Last Night: U2, Muse at Cowboys Stadium

Categories: Show Reviews
U2, Muse
Cowboys Stadium
October 12, 2009

Better than:
Half-time at the proper name spelling bee.

Hal Samples
For more photos from last night's performance, check out Hal Samples' slideshow.

The first thing everyone noticed, of course, was the much ballyhooed stage, a spider-looking contraption that house a circular inner stage, an outer-ring walkway, movable bridges that connected the two, and a 360-degree, high-definition screen suspended above it all.

Extravagant doesn't even begin to describe it. But, really, that was the theme of the whole evening at Cowboys Stadium--from Muse's rocking opening set, which served as an example of how all stadium show opening sets should be done, to U2's second encore, when Bono and Co., two hours into their own show, returned one final time to perform for its adoring crowd, this time with the frontman basked in red and blue lasers.

It'd be surprising, maybe, if this was another band. But, no, this is U2, the greatest stadium rock act alive. And, in turn, the band treated audiences to what essentially served as the greatest two-hour-long half-time show ever produced.

Half-time for what exactly? Well... life, perhaps?

Hal Samples
Because, make no mistake: With a production value this high, a stage set-up this over-the-top, featuring one of the most dramatic rock acts in the business as the opening act and one of the greatest, most commercially successful rock bands of all-time serving as the headliner (and armed with a straight-up arsenal of hits to sling at its crowd), on Monday night, U2 had every intention of giving its audiences the best performance it had ever seen.

And, if the proof of as much wasn't in the production alone, it was in the offerings from Bono and The Edge, two of the most dramatic performers in the history of rock music. From the set's start, after the lights dimmed to Bowie's "Space Oddity" and the band launched into "Breathe" from its newest album, No Line On The Horizon, Bono leapt and lurched at his audiences like a cat. The Edge, meanwhile, performed his intricate guitar playing while, quite literally, sprinting around the stage's outer ring. The Cowboys Stadium audience at it up--and the flashes seen from handheld cameras from around the stadium only served to reinforce as much. Far as anyone at the stadium was concerned last night, this was not just a concert, but a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Hal Samples
And, aside from maybe "The Sweetest Thing," the crowd got every song it could really want from the band--including a few extras. Bono, you see, has a knack for tossing out lines from other songs and placing them within his own. Throughout the night, he treated audiences to 10-second renditions of "Blackbird," "Stand By Me," "All You Need Is Love," and Denton-born Sly Stone's "Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Again)," among others. He also showed a knack for changing up the melodies and lyrics from his band's recorded output--much to the frustration and confusion of the sing-along set, who did their best to follow. But, of course, such leeway allowed for various asides, too: Within the first couple minutes of the performance, Bono had shouted out, oddly enough, the DART rail, Richardson, Fort Worth, Fair Park, Tony Romo, Jason Witten, and even called his own band "Irish Cowboys."

Was it pandering? Yes, absolutely. But did the crowd eat it up? What do you think?

It's all a give-and-take with this band, though: The fandom, of course, allows for the band to offer up its political asides. With the help of a crew form Amnesty International, Bono called for the release of Burmese political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi, and, throughout the night, thanked people for helping his battles against AIDS in Malaria in Africa--even President Bush, to the equal surprise and delight of various audience members.

Having also heard the beauty of of "One," the fist-pumping thump of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and the driving tenderness of "Where The Streets Have No Name," the crowds couldn't really complain--not based off the band's performance, at least. There still remain sound issues in the cavernous venue, though, as slower songs from both acts were hampered by reverberations bouncing back and forth about the stadium.

But, overall? Quite the show, indeed.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
This was my first time seeing U2, believe it or not. Love the band, not sure how I feel about its overtly political posturings, although I certainly respect all the band's done for various parts of the world. Just seemed a little weird to ask people for donations to the cause when the band is spending so much on its stage--especially in a venue like this, which has a 60-yard HD screen that was turned off and could've been utilized instead, if only to save money and better contribute to the cause....right?

Random Note: Muse called the Death Star "lovely," which might've been my favorite part of the night. Is that weird to say? Whatever.

By The Way: When President Bush got his shout-out during "One," half the stadium cheered maniacally. The other half looked like it'd been punched in the gut. Awesome moment.

Hal Samples

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You or I do not have ANY control over Federal taxes. What all pay into Federal taxes is FIXED. We can not change it ANYWAY. If people understand that then it is easy to understand that some States are donor states and some states are recipient states. Most of the Southern States are recipient states by virtue of what they pay INTO Federal taxes (which is LESS) and what they receive as Federal support (which is MORE). 

No state can change the State donor role or State recipient role overnight. Most Republican Governors are just loosing out in that they are refusing the Federal largess (the Federal handout) on Medicaid Expansion because Believe it or not IT IS A FACT: If states choose to expand Medicaid, the federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs from 2014 to 2016. The feds' contribution will begin to decrease in 2017, but will never be less than 90 percent, under the ACA also known as Obamacare. 

So people opposing Medicaid Expansion can cry foul till their cows come back home but they will with their State be the looser in the long run. If history is correct it all started the same way for the very well established system of Medicare in this nation. 

(Check it out!) Many states refused to accept Medicare in the 60's as a way of doing business just like they are rejecting Medicaid expansion under Obamacare a.k.a. ACA (Affordable Care ACT) but in the long run when Reagan got tired of appearing in anti-Medicare Ads all over the country Medicare was established as the way of doing business (taking care of our elder population's medical needs) and to this day it is an accepted wise and affordable way of supporting our Seniors. 

Mark my words in less than a decade i.e. by 2023 Medicaid Expansion will be the accepted norm all over the country and NOT the EXCEPTION. You and I can not beat the economics of fairness. Try your best but within this decade either Governors who accept Medicaid Expansion will be elected or Governors who reject Medicaid Expansion will be DEFEATED. 

And if Medicare is any example MEDICAID will go the same rout. I repeat, Mark my words in less than a decade i.e. by 2023 Medicaid Expansion will be the accepted norm all over the country. And I am saying that proudly as I do not find the need to hide my identity behind pseudonyms.

People opposing Medicaid Expansion have access to and I believe they are intelligent people. Check it out: IT IS A FACT: If states choose to expand Medicaid, the federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs from 2014 to 2016. The feds' contribution will begin to decrease in 2017, but will never be less than 90 percent, under the ACA.

That's why I created a petition to Governor Rick Perry, Texas Governor, The Texas State House, The Texas State Senate, and Governor Rick Perry, which says:

"Please ACCEPT the FREE EXPANSION of MEDICAID under The Affordable Care ACT."

Will you sign this petition? Click here:


Ajay Jain
Twitter Handle @ajain31.
Mobile: 214-207-9781


President George W. Bush's Eighth Legacy: Destruction of Retirement

Another Bush legacy has been the destruction of the retirement system established in the immediate post-World War II period. That system was based on the idea of a three-legged stool structure that included Social Security, employer-provided pensions, and personal savings. Bush actively undermined all three, resulting in a crisis of historic proportions for the more than 44 million retirees and the 77 million baby boomers who will join their ranks starting next year.

The crisis in Social Security is not the one described by the Bush administration a few years ago, as Bush desperately attempted to privatize the system. The crisis is the more than $2.3 trillion dollars that has been siphoned out of the Social Security Trust Fund, transferred to the U.S. general budget, and spent in order to pay for wealthy and corporate tax cuts, chronic wars under Bush, and ballooning defense budgets. Social Security payroll tax collections for two decades have actually subsidized the U.S. budget, not undermined it. Every year the Social Security program produces a surplus, at the rate of sometimes hundreds of billions of dollars. And that surplus is diverted in full and spent. Defenders of the historic theft say we owe it to ourselves and can put it all back in the trust fund whenever we need. True. But to replace it requires that the U.S. government borrow back the $2.3 trillion from banks and other private sources, paying interest on that debt, and thus adding at least $200 billion more a year for 10 years to the coming $1 trillion a year budget deficit. In accounting terms it is possible; in economic and political terms it is not. Bush has borrowed over his eight years in office more than $1.3 trillion of the $2.3 trillion Social Security Trust Fund surplus.

President George W. Bush's Ninth Legacy: Dismantling Health Care

Bush has been even more successful in privatizing, and thus dismantling, the post-war health care financing system. By allowing health care insurance premiums and other costs to double during his term, rising more than 10 percent every year, he has forced employers and workers alike to give up health care coverage altogether or to reduce that coverage in order to afford rising premiums and other costs. There are now more than 47 million Americans without any kind of health coverage whatsoever, an increase of 9 million since 2000. More than 1.3 million working Americans lost their health insurance coverage in 2006 alone. Approximately 12 percent of all children in the U.S. have no health coverage.

Despite this collapsing coverage, the U.S. spends nearly twice as much, about 17 percent, of its total GDP on health care. That compares with 9 to 10 percent for those countries with single payer health delivery systems in Europe, Canada, and elsewhere. It means the U.S. spends more than $1 trillion a year to mostly insurance companies that push forms around while delivering no health services.

For those still with health insurance, the rising cost burden has also shifted significantly from employers to their workers—by as much as 30 percent, according to some studies. Thousands of companies have been allowed to abandon their health plans altogether, most notably the big auto companies which are dumping their health care funds, underfunded by $50 billion, onto the auto workers' unions.

President George W. Bush's Tenth Legacy: Income Shift

Every year for the first five years of his terms in office Bush pushed historic tax cuts totaling more than $5 trillion. Estimations from sources like Brookings, Urban Institute, and others are that about 73 percent of the cuts benefited the wealthiest 20 percent households—30 percent, or $1.5 trillion, of that 73 percent benefited the wealthiest 1 percent households; roughly 1.1 million out of the total 114 million taxpaying households in the U.S. But these figures don't include tax cuts for corporations. Nor do they include similar massive tax shifting at the state and local levels. Where has all that tax cut money gone, one might ask? A good deal of it into hedge funds, private equity funds, and other forms of private, unregulated banking, thus stoking the fires of speculative investment in subprimes, derivatives, and other unregulated financial securities. Other amounts have no doubt contributed to the explosion of offshore tax shelters. According to the investment bank Morgan Stanley, in 2005 offshore tax shelters increased their funds from $250 billion in 1983 to more than $5 trillion by 2004. More recent estimations by the Tax Justice Network indicate tax shelters now hold more than $11 trillion. A reasonable estimate is that wealthy Americans likely account for at least 40 percent of that total—around $4-$4.5 trillion. Exactly how much is not currently knowable, since there are around 27 offshore tax shelters, according to the IRS, in mostly sovereign nations like the Cayman Islands, the Seyschells, Isle of Man, Vanuatu, and the like that have closed their tax doors and do not cooperate with IRS attempts to investigate how much wealthy U.S. taxpayers have stuffed away in their electronic vaults.

This explosion of income and wealth at the top at the expense of those at the bottom has been estimated in recent academic studies by Professors Emmanual Saez and Thomas Picketty. Based on their analysis of IRS taxes paid over the history of the federal income tax since 1917, the wealthiest 1 percent of households in the U.S. received about 8.3 percent of total income in the U.S. in 1978. By 2006, that wealthiest 1 percent was receiving 20.3 percent of total income generated in the U.S.—not including tax sheltered income or corporations' retained income or profits diverted offshore. This 20.3 percent represents a return to almost exactly what the top 1 percent received in 1928 (21.09 percent) on the eve of the last Great Depression.

These legacies are interdependent, one feeding on and exacerbating the other. It is not possible, for one example, to understand the current financial crisis and emerging global epic recession apart from the massive shift and concentration of income in the hands of the wealthiest household-speculators and corporate-speculators. That is not the sole explanation of the present systemic financial collapse or growing threat of global depression increasing now almost daily. But the financial and economic crisis underway at present cannot be fully comprehended apart from the former either. Reversing the legacies, removing the toxic effects on the future of American economy and society cannot take place without correcting the fundamental causes. That includes reversing once again, as in the 1930s and 1940s, the perverse and distorted income and wealth distribution afflicting society itself. 

Ajay Jain
Twitter Handle @ajain31.
Mobile: 214-207-9781

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