There’s a lot going on in the news over the past few days— the SCOTUS just dropped some pretty controversial rulings and a lot of people are pretty excited (or pissed off) about it— despite the fact that the Justices seriously passed the buck by refusing to render any rock solid judgments on anything. Whether or not de-fanging DOMA is ultimately seen as a victory for Gay Rights or a victory for States Rights isn’t entirely clear. However their dismissal of portions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (enacted to stop racist Jim Crow-era practices that hindered voting) was ALSO a victory for States Rights, but of a much different kind. That decision— which ends the censure of several Southern states formerly notorious for rampant racism at the polls— is based on the undeniable fact that times have changed over the last 48 years.
Ironically within hours of the SCOTUS Voting Rights Act decision, legislators in those selfsame states were already busy drafting legislation to re-define certain voting districts to disenfranchise poor minority voters and create new “safe seats”— voting districts where the vote is stacked to always fall a certain way, guaranteeing that the political party of the representative seat will never change. Yet I doubt that sudden rush to stack the political deck was caused by racism; I suspect it was nothing so mundane as that. It’s just partisan zealotry at work as politicos take advantage of the changed law to game the system.
Meanwhile, in the Texas Senate, the passage of another controversial anti-abortion bill was blocked by a last minute filibuster and everyone is either upset or jubilant about it depending on their politics. Damn, there’s a lot to keep up with. And while politics are no dirtier than they were a century ago, a week’s worth of the modern New York Times contains more information than an 18th century inhabitant was likely to encounter in his or her entire lifetime.
Mercifully changing the subject, this is STILL a blog about corporations and the jerks who ruin them, so allow me to regale you with one of my personal favorite Golden Moments in Corporate Douchebaggery: aka “Why Corporate Record Executives Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Judge the Quality of Anything.”
Way back in the lazy hazy crazy days of 2002, Time-Warner owned the record company Reprise Records. Reprise paid the band Wilco to record the album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but Reprise management heard some preliminary tracks and refused to release the album under the pretense that it was so bad it would “ruin the band’s career.” Because if there’s one thing that guys in suits and ties know about, it’s rock & roll. Reprise then haughtily terminated the band’s contract, telling them to release the album independently. So Wilco responds by streaming the album live over the internet and millions of copies are downloaded by hordes of appreciative fans who pronounce the album the best thing since anything ever. In response, a bidding war erupts over which record company will win a new contract with Wilco (along with permission to formally release the album). Wilco ultimately signed with Time-Warner-owned Nonesuch Records for a ridiculous amount of money and re-released the previously-released album, which went on to become the most successful of Wilco’s career.
So Time-Warner paid Wilco to record an album, fired them and shelved the album, gave Wilco back the album for free, then re-hired Wilco and paid them to buy back rights to the album they originally paid for.
On the universal dumbass scale, that’s got to be some kind of World Record.