Fiscal Cliff: Ugh, Recession is Now More Likely

departures-200-netbank-cs2007Here is a simple way to think about the political calculus of Washington’s latest twists and turns. And — unfortunately — it suggests that economic and market dislocations may be needed to get our politicians to cooperate and govern properly. A major issue from day one was the extent to which the lack of trust between our political parties undermined Washington’s ability to govern. Hoping to resolve this problem and thus deliver consensus, party leaders opted in the summer of 2011 for a very big stick: threaten the country with a major economic setback as a way to get the rank and file of both parties to cooperate. This, of course, was the strategic underpinning of the fiscal cliff: By designing large and blunt spending cuts and tax hikes that would automatically go into effect, and thus push the country into a costly recession, political leaders hoped to impose compromise among bickering and dithering politicians — particularly among those with very different views of the past, present and future. The stick succeeded in catalyzing serious negotiations between President Obama and House Speaker Boehner. But the stick was not big enough to overcome differences and force a cooperative outcome. And with Republicans facing the bigger risk of being blamed by the country for the failure, Speaker Boehner opted for his Plan B. Now the situation has taken an even more interesting turn. The Speaker’s inability Thursday to unite Republicans behind his plan highlights the extent to which mutual trust is also seriously lacking WITHIN the political parties — and not just between them. This meaningfully complicates the cooperative solution.

How about the future?

Let us start with the obvious. In order to avoid a recession that would aggravate the country’s unemployment problem and reignite concerns about housing and household finances, Democrats and Republicans need quickly to find a way to work together. While possible, it is hard to see how this happens endogenously. There are lots of divisions, and at many levels. If an internal resolution mechanism is indeed lacking, than cooperation will need to be forced by an outside event. This is where economic and market volatility comes in. Thursday’s collapse of Speaker Boehner’s Plan B unfortunately makes it more likely that the fiscal cliff may materialize, constituting a blow to a recovering US economy. Absent some last minute messy deal that buys a few weeks at best, that would constitute stage one. The question about stage two is how much time do political parties then need to find a solution and avoid a bigger economic and financial implosion. The 2008 experience with TARP — where the market and economic dislocations that followed the initial congressional vote rejection quickly forced politicians to cooperate — suggests that there is nothing like visible turmoil to get our bickering political parties to come together properly in the national interest.

Let us hope that the political system responds in a similar fashion in the coming weeks, if not earlier. There is a lot at stake.

Cross-posted from CNBC.com.

XXL Presents…30 2012 Rap Songs That Stay on Repeat

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It isn’t easy condensing a year’s worth of rap music. Still, we can safely say there were enough recognizable songs that couldn’t be ignored. Some were regional anthems. Some took off on a national scale. Hip-hop’s go-to producers (Mike Will Made It and Young Chop) and everyone from Future and Big Sean to Chief Keef helped shape a new diverse sonic signature. With only a week and a few days left until the year is up, we reflected on songs that have an undeniable lasting appeal. There are obvious ones such as “Love Sosa” and “No Worries,” but we made sure to highlight the best from rap’s eclectic pool of MCs. It’ll be interesting to see where hip-hop will go since new trends are forming by the minute. Before we set our sights on 2013, here are 30 songs that’ll stay in heavy rotation.—XXL Staff

{CHECK OUT WHO IS ON THE LIST}

Ice Cube Says ‘Last Friday’ Is “Marinating,” Coming After Next Album [Video]

Since revealing in March that a fourth installment of the beloved Friday movie series is in the works, Ice Cube has had fans on the edge of their seats waiting for more information. Now Cube says he has a timetable in place for producing the new film. The West coast OG recently chopped it up with TheWellVersed and 2DopeBoyz and revealed the new Last Friday film will start production after his upcoming album, Everythang’s Corrupt. “Yeah, [Last Friday] is coming,” he said. “We’re marinating on it, putting it together…probably my next album will be done quicker than the Friday movie. We just turned in the script, so it’s going to take a couple of more months to put it together.” On his new album, he added, “[My goal with this album is to] have fun, go in there, look forward to the next song being better than the song you just did. To me, there’s no pressure at this point . it’s all gravy, and it’s all fun.”

Check out the interview, below.

An Open Letter to the NRA..Guns, Guns & More Guns Is that the Solution?

crimesceneDear NRA: (National Rifle Association) we peeped your press conference this afternoon and lemme make sure I understand the main premise.. What we need in this society as follows; Guns, Guns and More Guns.. We need a cop on every corner and armed guard in every school..We also got from the NRA, that the reason the school kids died tragically in Newtown at Sandy Hook elementary was because the Principal, Dawn Hochsprung who courageously gave her life didn’t have a gun.. If only she had a gun, then the school kids would’ve been saved..That’s the type nonsense you guys always say, but when push comes to shove, it never rally pans out..Most folks unless they been trained gun or not are thinking about getting out the line of fire, not running around like they in a James Bond movie shooting down assailants packing military style assault weapons.. Sure you NRA types like so-called neighborhood watch George Zimmerman or gun collector Michael Dunn are quick to kill an unarmed Trayvon Martin or a shoot into a car of unarmed teens and kill an unarmed Jordan Davis for playing his music loud or be like Shawna Forde who shot unarmed Raul “Junior” Flores, 29, and his daughter, Brisenia, 9 because she thought they were here ‘illegally’ (they weren’t). Forde and her colleagues in the Minutemen were supposedly ‘protecting the border’. In these instances and many like them its easy to shoot unarmed folks, but when others are strapped like you are and willing to bust back, you’re doing like everyone else running for cover and then talking smack days later about what you would’ve and could’ve done with a gun.. As the NY Times recently pointed out, there’s been over 60 mass shootings in past 30 years and not one has been stopped by the NRA or armed civilians. You can’t shoot your way out of a problem NRA..So Please Stop all that noise.

Also you all went  and blamed the media and video games for mass shootings. You basically said we need to crack down on that…I’m wondering if you were including the games that your fine organization helped develop like ‘NRA Gun Club‘ or the newest the ‘Medal to Honor‘ video game that our esteemed Navy Seals worked on? CONTINUE READING

Feature: Rapsody’s Idea of Beautiful

rapsody_BGIRLIn this era of Hip-Hop, where the Hip-Hop blogosphere is brimming with articles about the shit that Chief Keef does or does not like, videos of DMX’s surprisingly accurate covers of Christmas carols, and analysis of the twitter beef between 50 Cent and French Montana, it seems almost refreshing when an artist emerges with no other motive than to make good music. No ulterior motives, no gimmicks, just good Hip-Hop. I think that Phonte might have said it best on the Little Brother song Not Enough, rapping “When we’re on stage, the people they all front / dope beats, dope rhymes, what more do y’all want?” Sadly, it seems that the answer to this question is ‘lots.’ With the rare exceptions of dudes like Kendrick Lamar, Big Krit, or Joey Bada$$, the masses rarely seem to give people a chance until there’s a video of them on WorldStar snatching someone’s chain, or unless they have some other gimmick to attach their brand to. Juxtaposed against this subculture of ironic appreciation, the rise of rapper Rapsody, a contemporary to these aforementioned artists, seems particularly interesting. Similar to Little Brother, Rapsody, whose love for Hip-Hop culture is anything but ironic, is a North Carolina native whose career and sound have been heavily shaped by legendary producer 9th Wonder. This love of the culture is apparent just one minute into her album The Idea of Beautiful. “I care about ‘em too much to not say nothin” Rapsody says on the song “Motivation,” an undertone of urgency in her voice. Beginning with a beautifully honest spoken word piece, the song’s lush soundscape sets the tone for the rest of the album. True to the 9th Wonder influence, the album is filled with soulful, boom-bap beats; a callback to better times yet somehow still wholly modern. When I spoke to Rapsody on the phone earlier today, she explained “I grew up heavily influenced by that 90s era and a lot of that was boom-bap. I was a big fan of people like Mos Def, The Fugees, Little Brother, and that whole sound.  I like a wide range of beats, but the soulful beats really, really do something for me. They inspire me more. You can’t beat the soul.” When examining Rapsody’s lyrical content, these influences become rather apparent. Drawing on the lyrical dexterity of a dude like Mos Def, she often raps with the sincerity of a Big Pooh, incorporating an undercurrent of consciousness similar to that of Lauryn Hill’s. Rapsody is no slouch on the mic. CONTINUE READING