The Rockin Johnny B

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

State of the State

Highlights of Gov. Otter’s State of the State address
   IGEM initiative
   Long a dream of Idaho’s technology advocates, Otter’s new jobs and research initiative, the Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission, or IGEM, is modeled after a public-private program in Utah that aims to spur startup companies, lure top researchers and speed commercialization of ideas developed at universities.  So far, the Gov is making sense.  Research is good and help for 'start-up' businesses is good for this country.  The question is, what Start-Up businesses is he talking about?  Is he talking about small business, or is he talking about multi-billion dollar companies that aren't necessarily wanting or needing start up incentives.  And where do those Incentives come from?  Taxes?
   But Idaho’s effort, at least in initial funding, will pale in comparison to the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative, the recipient of some $240 million in taxpayer funds and bond-sale revenue since 2006.  Ah, now we come to the rub.  We pay for it by raising taxes.  Typical Republican ploy.  While telling us that the businesses will hire employees, what they don't mean is that those companies are gonna cost us.  In the mean time we cut Education and other social programs to pay for these 'start-ups.'  Take the money from Medicaid.  After all those tax-sucking mamas don't need it with all their crack babies hanging off their hips.
   Otter said this modest $5 million in seed money isn’t a reflection of his confidence in the program, just a sign of taking it slowly.  Who's gonna pay for the money, Butchie?
   “It’s extraordinary, for us, even in this tough time, to put a $5 million bet on what I believe is going to be a longterm and a growing program,” he told reporters after his speech. “I also want to walk before I run. It’s not hard, when you’ve got a lot of money and you want to start passing it out, to get receivers to show up at the gate and say, ‘Give me some money.’”
   Rainy-day funds
   Otter said he hopes to use growing revenue — the state expects to bank about $103 million at the end of the fiscal year in June — to help replenish rainy-day accounts that have been drained to nearly nothing from $384 million four years ago.
   Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill supports that plan, saying that building up reserves “will give us that buffer so we don’t have to lowball future budgets.”
   Pay bonus for state workers
   The governor’s budget also includes a $41 million, 3 percent pay bonus for state workers, teachers, university professors and faculty — but only if tax revenues stay on track.  There's always a 'but.'  When it comes to 'giving' money to the people.  That 3 percent is just enough to maybe cover some of the cuts this Governor has cut in these programs over they years.  He's such a hypocrite.
   Missing revenue targets next June and January could erase the money, Otter warned.
   University of Idaho President Duane Nellis said he would have rather seen a permanent pay raise for employees at his school. Still, Nellis said he hopes the governor’s proposal, which includes directing $226 million to four-year universities — 8 percent more than a year ago 
— represents a first step in clawing back ground that institutions in Moscow, Boise, Pocatello and Lewiston lost since the recession first hit.
   All told, they’ve seen $80 million in cuts since 2009, reducing state higher-education spending to its lowest level in a decade.  Here's where I take a huge exception to this governor's ideation.  He thinks cutting Education will help this state.  It does just the opposite.  When Big Business looks for a place to put a factory, they look to see what the education potential is in the state where they are moving.  Since Butch cuts education, this sends a huge message to these businessmen.  "This guy doesn't value education."  Let's take our business elsewhere.
   “I’m very encouraged,” Nellis said after the speech. “The governor has seen higher education as an instrumental vehicle to a more prosperous economic future.”  Really?  This guy's proved over and over what he thinks of social and educational programs.  He's cut crazy.  It's the first place he looks to to make up any deficit this state has.
   ‘Students Come First’  Booooo.
   Otter also recommended $32 million to pay for last year’s disputed “Students Come First” education reforms, which include laptops for students and merit pay for teachers. He promised lawmakers he’d be joining public schools chief Tom Luna to rally against measures on November’s ballot asking Idaho voters to throw the reforms out. “I’m committed, along with Superintendent Luna, to ensuring the success of those reforms,” Otter said. Otter proposed spending $2.65 billion in fiscal year 2013, 4 percent more than this year.

Now for the Lackies...

Lawmakers react to speech
   “I liked his pro-business tone. I look forward to hearing more details about his tax cuts. … Those folks (teachers and state employees) work hard, and we just need to look at the numbers (for potential bonuses). He said there would be some parameters on that that would correspond with our financial status.”  You cannot show me where tax cuts grow businesses.  They don't.
   — Rep. Darrell Bolz, R-Caldwell
   “I thought he made a couple of really good proposals, especially on restoring a little bit of the salaries for teachers and state workers if we’ve got the money for it. I also thought it was a pretty good idea for a one-time bonus thing. That’s going to have to be a wait and 
see (with tax breaks). There may not be that money there (for it).”  A little bit of salary restoration.  Not nearly enough.  You wanna 'grow' the economy?  Pay people more not...ever...cut salaries.  This causes a panic and people begin saving and money goes out of the economy.  When will Republicans get this!!!  The pittance the Gov is giving the state employees isn't near enough and will make little or not difference to the economy.  Butchie's just doing this to salve some egos and gain some voters if they fall for his crud.
   — Rep. Gary Collins, R-Nampa
   “We need to make sure that if we’re setting tax policy that we’re doing it in a way that brings businesses here and keeps businesses here and not just reduces revenues. It’s smart to reward our employees and teachers but not put it into the base (budget). If he puts it in 
as ongoing, I don’t know if the economy is strong enough to handle that.”  Horray.  A thinking legislator.
   — Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa
   “That’s extremely important (to consider lower income taxes). It’s their money in the first place. It would be nice (to give state workers a bonus). They haven’t had 
a raise in four years, but we’ll see if that’s fiscally possible.”  It better be possible.
   — Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa
   “It was a very positive address. It wasn’t full of gloom and doom, and that’s always nice. Tax 
relief sounds very good if it’s feasible. I think people are waiting for that. (But) it (the proposal) was so broad that I really can’t say, ‘Yea, let’s do it.’ I was very happy that he was going to put an emphasis on higher education.”  Wishy-washy.
   — Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa
   “It was balanced in the fact he was talking about tax relief as well as getting education funding back. The economy’s looking better and we still have surplus, but it’s going to be touch and go.”
   — Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell
   “There still are big gaps in our services (such as Medicaid). That’s why I’m somewhat concerned about a tax break. There’s 
never been any proven benefit to that in stimulating jobs.  This guy's got it right!
   “It isn’t enough (money for schools). How much of that (education) money 
is going to go out of state to for-profit companies?”  A really, really good question!
   — Rep. John Rusche, Minority Leader, D-Lewiston


Letter about federal debt hits nail on head
   Thanks to Dave Banker of Caldwell for his thoughtful letter to the editor on Thursday. It expressed my thoughts on the federal debt perfectly!
   The old axiom defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results couldn’t be any more appropriate in this instance.
   I marvel that there are so many people out there begging to have their taxes raised to help fix this crisis, when all it would accomplish would be enabling the government to waste more money.
   If any of you don’t believe that the feds are wasting our money, check out Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn’s report called “Wastebook 2011.” You can easily find it by Googling it, or here is the address: http://tiny  . Read it and weep!
   Thanks again, Dave!
   n Gary Beard, Nampa

I really don't know why I put Gary's letter here except that I think he's a bit misguided when he says "The old axiom defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results couldn’t be any more appropriate in this instance. "  The government is not your pocketbook.  If the government was, it would only spend what you send in when you pay taxes.  Sound good?  Not if you are the one who's paying the taxes.  Plus, I don't think you can print your own money.  The government can.  They control the flow of money in this country and taxes have very little to do with it.  In fact, taxes is probably the #1 reason we are in the position we are in right now.  Let me ellucidate...

The government knows how many tax payers there are in this country.  They see the money paid into the coffers each month and base the budget on what is coming in.  So far so good, right?  Right.  But wait...  When the year ends, you've got money coming back.  Yikes!  The government has already spent your money!  That's causing a deficit, m'friend.

Today marks the 77th birthday of Elvis Presley, hands down the most influential recording artist of the 20th century. But what does influence really mean? Does each action have an unintended, inadvertent reaction? Is it enough to call Elvis the King of Rock 'n Roll and say he was one of the best ever or should we look beyond that and ask what his influence really was and what it meant? Can we credit his taboo-breaking for the rise of everything from the Ramones to Marilyn Manson to Eminem without also crediting his pretty-boy-sex-symbol image for David Cassidy, the Backstreet Boys, and Justin Bieber? I don't pretend to know, but I think to get the full grasp of the phenomenon that was and is Elvis, these are questions that need to be answered. So happy birthday, man. Thanks for all the great music. Now, with all due respect, we're going to have a look at the fallout.
But before we get too deep into how he shaped our modern-day music culture, let's first examine the views and attitudes surrounding Elvis at the beginning. A lot of us have probably seen the clip of the upright citizen in the '50s claiming that Elvis and his legion of followers were simply a "plot to bring the white man down to the level of the nigger." But looking beyond racists and bigots, what did Ward and June Cleaver see when they looked at Elvis Presley in 1956? In many ways, it was the same as Tipper Gore's reaction to Twisted Sister 30 years later. This was some scary shit.
A friend of mine said "Elvis was the last superstar worth his hype" and, while there is probably some truth to that, I would argue that (with the possible exceptions of Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan) he was also the last great folk singer. On his first Lousiana Hayride appearance in 1954, the announcer describes Elvis's music as "something new in the folk music field" and the liner notes on the back of his RCA debut two years later continued that line of thought. And his records for Sam Phillips at Sun truly do feel like a natural progression and amalgamation of music previously made by folks like Son House, Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, The Carter Family, Roy Acuff, Charlie Patton, and gospel groups such as Sam Cooke's Soul Stirrers. Yet, much like Dylan plugging in his guitar a decade later, Elvis's sudden rise to stardom would have the unintended consequence of destroying the roots music of his day.
Furthermore, the rise of Elvis transformed the country music industry in countless ways. George Jones (or his alter ego "Thumper"), Johnny Horton, Cowboy Copas, Webb Pierce, Marty Robbins and Faron Young were just a few of the artists who tried their hand at rockabilly in the mid-'50s. Buddy Holly and Wanda Jackson were two rising country stars who would soon become rock and roll legends in the midst of the new sound. And let's not forget Jim Reeves or Patsy Cline, who helped usher in the Nashville Sound era when it became clear that in order to compete with Elvis and his Sun Records labelmates, artists would now have to create music with potential to cross over into the pop market. Is it any wonder that he made just one ill-received appearance on the Opry stage or that some purists still blame him for the death of country music's golden era?
The point I'm getting at is that while modern listeners can look around and still see Elvis's fingerprints everywhere, in many ways that influence existed from the beginning. The music more than speaks for itself and there is no doubt that, on pure singing talent alone, Elvis would have had a successful career as a recording artist for the rest of his life. But the '50s was the dawn of the TV era and folks like Milton Berle and Ed Sullivan scrambled to get the young, good-looking singer on their shows. And that, my friends, is when the real shit started going down.
David Cassidy wearing his bell-bottoms and making the girls swoon every week on The Partridge Family. Record label creations such as the Backstreet Boys selling out arenas. The completely untalented Britney Spears dressed in a schoolgirl outfit and doing nothing of any musical relevance, but making money because she was hot. The millions of teenage girls with a crush on Jason Aldean and a Justin Bieber poster on their wall.
It all started with one simple shake of the hips from one of the most talented guys to ever walk the earth.
And from there you got the "teenage idols": the extremely talented Ricky Nelson, who would grow up to be one of the forefathers of country-rock, but also the Fabians, Frankie Avalons, and eventually the Monkees and Bobby Sherman, Leif Garrett, and Aaron Carter. Or, here in 2012, Miley Cyrus and Justin Moore. (As a side note, it seems like each generation has that one artist who breaks the confines of the "teen idol" label: the aforementioned Ricky Nelson in the '50s, Michael Jackson in the '70s and '80s, Hanson in the '90s, Tanya Tucker in the country music world, and possibly Taylor Swift in our own time, assuming she can handle the pressure.)
But, getting back on track, TV was the true culprit. Once the promoters and label heads realized that, in the minds of the public, music was now secondary to a pretty face, they began signing acts with this notion in mind. And even Elvis himself began to suffer. While at Sun, he had recorded material that was truly among the best country and R&B had to offer and that continued in 1956 and most of 1957. But by '58, he was recording songs like "Crawfish" and "Lover Doll," that, while good by pop standards then and now, were far beneath him. And by the time he made his comeback a decade later and got back to making great music, he had been reduced to a fading B-movie star who sang love songs to cows. Seriously. See the movie Stay Away Joe. That shit actually happened.
Actually go watch any of his '60s films except for Flaming Star, Charro, Viva Las Vegas, and Change of Habit, all of which range from classic to decentThen go watch From Justin to Kelly or that godawful Britney Spears movie and see how Elvis influenced marketing and promotion not just in the music industry but also in Hollywood, where a film career is now the norm for any pop star with a hit.
Yet, I don't believe Elvis intentionally destroyed our culture. If anything, he was merely the patsy for Colonel Tom Parker and Hal Wallis. And let's not forget that there is a completely different chain of influence leading back to Elvis and this is the one we should be thanking him for. In this world, we have to take the good with the bad. Without the taboo-breaking, race mixing early records or the provocative dance moves on The Ed Sullivan Show, where would rock and roll be? The music would still exist, for sure, but would we have Alice Cooper? What about Frank Zappa, Black Sabbath, the Sex Pistols, Marilyn Manson, Danzig, N.W.A., or your favorite artist?
It is this impact on the society (good and bad), this transformation of what the word "celebrity" means and any and all music that has came since that we are really celebrating today. Not just the birthday of a man who has been dead going on 35 years. Elvis's life is one of harsh contradictions. He was innocent mama's boy who ushered in the sexual revolution. He was the Federal drug agent who died from an overdose of pills. He was the hardcore J. Edgar Hoover supporter who may have done more for the advancement of civil rights than anybody, including Martin Luther King (but that's another article). He was the most talented vocalist of the 20th century and recorded several of the worst songs ever written ("He's Your Uncle, Not Your Dad," anyone?). Likewise, his posthumous influence and legacy is complicated by the same contradictions, which is something to consider when listening to his music or observing our modern-day, disposable-pretty-face culture.
Or you can just listen to the music and leave these sorts of questions to guys like me. Either way, happy birthday Elvis.
By Adam Sheets
Well written...great article.  I couldn't have said it better.  Elvis was a oner...he'll never be copied...aped, but not cannot copy greatness.  There are no 'impersonators' who come close to filling his shoes.

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