At the cheaper end of the tier, $50 will get you the digital download, a double disc set, a t-shirt, and a 5-minute phone call with Freese to discuss anything you like—including what you liked or didn’t like about the album. Too boring? Buy the $250 package and you’ll get signed drumsticks, plus you can have lunch with Freese at The Cheesecake Factory or PF Changs. The $5,000 package includes (among other things) a letter from Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam telling you about his favorite song on the album.
But wait there’s more! If you’re willing to spend a sizable amount of money, the perks get even weirder: there’s only one $10,000 package, but that’s because included alongside the foot massage and day at Disneland, Freese will give you his Volvo station wagon, of which he obviously only has one. The $20,000 package includes 2 original songs written for or about you, and you get sing back up or play (“the drums, triangle, whatever”) on them.
ITEM: Political geeks (and Democrats themselves) usually point to the 1994 mid-term elections as a cautionary tale for Obama and Congress, but Jeffrey Lord goes back to 1966.
The profound differences in psychology, philosophy and policy that have been the central source of friction between the American and Russian governments for the past decade remain very much in place. Sooner or later, the Obama administration will have to grapple with them.
Anyone who doubts the truth of this need only look at remarks Lavrov himself made last weekend in Brussels, where he presented a vision of the world utterly unchanged by the events of Jan. 20. Speaking to past and present policymakers — several of whom had helped dismember the Warsaw Pact and expand NATO in the 1990s — he offered his own version of those developments, as well as of some more current. Among other things, he said, or implied, that the West lied to Russia; that NATO remains a threat to Russia; that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe should replace NATO as the primary Western security organization; and that, by the way, Russia has plenty of potential clients for its gas in the Far East should its Western clients ever become problematic. As for Russia helping to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons — an Obama administration suggestion — Lavrov’s only comment was that “there is no proof that Iran even has decided to make a nuclear bomb.”
The transcript of his remarks, and those of other Russians attending the same conference, do not capture their snide tone, or the scorn with which they dismissed suggestions that Russia’s neighbors might have wanted to join NATO because they were afraid of Russia. To return to the metaphor: If that is how the Russian government sounds after pressing the reset button, I’m not sure that the technical complications that caused the screen to freeze have gone away.
When will he cross into negative territory? The pool is open.
ITEM: On the other hand, Obama still has the late-night comedians in his pocket. Obama just had possibly the worst week of his career, providing tons of comic fodder, and what did Jay Leno feature on the Tonight Show? An idiotic “What’s George Bush Doing Now?” skit (Bush and Cheney fighting with light sabers). That’s almost as pointless and pathetic as Jacob Weisberg over at Slate continuing his “Bushisms” feature.