2017 is shaping up to be a watershed year for public protest, including many musical expressions of dissent. On the progressive side, the strongest of these messages are coming from within communities of resistance, as they always have. Voices lifted in the moment of protest, sometimes individual but often communal, resonate through history. They may belong to famous individuals, but it's not in the nature of the pop that Lady Gaga has made her métier to cultivate them.
-- Ann Powers, “Should Anyone Expect Pop Stars to Lead the Resistance?”
Also discussed at the closed-door conference meeting was how to engage Democratic constituents to ensure they feel they're being heard.
-- Rachael Bade, “Republicans Fear for Their Safety as Obamacare Protests Grow”
There is a monumental desire on behalf of the majority of the media, not just the pollsters, the majority of the media to attack a duly elected President in the second week of his term ... That's how unhealthy the situation is and until the media understands how wrong that attitude is, and how it hurts their credibility, we are going to continue to say, 'fake news.'
-- Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to Trump
The pure essence of any revelation can be obtained not only in the core of the examination but in the rigorous application of these principles that we do so cherish even though we go our separate ways.
-- Professor Irwin Corey, the World's Foremost Authority
So the neoliberal ruling classes are putting on a little revolution, to which you and I are cordially invited. The occasion is the takeover of the United States by Vladimir Putin and his Manchurian President or the official launch of the Trumpian Reich, whichever hysterical scenario you prefer. Dress is casual. Children are welcome, as this is a strictly non-violent uprising, which will take place on the weekends, mostly, so as not to interfere with school or work. Colorful signage and puppets are encouraged, but you can leave your gas mask and welder’s gloves at home, as there won’t be any tear gas canisters or rubber bullets coming your way. Oh, and it will definitely be televised....
The “Resistance” sprang into action again in response to Trump’s “Muslim Ban” this weekend. Following word that he had ordered a blanket entry ban of people from a list of seven so-called “countries of concern” (that the Obama administration had identified in its Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, and stripped of Visa Waiver Program privileges), Michael Moore blew his Twitter horn, summoning thousands of outraged protesters to Terminal 4 of JFK Airport to militantly assemble in a designated area (so as not to impede the normal flow of traffic) and completely shut down an adjacent parking lot....
What is being marketed to us as the “resistance to Trump,” technically, is a counter-insurgency operation … the global neoliberal establishment quashing the neo-nationalist uprising. But that kind of thing doesn’t sell very well. What sells much better is Hitler hysteria, neo-McCarthyite propaganda, and emotionally loaded trigger words that short circuit any kind of critical thinking, words like “love,” “hate,” “racism,” “fascism,” “normal,” and of course “resistance.”...
In any event, the quandary folks on the Left are currently facing is twofold: (1) how to oppose the Trumpians, and other neo-nationalist insurgencies, without serving the interests of Neoliberalism; and (2) how to oppose Neoliberalism without serving the interests of the Neo-nationalists. Which is more or less a classic Zen koan designed to make one’s head explode.
-- CJ Hopkins, “The Resistance and Its Double”
The modular design allows for the actual reactors to be built off-site at a factory, then transported to the power plant site by boat, rail or even truck. Constructing the major components off-site at a central facility saves both time and money, according to NuScale, and makes feasible an entirely new approach to building nuclear power plants. The modular design also eliminates the need for the massive cooling systems required by traditional nuclear power plants.
-- Glenn McDonald, “A Nuclear Energy Company Wants to Build America’s First Small Modular Reactor”
Here’s the big worry. Trump is unhinged and ignorant. Bannon is nuts and malicious. If not supervised by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, their decisions could endanger the world.... Trump’s and Bannon’s version of “America First” is no less dangerous. It is alienating America from the rest of the world, destroying our nation’s moral authority abroad, and risking everything we love about our country. Unsupervised by people who know what they’re doing. Trump and Bannon could also bring the world closer to a nuclear holocaust.
-- Robert Reich, “Trump and Bannon’s 'America First’”
Now, as we act in the continuing narrative of Stranger Things, we 1983 mid-westerners will repel bullies, we will shelter freaks and outcasts, those who have no home. We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters. And when we are at a loss amidst the hypocrisy and the casual violence of certain individuals and institutions, we will, as per Chief Jim Hopper, punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy the meek and the disenfranchised. And we will do it all with soul, with heat, and with joy.
-- David Harbour, SAG Award acceptance speech
What’s at stake isn’t “fake news.” What’s at stake is the increasing capacity of those committed to a form of isolationist and hate-driven tribalism that has been around for a very long time. They have evolved with the information landscape, becoming sophisticated in leveraging whatever tools are available to achieve power, status, and attention. And those seeking a progressive and inclusive agenda, those seeking to combat tribalism to form a more perfect union — they haven’t kept up.
-- Danah Boyd, “The Information War Has Begun”
There are so many big, huge things that we are confronting right now. Institutional oppression, injustice, marginalization, discrimination. At the core of all that, before we can form a resistance, one thing I wanted to talk about is just your own self-care. I’m someone who suffers pretty heavily from depression and despair, and it takes me a long time sometimes to get outside of the bubble of melancholy and despondency. I want you to remember, for those of you that suffer either from depression, just from the election, that’s enough, but also chemically, or just are dealing with whatever you are dealing with: remember what it felt like out there today? To be standing among people, to feel people up against you that have your back, to look people in the eyes, to share a smile. And when we go home, it’s not gonna feel like it did today. And so please take care of yourselves, and remember that there are people like me, and people like many of you, who need someone to call them, who need someone to check in, and who need someone to say “let’s do this”. Because we can not have resistance without existence. Please love yourself, and take care of each other. It’s the only way we can move forward.
-- Carrie Brownstein:
Women’s March Edition:
Slavery has just been reinterpreted into the prison system. Blacks are still in shackles and graves just for being black, in front of people who see melanin as animal skin.
Nina Mariah Donovan, “Nasty Woman”
And to our detractors that insist this march will never add up to anything, fuck you. Fuck you.
-- Madonna at the D.C Women’s March
We’re a long way from home. Our hearts and spirits are with the hundreds of thousands of women and men that marched yesterday in every city in America. And in Melbourne. We rallied against hate and division and in support of tolerance, inclusion, reproductive rights, civil rights, racial justice, LGBTQ rights, the environment, wage equality, gender equality, health care and immigrant rights. We stand with you. We are the new American resistance.
Bruce Springsteen in Australia
It’s not enough for Democrats to be “against Trump,” and defend the status quo. Democrats have to fight like hell against regressive policies Trump wants to put in place, but Democrats also need to fight for a bold vision of what the nation must achieve – like expanding Social Security, and financing the expansion by raising the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes; Medicare for all; and world-class free public education for all.
-- Robert Reich, “The Life of the Party: 7 Truths for Democrats”
Loneliness has followed me my whole life, everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There's no escape. I'm God's lonely man.
-- Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver
What follows is a slightly-edited blog post from 2003:
The 5th Dimension were a pop R&B ensemble formed in the mid-60s. Three men with different musical backgrounds joined together with two beauty pageant winners, all African-Americans, they were signed to the Soul City label in 1966. Soul City was the brainchild of Johnny Rivers, a white singer who had a series of hits with some excellent covers of Chuck Berry, Willie Dixon, and Motown (along with the immortal theme song "Secret Agent Man"). Their first big hit was "Up, Up and Away," which won several Grammies and was written by Jimmy Webb, who also wrote such tunes as "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman," and "MacArthur Park." Another early hit for the group was "Stoned Soul Picnic," written by Laura Nyro, an eccentric white girl from the Bronx whose songs were also hits for artists like Barbra Streisand, Blood Sweat and Tears, and Three Dog Night.
Meanwhile, the Summer of Love came and went. Among the "inauthentic" artifacts of that period was a stage musical, Hair, that opened Off Broadway and moved to the real Broadway in 1968. Hair featured such true-to-hippies songs as "Good Morning Starshine" and the title song ("Hair! Flow it, show it, long as God can grow it, my hair!").
The story goes that the 5th Dimension took in the play on Broadway and decided to release a medley of two of the musical's songs, "Aquarius" and "Let the Sunshine In." It was a good idea: it won Grammies, it hit #1 on the charts, it sold millions. (The subsequent album, Let the Sunshine In, included songs by not only Laura Nyro, but also Neil Sedaka and Cream.)
So ... we've got an African-American vocal group, singing faux-hippie epics from a Broadway show, on a label run by the guy who sang "Secret Agent Man" when he wasn't covering black artists himself. Some things are simply bottomless.
Fast forward to 1981. Ronald Reagan is inaugurated President of the United States. At the Mabuhay Gardens, San Francisco's top punk club back in the day, an anti-inauguration party is held. One of the acts is the drag band Sluts a-Go-Go. I described the event on this blog here:
one thing from that night still sticks with me, when the Sluts sang "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" while incense burned. There I was, in a punk club at the dawn of the Reagan Era, listening to men in drag sing a Broadway version of hippiedom, and I'm not much for irony, for that matter ... in any event, I felt one with the band and the crowd, I wasn't alienated from America in that moment, I was as close to Hippie Community as I'd ever been in the actual hippie days, and I started to cry at the ridiculous wonder of it all.
Like I say, some things are simply bottomless, and you can't always predict what those things will be. Like a Broadway version of the Summer of Love, sung by R&B groups and drag queens, making an impression on a hippie wannabee like me.
The final onstage performance of Sluts-a-Go-Go:
Martin Luther King edition:
There are forty million poor people here. And one day we must ask the question, "Why are there forty million poor people in America?" And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I'm simply saying that more and more, we've got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life's market place. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, "Who owns the oil?" You begin to ask the question, "Who owns the iron ore?" You begin to ask the question, "Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two thirds water?" These are questions that must be asked.
-- Martin Luther King, 1967
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.
-- Abraham Lincoln, 1838
Donald Trump ran one of the most divisive and prejudiced campaigns in modern history. He began his campaign by insulting Mexican immigrants, pledging to build a wall between the United States and Mexico and then spent a year and a half denigrating communities of color and normalizing bigotry. He called women ‘pigs’, stoked Islamophobia, and attacked a Gold Star family. He mocked a disabled reporter and appealed to people’s worst instincts. I cannot in good conscience attend an inauguration that would celebrate this divisive approach to governance.
-- Barbara Lee, 2017
I was in Russia years ago, with the Miss Universe contest, which did very well – Moscow, the Moscow area did very well, very well. And I told many people, “Be careful, because you don’t wanna see yourself on television. Cameras all over the place.” ... I’m also very much of a germaphobe, by the way, believe me.
-- Donald Trump, 2017
Maybe it takes two Canadians to place Donald Trump in perspective. Phil Dellio and Scott Woods worked on this book for more than a year, never expecting that by the time it was published, Trump would have actually won the election. The book works just as well with that surprise element, though, because they are trying to figure out Trump, not just as a person/politician, but as someone who is part of our cultural landscape.
Thus, the “chapters” examine cultural landmarks that connect to Trump, in order to understand all of us. They go from Sarah Palin to Elvis Presley, which all by itself makes a nice instant description of the parameters of President Donald Trump. There is a section with, in turn, Pat Buchanan, George Wallace, Barry Goldwater, and Joe McCarthy. The middle of the book is devoted to “early sightings in the movies, on TV, and between the covers”, which goes from Nashville (the movie) to Howard Beale, from Citizen Kane to the Manchurian Candidate, from Gordon Gekko to The Joker. These selections make sense the second you see the connections.
None of this would matter if the writing wasn’t up to the concept. So it is important how good that writing is. There is no attempt to identify who wrote what, but there is a smoothness to the style that keeps any seams from showing. Combine the pleasure of reading this writing with the seductive nature of the book’s structure (short chapters), and Unshackled becomes very hard to put down. You can’t resist the pull of “just one more chapter”.
In some ways, this book is very much of the moment. You might even think it’s a bit too late to be reading about the emergence of Trump as President. But it’s still soon enough to the election that everything seems fresh. And it works as an excellent snapshot of how this all seems to us as we prepare for Trump’s inauguration. For this reason, I think this book will make for interesting reading ten years from now, as a reminder of where we were in 2017. I not only recommend Unshackled, I suggest you read it ASAP.
(I suppose a disclosure is in order. I know both Phil and Scott, and am very kindly included in the acknowledgements. It made my day to see my name in the same sentence as Rob Sheffield’s).
Fuck you, members of the media.
Fuck your constant pursuit of ratings, of quarterly profits, of giving this tinpot cumdumpster a platform with which he can influence a large part of our country
Fuck you for buying into the idea that racism should be afforded an equal platform with equality, for calling a Nazi anything other than a Nazi.
-- Chris Kluwe, “Fuck You, Donald Trump”
Hugh Laurie, winning for his work in “The Night Manager,” joked that he assumed this would be the last Golden Globes because “I don’t mean to be gloomy. It’s just that it has Hollywood, Foreign and Press in the title. And I think to some Republicans, even Association is slightly sketchy.” The point about the press is taken, and taken with thanks, but this formulation — which Streep repeated and made worse by prefacing it to say “You, and all of us in this room, really belong to the most vilified segment of American society right now” — has the unfortunate effect of suggesting that some of the richest and most influential people in the world are victims.
-- Alyssa Rosenberg, “In the Trump era, artists can be Jimmy Fallon or Donald Glover. Choose wisely.”
“Why can’t you give him the benefit of the doubt…,” [Kellyanne] Conway asked, to which, [Chris] Cuomo answered “because he’s making a disgusting gesture on video about Serge.”
If happiness comes when you find something you are good at, and then you do it, then I guess Preston Epps was a very happy man. After "Bongo Rock" hit #14 on the charts, Epps locked in with the following songs, in alphabetical order: "Baja Bongos," "Blue Bongo," "Bongo Bongo Bongo," "Bongo Hop," "Bongo in the Congo," "Bongo Party," "Bongo Shuffle," "Bongo, Bong, Bongo," "Bongola," "Bongos in Paradise," "Bongos in Pastel," "Gully Bongo," "Hully Gully Bongo," "Prest Bongos Under Glass," "Stormy Bongo," and "Surfin' Bongos." None of them made the charts, with the exception of "Bongo Bongo Bongo," which made it to #78.
-- Steven Rubio’s Online Life, January 9, 2009
I know very few people who are voting for Trump. I know a lot of people who are voting for Clinton.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I did not vote for anyone for president. But the above two sentences explain what I’m feeling as I look towards the conclusion of this election.
If Trump were to win, the form of the celebration would likely be repulsive, representing the worst America has to offer, as does Donald Trump himself.
If Clinton wins, the celebration will focus primarily on one point: that we have finally elected a woman to be our leader. A point that is well worth celebrating, a point that has been too long in coming.
I want my friends to enjoy their celebration. That is the reason I’ve stayed mostly silent throughout this election. If my vote merely entailed making my friends happy, I would do so.
You could say I am a coward. I don’t want to bring down the wrath of Clinton supporters, so for the most part, I hold my tongue. But it’s not just fear ... I truly do want my friends to have that celebration, no matter my own personal opinions about what I think a Clinton presidency will mean on a concrete, rather than a symbolic, level.
Part of me questions the inherent misogyny of men, a category in which I include myself. I have tried for my entire adult life to press for equality between men and women, but I speak as a man who has experienced the unequal benefits of being male. At the very least, we should question our assumptions, and the roots of our assumptions, when they come from a position of privilege. Thus, I believe I deserve all the accusations of misogyny that are thrown at any man who can’t accept that Hillary Clinton will be a good president.
Except, as I wrote earlier, outside of not being Donald Trump, the only reason I could think of to vote for Clinton is that she is a woman. I very much want us to have a woman president at last.
I just wish it wasn’t this woman.
A friend posted the following on Facebook this morning:
I'm not sure yet if I'm going to vote at all. Even if I do, I could never vote for HRC, though I'd never try to persuade others not to. But if you do, don't tell yourself or others sweet stories about her inner goodness. She's a loyal and effective servant of capital and empire. If she wins, which seems likely though far from certain, she immediately becomes the enemy, even though people and forces even worse than she will attack her.
Or, as one hashtag has it, “#nohoneymoon”.
So when she wins, as I have always believed she will, and the inevitable, joyous celebrations erupt, I will be happy for all of my friends, especially women, who have longed for this day. And I’ll be quiet.
But once the celebrations are over, #nohoneymoon.
I’ve written and deleted this post a dozen times over the past several weeks. On occasion, I’ve constructed it as a Facebook post, only to delete that, as well.
Recently, a friend wrote, “I swear, this presidential campaign has caused me to lose respect for people for whom I had no respect before.” I took me awhile to wrap my brain around that one ... at first, I misread it and thought the friend had lost respect for people he admired, but once I paid attention, I realized he was pointing out how many people for whom he had no respect had reached new lows during the campaign. In his case, he was talking about people who were shilling for Clinton.
I don’t really feel the same. Very few people have surprised me with their opinions. The people who have always been mainstream Democrats have rallied behind Clinton, the people who are to the left of the Democratic Party have for the most part taken a critical stance towards Clinton, whether or not they intend to vote for her. Republicans are wobbly because their candidate is so noxious ... I suppose the people like Gingrich and Giuliani who persist in supporting Trump are even more vile than I thought possible, but mainstream Republicans seem to wish Trump would quit embarrassing them and their party. That the tenets of mainstream Republicanism over the past few decades have made Trump possible escapes their notice, I guess. But then, Hillary Clinton strikes me as very much the culmination of mainstream Democratic politics ... both candidates are, to my mind, representative of their parties, except Trump is openly disgusting.
My voting record over the years has been all over the place, if by “all over” you mean “on the left”. I was first able to vote in 1972, and to best of my recollection, I registered as an independent (“decline to state”) right from the start. In 1974, I registered as a Democrat so I could vote for Jerome Waldie in the Democratic primary for Governor of California ... he was a decent man who grew up with my father and whose family was close enough to my wife’s that she called him “dad”. As soon as that primary ended, I re-registered as an independent. There were a couple of years where I registered Green ... to be honest, I can barely remember why any longer. Suffice to say that for the vast majority of my 44 years of voting, I have “declined to state” what party I was in (because I didn’t want to be in a party).
In all of my voting years, I have never voted for a Republican. I always assume if you have chosen to be a member of that party, we are too far apart politically for there to be much common ground. This is not to say I have always voted for Democrats. I voted for many marginal, third-party (more accurately, sixth-party) candidates whose names I have forgotten. Long before 2016, I voted for a woman to be president (she didn’t win, and no, I don’t remember her name, either). In 1984, I voted for Geraldine Ferraro for Vice-President, just to be on the right side of history (of course, she had about as much chance of winning as those marginal candidates for whom I had voted in the past). The only time I can remember voting FOR a major-party presidential candidate rather than voting against their opponent was my first time, when I voted for George McGovern. Since then, I’ve found all the major party candidates lacking, even as I occasionally voted for Democrats.
I did have the honor of voting for, first, Ron Dellums and then, later, Barbara Lee as my representative in the House. Lee makes me proud to be from Berkeley.
And I’ve told this anecdote too many times, but once I took a leak next to Ron Dellums during one of the elections, maybe 1988, and I asked him to convince me to vote for the Democrat. He began to answer, and then as we left the rest room with his bodyguards, he walked with me awhile. He was quite eloquent, but his argument boiled down to “well, we can’t let that Republican win.”
I haven’t agreed with a whole lot that President Obama has done, but I did vote for him twice. So why am I so reluctant to vote for Hillary Clinton?
I can only think of two reasons to vote for her. One, she is a woman, and two, she isn’t Donald Trump. There is no denying either of those points, and I do believe they are important. It will be a big symbolic step when a woman finally becomes president, just as it was when Obama became our first black president.
But ... and here I can blame myself for not digging deep enough, Obama was a bit of a mystery, and I was taken in by his great speaking abilities, and in truth, most of what he proceeded to do was not far from what anyone who paid attention could have predicted.
Clinton is different. She has a long public record on which we can evaluate her politics. In fact, this is often cited as a reason, in itself, for voting for her. She is, we are told over and over again, the most qualified presidential candidate in our history. First lady, Senator, Secretary of State ... not only is this resume above and beyond Donald Trump’s wildest dreams, it’s above everyone else’s.
But I can’t count her role as Secretary of State as a plus, when I thought she was so bad at it. She is a stone-cold hawk, especially in the Middle East, and this isn’t going away ... she’s already talking about what she’ll do when she is president. She is completely pro-Israel. This is not someone I want as my president.
But Trump would be worse, we are told. Trump is a maniac, so much so that I doubt he’d accomplish anything if he somehow managed to become president. But Clinton, as we have all seen, is capable of accomplishing great things. Who is more dangerous, a nutcase who won’t get anything done, or a hawk who will get lots of things done?
And, as Belén Fernández has written, “You can’t be a pro-war feminist”:
Clinton’s performance on the international battlefield over the years makes a mockery of any pretense of support for the rights of women not to be violated, either sexually or otherwise. ... unfortunately for Clinton’s current campaign against sexual violence, the “harm” that continues to plague the nation of Iraq courtesy of the U.S. and its friends has included plenty of instances of rape by invading soldiers—as tends to happen in such situations.
My presidential vote doesn’t matter ... California is going for Clinton no matter how I vote. Which made my choice easy. I wanted to say I voted for the first woman president ... yes, I’ve voted for other women for president, but Clinton is going to win. But I don’t want to vote for this particular woman. It’s not about her personality, it’s not about my being unable to handle a powerful woman. It’s about her expected foreign policy. I believe Lyndon Johnson was the best president in my lifetime, yet he was a big failure because he couldn’t keep himself out of Vietnam. Whatever else Hillary Clinton stands for symbolically, I predict her legacy will be like Johnson’s ... too bad about that war.