Monthly Archives: January 2019

Stay Out The Schultzes

Was anyone clamoring for another out of touch billionaire to run for President?

So what if he registers as a Democrat. It’s the same animal.

I’ve only just recently gotten more acquainted with Howard Schultz. A good friend asked me yesterday what I thought of him and I did not have an answer.

I’ve had a day to read some of what this guy says and my answer to my friend is not a whole lot.

I feel like he will get less votes than Jill Stein, first off. Because as far as I know, no one on the left was looking for someone to the right of the liberals. There is a demand for the Democrats to pull further left, Bernie Sanders’ (and even Stein’s) candidacy proved that. But there is no such demand for it to go further to the center. And that is why this Schultz dude will be lucky to get 3%. Furthermore, if he sticks this out think he stands more of a chance of chewing some votes from the GOP because of the coming anti-Trump backlash from the right.

In fact, I hope that is the reason for his candidacy. There’s much ado about the threat he is to the Democrats but he sure as fuck reminds me of a Republican.

Here’s what a Democratic Trump sounds like: “I must be doing something right to create so much interest and backlash from the Democratic Party.” Oh, brother. The “Did I hit a nerve, snowflakes?” routine. Fuck you. Another glib billionaire with a defiant streak, just what we need. You are pissing people off not with the things you are advocating or proposing. You’re pissing people off by pretending to be a liberal and threatening the left wing coalition. Try not to get confused. Because that’s what is keeping you on television right now.

Some more? Here, on Elizatbeth Warren: “I don’t believe the country should be heading to socialism… I think she believes in programs that will lead to a level of socialism in America.” Again, this is exasperating, this use of the boogeyman of the right. Liz Warren is a recovering conservative, a capitalist, just one who has heart and good sense who understands economics where fairness is a actually a force multiplier. So this guy is making up a dumb strawman- and for who? Do you know any Democrat who was just waiting to give it to Liz Warren for being too progressive? I didn’t think so. Honestly, if anything Schultz is giving the right wing ammo to deride the left. They’ll be playing up all the competition, trying to make it look like the lefty coalition is in trouble. It’s not. We just won the House and we’re gonna sweep the rest next year with a President who isn’t named Howard Schultz.

And, finally: “I don’t affiliate myself with a Democratic Party who’s so far left, who basically wants the government to take over health care, which we cannot afford, the government to give free college to everybody, and the government to give everyone a job.”

Then go join the GOP, because there’s not much daylight between you and conservatives with this nonsense garbletalk that means nothing.

We do not need a whole lot of bluedogs to win in 2020, any more than we need the destructive, self-wounding wing of the progressives. Clinton won the popular vote partially cloaked as a progressive. So we have an enthusiasm gap for the right of the left. Schultz becomes unnecessary and surperfluous in that analysis.

For the record, I do indeed hope that some things are moving in the direction of socialism. But there will be no capital S socialism and perhaps that’s just fine. Mixing it brings the best of both-purebreds have a habit of dying early and painfully. Frontier psychology is so ingrained in our history-mind that we reflexively do things solely for ourselves instead of for each other. I would like that to change, and to that end I am willing to vote for some mandated fairness; the only other hope is a revolution. And that will probably only end up in cracked skulls, dictators, zip ties and tear gas from sea to shining sea.

There will be no evening out of serious inequalities any time soon. The rich will stay filthy rich and there will always be poor people.

You didn’t hear it from me, but that’s part of the secret sauce to make a middle class.

Ancient Melodies Of The Past

If you are a regular lurker here, you know that I got seriously burned by Brian Wilson on his pathetic Pet Sounds revival. I was not alive for the 60s, much less a young person in that decade so that I could say I knew what it was all about. I piece it together backwards, bit by bit because it’s a fascinating time period. Brian and his music are/were runes to help me understand, along with a host of other artists and prominent individuals who were doing their thing, having their own trip, making their own movie. And even in that psychedelic soul search for ourselves, we realized that we were all One. Or maybe that’s just what the acid told us.

Which I guess brings me to Arlo Guthrie, if I wanna keep this short. Sometimes I have a little trouble with that.

Arlo came to visit my hollowed-out downtown yesterday. Augusta is very much like a car whose headlights have been left on all night and you keep trying to turn the engine over but it’s no use. That sound is what Augusta feels like. In the space of about four or five blocks, there’s a smattering of hep signature places to eat and get twisted, several good concert venues, and overpriced art to gawk at. Further away from the heart of the city there are some seedy places for dumb green soldiers in training to blow their little paychecks on strippers and tattoos, and the rest is what little is left of black business and desolate, rundown empty real estate. We have some very talented promoters working very hard to bring high profile acts to our little town. And we’ve indeed been successful at that beyond my expectations. Jeff Mangum came here, Camper Van Beethoven likes to stop here sometimes, funnyman Tom Segura cracked us up last year, and there’s plenty more prominent to semi-prominent acts that I don’t care about who have come by or are about to come by. None other than James Brown is our patron saint. There’s a college, just not a terribly prestigious one (I can say that because it’s where I finally finished my schooling). Things open, and things shut down. Every time it looks like downtown Augusta is going to explode onto the map, something collapses. There’s just not enough people here with disposable income to keep everything thriving. I’m probably selling Augusta short, but maybe it’s because Manhattan was my childhood stomping ground. Not bragging or anything, just stating a fact.

There I go, running off at the fingers. I said I’d be brief. What I would like to say is that I saw another historic relic of the 60s last night. Arlo brought half a dozen beautiful guitars and some of his family to Augusta to celebrate the movie “Alice’s Restaurant“, which turned 50 recently and if you haven’t heard its soundtrack at least once you are a knucklehead and I don’t need to know you. I mean, I don’t really dig folk music at all, but there’s something transcendent about Alice, a sarcastic, witty, very clever skewering of authority in the days of the draft. I was probably 15 when I first heard it, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t “get” it at the time, and it didn’t “rock” so I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Eventually I’d return to it and understand its charm. And Arlo was nice enough to do about every laugh line for us for about 15 minutes, just as we remembered it and when I say us, I mean about 400 white haired folks and maybe half a dozen younger people. He told us stories-including a very funny one about Bob Dylan, made jokes, and most importantly, reminded us in song that the world needs peace and we all have a little of it inside us and the best thing we can do is share it.

Bam. That’s the zeitgeist of the 60s and the prophecy of his father fulfilled and maybe, just maybe it could be ours if we’d just give more of a damn about each other. It sounds overly sentimental and perhaps too simple, but if we could mix some of it with the absurd American preoccupation with rugged individuality and stop ignoring the suffering of our fellow man and woman as if he or she had done something wrong to cause it, that would make this life easier to bear.

One of the last things he said between songs is that he said it was great to do the old tunes but the spirit from whence they came is “coming around again”. And I hope he’s right, because we’re tearing ourselves apart politically and fucking up the planet so that it will no longer sustain us. That message alone is worth a dozen “Love And Mercy”s from Brian Wilson. That sounds mean-spirited given that Brian is obviously suffered enough in his life but perhaps not enough to stay off tour when he could no longer perform.

Anyway, go see Arlo if he pulls into your town. It’s a pleasant evening with good folks and it will take you back where you are from, and leave you renewed to take on where you are going.

State Of Disunion

By now, you’ve read people opine glibly that President Trump is only president of half the country.

It’s a clever line, but it’s not really off the mark anymore. That shiteating motherfucker is thinking about turning the State Of The Union into a goddamned rally full of his idiot supporters who will gleefully agree that the country has never been greater or some other demented non sequitur word salad nonsense. Never mind that the United States Government is slowly flipping agencies’ open signs to closed and people are going to work without pay. It’s an atrocious situation. But that’s a feature, not a bug for Trump as Republicans generally want government closed permanently anyway. So in their estimation, he’s doing great, couldn’t be doing better. For the rest of us, we are realizing that our social compact is in jeopardy while Trump tries to get his increasingly pointless wall. It simply isn’t worth it and it’s all become particularly ironic, given that the people tasked to interdict drugs and prevent hazards by sea and air are finding themselves the people whose jobs Trump is holding hostage as the cornerstones of that wall. If he really cared or listened to anyone with more than a 5th grade vocabulary level familiar with a subject he’d realize that this is not an effective way to solve the problems he claims a wall would solve. If built, it’d just be some giant, racist reverse-Statue Of Liberty monument to Trump’s ego when the crime and the drugs and the migrants and the asylum seekers continue unabated at the border. It’s funny, Trump has broken tons of promises to his faithful. But of all the promises he has broken, this one is particularly important for him not to break- and I don’t want to be the bearer of more bad news, but it’s because the wall bit is one of Trump’s best lines at his Two Hours Hate rallies that makes it imperative for him that it be built. That’s it. Trump needs adulation like a lizard needs a hot fucking rock. He got a taste of crowd hysteria and he’s hooked. It pumps him the fuck up. And it’s going to cost us $5 billion smackers to get him to give back the government so he can crow to the redhats that he won something (for a change).

Speaker Pelosi’s refusal to open the House to the SOTU looks on its face to be a jab simply to rankle Trump, but if you think about it, having the entire American government in the same place without adequately paid professionals ensuring its safety is probably not the smartest idea ever conceived. But everything is always about Trump. It all reduces to him. And like the infantile jagoff he is, he decided to use his position as commander in chief of the armed forces to deny Pelosi a few diplomatic flights overseas which is probably the norm for the new leader of the legislative arm of the American government. I really hope when all the criminals who aided and abetted Trump’s systematic destruction of the American government are put away, we work on curtailing the potential for excess within the executive branch. NO president should have as much power as it has right now. This is absurd. Trump has been such a spectacular abuser of power that political science can’t seem to catch up to him. And when it does, maybe we need to have a conversation about whether what we are doing as a country, as a political entity- is appropriate for Americans. No one should have the power to do what Trump has done (or Mitch McConnell, but that’s another coconut entirely). Trump doled out institutional positions to people whose sole mission was to disable the agency they would lead. He’s frustrated a generation of experts with his thoughtlessness. I don’t think there’s a whole lot of Trump appointees who don’t have “acting” next to their position. And all the planet-busting deregulation for his corporate donors is shocking and offensive.

The Constitution is too vague and skeletal. Judges “interpret” it, which is alarming and bizarrely metaphysical for something rather important. We ignored Thomas Jefferson when he spoke of not updating our document to fit the times: “We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.” The Federalist Papers, while of course interesting for historical reasons, cannot guide us as it attempted to answer questions about the challenges of government in 1787, not 2019. And the founders rarely spoke in unison back then. Hell, arms needed to be twisted about the inclusion of the Bill Of Rights and we look at some of those amendments as so fundamental today that you’d have to be insane not to include them in drawing up a government. But anyway, I suspect if we set those same great minds to the task of creating a new republic today, they would come up with something radically different. Why? Because times fucking change. People change. And the old ways are not preventing the new ills. The old ills barely exist anymore. There were exceptions. George Mason, perhaps traveling through time, refused to sign the Constitution, saying it would “produce a monarchy or a corrupt oppressive aristocracy: it will most probably vibrate some years between the two, and then terminate in the one or the other.”

Is there anything that makes sense today as much as this does? Shit, we have an oppressive aristocrat AND a pretender to monarchy on our hands. How do you deliver a State Of The Union in the state the union has been in anyway?

Am I asking for a revolution?

Me? Nope. I’m a crazy person with too much time on my hands. You all know that.

But I am willing to hear one out.

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