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The Morning Grumpy – 7/30/12

30 Jul

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy. We’ll go with a video-heavy edition today.

1. A documentary that would never be produced in America, “The Mormon Candidate” from the BBC.

An incredibly interesting look at Mitt Romney’s religion, his weakness with evangelical voters because of it, and an adult discussion about the role of religion in politics.

2. Why do the Sunday news talk shows suck? Jay Rosen gives you the answer.

Jay teaches journalism at NYU and is the smartest media critic in America. If you like enjoy smart people saying and writing smart things, follow him on Twitter or Tumblr or read his blog.

3. Gary Johnson is an interesting guy. He’s running for President on the Libertarian Party line and he’s a likeable, affable guy who should be included in the Presidential debates. The problem with his candidacy? He’s seemingly dropped the whole “Aw, shucks” personality that might have allowed him to connect with voters and has instead adopted the language and temperament of the Ron Paul Fanatic Society.

This kind of messaging motivates the denizens of Libertarian Cloud Cuckooland and other members of the Tea Party/Jim Ostrowski Appreciation Society, but does little to motivate independents and Moms in the suburbs. Drop the tyranny nonsense and just talk to people. Be straight and drop the gimmicks; they never worked for Ron Paul and they won’t work for him either. Johnson is on the ballot in all fifty states and is a legitimate candidate…so long as he stops trailing into Alex Jones territory.

4. Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz writes that inequality undermines prosperity.

Any solution to today’s problems requires addressing the economy’s underlying weakness: a deficiency in aggregate demand. Firms won’t invest if there is no demand for their products. And one of the key reasons for lack of demand is America’s level of inequality – the highest in the advanced countries.

This was the original point of the Occupy movement but was subsumed by lack of focus. However, it should still be a significant part of the national discussion.

5. An incredible long-form piece on America’s last true rock star, Bruce Springsteen. (Arguments to the contrary will be summarily ignored.)

Springsteen was aware of the comical contradiction: the multimillionaire who, in his theatrical self-presentation, is the voice of the dispossessed. Very occasionally, twinges of discomfort about this have leaked into his lyrics. In the late eighties, Springsteen played “Ain’t Got You,” which appeared on his album “Tunnel of Love,” for Van Zandt. The lyrics tell of a fellow who gets “paid a king’s ransom for doin’ what comes naturally”—who’s got “the fortunes of heaven” and a “house full of Rembrandt and priceless art”—but lacks the affections of his beloved. Van Zandt recognized the self-mockery but didn’t care. He was aghast.

“We had one of our biggest fights of our lives,” Van Zandt recalled. “I’m, like, ‘What the fuck is this?’ And he’s, like, ‘Well, what do you mean, it’s the truth. It’s just who I am, it’s my life.’ And I’m, like, ‘This is bullshit. People don’t need you talking about your life. Nobody gives a shit about your life. They need you for their lives. That’s your thing. Giving some logic and reason and sympathy and passion to this cold, fragmented, confusing world—that’s your gift. Explaining their lives to them. Their lives, not yours.’ And we fought and fought and fought and fought. He says ‘Fuck you,’ I say ‘Fuck you.’ I think something in what I said probably resonated.”

It’s not very often to see a journalist get this close to Bruce, it’s really a compelling piece of work.

Fact Of The Day: The United States uses more energy for air-conditioning than the entire continent of Africa uses for all purposes

Quote Of The Day: “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.” -Yogi Berra

Song Of The Day: “The Taming of the Hands That Came Back to Life” – Sunset Rubdown

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