Hello Stranger

Opening words from the Spring 2017/Heartland issue of No Depression in print

I've enjoyed this issue the most...feels like ND is hitting stride for dividing people, those forces are always there...fear is the common denominator...when people are afraid, they look for a simple answer to problems that are complex...hopefully what ultimately binds us together is stronger than fear and anxiety,,,

I really disagree with what you are saying here. This is a "new reality" in that I've never lived in a country with a fascist President before and there is no telling how this country will be changed forever by it. As far as the coasts' "sense of privilege and power" goes I'd say that is what the Trumpians possess. They are the ones saying white folks should have all the privileges and they certainly had the power to put a monster in charge who will help them get it. This attitude that we are all one country that will work things out seems very naive to me. The country will only get back to some kind of normalcy if the mad man gets booted from the Reich House and that will probably only happen if enough Republican voters start demanding their Republican politicians stop condoning his behavior.

Fair enough, though isn't it possible my point of view is not naive but rather just different from your own? 

Well Kim, I did say "...seems fairly naive to me," so in other words I will always admit I might be full of shit and certainly confess I am paranoid as hell about what's happening to our country. I'm also certainly aware our history is full of bad Presidents we've somehow weathered so certainly hope that's true this time too but it just seems different to me, like this isn't American politics as usual but the last hurrah of the disgruntled white man who is willing to take down the whole world with him. I keep thinking about the good, smart intelligent Germans who laughed at Hitler and how ridiculous he was until he had so much power it was too late to stop him. So to me, Trumpians aren't just people with a different opinion--they are a threat to the world's future and an enemy I can never respect, even if we may like some of the same music.

Very good article Kim, I found the quote "So the pendulum swings, and here we are. (The reassuring thing about a pendulum is that it is always tethered to something.)"  especially poignant.



You are entitled to your opinion, for certain. I do love the way music touches all, or has the capacity to do this; however,  great songs fail to undo a hateful act day after day in this country. To think it might swing back is reasonable, to ignore the damage being done in the meantime is not.


KJ, of course I know there is great damage being done in our government, for sure. If you read anything else I've written, you'll discover I do not ignore when damage is done, and I tend to encourage people to pay attention to these things. In fact, I'm frequently scolded for "bringing politics into it" or told to just stick to the music. Personally, I don't think it's possible to extract the two. AND I also know that the history of story and song in this country stretches much farther than any individual political moment. The stories and songs connect us to something greater than what has transpired in the past 30-something days, and can sustain us as we resist anything that might come from this administration or any other -- in fact that is at the core of traditional music in this country, and people have been sharing stories and songs in the interest of sustaining through dark times ever since the country was originally colonized. Fixating on an us (categorically right) and them (categorically wrong)? That serves nothing and nobody, except those who seek to divide and conquer.

Please consider that we have elected Presidents in the past who have embraced similar ideology to Mr. Trump, what is happening now is not new at all, and has happened before, here, it is a threat, but not one that is unsurvivable...Woodrow Wilson was, by any reasonable definition, a Fascist...among the things he believed/said, as chronicled by historian Walter McDougall...(see if this sounds like anyone you recognize lately): “No doubt a lot of nonsense has been talked about the inalienable rights of the individual, and a great deal that was mere sentiment and pleasing speculation has been put forward as fundamental principle.”  “The President is at liberty, both in law and conscience, to be as big a man as he can. His capacity will set the limit….”  Wilson criticized the diffuseness of government power in the US in most famous book Congressional Government. In this work he confessed, “I cannot imagine power as a thing negative and not positive.” His love and worship of power was a prime characteristic of fascism. “If any trait bubbles up in all one reads about Wilson it is this: he loved, craved, and in a sense glorified power,” writes historian Walter McDougall. It should not surprise us that his idols were Abraham Lincoln and Otto von Bismarck."  In a disturbing 1890 essay entitled Leaders of Men, Wilson said that a “true leader” uses the masses of people like “tools.” He writes, “The competent leader of men cares little for the internal niceties of other people’s characters: he cares much–everything–for the external uses to which they may be put…. He supplies the power; others supply only the materials upon which that power operates…. It is the power which dictates, dominates; the materials yield. Men are as clay in the hands of the consummate leader.” “Woe be to the man or group of men that seeks to stand in our way."  Wilson rejects the Jeffersonian individualism that has defined the Founding and American conservatism: “While we are followers of Jefferson, there is one principle of Jefferson’s which no longer can obtain in the practical politics of America. You know that it was Jefferson who said that the best government is that which does as little governing as possible…. But that time is passed. America is not now and cannot in the future be a place for unrestricted individual enterprise.”

Kim is correct...if you go to a house concert or large venue concert or a festival, you are going to be sitting with people who are liberal to the point of being socialists or anaarchists...and trust me, you are also going to be sitting with people who voted for Trump...depending on the venue, lots of both...and yet you will converse with them between sets about how great the music is and not even think about that...and so will they...The Wilsons and Trumps may erode some of what makes us great, but alas, you could make the same argument about Mr. Obama, who clearly did not embrace the Jeffersonian principle you feel about Obama has more to do with how positively you feel about what issues he championed in his overstepping of Presidential power, because he did that too...damage and erosion to the republic happen in every administration regardless of party...The Bush's used the military to fight their own personal economic war...on and on...

Everything that comes before us has been recycled from the past...there are no new political ideas, they just go in and out of fashion, and on some level all of them, including our glorious republic and the philosophy of the democratic republic, produce lousy results...240 years is a long time for any Republic to last...maybe this is it, but I seriously doubt it...

You always make me feel a little better reading your hopeful posts Jim.   How much do you charge per hour for someone to lay on your coach and tell you their problems?


Well thanks Rudyjeep...I am the eternal optimist on some level I suppose, and I've been told I am a good listener...and we've seen it all here in 240 years...this isn't new...POTUS is certainly a threat to the Republic, but most of his own party hates him and they'd love to get rid of him, so we'll see what happens when he starts pushing term limits again...if the Democrats can get out of their own way (which they almost never do, and now the new head of the DNC is another insider, when they clearly need a different Pete Townshend famously said, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss"...) everyone wants to put people who voted for Trump in one box because that helps them explain and rationalize what some point you have to realize that lots of voters are sick of them all...for many people a vote for Trump was telling every lifetime politician to go to hell...they know exactly what he is and they abhor a lot of it and they still voted for him...'s no charge, but I don't have office hours presently...and most of the time, there are too many dogs on the couch for anyone to lay there...but you can come by anytime Rudyjeep...we'll dial up Pacers-Knicks, have pizza with Brother Bru-Bru's African hot sauce, and a craft beer of your choice!  And we can solve all the world's problems...





I’m sure we’d have the Israelis and Palestinians hugging at the end!  

Now if we can only figure out a way for the Knicks and Pacers to both win Championships in our lifetime, we’d really be on to something.    THAT may be an insurmountable issue.   


Yes...that could be insurmountable...I was a teenager when the Pacers were winning  ABA champpionships, and when the Knicks were winning NBA championships...the Knicks were the deal then...I loved Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe, and of course Willis Reed managing to make a couple of baskets in game 7 in 69-70, Bradley, DeBusschere, Dick Barnett...And the Pacers had some guys who could have been great in the NBA, particularly Roger Brown, who was one of the guys banned from the NBA in the Jack Molinas point shaving scandal...he was never charged with a crime, but the NBA banned him anyway, and he eventually made the NBA Hall of Fame, posthemously...that guy was a great player, especially in big games...Mel Daniels would have been a star in any league too...Cazzie Russell, who was banned too, but eventually was allowed in the NBA played on the 73 Knicks champion...those were the days...the high school I went to had a 9,000 seat basketball gymnasium called the Wigwam...the Pacers played playoff games there a few times...the Pacers played home games at the Indy Coliseum on the state fair grounds...Ice Capades was scheduled there every year at playoff time...Pacers always had to play their first round of ABA playoff games somewhere else...the way the fairgrounds people looked at it was the Ice Capades was a sure thing every year, where as the Pacers couldn't guarantee making the playoffs, so they'd book the Ice Capades for a week they'd play at my high school gym and at Fort Wayne...the dean at our school let my buddy and I stand in line for playoff tickets when we were supposed to be in class one year...$5 for an ABA playoff game...those are some memories...

I said earlier I'm an eternal gotta be if you are a Knicks or a Pacers fan...


Jim, I find your and Jack's casual optimism about this demagogue disturbing. I've long been a misanthropic, cynical pessimist but you make me feel like a paranoid schitzophrenic. Still, I feel dismissing the Trumpians in light of past lowpoints in our history counterproductive. His admistration is young and I wouldn't be surprised if it led to a new Civil War or WWIII. I enjoy history but I'm an autodidact and no scholar so my knowledge of history is sporadic and no-doubt superficial so let me quote from an article by Katherine Long in "The Seattle Times" about the concerns of some history scholars.

"Sixty political scientists at the Univesity of Washinton--about three-quarters of their department--have signed and posted a letter voicing their concern about a 'fundamental erosion of democratic institutions' in America under President Trump." It goes on to say that the group included tenured professors and graduate students and was written in response to students asking if this transition from a Democratic to a Republican admistration was typical and the answer is no.  They wrote, "Transitions in partisan control of government often occasion rancor. However, we are concerned that a more fundamental erosion of democratic institutions and values is under way." They went on to say that their role in academia is to "analyze the fragility of democracy, the conditions under which democracy can thrive, and how easily it can deteriorat into authoritarian or even fascist rule." They also said they are alarmed by the Trump administration's lack of understanding of basic American values and the institutions that are the foundation of our system and went ont to list those ignored principles. They concluded that all of these things "...has demonstrated a threat to civilized practices and principles that is unparreleled in the last half century, at least" Their letter also talked about how hate speech, bullying, physical violence, racist invectives and a climate of intolerance has increased on campus since Trump's election. (If anyone is interested in reading the whole article it's in the 2/11/17 edition of "The Seattle Times.")

You seem to have great faith that we can weather this crisis based on surviving past ones but those were differnt times and different people and I have no faith that a populous that could elect Trump, that golem created by the American psyche that worships money, greed and celebrityhood, will be able to withstand this one. And I don't put Trump voters into one box. There has to be a least a dozen boxes that combined to elect this jerk including idiots, racists, scoundrel patriots, homophobics, anti-abortionists, right-wing Christians, gun fanatics, hardcore Republicans that will vote for anyone on their ticket, radicals and anarchists who felt this man would finally cause a reactive revolution, and those who hate all politicians so thrust this amateur onto stage. I find that last group especially galling since they are reacting to this last administration when it was the first one in my lifetime that I admired. Finally there all those who just didn't vote or voted for a third party candidate because they couldn't bring themselves to vote for Hillary. So I'm judging Trump and his followers based on what I've witnessed since becoming politically aware from about 1969 and not back to 1776.


I'm with Dennis Nyman on this, o ye of little faith. It's like thinking he has some claim to be Scottish just because his mother was born here.

Andy - Ayrshire, Scotland

Sadness and embarrassment are what I feel now. Sad and Ashamed that near to 50% of the voters would choose a man who has never done a single thing for anyone else, is fully committed to himself alone and lies so often that I'm not certain he understands what the concept of a lie is. 50% would choose this hateful selfish misogynist just so the "liberals" don;t win. Oh, by the way, I loathe the Clintons and Tony Bliar too, but still.....

Well, those of you that think the Conservatives have ever helped you, now have it all your own way. Good Luck to all of us.

Btw why is it all the Conservatve patriots seem completely unconcerned that the Russians interfered in our election? Is it because Putin's man won?


Yes, Celticgods, this is disturbing on so many levels and a "President" unlike anything we've seen despite all those insisting it's just politics as usual and his supporters are "good" people too. I've had to weather some awful Presidents like Nixon, Reagan, Bush II and I was no fan of Clinton either but none of them were close to the arrogance and self-centered fascism of this awful man. So as disturbing as his curious election was it's even more disturbing that after he's shown his true colors as the despicable ass he is 43% of Americans think he's doing a good job. I've never been so ashamed to be a citizen of this country as I am now and those who criticize people like me for engaging in "conquor and divide" seem not to believe we are in uncharted waters where life gets uglier every day.


My sense is that the country has weathered far worse than Trump (civil war, two world wars, McCarthyism, and so on) and that he's neither as good as his supporters hope he is nor as bad as his detractors think he is.  He is a prick and an asshole, neither of which make him unique and in that job are possibly attributes.  I have confidence that the checks and balances built into our government will work. Anyway, this video is one of my favorite scenes from the Naked Gun movies, a great scene and hilarious pan shot of various disasters that seems to summarize, maybe satirize, our current national mood, or at least that of those who did not vote for Donny.  Lastly, have you ever seen Joe Biden aka Vice President Frank Drebbin and Leslie Nielsen in the same room?


Funny scene...and you are on to something with never seeing those two in each other's company...