Desaparecidos’ Conor Oberst, Encourages Hacktivism at Tallahassee Show

Desaparecidos delivered a politically charged performance at The Moon in Tallahassee, Fla,. Wednesday night.

Desaparecidos, a post-hardcore band fronted by Bright Eyes singer Conor Oberst, is a band that many, this writer included, never expected to see performing again when they broke up in 2003, and Oberst’s primary act, Bright Eyes, took off.

Though the band only released one album, “Read Music/Speak Spanish,” the album has maintained a faithful listenership.

Desaparecidos expertly combines punk ethos lyrics with the controlled chaos and the divinely aggressive marriage of melody and shouts which best defines the post-hardcore genre. The album’s lyrics lampoon and confront issues such as inequality, rampant consumerism and aggressive militarism.

It’s worth noting that it was written prior to the 9/11 attacks, as this indicates a true passion rather than the reactionary partisanship parading as anti-war sentiment, which is all but quiet now in the music scene.

In a New York Time’s interview Oberst, who donated the maximum $2,300 to President Obama in 2008, as well as performed benefits for Obama, revealed he is upset the current drone policy.

“Obama increased drone strikes and targeted assassinations of American citizens,” he told me. “All the promises he made in the course of that 2008 election, all the things that I thought I heard him saying when I was standing there in the primaries in Iowa on a frozen morning listening to him speak, the person I thought I was hearing, is not the person that is running our government.”

Since reuniting last year Desaparecidos has released four new songs which focus on different issues:

“MariKKKopa,” which takes aim at the controversial Joe Arpaio, Arizona’s Maricopa County sheriff.
“Backsell,” which dashes music industry practices.
“The Left is Right,” which pays homage to the Occupy movement with it’s line “If one must die to save the 99, maybe it’s justified.”
And, lastly, “Anonymous,” which is in support of Bradly Manning and named after the hacker group of the same name

Before launching into “Anonymous” last night, Oberst spoke to the crowd in one of many tongue-in-cheek addresses:

“I recommend if you have any computer skills, what I recommend you to do is to break into any financial institution, and steal as much money as you possibly can, and to find any little, [expletive deleted] corrupt Florida congressman, I’m sure there’s many, hack into their emails, find out — find out about their mistresses, and then put that all out on the [expletive deleted] internet.”

The evening was one of catharsis for the politically frustrated, and likely one of much confusion for one Oberst fan girl I overheard say she was only here because she liked Bright Eyes, and had never heard Desaparecidos.

While Bright Eyes is not devoid of social commentary, Bright Eyes tends to ply the listener with it, where as Desaparecidos makes no qualms about sounding their seemingly barbaric yawp. Although, after listening to the album for 10 years I understand there is no barbarism attached. Calculated, thoughtful and impassioned conveyances of dis-contentedness should never be equated with barbarism.

Desaparecidos makes angry music, and if last night was any indication, that anger is more than matched by their professionalism.

The set list:
1. The Left is Right
2. The Happiest Place on Earth
3. Mall of America
4. Backsell
5. Man and Wife, the Former (Financial Planning)
6. Manana
7. Greater Omaha
8. Survival of the Fittest/It’s a Jungle Out There
9. $$$$
10. Anonymous
11. Man and Wife, the Latter (Damaged Goods)
12. MariKKKopa
13. Spanish Bombs [The Clash Cover]
14. Hole in One

Disingenuous Economics 101 with Stephen Moore

Wall Street Journal opinion writer, economics journalist and right-wing ideologue paid a visit to Troy University on Wednesday.

As a general rule, I don’t appreciate being painted an incomplete picture of a subject I’m not the best at by someone with superior knowledge. I appreciate it even less when I’m able to identify that it’s happening.

[PURPLE PROSE ALERT]
The day prior to Moore’s presentation I read a few of his articles, and viewed some of his television appearances online, so I was well prepared for the grinding of his ideological ax and the weaving of his economic obfuscations.

Despite a few attempts during the course of his presentation to assure the audience that he was somehow non-partisan in his conclusions, I knew better.

So it came as no surprise when the deluge his stat, figures and faulty conclusions began. By keeping a critical eye on his many graphics, I was able to pick out a number of things that didn’t jibe with reality, or that merely partially jibed with reality.

I will cover two of those things with the aid of a YouTube video of him performing the same presentation at another school, and the graphics I lifted from a copy of his PowerPoint slides I found with the almighty Google.

Thing 1:
In this portion of the video Moore makes the argument that the Bush tax cuts on the top 1 percent of earners created increased federal tax revenues from the 1 percent: http://youtu.be/3tHO-j4xTHs?t=32m15s

Click here for a clear image of the graphic he is using.

In arguing that tax breaks on the highest earners caused them to pay more in tax revenue, what he conveniently fails to state is that Bush’s $1.35 trillion tax plan also did other things. Most importantly, it lowered taxes on all other tax brackets, and raised the child tax credit from $500 to $1000.

Where is the shocker? When the people with the least amount of disposable income have more money to spend they spend it. Naturally, those in the 1% are the greatest beneficiaries of such a boon, and thus the increase in their tax contributions.

Their tax contributions increased not because of their tax rates being slashed, but because everyone else’s rates were as well.

Imagine the revenues that would have been picked up had the 1 percent’s taxes not been lowered.

Thing 2:

In this portion of the video he pretends that the education and health care industries are somehow comparable to industries that produce software, computers, apparel and vehicles: http://youtu.be/3tHO-j4xTHs?t=44m50s 

Click here for a clear image of the graphic he is using.

“Look at the two areas of the economy, setting aside energy, where we’ve had the biggest increase in prices over the last ten years,” Moore urges. “Health care and education, health care and education.”

He then insinuates the soaring costs in those industries are because of government involvement.

While I’m willing to concede that the public and private loan industries are not conducive to making universities competitive price-wise, it’s not enough to make me think the costs would be much lower sans government involvement.

How exactly are these industries subject to the same market forces? You can’t outsource: nurses, doctors, surgeons,  emergency medical technicians, teachers, administrators, janitors, lunch ladies, you get the idea.

Moore is just comparing industrial apples to oranges.