Putinesque Trumpet Call

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Weasels in Wonderland

So, maybe it’s just me, but it sounds odd to my ear that Trump is bellyaching about the CIA’s analysts having come to the conclusion that Russian hackers at the direction Vladimir Putin had intentionally interfered with our election.

After a week of cabinet picks that have more in common with a wrecking ball than governance our country seems on a course to gleefully dismantle itself right in front of our very eyes.

Labor secretary that is opposed overtime pay or minimum wage, Environmental Protection Agency secretary opposed to environmental protection, Secretary of Education opposed to public education… are you paying attention to this?

Affordable Care Act? Thirty million people slated to lose insurance first thing Republicans do in January. Social Security? Cut benefits, privatize. Medicare? Vouchers ship back to states so long- good luck- nice knowing you- you switch and bait schmucks.

We had 2.7 million more votes in this election cast for the loser, and the flim-flam man slips into office via about 77,000 accumulative votes in three states that according to some computer geeks doing some deep data diving seem to feel that the difference between paper ballot tally’s and electronic voting machine results show some disturbing anomalies.

The Koch’s fund this scam thing called ProporNot, like propaganda or not, to smear progressive news outlets in an effort to help ferment further disinformation about what is left of our news organizations ability to function in this post-truth era of low information obsessed with the smartphones voters.

 But, this is the state of our affairs. We’ve got a man with the temperament of a seventh grader heading to the White House with the support of mostly rural American voters (think right wing talk radio hosts) who happen to think just like Vladimir Putin. Good luck suckers. You just might have finally really done it this time.

Working Peeps Pissed

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Now that we got this populism thing in the groove… Brexit, Trumpistan, and now on  Sunday those wacky Italians joined in and have gone full Fellini. Grab your parachutes peeps.

It turns out that all those trade deals we’ve been making since like say 1992 when a Democrat with the help of a majority of the Republican Party rammed NAFTA thru has turned around and bit the globalized world right in the good old shipping containers ass.

Back of the envelope calculation is that NAFTA was worth a trillion bucks. That worker retraining and relocation fund? Ready? They generously set aside 100 million dollars. A thousand billion is a trillion and for the innumerate among you that 100 million dedicated to helping offset the loss of jobs is in fact the living breathing definition of “virtually nothing.” Yeah, that will keep those peons down.

Those swells from Wall Street could not help sticking it to labor. The conservative political groups across the free trading world have backed out funds soon after new trade deals have been passed. These governmental programs cost far too much. You must have taken us serious. How silly of you.

I have griped long and loud about doing more to make our trading system fairer.I’m a creative, performer and author, and you know conservatives want to zero out the National Endowment for the Arts. Good for them. I want to zero there ass out too.

The D’s got to grow a pair. They need to take their rhetorical baseball bats to hearings on Capital Hill and they need to swing for the fences in defense of the common man. You know good jobs with good benefits. I don’t care where my health care comes from. Just get it to me and keep the costs down.

We haven’t got time to be dicking around with all this. We are in a global climate emergency. Come on. Get real because evidently all those dudes from Goldman Sachs that Trump’s just appointed? We be in big trouble because those dudes are coming for us… and they know we be fools. We be voting against our own best interest like the good docile folk we are.

To put it in terms that transcends petty national politics? The world’s economic system remains deeply flawed and dangerous. We’ve been aware of this, but money translates to political power and the best of our human angels are unable to acquire the positions necessary within the system to turn this ship around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Environmentalists Are So Low Energy…

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Grasping at Windmills

Asymmetric warfare is on in California’s wine country. She’s this place everybody wants a piece of. Sweet to drink, fine to sleep with and when you’re done owning her you’ll flip her and move on down the line.

That’s life tangled in the vines. No broad brushing the truth here. The developers masquerading in denim overalls have it figured out. Pull that violin out and play the sentimental heart tugging tune.

Big Agriculture’s the bully and you will dance to their tune. I said dance, and lift your feet a little higher when I say dance. The wine making isn’t the thing it’s the incessant expansion. The valley is built out. That deal is done. What about the hillsides? That games on.

Most American’s don’t have the money to play. International billionaires can come and take a piece of it. Trophy property is so tedious to maintain. How many times can someone eat at the French Laundry?

The environmentalist is a tenderhearted patsy going up against a cold calculating developer who eats obstacles in their way with a crack of the back of their lawyers hand. The goodie two shoes haven’t a chance.

I was in France last month. We were in the Languedoc-Roussillon. We visited O’ Vineyards outside of Carcassonne. No traffic, no crowds, no run up in real estate prices. Tasted some reds I’d drink again. The winemaker was a good man. He was making a heroic effort to bring quality. Toiling in obscurity searching for poetry in the sunlight. Bravo

Everybody wants a piece of Napa. They want her. They need her. They must have her. This isn’t going to end pretty. Ask our salmon and steelhead? They’re extinct… in just the last ten years. It was a good run for five million of them, but what the hell we have a crush to get out. You are so not getting it man. Environmentalists are so low energy…

Against the Grain

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The Next Steps

The current novel I am drafting is set in Napa County. Climate change, inequality and the health of of both the people and environment is under stress. Studying groundwater levels, fish extinction events, the alarming increase of childhood cancer rates (the highest in any county in California) has been painful to acknowledge. There has been a loss of innocence in my life. County officials in lockstep with the biggest agricultural corporations in the valley dictate what does and doesn’t happen here. The climate is changing, the available water has all been claimed. It is a jewel of a county and California’s smallest. It has grown into a world class international tourist destination. Both businesses and visitors clamor to come here and get a piece of the action. A wide array of community organizations are struggling to slow the rapid rate of growth. We’ll need more soul searching to bridle the billion dollar corporations that find sustainability issues irrelevant to their business plans. The struggle to thwart the rich and powerful from reining down ruin upon this world class destination falls upon the ordinary citizens who live here. Tough stuff… now with the changes in Washington DC the mood of the country seems to have turned against any further supervision or regulation of this great treasure the gods have handed to us. So, yes, I am the loyal opposition. Good ideas I’ll cooperate with and bad ideas I’ll resist. This is where we find out if we can save the world…

So Long Small Time, Lonely at the Top

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                            Neighborhoods  of our Minds

I listen to Marc Maron’s podcast WTF. Julia Louis-Dreyfus was on his April 20th episode. Veep is her now, Seinfeld her then, Second City was in the way back, and SNL was shoehorned in the credits as well.

Marc and Julia talk of many things. What begins stiff soon gets loose.

Then, the most interesting moment in their conversation unfolds. It is a topic of interest to my long list of friends and coworkers that I have shared life with in San Francisco.

Marc and Julia bantered about how dull and soulless NYC has become. Where once there was grit, drugs, muggings, a certain seediness. There is now a monoculture. It is a place to live for those with the means to afford the place. The expensiveness has chased away the up and coming new break out artists. Instead it is filled with gawking tourists. There is Wall Street, the internationally stupendously wealthy, real estate moguls, and then as we descend from the lofty heights lesser players who come with their meager millions and pretend to be something they are not.

Julia has been a leading actress on television for twenty plus years and she can’t afford New York City. That’s probably a state of mind, but it speaks.

Here in Oakland, next to Emeryville where I live reside the remnants of a once sizable cohort of artists I shared San Francisco with. My wife and I left San Francisco in 2009. We might have stayed but other plotting and planning pulled us to new projects. Then, as the Great Recession rolled on, then the staggering increase in the dot com boom hit, then the jump in real estate prices, then next the exponential increase of the exodus, until San Francisco is as hollowed out as New York City, as London, as as as…. Sydney.

Street performing always has relied upon a steady stream of pedestrians to work. Better yet a steady stream of people, common ordinary run of the mill working people out for a bit of a jaunt. That audience has been interrupted and the connected and wealthy don’t trifle with such diversions much and when they do they’d be hard pressed to relate. How can their tossing a fiver into a hat move a needle?

Once New York, Boston, and San Francisco were filled to the brim with such citizens. Our run up in asset prices, of stocks and bonds, homes and condos, has gutted the whole urban project.

Contrarian’s may choose to disagree, you can still hang with fewer scheckles on Capital Hill in Seattle. Plenty of urban artistry overflows in Oakland. But, something has been diminished. Some emptiness has set in. As they say it is lonely at the top, and our best cities chilly winds have altered the sidewalks we use to find our soul.

Crushing Fame Games

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Scene from 2015 Valley Fire

Lake County, California

Plenty busy now and well along on my fourth novel. In this scene I am dealing with how money in politics is influencing the winegrowing region of Napa County.  The billionaires in the region have an outsized influence over the valley. Preserving this wine growing wonder of the world is in harms way. Too much money and too few citizens appreciate the pressure California’s smallest county is under.

“Alex Dominguez is the dude. County Board of Supervisor. I read on the website that he describes himself as a moderate, friendly to business Democrat.” Tyler starts filling out the check. “One man’s business friendly Democrat could look an awful lot like a bend over backwards do anything you want Republican. Alex needs to understand that the business friendly Democrats up here in Soda Canyon have a different point of view than those business friendly Democrats down on the valley floor.”

“I’m not here to talk policy, make any promises. That’s what Alex does. He makes the promises.”

“A broken campaign promise will get my dads Texas temper in a tantrum. He is the epitome of what you call a business friendly valley floor Democrat.”

“You can give to the campaign if you and your group want. But, Alex can’t make any specific promises.”

“My daddy, the valley dude, he told me while he was still bouncing me off his knee if you want good representation you have to be wiling to help get that person into office, that’s how politics in this country is practiced.”  He tore the check out of the register. “We got a beekeeper up here worried about maintaining the wild forage her honeybees depend on. Got a family with relatives from Flint, Michigan concerned about vineyards contaminating our watershed. We’re worried about climate change, spike in childhood cancer rates.” Tyler handed over the check. “We are concerned about the having some big shot, private equity operators coming up here on the east side and smooth talking the supervisors into cutting down what’s left of our wild oak woodlands.”

“This is for twenty thousand dollars.” The man said.

Tyler, Ronnie and Jessica laughed, “There’s a lot of money in honey.”

“There are lots of folks who don’t want anymore trees cut down.” Jessica said.

Tyler started walking the staff member off his property. Put his arm around his shoulders to confide privately, “I’d like to hear Alex take a position on what he’s going to do before the election. Otherwise we might have to do the same thing he trying to do and play both sides of the isle.”

“I’ll let Alex know.”

“I finally feel like we are communicating.”

Lonely at the Top, Stupid at the Bottom

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Knowing Where You Are, Setting a New Course

The main ultimate highest priority of one of our two political parties is tax cuts. Even though if you take the time to go read the polls you will discover that a vast swath of the people of the United States are concerned with a great many other priorities.

Grover Norquist’s Club for Growth has had a hammerlock on the policy apparatus of the R’s for decades. Go read anything by Robert Reich and what you end up reading are story after story of upward distribution of income to the top. Get it? Poorer Americans are working to make wealthy Americans ever more wealthy. Nice work if you can get it.

Abortion, race, immigration, education, privatization, deregulation, contract work, financialization, oil subsidies, air pollution and on and on… they are all proxy fights held on the front pages of our news sites so that the implementation of more tax cuts and the maintenance of the existing tax cuts may continue.

This has all gone haywire this year. What is so rotten of all is that business R’s have allowed so much damage in the pursuit of this one plank.

Grover Norquist’s fetish has brought the R’s to the eve of their destruction. There is a lot to be upset about, and a terrible tearing to the social fabric of our country. We need to get off this one trick pony. Heritage Foundation, Cato, Club for Growth and all the various interlocking organizations that have been ramming the tax cut thing need to be called out for the failures they are. They are the creators of the Trumpestein mess we find ourselves in. The magnitude of the failure we are witnessing approaches epic until you listen to the petty quarreling. This is so beneath us, so small, so terribly scrawny. We can do much much better.