Christmas albums 2015

[This is] iTunes’ chart of the best selling holiday and Christmas albums that were released in 2015. To be listed on the chart below, the album must have been released in 2015 and rank among the top 200 Christmas albums on the overall iTunes Christmas album chart.

India.Arie and Joe Sample, LeeAnn Rimes, Kenny Rogers, The Brian Setzer Orchestra and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra have all issued new records/CDs this year.

Here’s Setzer having fun with the theme from The Flintstones cartoon show from the 1960s:

Preach it, Mr. President

Move forward to 5:02 in the video.

I am embarrassed and ashamed of the (mostly) Republican politicians who are so gutless that the thought of Syrian families with small children arriving in America terrifies them. I’m sure most of them went off half-cocked without knowing how strict the vetting process is and how long it takes for a Syrian refugee to pass it, but they had and have an obligation to find out how it works before squealing like five-year olds.

Incidentally, Governor Christie of New Jersey is, like all bullies, disposed to spit on people who can’t fight back, including five-year olds.

Chris Christie says the U.S. should not accept any new Syrian refugees, not even young orphans.


When asked if he would make an exception for “orphans under the age of five,” Christie said no.

Well, Syrian five-year olds may be more dangerous than American ones. I suppose it makes sense that they should be prohibited entry to our brave and beautiful land.

God, I’m disgusted with these clowns.

FIFA Presidential Candidates? Ew!

FIFA, the governing body of world football (soccer to us American Johnny-come-latelies) is going to hold an election to replace its notorious President, Sepp Blatter, in February 2016. All of the candidates claim to be running on a reform platform, saying they’ll clean up the corruption that resulted in fourteen indictments and seven arrests in May of 2015. Sounds good, right? Certainly FIFA appears to need to be shaken up, its culture changed and its site award system hosed off and expunged of bribery. Unfortunately, none of the candidates for President are what you’d call squeaky-clean.

The organization has just cleared five candidates in the race to succeed Blatter as president of world football. FIFA’s electoral committee says it conducted a thorough “integrity check” of each candidate, reviewing everything from corporate records to media reports of “potential red flags.”

One candidate, Liberian Football Association head Musa Bility, failed to clear that integrity check. But FIFA won’t say why, for “reasons of protection of personal rights.”

Another candidate, former football star and European soccer boss Michel Platini, wasn’t even considered. Like Blatter, he’s suspended while FIFA investigates him for corruption. He’s alleged to have accepted a mysterious $2.1 million payment from Blatter himself. Both men deny it was a bribe.


Absent Platini, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim al Khalifa from Bahrain is considered a favorite. But he’s perhaps the one with the most serious allegations against him. Forget corruption. This guy is accused by human rights groups of helping to imprison and torture people during pro-democracy protests in Bahrain back in 2011.


Then there’s Prince Ali bin al Hussein. He’s the half-brother of Jordan’s King Abdullah, and a former FIFA vice president. He was on the inside when FIFA controversially awarded the next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar.


Gianni Infantino is a Swiss lawyer who works for Michel Platini over at UEFA, the European soccer body. He’s said to be a good administrator, but also a stand-in for his boss, who I remind you is under investigation for corruption. If by some miracle Platini were to somehow pass his integrity check, the word is Infantino would step aside to let the boss through to the top.

Then there’s Jerome Champagne, a former French diplomat and FIFA insider, with old ties to Sepp Blatter. He’s the only candidate who’s put out any specific plans for FIFA’s future. It calls for a redistribution of wealth throughout FIFA.


And finally, the so-called outsider in the race: Tokyo Sexwale. He’s a former anti-apartheid activist from South Africa who served time alongside Nelson Mandela. He’s since become a millionaire businessman, and now says he will “follow the money” to clean up FIFA. He’s also a former member of the organizing committee that brought the 2010 World Cup to South Africa. US prosecutors allege that organizers in South Africa paid $10 million to a now-disgraced former FIFA vice president in order to make sure South Africa was awarded the tournament.

If Jimmy Carter were asked to adjudicate this election, he’d suggest throwing out the nominees and starting over. The outfit certainly doesn’t seem to get the idea that its new President must be pure as the driven snow in order to show the world’s football fans that there will be no more bribes to get World Cups in sites more suited for the World Camel Driving (or maybe Water-Skiing) Championships like Qatar.

Violence begets violence

It happens every time. A terrorist attack invariably causes many many people to rush to judgment as to who the killers were (Muslim until proven otherwise). The same people automatically become Generals of the 82nd Chairborne and demand that the President of the United States declare war on the suspects’ country of origin at once.

They never get tired of it. The blood hasn’t stopped flowing before their own blood-lust begins to surface. I am willing to bet my last dime that few if any of these people have ever served or even thought of serving in the US military. Nope, in their view those who do serve or have served are dumb bunnies who enlisted because they couldn’t go to college, couldn’t get a degree, couldn’t find a nice desk job somewhere, unlike the Colonels of the Chairborne.

I’m fed up with these clowns. They are the worst examples of warmongering imaginable, because they want to send American soldiers they really don’t respect off to war to solve a problem they are too lazy to solve in a non-violent way.

What’s really annoying is this is the same crowd which has been advocating for war almost non-stop since 9/11. Even when the dreadful example of Iraq is held up to them for examination they come up with excuses or they claim that the “surge” worked. Then they claim “we didn’t finish the job,” meaning that dastardly Obama withdrew too quickly from Iraq and Afghanistan, conveniently forgetting that it was their boy George W. Bush who negotiated our departure from Iraq when he couldn’t persuade the country’s Prime Minister that we should stick around. They are a bunch of useless boils on America’s backside.


From the BBC Live Feed at midnight Paris time, an hour and twenty minutes ago:

Here’s what we know about the situation in Paris:

  • Dozens have been killed in multiple gun and bomb attacks in the French capital
  • The country has declared a state of emergency and closed its borders
  • At least 15 people were killed near the Bataclan arts centre. Up to 60 people are being held hostage. Explosions and gunfire have been reported
  • Three people were killed earlier in an attack near the Stade de France, where France were playing Germany. Reports have suggested a suicide blast
  • Paris residents have been asked to stay indoors
  • Military personnel are being deployed across the city

Worried with reason

If Robert Costa is to be believed, and he’s always seemed to be reasonably well-connected to the Republicans, the elites and the big-money boys among them are getting more and more concerned that their party will nominate a clown like Trump or Carson and thus give the Presidency to Hillary. Even more concerning, a candidate of that sort might drag the rest of the party down with him.

In normal times, the way forward would be obvious. The wannabes would launch concerted campaigns, including television attack ads, against the ­front-runners. But even if the other candidates had a sense of what might work this year, it is unclear whether it would ultimately accrue to their benefit. Trump’s counterpunches have been withering, while Carson’s appeal to the base is spiritual, not merely political. If someone was able to do significant damage to them, there’s no telling to whom their supporters would turn, if anyone.

I found this interesting, because it’s the first non-partisan thing I’ve heard from that side which expresses the same worry I have:

“We’re potentially careening down this road of nominating somebody who frankly isn’t fit to be president in terms of the basic ability and temperament to do the job,” this strategist said. “It’s not just that it could be somebody Hillary could destroy electorally, but what if Hillary hits a banana peel and this person becomes president?”

Yes indeed. Can you imagine a President Trump, who makes loose cannons look like gun emplacements in Fort Bliss? Or a President Carson, who not only believes six impossible things before breakfast like the White Queen but brushes off dissent as political correctness?

As Charlie Pierce says, the Republican party has been afflicted by an obvious prion disease since it first ate all the monkey-brains in the mid-1970’s, but this Presidential campaign is really scary. Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina, herself a beneficiary of the Tea Party madness, explains what’s going on:

“You have a lot of people who were told that if we got a majority in the House and a majority in the Senate, then life was gonna be great,” she said in an interview Thursday. “What you’re seeing is that people are angry. Where’s the change? Why aren’t there bills on the president’s desk every day for him to veto? They’re saying, ‘Look, what you said would happen didn’t happen, so we’re going to go with anyone who hasn’t been elected.’?”

Whether that’s a rational thing to do or not, it does seem to be the way a large portion of the supposedly-sophisticated American electorate is behaving so far in this campaign. It’s a good thing the election is still 51 weeks off.

Feedback loop

From what I’ve been able to tell from video and transcripts and commentary about that Republican debate last night, the candidates’ incessant whining about those mean CNBC moderators at the previous debate paid off. The Fox Business Network journalists just let the candidates spout shortened versions of the same stump speeches they’re used to giving, followed by some back and forth among them.

This seems to me to be a problem for whomever is finally selected to be the party’s nominee, because if he (I’m throwing Fiorina over the side; she wouldn’t know an honest answer to a question if it bit her, and surely even Republican primary voters will finally figure that out) just blows smoke throughout the entire primary process, when he gets into a debate with a Democratic policy wonk like Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders he’s going to look like a damned fool.

Remember that in 2012 the Republicans had convinced themselves that Romney was going to win going away against President Obama, and that they’d win a lot of downballot elections as well. As a Democrat, it’s my fervent hope they do the same thing again in 2016.

Obnoxious people hold dull debate

At least, that’s the way I read this WaPo article about tonight’s main event among the eight Republicans allowed on the big stage.

A lengthy discussion of immigration stood out as a proxy for a debate over how Republicans can win back the White House after eight years in the wilderness: under the banner of pure and principled conservatism, or with a moderated platform designed to broaden the GOP’s appeal to Latinos and other minorities.

Trump: “I’ll build a wall that’ll work!”

Kasich: “Don’t be ridiculous. We can’t deport 11 million people.”

Jeb(!) “If we deport all those people we give the Latino vote to the Democrats! They’re doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign right now when they hear this,” Bush said. “That’s the problem with this. We have to win the presidency, and the way you win the presidency is to have practical plans.”

Cruz: “No amnesty now! No amnesty ever!”

Do I need to tell you how glad I am that I missed this?

Sen. Cotton (R-AR), misinformed jerk

The loony Senator wants to reduce the disability rolls, because too many people are on them and because they’re gateways to “social plagues…such as heroin or meth addiction and associated crime.”

“When a county hits a certain level of disability usage disability becomes a norm. It becomes an acceptable way of life and alternative source of income to a good paying full time job as opposed to a last resort safety net program to deal with catastrophic injury and illness,” said Cotton in Heritage’s Washington D.C. office.

One wonders if Senator Cotton would tell the 8.4 percent of Arkansans receiving benefits that they’re slackers and ought to go find a “good paying full time job.” That’s the second-highest number (158,776 people aged 18-64) of beneficiaries of SSDI in the country, behind only Alabama with 8.5 percent.

Moreover, they should have to work while they’re disabled, and whatever they earn their benefits will be reduced by that amount. Finally, there will be a time limit on the benefits. They have to get better so they don’t need disability income any longer.

One wonders how that’s going to work. “Hey, you, the paraplegic injured on the job! You got five years, and then you’re going to have to find another source of income!”

Since the guy spent two tours overseas, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, you’d think he’d have some sympathy toward people with work-related injuries. I wonder how he feels about Vets with combat injuries.