Article

James McMurtry, J.D. Vance & Coping With Trump

Like most left-leaning Americans, I woke up on the ninth of November in a depressed fog, a situation which wasn’t helped by having to drive 15 miles in the rain to report to jury duty in a landlocked Seattle suburb. The room where jurors assembled made the DMV seem inviting, so I cracked open a book about the modern-day economic, cultural and domestic struggles of a specific, Trump-favoring sub-demographic: substance-abusing, dirt-poor Appalachian Caucasians.

Much to my surprise, it lifted my spirits.

Some of the real-life characters in J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy fit neatly into regional stereotypes. According to Vance, some of his subjects (many of whom he's related to) get blitzed on booze and drugs, beat their spouses, have kids out of wedlock in their teens, neglect their children, refuse to work even when there are decent jobs to be had, blame everybody but themselves for their problems, subsist on fast food and sugary soda, decry government intrusion even as they survive off checks from Uncle Sam, hate people like Barack Obama simply because he’s succeeded where they’ve so miserably failed. Vance, who grew up in this often torturous part of Appalachian culture, pulls no punches in saying that unless his fellow "hillbillies" are willing to help themselves, their fortunes stand little chance of improving.

But there are a multitude of Appalachians who defy such easy stereotyping, and Vance is one of them. Against unbelievably long odds and buoyed by the love of his sister and extended family, Vance managed to rise above his circumstances, serving in the Marine Corps, attending Yale Law School, and now helping to guide one of Silicon Valley’s most influential venture-capital firms. But he doesn’t look down on the region he grew up in, and neither did Donald Trump. While it’s deeply ironic—and, in my opinion, extremely unfortunate—that it took a bellicose billionaire born with a silver spoon in his mouth to appeal to people he has little in common with (often employing needlessly hateful rhetoric in the process), it’s something Democrats need to get their heads around if they want to reclaim the White House in four years. Vance’s book is a great place to start, and so is the oeuvre of James McMurtry.

The Democrats’ central strategy for appealing to blue-collar voters in the 21st century has been for Bruce Springsteen to play a concert in Cleveland or Philly a few days before Election Day and pray to God that working-class people fall in line with their Boss at the polls. But if this election proved anything, it’s that celebrity firepower doesn’t mean squat (unless your last name's Trump, apparently). Springsteen’s written a lot of impeccable songs about American elbow grease over the years, but he’s a rich guy now—and a bandanna slung around his neck isn’t going to trick even the most naive people into thinking otherwise.

McMurtry, however, is different. No fan of present-day Republicans, he’s a stoic Texan with a deep voice and a functional gun rack. The people he’s been singing about so eloquently for his entire career are the ones who just elected Trump. McMurtry released a politically charged song, “Remembrance,” the day before Election Day, but it was the sentiment in his 2005 track, “We Can’t Make It Here,” that really bubbled up in this campaign cycle. Bernie Sanders saw it coming, and so did Trump. Despite an esteemed career in public service, Hillary Clinton did not, and her tone-deafness cost her—and America—dearly. The New Yorker’s George Packer called her “a strange fit for this moment.” Too strange, it turned out. (Elizabeth Warren would have been perfect, but she demurred.)

It's cathartic in times like these to adopt a bunker mentality and retreat to those who affirm your beliefs and share your anger. To this end, I completely understand those who’ve taken to the streets en masse to proclaim their opposition to Trump’s election. But once reality sets in, it's a more productive postmortem to look outside your herd and understand how America got where it is. You don’t need to hug a Trump supporter, but you need to talk—and listen—to one. Better yet, take him to a McMurtry show after happy hour. He’s on tour—as he almost always in—right now.

Hey, that's a great article, man. I live in an area that I sometimes refer to, jokingly, as Appalachia, California. Kern County is a staunchly conservative enclave in this blue state. I've been watching my blue collar brothers, and sisters too, peel off from the Democratic party for years, now, and the Democrats have seemed happy to let them go. Heres hoping they will look within and do some soul searching now.

Thanks, LH. As a friend of mine in Seattle used to say, the blood-red South starts when you hit Spokane...which is in eastern Washington. His point was that there are pockets of "Appalachia" everywhere, and that sleeping giant sure woke up this fall, for better or for worse.

Just ordered the book from Amazon. Been listening to James and reading his dad's work for years, of course.

I'm at the opposite end of the state just outside of Redding, in what we jokingly refer to as "Shastanistan" and "Calibama."  There wasn't much of a gradual peeling off from the Demo party up here--it happened abruptly, with Reagan's first election.  Until then, Redding had been a union town that usually voted Democratic.  Regardless, what happened on Nov 8 went beyond party politics--I still think Sanders would have had a chance at defeating Trump.  Thirty-plus years into the Reagan Revolution, middle- and working-class people are figuring out that they've been getting chumped by Washington DC and Wall Street for decades.    

The Democrats will continue to slump until they learn to speak to the frustrations of these people. So what do they do? They re-appoint Nancy Pelosi—the poster child for the smug, self-satisfied politics of liberal pandering to special interests (as opposed to a meaningful economic overhaul that would benefit the middle and working classes)—to another term as Speaker of the House. Who better to appeal to dissatisfied Rust Belt Americans than the representative from San Francisco?

100% tone-deaf.

Meanwhile, President-elect Twittertroll is stocking his populist revolution's administration with Wall Street and Washington insiders, war-hawks, and sycophantic yes-men—and has backtracked on half of his campaign promises before even being sworn in. Feeling the betrayal yet, Angry Guy?

I wrote a morning-after piece for our local progressive news website, including a laundry list of predictions.

 

Steve...nice piece on the "mourning after"...I'm betting most of those predictions come true...

As Trump fills the swamp with billionaires his supporters must (should) wonder if Trump will pull a Johnny Rotten and ask "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"  A glimmer of good news for NC, Pat HB2 McCrory finally conceded the governorship to Cooper!

Happy for you Hal...RFRA Pence will be in the White House so goodbye and so long Pat and Mike...the guy replacing Pence is a guy named Eric Holcomb, who seems to be much more Mitch Daniels than Mike Pence...better for all...doesn't appear he is going to be nearly as focused on social issues...time will tell...

I just checked that book out yesterday.  I'm very interested in it.  Good article.

 

As always Mike, great, pull no punches perspective.  I had been following commentary from both left and right prior to the election, and I became convinced from reading Michael Moore's pieces that there was a pretty good chance that what Trump had done to all the establishment GOP in the primaries (mowed them all down one by one with ease) was going to happen again to the Dems in November...they thought America would "come to it's senses" finally...the truth is there is just deep distrust of all things establishment right now, and both parties' establishment figures were overwhelmingly rejected, so I hope they learned a lesson, as you put it, they were tone deaf...the people in Hillbilly Elegy (which I just ordered) aren't the only people who voted for Trump...you would have thought every white man in America would have had to vote for Trump for him to win, because surely no minority or woman would vote for him...but they did vote for him in surprising numbers...most Americans have a bit of anarchist in them...many of them expressed it by voting for Trump...their way of saying, "I hate them all".  

McMurtry is wonderful and that is one of his best songs...and your advice on how to move forward is sage indeed...thanks Mike!

Appreciate it, Jim. It's tough to be constructive when it comes to Trump, but listening to JM certainly helps. As luck would have it, he's coming to my town (Seattle) on Friday

Triple Door...lots of good artists there...seems that would be a good place to be on Friday...John Prine is here Saturday...so is Darden Smith...different places of course...but I will be at one of them...music always soothes life's injuries...enjoy the show Mike, and keep writing...

I'd submit that it's Seattle's best listening room. Don't think McMurtry's ever played there, which adds to the intrigue. He usually plays the Tractor, which is phenomenal for different reasons.

We saw McMurtry in a room that holds about 50 people here in Redding recently.  Ray Wylie Hubbard played the same room shortly afterward--they both did Choctow Bingo, of course.  When we first moved up here, we'd go years between decent acts--everyone skipped by on their way from Portland to Sacramento or the Bay Area.   The last couple of years, it's been an embarassment of riches.  Just this fall: McMurtry, Hubbard, Colvin & Earle, Kris Kristopherson, Dave Rawlings Machine, Ani DiFranco, Sturgill Simpson, and a few that I'm sure I'm forgetting.

There are a few things the election has made crystal clear.  First off – Democrats are stupid Pu**y’s with no understanding of what the game is in this country.  We are a two party system and you are NOT voting for the best candidate.   That sounds nice in a fantasy world but it is complete BS.   You are voting for the person from the party you want.  When they are elected, you hold their feet to the fire.  You do the work (I know, work is hard) and the research by getting involved and trying to push the party in the direction you want and if doesn’t go your way completely, you don’t sit it out or make a “protest vote”.    You don’t talk about “flawed candidates”.   You go out and vote for the person with a D by their name.  THAT is how the game is played.     

Republicans have always had this figured out.   That why evangelical Christians voted for one of the most non-Christ like candidates.   It’s why free trade Republicans voted for the Reality Show Con Artist.    Till Democrats get that in their heads, they will continue to lose elections and frankly, they will deserve it. 

Secondly, the Reality show con artist is NOT a bigot, insane or stupid but he can play all three for effect.    Simply put – he is a FRAUD who doesn’t WANT the job.   That’s why he never prepared.   He was only in it for ATTENTION and MONEY.   The only person sadder than Hillary Clinton on election night was the Reality show con artist.  If he can pawn off enough of the work and keep the vanity for himself, he might be happy.   But once things turn sour – or he can cash in some other way – he will be out the door quicker than the Airhead from Alaska.      

But he smartly and cynically realized that white Americans would not look askance at racist and misogynistic comments because he knew how commonplace these resentments must be.    And resentments are a powerful thing.    In 1995, African Americans celebrated the release of a murderer – someone many KNEW was a murderer - because it was an F you to a system that they resented.   In effect, the election of a reality show con artist is an OJ jury moment by white Americans.    We would rather celebrate stupidity than to be lead by “elites”.   Since my Knicks, Yankees and Giants haven’t done well lately, maybe they should just turn the reins over to me, someone who has a bunch of specious opinions on how to make a great team but no real clue on the complexities of the job.   You know, just to “shake things up”.    

We live in a republic that allows land masses to have more sway than people.   I get and accept that we have system that was instituted to allow slave holding states to keep their slaves and has never been changed.   But the results of the election have proved H.L Mencken’s quote from nearly 100 years ago.  “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

Mencken was the best kind of cynic (he once said his function in life was 'stirring up the animals", meaning the uncivilized majority)  and along with Henry Miller and GB Shaw, the most quotable source of social commentary, and that is one of his best, and timeliest..."The secret of a demagogue is to make himself as stupid as his audience so that they believe they are clever as he."...Karl Kraus.  You are correct...Trump understood his audience far better than any of the other candidates, the pitiful 15 Republicans he mowed down to seize the nomination, and Hillary, whom he didn't exactly mow down (she did win the popular vote, but as you noted, the Electoral College has again determined that the winner is one who has less votes...over our history, both parties have benefitted from this, and neither has the courage to change it, so that is the game that we play).   

I don't know if Trump really doesn't want to be President or not, but I agree that he ran mostly for the reasons you say, and that he'd a lot rather have Trump TV than the White House...being President is way too much work and doesn't pay anywhere near enough to suit him.  He has pulled off the ultimate con, and he's probably pretty pleased with that aspect of it.  Thomas Paine, the anarchist of "Common Sense" once said "society is produced by our wants and government by our wickedness"...we have the government we deserve...it certainly isn't the egalitarian government he and the founders argued and fought for...it won't change at all under Trump...there are some things that his election guarantees, for better or for worse...even if the old folks on the Supreme Court hold out for 4 years hoping for a change, there is an opening and likely that Justice will be right of Scalia, and if Trump's appointments to this point are any measuring stick, the appointment won't be anywhere near as thoughtful about his decisions as Scalia.  Given the ineptitude of the Congress to do anything of signficance which likely will continue despite GOP control, the SC will likely more and more become the place where political and social policy is decided/carried out, which was never the intent of the Founders...the SC was supposed to be the least important branch by far...“At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office; that their decisions, seeming to concern individual suitors only, pass silent and unheeded by the public at large; that these decisions, nevertheless, become law by precedent, sapping, by little and little, the foundations of the constitution, and working its change by construction, before any one has perceived that that invisible and helpless worm has been busily employed in consuming its substance. In truth, man is not made to be trusted for life if secured against all liability to account.” (Thomas Jefferson Letter to A. Coray, October 31, 1823).   

 

 

I agree with much of what you say here, Rudy, but you overlook that Hillary too was only in it for the money, and anyone who believes she was in it for you and me is suspending disbelief much like those willing to take their hands off the wheel to vote for Trump were. She may prefer to blame her loss on James Comey, but to quote a Mark Knopler line from Solid Rock, "when you point your finger 'cause your plan fell through, you got three more fingers pointing back at you". She can blame Comey all she wants but it was the body of her work that did her in. Regarding voting for the name next to the D, we had that problem here in IL with Rod Blagojevich, who is still burdening the taxpayer by requiring federal housing in CO. I don't have any quarrel with those who voted for him the first time, but by the time he was up for reelection he was under investigation for corruption and already guilty beyond all reasonable doubt of being a dilettante and an incompetent already disowned by his own party leadership, who distanced themselves all along from him. Blind party loyalty should have limits. Many people reached theirs this election.

The Yankees paid too much for Chapman.  Good luck against the Red Sox.

On facebook, the other day, a "liberal" friend of a friend pontificated that "Change is good. Even bad change." I just let that go.... How can you communicate with someone who just said that bad is good?

Give your friend a break—he might have a point.  There are metaphorical parallels from community ecology.  A biotic community, as it matures, often becomes dominated by a few species.  The structure of the community gets simpler and less diverse—an even-aged stand of big trees, for example, with decreased vegetation and wildlife on the forest floor because there isn't much light penetrating through the closed canopy.

Coral reefs in Hawaii are the same way—in time they come to be dominated by fewer and fewer fish species.  Along comes a big hurricaine, the reef gets (as we say here in NorCal) hella hammered, and post-storm there's a big spike in fish species diversity.  It takes a catastropic event to shake things up enough for there to be real change. 

I don't agree that Hillary was in it for the money.  She was in it for the power and the legacy of being the first female POTUS.  What the Democratic leadership failed to foresee was that Hillary was fatally flawed as a candidate at this time in history, because she was a vote for the status quo.  People are rightfully sick of the entrenched plutocracy that runs this country.  Electing a coarse, belligerent reality TV star was a stiff middle-finger salute to the establishment.  It's unfortunate that an orange megalomaniacal billionaire is the vessel of the nation's outrage--we're going to pay dearly for that in many currencies.  

The Democrats have four years to figure out how to speak to frustrated, disinfranchised Rust Belt voters.  So far, it doesn't look good.  Voters in states that went for Obama twice were called packs of racists immediately following election day.     

They did pay too much for Chapman, but they always have had the means to pay too much...BoSox likely pulled off the coup by getting Sale...you have to get to the 9th inning for Chapman...still, it makes them better...Giants are better...It's looking up in total...with Dolan owning the Knicks, probably never any hope for them...if he stays out of Jackson's way maybe there's a chance, but he never has patience to see things through...Phillip will likely end up back on the other coast with Jeannie, and Dolan will give Isiah Thomas another shot...

I won’t try to undo 30 years of brainwashing by the Republicans Jack.   They leveled every ridiculous charge against her over 30 years to wear you down so you would write that sentence.   But I will point out that Hillary Clinton didn’t trudge to Buffalo,Watertown and Rochester in January and sit in endless meetings like she did when she was the Senator here because she wanted to get rich.   By all accounts, she listened, worked hard and extended her hand across the aisle to work with the other party.   The worst thing you can say about Hillary is she is a PROFESSIONAL (my emphasis) politician.   I hire professional electricians, roofers and tax accountants.   Why should I hire a schlep to represent me in Congress?

As far as not voting for the D, you have a conscious.   That is why the Democrats will continue to lose elections and rue their fate.   Republicans play professional hardball; Democrats play coed softball…....on the weekends……...BADLY.    Here in my district Republican Bill Nojay who was up for re-election put a bullet in his head to avoid being indicted for siphoning off money from a client.   Since he killed himself, the charges are put on hold and may never become public.   He still won the seat.   He took one for the team because that’s what Republicans do.   Only later will the spin be how the corrupt criminal justice system hounded a good, honest American to his death.    Blagojevich would have had to give up the seat and the Democrats would keep it.   That’s why you vote for the party.    And BTW – I would have voted for Spiro Agnew, a convicted felon, over the fraud we now have.   At least he would have wanted the job.   I wouldn’t feel as demeaned by someone who everyone KNEW was a crook than someone who is a cheap, narcissistic PT Barnum trying to fool us all.  

Jim – I would say that the Republicans now have the means to change what they want to change.  Of course the big change will be the Court.   The P*ssy Dems should hold out for Garland or better but they are already making noise about "working" with the President.   You know, the kinds of things the Republicans DIDN'T do and won.   Destroy government (which of course elevates Corporate power and means you better trust the Volkswagan's of the world a whole lot), make people cynical and then the party that believes in Government (ie. the Dems) gets the blame.   Check.       

As for me though, I have more years behind me than ahead of me.   I live in NY, have no kids I have to care about in the future, can afford my health care and won’t have to depend on Social Security.   So why should I be mope around?   The market is up so I’ll just stop giving a sh*t.   I can't see the 25 year old non voter from Wisconson from where I sit so they'll have to learn abstenence and creationism on their own.      

Thanks Rudyjeep (and Jim) for expressing so well how I feel. I consider 11/9, when I woke up to the travesty of a rapid narcissist in the White House, as the new 9/11. It wasn't some crazy nightmare after all but this country actually elected Donald Fuck to the most infulential office in the world. I had that same feeling as after 9/11 that this was a new, uglier, violent pathetic world and shocked at the hate directed towards my kind. But the new "terrorists" aren't Muslim jihadists but my fellow citizens. As Noam Chomsky has pointed out, Trump is no Hitler because he isn't an ideologue for he cares about no one but himself. But he is surrounding himself with neo-fascist ideologues (seemingly chosen as the people who will most infuriate progressives) who will ruin this country and the world for decades. So I will never forgive those who put this demagogue in office and that includes, besides those who actually voted for Trump, all those who were too hip or whatever to vote for Clinton so either didn't vote at all or wasted their vote on any of the other candidates. Like you said, our only option these days is to vote for the Party because, since 9/11, the parties have actually split dramatically. Before that, as Gore Vidal used to point out, we were the only industrial nation that had no labor party but two barely distinguishable business parties. Despite all the Democrats faults the difference between them and Republicans is now profound. (But of course Jack couldn't resist pointing out Democrat sins when it's so obvious none of their "sins" come close to Republican behavior.)

My 40-something nephew said he literally cried the whole day after the election. He sent me that oh-so-pertinent H.L. Mencken quote that you posted. He also mentioned that we had just elected Ubu Roi to the Presidency. It had been so long since I read the absurdist writer Alfred Jarry's (1873-1907) play "Ubu Roi" that I re-read it and he was right-on. Someone should stage that play now with the image of Trump in the Ubu role. As a publisher of the play explained, "The play features a  main character that is cruel, gluttonous and grotesque--the author's metaphor for modern man." Jarry wrote several plays featuring Ubu. In "Ubu Cuckolded" there is a scene that reminds me exactly of Trump: "UBU: 'Let us consult our Conscience. There he is, in this suitcase, all covered with cobwebs. As you can see, we don't overwork him.'"

I doubt America will ever be forgiven for shoving this "Ubu Roi" onto the world stage. I have nothing but contempt for all those who helped get him elected. It has made me so depressed that even music, rather than healing as it always has done, seems almost irrelevant--like the musicians playing on a sinking ship. May the gods forgive us, even if we don't deserve it. (I will now return to my cave and contemplate suicide--the only way to escape this Trumpian world.)

 (But of course Jack couldn't resist pointing out Democrat sins when it's so obvious none of their "sins" come close to Republican behavior.) 

 

Amen Dennis, Amen.  

But as to your last comment, don’t even joke about that.  Our duty is to resist and show there is a better way.   The way to sway the fans of the Reality Show Con Artist is to make them see that he never respected the process, the office and he certainly doesn’t respect his “poorly educated voters”.    I hear there is another election for the office in four years as well.    I like Cory Booker – a good man.     

Jim and Jack – I’m becoming a lapsed Yankee fan as they seem so contemptuous of their fans anymore.   Sort of like the NFL.   I wasn’t surprised by the whole Ray Rice incident.   The NFL doesn’t care about their disposable employees so why does anyone think they care about their disposable employees spouse’s?   I know Dolan owns the Knicks but I do enjoy watching the games some of the time.         

In other years I would have celebrated your Cubbies Jack but with Theo as the GM, I couldn’t.   Like some of the Reality Show Con artist fans, old prejudices die hard.        

My dad lived in New York City for a couple of years long before I was born...he would go see Paul Whiteman and the like, and then tail all the musicians to the little bars where they would jam after playing regular gigs, became pretty good friends with Jack Teegarden and Joe Venuti...he said he was a Yankee fan when he got there, but hated them by the time he left because of the arrogance of organization and some of the fans even then...he became a Dodgers fan while they were still in Brooklyn...later Carl Erskine, who is from and still lives in our hometown, Anderson, IN (great harmonica player by the way, and still plays around town here with some other musician freinds) played for them...by the time I was old enough to understand baseball I understood he thought "anyone but the Yankees"...I was 6 and watching the World Series with my dad on a black and white set when Mazeroski homered in the 9th and beat the Yankees in the 60 series...my dad was jumping around the living room like a...6 year old, great memory, still have a soft spot for the Pirates...but he loved New York City and so do I...no place like it.  I agree with you about football...the Maras, Rooneys, Jim Irsay...they are just this era's version of plantation owners...they pay well but everything is a commodity to them, and the average football career is less than 4 years, with a lot of the players left with broken bodies and minds...they are no doubt great philanthropists in their community...and it's a chance all of those guys are willing to take for a chance at the pot of gold...college football is even worse...that's the real plantation...don't get me started...and I still watch it like crazy...

I like the Knicks...the Pacers Knicks thing was so fun back in the 90's, win or lose, nothing like the agony/ecstasy of all of that, and some of their players were so crazy, like Starks and Mason...Porzingus will be a great player before it's over, and Jackson just may put something together there...I watch a lot of NBA and college ball...I am basketball crazy...my dad used to scout for a local high school team so I went to my first game at maybe age 5...loved it all the very first time...the high school I went to had a gym that seated 9,000, and it was full a lot of the time...it was religion in Indiana...

Dennis, Jack, Rudyjeep...there is another election in 4 years...a different outcome perhaps...it will take some folks a while to figure out they've been conned...as you noted, the people he respects the least are the ones that thought he was their savior...the ones who don't have a relevant education and live where there's no good work...they think that's going to change...sad...

No suicide Dennis...as Rudyjeep noted, resistance is what we have...I am old, and I suppose I could go quietly but I won't...Rudyjeep said what he could do...hes in good shape personally and could drop out...but he wouldn't be out here saying what he thinks if he was going to do that...Jack 2.0 is a great guy...Chicago is not like any other place...Their political landscape is unique...Mayor Daley and the rest...Mike Royko chronicled all that...I often wondered about the folks who live there and how they actually feel about their politics...Dems are uniquely corrupt there...it's hard to overlook your personal experience...let's just agree to be disgusted and do what we can to change the narrative ...I've never met any of you in person...Dennis, Jack, Hal Bogerd, Rudyjeep, and all the other great folks out here st ND...Archie, Will, the ND staff...good bunch of people...can't quit on what's right...still have the First Amendment till they change it 

Dennis, I hope your last sentence was an exaggeration to make a point and not literally your mood.  

Yes and no Jack. It was hyperbolic but at the same time I see no escape from the madness of this world of which Trump is the latest, most blatant example and hits so close to home as an American, so shuffling off this mortal coil is the only escape. I often wish my grandparents and great grandparents had never left Sweden so I wouldn't be so ashamed as an American but of course I wouldn't even exist then as their progeny would never have met and married producing me but non-existence would be preferable to having to witness what's going on in our country and the world. I was one of those who swore he'd leave the country if Trump got elected but now that the unthinkable is here where can I go to escape him? Besides, as a white middleclass male I'm hardly the target of the Trumpians but it's not really about me but about all those vulnerable people who will be their victims that depresses me so. (Of course, as a liberal progressive they would lock me up in a second if they could.) So, I haven't the guts to move or eliminate myself so I will try to endure the madness by ignoring it as I'll probably be able to do and try to enjoy again those things that still matter to me like music and literature. Too bad I'm not a sports fan so I can belong to that tribe. Still, I believe that Clinton with all her faults as you keep pointing out would be preferable to President Ubu.  Perhaps I was wrong about Bernie who I thought was too liberal to get elected. I underestimated the hatred of Hillary from people like you Jack although that is why I supported Obama over her in that election.

Rudy, of course the republicans manufactured non issues that didn't matter.  But that is the easy canned response dismissing those who criticize Hillary Clinton.  Republicans did not make up the disaster that she was highly influential in instigating in Libya, and no I'm not talking about Benghazi.  I'm talking about a minor state of 6 million people ruled by a tyrant who was largely put in a box decades ago who was actually helping fight ISIS. Instead she helped remove him with no plan for what would happen next, which turned out to be a murderous civil war and vacuum into which stepped ISIL and more problems than Gaddafi was causing or had in years.  She had previously voted for the invasion of Iraq, saw the disasterous aftermath and yet duplicated the same tragic mistake in Libya, leading to ISIL and a refugee tragedy.  That's not small potatoes. The republicans did not make up her conscious choice to use her own server to avoid exposure to the FOIA, which was against state dept. policy if not the law.  In a world where the NSA has thousands of people involved in cyber warfare and cyber spying, did she, or you, really think the Chinese, the Russians, our own allies, name a country, were not going to attempt to hack the server in her basement, and that they wouldn't be successful? She did state business, highly sensitive business on that server, what information was accessed and what leverage did that stolen info create?  She put her own convenience and desire to protect her legacy above all else. Comey got it right, gross negligence at minimum.  The republicans did not make up the Clinton Foundation (and the Clinton Family Foundation aka Clinton Family Annuity). She was selling access for personal enrichment, that has been proven. Whatever good the foundations have done,  these were at minimum enormous conflicts of interest for her.  These are not your garden variety complaints about the usual run of the mill crap both sides sling that are easily dismissed. Clearly you underrate the democrats ability to play hardball politics and vote their party (especially in IL).   The DNC conspired with the Clinton campaign to undercut Sanders (what if they hadn't, maybe no Trump) and we have endured years of Reid and Pelosi who have sharp elbows and no compunction about doing dirty work.  Read up on how Obama got elected to his first term in the Illinois Senate.  As for the Supreme Court, who knows what to expect?  John Roberts was appointed for conservative values but somehow corporations are entitled to pour as much money as they want into our elections, a disasterous decision already and long term.

Blagojevich was removed and replaced by his Lt. Gov., Pat Quinn, an honest do gooder in way over his head.  He later won election outright against a mediocre republican candidate.  He lost the next election to Bruce Rauner in part because he'd proven ineffectual and in part because this state has crushing debt and a business adverse climate that his party, in very large measure, has created through decades of control of the state house.  How did they do that? Mindless party line voting. As George Bernard Shaw once said, "a government that borrows from Peter to pay Paul, can always depend on the support of Paul". Read up on Illinois, Cook County and City of Chicago patronage and corruption. 

Trump is a king sized asshole, on that we agree.

I am truly afraid of the acceptance/normalization of hate inspired by Trump. It is gonna be a long four years.

 

 

I am too, though I belive that acceptance has been spread for years prior by the likes of Hannity, Rush, Fox, and now even more extreme outlets like Breitbart...that stuff is all mainstream now...some people don't listen to anything else but that...I listen to it now and then to hear what is being said...gotta know what's being put out there...too many folks these days only listen to what supports their personal beliefs about things...that's how everyone missed Trump...

Jack – I think a lot of our “disagreements” on Hillary are based on what you expect out of your government.   I expect Government, which is made up of people, to be wasteful and have moments of incompetence because people are wasteful and occasionally incompetent.   We waste fuel, food and money every day and make stupid mistakes.   Companies waste and make stupid mistakes every day so of course Government is going to be wasteful and incompetent part of the time.  The only person who is infallible is the Pope and that is only in religious matters.               

Just as we make decisions based on what we can “sell” to our clients, friends and family (and believe me, I made a great sell job to get my wife to move to Rochester NY), politicians have to make decisions based on what they can sell to their constituencies.   ALL politicians are consumed with this question because people aren’t informed enough and sometimes the counter-intuitive decision is the right decision to make (i.e. it is safer in the long run not to keep all your money in “safe” bank account that earns 0.01% when inflation is 3% but to invest in the market which has traditionally been up and down but averages 7%).   Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Union said it perfectly – “We all know what to do but we don’t know how to do it and get reelected after we’ve done it”.  

Does Hillary Clinton think like a politician?   Of course, every Politician does.   So why is she held to a higher bar than anyone else?   Bill Clinton passed a crime bill that was hailed as a stroke of genius at the time (AND was highly supported in the African American community) that in retrospect had unintended consequences.   Bill Clinton and Democrats like Andrew Cuomo and Jerry Brown have angered their core constituencies over the years for decisions they thought were right.   Show me one Repuglican who has ever done that?

Did Hillary Clinton, in her job as Secretary of State, recommend to the President that we help remove Ghadafi?   The general consensus is yes but that decision was at the behest of the Arab League and had broad international cooperation.  As Secretary of State her job was to give the options and it was his decision on to green light it.   The lack of will to clean up the mess in endemic in the American psyche and the International community – after doing the easy thing – didn’t do the hard things.    That is why President Obama has rightly stayed out of what is essentially a Muslim Civil War in Syria.   The question is whether HRC would have GOVERNED that way as President.    And let’s suppose she single handedly F’ed up Libya.   Does that negate all the good she did as S of S in restoring the US reputation where she has won praise around the world and across party lines?         

A couple points about Hillary’s email use.   First off, you’re judging her 2008 usage through the eyes of 2016.   In 2008, Russian and Chinese hacking was not top line thinking.   Her trying to protect what little of her reputation that wasn’t already absurdly attacked by the right seemed a perfectly reasonable thing at the time.   If I was accused of murder, I think I would want control over my communication as well.  She has since acknowledged that was a mistake – a human one I would call it.   The media has DARED to make use of an email server on par with grabbing p*ssy, mocking the disabled and stiffing vendors of millions of dollars and they have succeeded.   Disgraceful.            

Please show me where it has been proven that Hillary was selling access via the Clinton Foundation.   But I will concede the point that money ALWAYS buys access EVERYWHERE.   In EVERY situation.   In my business, you’re business and in society as a whole.   (A great line from a J.P. Olsen song – “When that money talks, I think it’s too loud”)  The key is it HAS been proven that Hillary NEVER did any favors BASED on the money received.    Unfortunately, proving things in the court of public opinion via Repuglian talking points is a lot easier than proving things in a court of law.    It has also been dwarfed in two weeks by the Reality Show Con artist appointing loyalists to his cabinet and chatting with world leaders about business opportunities.       

As far as Senator Sanders, I am not shocked that an essentially private club (which is what the parties are) would favor a 35 year Democrat, the wife of a popular Democratic President, someone who has campaigned for Democrats and helped raise millions of dollars for Democrats over an Independent.    Repuglican were donating to Senators Sanders campaign because they wanted an unelectable “Independent” that they could easily chew up and spit out and the Democrats were smart to try and keep their party from being hijacked.   Unfortunately, the Repuglican weren’t as successful.     

And BTW – Reid and Pelosi passed health care reform, something Democrats have been trying for decades to do unsuccessfully.   Bashing them now with Repuglican talking points is typical of liberals who don’t get the hardball politics the Repuglicans know how to play and we clearly do not.      

The only thing I know about Illinois politics is that the stunning Jerri Ryan is the one who is responsible for President Obama.   He would not have beaten Jack Ryan without her assist.    I will defer to your knowledge there but if we want to talk about corrupt one party rule, you can use just about any other Repuglican controlled state.   The poorest, least educated, most racist states in the country are consistently under one party rule and I’m not talking about Illinois and NY.    We also send more money to Washington that the Repuglican states suck up and yet THEY dare to say they want LESS Federal involvement.  

Democrats needed to be behind HRC like they were behind President Obama and you don’t do that by talking about “holding our noses”.  Till Democrats get the voting party line is the ONLY answer, we will be going into elections with one hand tied behind our back.   I know we have a bigger tent with more constituencies, but we need to play the game the way Repuglican play.  Otherwise, we can't convince the great unwashed (or Independents as they prefer to be called) that we have a better candidate.          

Thanks for enduring my rant and believe me there could be a lot more.   I will virtually toast you tonight with a beer but I do not have any in my fridge from Illinois.   What if we toast to the wisdom of our neighbor to the North and their dreamy P.M. with a Propeller IPA from Nova Scotia?    

I approach all things in life with very little expectation, particularly where human beings are concerned, and politics is inherently human, as you so eloquently noted.  As such, I am often pleasantly surprised and rarely disappointed or shocked by any turn of events, even Trump.  Keeps the blood pressure down and the enjoyment up...Propeller IPA is an excellent choice...I don't have any of that currently, but I do have a couple of excellent Canadian brews, Belgian styles from the magnificent Unibroue label...a quad, La Fin Du Monde, and a Belgian ale called Maudite...I have to go to a benefit and then my neighbor is playing an acoustic gig at a local brew pub, but after that I shall toast all of my ND friends with one of those and play nothing but Canadian artists...DALA, Fred Eaglesmith, Lynn Miles, the Brothers Landreth, and to close I will put on Marc Jordan's wonderful tribute to Chet Baker "This Is How Men Cry"...dreamy PM indeed...

Ah - La Fin Du Monde - the end of the world!   Unibroue beers are a little too strong for my regular drinking.   I've always been partial to the British styles as well.   But as one beer columnist wrote a few years ago - "Give any two brewers the same ingredients and they will brew two different beers.   And I'll drink both of them."   

I'll pair my Canadian beers with Corb Lund.  I believe I had his last release as my number three pick last year but with another year of wisdom (well, maybe not wisdom), I would put at number one.

Have fun at the show.     

Corb is one of the best, much historical focus there...Blackie and the Rodeo Kings too...Canadian artists...many great ones...I just named the ones that I thought of first...

The end of the world...I don't think I was foreshadowing there...

Rudy, alright, where were we?  Let's say that you are much more ready to rationalize Hillary Clinton's missteps than I, and I suspect that had Condoleeza Rice made the same exact missteps, that you would have pounced on those harshly. As for what I expect out of government, it is "reasonableness".  What I expect out of politicians is not purity or perfection, but people with judgement and convictions, which is what all politicians claim to have and are "selling", as you put it. In the case of Hillary, I have deep reservations with the former and am unsure if she possesses many of the latter, aside from self interest, and in that way I find your quote by Jean Claude Juncker ironic in a way I'm sure you didn't intend. As for Trump, let us hope all the built in checks and balances function when they are needed, it seems they will be getting a serious workout.

I missed happy hour on Friday but your mention of Rochester hit close to home as I grew up in Buffalo during the '70's.  The drinking age was then 18, we were sneaking into bars at age 15.  Our main hangout was Melanie's on Main St. near Transit in Amherst (it's now the Buffalo Brew Pub).  Melanie's had huge speakers embedded in the walls, music was at top decibel...Foghat, Bob Seger, Jackson Brown, you get the idea.   Once in a while they would sell cases of Old Vienna splits at the bar, so we'd buy a case and drink it at our table.  Unsure if Old Vienna is still around, but it was a good Canadian beer and nice change of pace from LaBatt's Blue and Molson.  Of course in those days what passed for our "budget" was spent more on Genesee Cream Ale and Goebels. 

Clinton : Trump ::

A. Dylan : Donovan

B. Donovan : Dylan

C. Herpes : HIV

The correct answer is C.  Herpes : HIV

Is that a Hobson's Choice, a Morton's Fork, or just the difference between a rock and a hard place?

I'll leave it to you to define the analogy but  somehow we ended up with the sword of Damocles.

And if there was ever any doubt about the big orange asshole's judgement:

The crystallizing moment -- when Perry on a primary debate stage blanked and painfully could not recall the name of the third federal agency he vowed to eliminate as President -- none other than the Energy Department that he will now lead -- a gaffe that became known primarily for the word with which he ended his live misery: "Oops." (from CNN)

and back to the music....

 

 

You’re making it sound as if it’s a roughly equivalent choice Jack.   We aren’t arguing who is a better hitter – Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig.   We are arguing between Babe Ruth and Chico Escuela.   American elections are binary choices and Repuglicans are 0 and Democrats are 1.   There is no number 2.  Being “pure” on the Democratic side has given this country two terms of George W. Bush and now a Reality Show Con artist.    Devo is through being cool; I’m through being “pure”.   Democrats better learn to rationalize.   Repuglicans sure have and they win elections.         

As for Rice, I’m a person who has defended GWB over 9/11.   There were so many screw ups on that day that it is unfair to blame him.   I never mock him for his syntax, bike riding or pretzel eating either.  I don’t spend time on the minutiae when there is so much more to go after him about. 

Which brings me to my last word about Hillary – If the Rebuglicans really had the goods on her would they have to embrace something as absurd as her being the head of a sex trafficking ring?   When discussing the evil of Hitler, you don’t have to make up anything more sinister to prove your point.  

If you haven’t been following it, Buffalo has been experiencing quite the resurgence.      I’ve been to your old haunt as the Buffalo Brew Pub (decent beer, subpar food is what I recollect).   The last time I spent the night in Buffalo was a couple years ago to see Willie Nile do a killer show at the Tralf.   He was just out there last weekend at the Buffalo Iron Works, a new place I’m not familiar with.    There’s also a great music venue called the Sportman’s Tavern that has Albert Lee and Chuck Prophet coming in 2017.  Downtown Buffalo has been booming and I hear housing prices are starting to spike after trending downward since McKinley was shot.        

I haven’t seen OV in years.   Molson has killed their brand in Western NY and is practically non-existent as well.   Now Blue and Blue Light are kings.   They even outsell Bud.   It is funny because Bud Light is a huge brand in Canada and the Labatt brands are considered cr*p there.    

 The Canadian influence is ubiquitous here and I now know all sorts of things about Canada besides Boxing Day, poutine and the Tragically Hip.  I just started watching the Netflix series “Stranger Things” and in one episode, the song “Raise a Little Hell” is played.   I immediately recognized the band Trooper.  I can also name three Kim Mitchell songs and can tell you that Max Webster was his former band.   I know we shove a lot of our pop culture down their throats but I guess it goes both ways.              

Democrats are pure, eh?  Who knew!

Beer can be funny like that.  The local swill is a big hit elsewhere.

Off topic, how do you feel about Linda Chorney's music?

The ones that don't know how to win elections are.     

Linda should have won the Grammy....she was robbed.  Speaking of pure, who do you think is more corrupt - The Recording Academy, FIFA or the Olympic Committe?   

As bad as the Recording Academy is, FIFA and the IOC are standard bearers for corruption...