Because this was supposed to be the debate that John McCain won. It's his strength. And there is no doubt he has experience in issues of foreign policy. The loss is given that Obama held is own and, overall, appeared more Presidential than McCain.

McCain was wise to try and hammer the "naive" point, however he did it to an almost patronizing degree, which came off as him losing his composure. However, any time he attacked Obama, the Illinois senator corrected him making McCain seem divisive and out to spin the facts. Unfortunately for McCain, he did not notably correct Obama on any attack against the Arizona senator thus legitimizing the Democrat's authority on the facts.

McCain was right to focus on "the surge", but that's about all he could say in terms of the "War in Iraq". As well, Obama was able to one-up McCain pointing out that the decision-makers on the strategy there essentially agree with his plans for future military action in the region (basically that Afghanistan is the real battleground). McCain was at his best when explaining the fragility of the situation there, but did not follow that by appearing the most prepared to handle the matter. In fact, Obama nailed him on handling delicate matters citing McCain's "Bomb Iran" song. However the junior Senator then gave away that advantage overemphasizing how wrong McCain was in his decision to go to Iraq rather than solidifying points that not only his past but his future judgment regarding the "War on Terror" have been most wise.

In terms of foreign policy overall, McCain was able to parade his experience but Obama matched that with foresight, unveiling that even the Bush administration is starting to enact policies that the Democratic Presidential nominee championed throughout his campaign while McCain leans toward the failed ways of the past. They also argued different points of the fact that Kissinger did promote talks with Iran without preconditions (Kissinger later said "non-presidential" talks - something the Bush administration is currently pursuing).

In terms of economic policy, the debate kicked off with that, which is inevitable given the situation. Neither candidate could comment on whether they were going to vote for the bill that was out at that time, however Obama laid out four core principles he thought should be in the bill. The third debate between them will address the economy more. Obama will be going into that debate as the stronger candidate given that McCain has previously acknowledged his weakness on economic issues. And given the fact that the new economic bailout bill is (according to Sen. John Kerry) founded around the principles Obama laid out in the debate and supposedly better for the American taxpayer.

I've been reading a lot about people being disappointed with the first debate, but this is how debates always are. As well, they are MUCH more subtle than people seem to remember every four years. As they should be, both candidates know better than to shoot off at the mouth and sink their campaign. In fact, a portion of this election will come down to who can keep the most level head and restore America's relationships across the world. Surely we've seen what a faux maverick can do in the White House.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Here he comes. Here comes OJ..."

See what had happened was...
OJ Simpson robbery trial begins...

Defense lawyer Gabriel Grasso and OJ Simpson in court (15 September 2008). OJ Simpson's trial is expected to last around five weeks.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Giving up on Musiq... |

Musiq Soulchild

“Don’t front. You know you loooove it.” Not quite, homie.

As if soul wasn’t already an underground genre, now Musiq is trying “Radio”. I expected this one day, but thought there would be a few more singles signaling the inevitable end between then and now. Nope, Musiq dove head first into the mainstream. Can he swim though?

Now, I’d like to excuse this faux pas as a one off error but “Radio” is like strike three for this cat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to put his sound in a box. Quite the contrary, I’m all for artistic freedom. Besides no one wants to hear reworkings of the same song for three albums (unless it’s a really smooth song, e.g., Kem). On the other hand, people will accept multiple artists doing the same song repeatedly and even accept listening to hours of these Goldberg variations on the radio. As long as it’s meant to be a “new joint” then folks don’t care. I could rework a Rick Ross or Usher tune tomorrow and no one would really mind. All I have to do is stay inside the “formula” and I’m set. [I'm not going to define the "formula" here. Eventually I will. You've heard it, though. You may even love it. Why should I ruin that for you?] Unfortunately for those artists compromising their substance to pursue said formula, the range of things acceptable in the formula is becoming more and more narrow. Even the time limit has dropped from 4mins to 3mins-and-change (go ahead, time your latest radio hits).

But I digress, if a Jill Scott or Erykah Badu wants to switch it up to keep themselves (and maybe their fans) entertained then do ya thang, booboo. But, you have to stay authentic to yourself. If you don’t do that then that track better be the jam, because everyone will know your faking it and it’ll be a while before they forget/forgive. Happens all the time in pop music because they are already at the mercy of the public. It’s a scenario similar to a jester that has to guess what best entertains the king/queen or lose his spot in their castle or worse, face execution. Not like he could get up there and speak his mind, no matter how funny. That acquiesce to chase the mold (rather than sculpt it) is what makes you mainstream, ironically for Musiq the mainstream is the most defined/confining box. You hopped in the stream, now you have to follow the bends/trends or be washed out.

Tell ‘em why you mad…

The atmosphere has almost reached the point that trying to make actual music is officially like putting a contract out on yourself. Not the literal definition of music which is the purposeful organization of sound, but rather the artistic definition including a theorized form with A,B,C even D sections, an inspired melody, and meaningful lyrics hopefully expressing some observation - easier than it sounds. Sure, that uncompromising artist may get a Grammy nod, and if the people who blindly buy whatever the Grammy’s nominate notice them then he/she might survive long enough to build a lasting legacy, but more-likely-than-not they either fade away or bend over for that rape-over.

Why the headphones w/ those huge speakers?

Now it’s not like we didn’t see this coming. Musiq Soulchild has been walking that thin line for a while now. Remember when he dropped the “Soulchild”. Remember “Buddy”. But it’s been a while since a video made me shake my head as much as MC Hammer’s “Pumps and a Bump”. First thought, was “haha, that’s hilarious… right?” As I realized Musiq wasn’t joking, I started to hope no one else saw/heard “Radio” but then I simply began to mourn the loss. Musiq defected. I mean he’s had all this time that Maxwell and D’Angelo were MIA to helm the movement and really cement his standing, but he left that to Dwele and Raheem DeVaughn (both of whom followed his line more than D’s or Maxwell’s - hence why folks know them… as opposed to Bilal, Van Hunt or Esperanza).

If you are puzzled then you might not have realized there is somewhat of a war going on between the mainstream and the underground (more so those who use the formula and those gifted souls rebelling against it). Clearly the mainstream is winning but that’s because the industry is the foremost sponsor of the formula (and soon the 80s baby anti-formula). Sporadically, the Rebel Alliance has a star rise up and steal some spotlight, but then the minions of the Empire clamor to work with that artists until a string of underwhelming collaborations mar the respect we had for them. Understandably though, mainstream acts crave that “new & creative” credibility and the result is best described using terms like vampires and new blood. Maybe that’s why we hear so much about cats biting. Following the seduction to the dark side, that “best new artist” is merely forgotten collateral damage of the stream, most likely to be immortalized on a late night infomercial compilation.


For my fellow musicians out there struggling between the fame/fortune and creativity/integrity, realize that they aren’t mutually exclusive. I mean it’s perfectly possible to be a respected mainstream artist. About a good third of folks will assume you are overrated but you can live with that. I mean, you wanted some attention, right? Best case scenario, you capture that Norah Jones audience (essentially the Grammy audience) who are great because they really don’t care what you do so long as they can wrap their head around it. Also, you don’t have to do half the work a Chris Brown does to keep your audience entertained. Look at John Legend. He was quick to don that Black Tony Bennett vibe on his second album and capture a whole new crop of jitterbuggers. We’ll call them the “mutually-funded”. And they buy albums (not too keen on computers/downloading yet). So why not have ‘the man’ patron your Black-owned business with all that disposable income? Sounds smart to me. Makes almost too much sense, maybe that’s why folks don’t do it. Of course, this is in the case that you don’t need to stay true to some self-defined idea of yourself and your art. Point is… J Am Legend, Corinne Bailey Rae, hell even Queen Latifah are banking right now while the rest of the field is wondering how they can best emulate T-Wayne.

Now, provided you don’t want to show up to the VMAs on an elephant wearing a chain with your moniker on it, nor want to stare into a sea of faces that don’t really understand your message whilst crooning on The Today Show, then you could pull a Batman. Meaning, up front be the artist you want to be but on the side cop a pseudonym and crank out all the “heaters/fire/hotness/blazing tracks” with which you never wanted to be associated. For instance, Musiq easily could have passed “Radio” on to someone who needs it’s small bump (e.g. Trey Songz) and sat back and let them do all the work for the attention/money then bring him his cut. “Ho’ hard and bring it home to us, f#cka!” Maybe he’s pulling a Tweet and has this one mainstream joint on an otherwise very soulful album. We’ll see. Granted, for that trick, you would have to put out a home-run to bait the typical listeners into your album. Alas, the Soulchild didn’t do that. Instead, Musiq stepped up to the plate and tried with all his might for a smash hit.

Swing and a miss.

~ Courtesy of | Giving Up on Musiq