Friday, August 25, 2017

Freedom of Assembly

Been a couple weeks since I managed to post - has anything happened in the world? Has Donald Trump done anything stupid?

Yeah. I was away all last week, doing work, and didn't really get to opine on the disaster in Charlottesville, or the "president's" "response" - or the follow up "free speech" rally in Boston last weekend. At least not here. Got into another argument on Facebook with a crazy cousin and his fascist pal, but that doesn't really count - that's just venting. As of today, I suppose, the world has moved on - what happened a week or two ago is ancient history, something to be deleted from history books in Texas 50 years from now - but I don't think I will move on just yet.

Start at the end: let me do something that pains me, link to Andrew Sullivan: The Boston Rally Exposed the Left’s Intolerance of Free Speech. I see quite a bit of this around - mild (or strong) lamentations about the left silencing speech. Now - you can take this a couple ways. The first is simple - the Boston rally came a week after the Charlottesville rally, a week after a white supremacist murdered a woman (while trying to murder more) - people can be forgiven for thinking the Boston rally was going to be a repeat of Charlottesville, if the right wingers got their way. You can be forgiven for thinking this rally was an excuse to incite violence.

But there is an even simpler answer to disingenuous commentators like Sullivan: they held a free speech rally in Boston and 40,000 people showed up to practice free speech. Maybe if one side or the other had turned violent, you might have a case - but that didn't happen. You didn't have anything like the dipshits with machine guns prowling around Charlottesville - you just had people expressing their views and freely assembling. On both sides, to the rare credit of the right wingers. The only way to cast this as anything but a triumph for the first amendment is to let the right wing protesters define the kind of speech allowed at a free speech rally - let them define free speech as their speech only. The protesters knew better; most people know better. Now this gets to the core of how the right is operating these days: find words Americans value, apply them to yourself, even when you are practicing something else. If you bring a gun to a rally, you are not protecting free speech - and really, looking at their usual causes, it's clear that freedom of speech is only relevant as far as it lets them get away with their fascism, and as a cover for their real purposes. Which, as Charlottesville showed clearly, but most of their actions indicate, is white supremacy.

Which at this point is basically open fascism. They weren't pretending otherwise at Charlottesville, with their nazi armbands and confederate flags - but it's hard to see how Trump's rally in Phoenix is any different. Or his policies - the one thing he has accomplished as president is to get new forms of discrimination made into something like law. The travel ban (and deportation campaign), the ban on trans soldiers in the military - things like that. The Republicans are incompetent governors, but they know how to oppress minorities. And oppressing minorities goes to the heart of what fascism is. And war-mongering - but that might be a post for another day.

There are a lot of posts for other days in my head, I have to say: being the Civi War nerd I am, you would think I have something to say about statues of traitors in the public square! But again - another day...

Today I have to leave us with - more Glen Campbell? With Hurricane Harvey bearing down on the Texas coast, this might be in order. Looks like it's landing a bit south of Houston and Galveston but hurricanes are big evil things, and the whole gulf coast is in danger. Stay safe Texans.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Madness and Beauty

Another Friday, another week for the ages, huh? Trump manages to top himself, threatening North Korea with "fire and fury" bringing back happy memories of the Reagan era, and the real possibility of nuclear holocaust. Granted, North Korea may or may not be able to do the United States a lot of harm in such an exchange - but that is no comfort to South Korea and Japan, and if we did launch an unprovoked attack, successful or not, that is the ruin of the United States. Should be. It is a minor comfort that Trump is such a blowhard and habitual liar that nothing is likely to come of it - but he is fool enough to try it.... Anyway, for desert, he thanks Russia for expelling American diplomats, so he can save payroll. Quality guy, Trump!

In the real world, more bad news for entertainers. Last week, Sam Shepherd, Jeanne Moreau and June Foray died - this week, Glen Campbell. One of those figures who rested in the back of the culture back when I was young, always there, popping up on TV, on the radio, always there, but never quite in the foreground. You get too used to them, start to lump them in with the real fly by night types.... Though I don't know, I remember always liking Campbell, always happy to hear his songs come on the radio, willing to sing along. I still know most of the words to Rhinestone Cowboy. Going back and listening now, yeah - he was the real deal. And so: here's Rhinestone Cowboy, live on Midnight Special:

Wichita Lineman:

Gentle on My Mind, with a neat guitar solo; he has a way of shifting from country to jazz and back in these guitar breaks - very nice:

And for purer instrumental glory, here's a duet with Roy Clark:

Friday, August 04, 2017

Summertime Wandering

Friday, so I should post something. Spent a busy week, traveling to Vermont, up to Ft Knox and Ellsworth, rummaging around. HAven't gotten into a fight on the internet in a week or so - that has to be worth something. There is nothing really encouraging going on in the world - Trump continues to self-destruct and he and his allies continue to double down on the fascism, riling up the base and all - ugly and depressing. Things look a bit less like the end of the world is at hand this week than last - but it still is going to be a long hard slog to November 2018, or 2020. (Trump's enemies aren't helping - the "left" has to slag the "liberals" and vice versa - god help us all. As long as you vote for the Democrat, I will be happy.)

All right, no more of that today. Instead, here are a couple bridges, crossing the Winooski and the Penobscot rivers.

And here is some music in honor of all this wandering - Hank Snow!

And Ricky Nelson:

And, speaking of bridges - and, well - we're a couple weeks from a dismaying anniversary, aren't we? Take it, Elvis....