it was never about the song.

I know you’re tired of reading and hearing about this shit. So am I.

But whatever you might think of Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys, or the NFL – they taught us all something last night. Brought this whole thing into focus, if you will.

Less than 24 hours after stating in a nationally televised interview that he didn’t think it was appropriate to make such statements, Jerry Jones walked onto the field with his players and coaches to collectively take a knee…

…BEFORE the anthem played.

Then, after their gesture, they all stood for the National Anthem – to a chorus of boos from the spectators.

So in one fell swoop, America’s Team has proven once and for all that Conservative America’s Collective Butthurt over this issue really doesn’t have shit to do with respecting the flag or the Anthem at all.

If the solemn ritual of standing for the Anthem is so sacred, I’d think you’d be moved to stand there quiety and STFU during the process…and maybe, oh, I dunno…not boo the players? Show the reverence and respect that all your pseudo-patriotic posturing would demand at the very moment that you claim to demand it?

But no…go ahead and release your inner redneck and boo.

Because that’s where The Tell lies in the first place.

None of this is about the song, the flag, the troops, the game…none of that shit was ever the issue.

The issue is that you can’t stand any reminder that the America that you live in IN YOUR HEAD isn’t the America that’s real – or even available – to all its citizens.

You want to continue to let all those propaganda slogans play on a loop in your head and delude yourself with all that “we’re the greatest” bullshit while the fact remains that – as was so famously pointed out by Jeff Daniels’ Will McAvoy character in the now-viral clip from HBO’s “The Newsroom” – we lead the world in only two categories: The number of incarcerated citizens per capita and defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 nations combines, 25 of which are allies.

The fact that black men are routinely shot dead by police with nearly zero repercussions doesn’t fit in with your fantasy of America, and you HATE being reminded of it, so you don’t want to hear about it on Game Day, you don’t want to hear the Hollywood Elite remind you of it at the Oscars, you don’t want to hear about it from artists and musicians…you want all the ugly shit to go away, unless it’s Ted Nugent inviting a sitting President to suck on his machine gun – that, of course, is just fine.

So man up. Admit, for once, that there’s no such thing as an acceptable means of protest for you, because you’re part of the problem and not the solution. Show the world an honest representation of who you are. Tell them honestly that you don’t really give a shit about the plight of victims of unprecedented police brutality.

Tell them that you think all those dirty Occupy hippies oughtta get a job because you don’t want to be reminded that you’re working for next to nothing while leeches like Steve Mnuchin are getting rich and then rubbing it in your face from the leather seat of a private, taxpayer funded jet.

Have the balls to say to man and God alike that – yeah, I eat Pringles on my sofa while the Anthem plays, but the last goddamn thing I want to be reminded of on Sundays is the fact that somewhere in America, probably not far from where my patriotic ass is planted, there’s a racially profiled traffic stop that’s about to end with shots being fired.

Because when you go Super Saiyan Snowflake Butthurt over this, you’re essentially saying exactly that, anyway.

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the right kind of crazy

Earthquakes in Mexico.

Hurricanes that show up more often than my paycheck.

Cops in St. Louis behaving like fucking Nicaraguan rebels, mowing down people of color without any consequence and then having tear-gas parades to celebrate not guilty verdicts.

American Lawmakers that blatantly look you in the eye and tell you they’re gonna fuck you, because the Koch Organization is taking their allowance away if they don’t.

People overdosing on heroin in McDonald’s restrooms.

a POTUS incapable of basic conversational English.

Armies of zombified idiots on social media repeating talking points from their Sean Hannity flashcards that they bought on Breitbart without even knowing WTF they’re talking about half the time.

Getting Older.

Heroes Dying.

Lately, it’s getting harder and harder to get outta bed in the morning.

But – there are blessings to count…a late night phone call from my firstborn last night that lasted into the wee hours of the morning…watching my oldest son grow up to be a better man that I could have hoped to have been at his age…and an 8 year old that refuses to let me remain in a bad mood for very long.

I veer back and forth from one side of the highway to the other at a manic pace lately, where music is concerned – one day, I’m ready to take on half a dozen new projects and dig into everything with both hands, but more often than not of late it takes actual effort to even bother to pick up an instrument. I can’t lay that at the feet of any one thing, but it’s real, and it’s demanding, lately, that I make up my damned mind and either shit or get off the pot.

My Instagram feed is a pretty solid indicator, when I look back over posts and see eight or nine pics of Danny to every photo from a gig or a session or something else similarly musical…and the thing that probably frightens me about that is the fact that…it doesn’t really bother me that much. As recently as a few years ago, that would’ve kept me up nights. But nowadays, it seems like there’s a hell of a lot more dangerous shit to worry about than whether I have a gig or not.

One of the things Jayda and I discussed last night was creating a place away from the chaos and the madness where you can feel protected from the bullshit of the outside world…and I’m not sure I’ve ever allowed myself the benefit of something like that, because my ghosts follow me everywhere I go. She and I are a lot alike in that regard, but she’s got a better handle on it than I do, I think.

I have a lot of miles on my odometer. I’ve done some pretty cool shit in my life, and I’ve made some boneheaded mistakes, too. Some days, I’m pretty certain that I’ve been an asshole more often than not, and I’m pretty sure there are plenty of you who’d agree with me. A lot of you are folks that I’ve had the pleasure of riding the road with, of spending time with in person, of getting to know beyond seeing photos of your pets and your dinner on the screen of my computer…and my life is certainly the richer for it.

Y’all keep the odometer moving, and enjoy the miles as best as you can.

The world is a crazy fuckin’ place. Don’t hide from it. Go out and make it the RIGHT kind of crazy.

ANTIFA?

no, wait…

ANTIFA!   ANTIFA ANTIFA ANTIFA!!!

Is it more scary if I shout it over and over again? Try to make it sound intimidating?

In case you haven’t gotten the memo, ANTIFA is the new right-wing boogeyman…the new dog whistle that’s supposed to give them an easy label to slap on everyone who disagrees with them. It’s all over social media…I even had some nutjob try to tell me last night that Rachel Maddow was “Anti FA” (sic).

If you’re “of a certain age”, you’ve seen this movie before.

“ANTIFA” is the new “SOCIALIST”, which was the new “LIBERAL” – brought to you by that political genius Lee Atwater, who made Willie Horton famous almost thirty years ago.

The thing that ends up being lost on the folks for whom these false flag labels are such delicious fodder is that – well, yeah…the irony is almost comical.

“ANTIFA” is a chopped label for “Anti-Fascist”…I’ll leave it to you and Google to determine whether that’s a label someone should be ashamed of. As for me – I’m not gonna lose any sleep over being labelled “Antifa” by a social media troll.
Before that – remember how “Socialist” used to be the slur of choice? That one was especially delicious coming from folks who were on Medical Assistance, Food Stamps, Welfare or some other form of Government-provided aid…using the word “Socialist” as a term of derision for those with whom they had some form of political disagreement with, while benefitting from the very definition of the word.
And of course, there was “Liberal” – which came into fashion as a derogatory term for us softies on the left during the Bush-Dukakis race in 1988 and eventually subsided in the shadow of newer, less rationally explainable terms in its wake.

To wear the label of Liberalism as some form of shame was handed off to the media in the backfield at that point in time, and some of them are still running with that ball, all these years later. Somehow, a few suits in front of news cameras managed to spread the notion that “Liberals” were somehow inferior, and in the wake of the Reagan Fever that swept America in the eighties, a lot of basic notions were forgotten.

Somewhere along the way, folks managed to conflate “Liberal and Conservative” with “Democrat and Republican” – they forgot all about the tectonic shifts that took place during the Civil Rights era and Nixon’s subsequent Southern Strategy – and how Republicans inherited the Conservative mantle as the Dixiecrats of old died off or were replaced in Congress.

But “Liberal” and “Conservative”? Those have always been pretty accurate labels.

Now, I’m not ranting with the direct purpose of slandering Conservatives, because – where traditional Conservatism is concerned, anyway – on the surface, the two terms are nothing more than labels for differing political viewpoints. Blonde and Brunette. City Slicker and Country Boy. Punks and Mods. Jocks and Nerds. Liberals and Conservatives.

And it likely would’ve remained within that echelon until someone decided to try to weaponize the word “Liberal” and make it derogatory…and the world played along.

But, y’know – I’m sorry, but I ain’t playin’ that shit.

Call me a Liberal all day, every day. I’m happy to wear that label.

It’s tempting to rehash the laundry list of instances where Liberals fought for, bled for, and – in some cases, DIED for many of the things we take for granted nowadays…from voting and civil rights to the 40 hour work week. But if you care about that at all, you know that already – and if you don’t, you won’t care now, either.

So call me Liberal. Or “Socialist”. Or “Antifa” if you want.

Because all you’re doing is publicly telling the world that you’re declaring yourself to be on the wrong side of history.

Again.

cosmopolitan bias

I fully expect to wake up in the morning with 27 folks left on my friends list, but I’ve made peace with that.

And I’m warning you now…this might be hard to read, so you might wanna keep scrolling, because I’m done playin’.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve arrived at the point where I’m dead tired of humoring this “flyover state” inferiority complex that’s been endlessly peddled for as long as I can remember at this point.

I’m tired of being told that there’s this vast, slumbering mass of good-hearted, hard working Forgotten Americans out there who struggle beneath the weight of the Great Urban Boot upon their neck.

This is a demographic that perpetually beats the drum of rugged individualism, of lifting ones’ self up by the bootstraps, always bemoaning the “victim mentality” (in others, of course) and calling those they disdain “snowflakes”. And for years now, they’ve been a whiney mass of broken records, crying about the “elites”…the “hollywood liberals”…those of us who dared to leave the farm and move to the city are blashphemers, doomed to be the eternal prodigal Jesus-hatin’, commie pinko fags who hate America.

Well, I hate to be the one to tell you, Jethro…but You’ve Been Had.

You’ve been had, buddy. You’ve plugged into the Redneck Matrix Mainframe that’s been feeding you bullshit for half a century about how those folks in big cities are lazy, worthless lib’ruls who don’t know anything about hard work, who hate Jesus and Christmas and who want to hand the keys of this great nation over to the Brown Folks who all want to kill us.

You’re guilty of the same smug, arrogant condescension that you like to believe that you’re a victim of, all the while thinking that you know everything about what it’s like to exist in an urban environment because you happen to watch a shitload of Law and Order in reruns.

The real kicker…the REAL kicker…is that this narrative is being shoved up your ass by rich assholes like Stephen Miller, a soulless, dead-eyed Duke graduate from Santa Monica who worked his way from Michelle Bachmann to Jeff Sessions to CheetoJesus’ transition team, and has been taking a long, wet shit on the principles this country was founded on ever since.

But he’s just this month’s pinup photo on the Redneck Inferiority Complex Calendar.

He’s the latest star in a galaxy of hateful assholes who pour the lighter fluid of rhetoric onto the racist bonfire that’s burned at varying degrees of intensity for the entire arc of our existence as a nation.

So today, he has a sparring match with a reporter and tries to defend his bullshit talking points with a softball retort – Cosmopolitan Bias.

Cosmopolitan Bias.

Again, Jethro – he knows it’s bullshit. He’s a California native, a college graduate who went straight from school to politics on a wave of fear-based rhetoric. HE’S PLAYING YOU.

He’s saying what you want to hear from people in power, and he knows that you’ll ignore the messenger in favor of the message, just like you ignored the fact that you voted for a fucking BILLIONAIRE who’s never worked an actual day in his life because he fed you a bunch of hateful slogans custom designed to stir up the absolute worst of your nature.

And you fell for it, because – well, because you wanted to.

See, you wear this small town mythology like a badge. And that’s fine, to an extent. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with forging your identity on the spot where you were born, with being proud of where you’re from, who you are…but because you’ve been sucking at the teet of the Great Conservative Misinformation Empire, you’ve been conditioned to believe that there’s a “them” out there…just beyond the outskirts of the hometown you never left…a vague, ominous “them” who wants what you have. They want what you’ve worked for, and they’re coming for it, and they’re out to get you and they’ll take every cent they can from you so they can continue to live on welfare and smoke crack and Burn Down The Heartland.

So you go out and buy a shitload of guns and hunker down in the double-wide and wait for the Apocalypse.

What you’d know if you ever bothered to leave the farm is that Shit Ain’t That Way Out Here.

Yeah, life is hard where you are. I grew up in West Tennessee, picking cotton and throwing bales of hay that weighed more than i did onto the back of a fucking flatbed truck and not being able to shower afterward because the house I lived in didn’t have running water and scratching every inch of my body until I finally fell asleep at night.

I’ve lived that life. And I turned my back on it.

I got the fuck out, because I could. And it wasn’t as hard as you might want to believe.

It didn’t take ingenuity, or wealth, or some kind of secret plan…I joined the Navy and never went back. When I got out, I settled outside Philadelphia and was quite content to have escaped.

Maybe that’s not for you. And that’s fine. Maybe you’re perfectly happy where you are, and I’m not here to tell you what to do, where to live, or what’s best for you.

But don’t sit in judgement of those of us who chose to be elsewhere, to live elsewhere, to find a life that we considered a BETTER life because we chose not to settle for working at the convenience store when the shoe factory closed down.
We’re not forcing our choices on you, whether you choose to see it that way or not.

You think we don’t know you…and in many cases, you’re right.

But if you’re sitting on the sofa less than ten miles from where you graduated high school, cheering on some asshole on TV talking shit about “Cosmopolitan Bias”, then I can promise you…

…you don’t know us, either.

We live and work among people of numerous races, religions, and cultures because we can’t avoid or hide from them…and once they become part of our community, most of us learn that we have nothing to fear from them. Our mental image of what it means to be a Muslim isn’t a construct of the media, it’s borne of conversations and interactions with actual, real life, honest to God human beings that we deal with face to face.

There’s a reason that all those viral videos of some pissed-off woman screaming at a Somali in a Wal-Mart parking lot come from where they do, y’all.

No, we’re not perfect. We’ve got crooked cops shooting down black folks for the crime of being black in Chicago, Baltimore, Minneapolis, and of course…New York City. We’ve got drugs and violence, and living in some of these cities probably seems insane to an outside observer.

There’s a thread of courage and self-assurance that’s an absolute necessity to survive and flourish in an urban environment. It’s expensive, it’s often dangerous, and it’s often stressful as hell. It requires a degree of adaptability, of tolerance, of resourcefulness – and it’s not for everyone.

But we’re not your enemy, here.

And if you take a minute to take a good, hard look at the assholes selling you this “Cosmopolitan Bias” bullshit…this eternal “Hollywood Elite” crap that you gobble up because it somehow keeps you warm at night, you’d maybe see that.

But in the meantime, I’m done suffering your bullshit with a smile and trying to “understand” you. Because by engaging in this demonization crap, you’re absolutely no better than the people you think you have a problem with.

one of…THEM?

y’know, I’ve found it impossible to disconnect from politics. i’m sick of it, i’m tired of it infiltrating my every social media platform, i’m both saddened and infuriated by it…but I can’t look away from it.

but when all this bullshit is over and is firmly ensconced in our collective rearview mirrors, it’s still gonna permeate my everyday life, because I literally judge every individual I encounter with the Trump Yardstick – before I even allow myself to form an opinion about people, I silently ask myself: “are they one of THEM?”

I don’t trust people as easily. I’m not as forgiving. I’m much more prone to assign labels to people I don’t know well, and lump them in with “the idiots responsible for our standing in the world and how we treat people”. every cop that beats someone senseless or shoots someone sitting at the wheel of their car, every person deported for the crime of wanting to better their lot in life, every sick person who spends every night staring at the ceiling wondering if they’ll lose their insurance…I find myself blaming people who supported this Citrus Douche for their collective downfall.

this is a hard thing for me to admit to myself, much less to you folks.

This isn’t who I am.

I’m the guy who talks to strangers at the supermarket. i’m the guy who over-tips. i’m the guy who takes in strays. i’m the guy who has always tried to see the better angels of our nature in strangers,

and yet, I fear that the 63 million folks who thought a carnival barker with no political experience was the best choice to lead our nation on the world stage have robbed me of that part of my personality.

yeah, he was elected by a minority of the electorate. yeah, there were more people who didn’t vote than there were folks who did.

but I don’t think i’ll ever look at my fellow man in the same light as I did this time last year. I’ve become the shitty old man who assumes that everyone I meet is an asshole until they prove otherwise.

that will be the enduring legacy of the Trump Experiment for me, unless something miraculous happens.

I’m a pretty awful person.

seriously.  awful.

that’s important to establish, before you read any further. keep it in mind as you go.

and if you’re one of the couple dozen conservative friends I have left here on Facebook, you might wanna just go ahead and block me without reading any further.

ok – so now that we’ve established all that…

I’ve been walking around most of the day with a bundle of mixed feelings that could best be summed up as follows:

i’m disappointed in myself that I haven’t been able to summon more sympathy and concern for Steve Scalise than I’ve managed…but yet, i’m not terribly surprised at this, either.

I think this comes about as a result of multiple factors.

I’m not even gonna jump on the bandwagon that so many are weighing down as we speak, with regard to his A+ NRA rating, his legislative stance on voting to allow mentally ill people to buy guns, or the fact that he’d have likely been sitting on the hill listening to arguments regarding easing restrictions on silencers just hours after he was shot. That’s gotten enough ink already.

I’ve been ambivalent about guns all my life. I’ve never gotten the whole testosterone-boosting erection that a lot of guys get from firing weapons, but I’ve often said that I see guns the same way I see motorcycles – if you wanna have one, I don’t really give a shit, but I don’t want one, and your enthusiasm for them isn’t gonna rub off on me. it just ain’t. having said that, though, I ain’t ridin’ your motorcycle, and I’m not bringing my kids to your house if you have guns. that’s just where my head’s at. we can hang out at Chuck E. Cheese instead.

So his whole NRA rating, gun stance thing…yeah, it’s hard not to see through a “live by the sword” lens where that’s concerned, but that’s another show.

So that probably informs my general lack of concern for the Congressman, and I’m gonna own that. Like I said, I’m an awful person, and I warned ya. But that’s not what fueled this particular rant.

No – The thing that’s blowing my mind tonight is the orgy of demonization of “left wing rhetoric” that they’re rushing to attribute to what happened this morning.

I’m not gonna try to make a case denying that the shooter had liberal sympathies, as he actually stopped passengers in a car to verify that the people on the diamond were, in fact, republicans before opening fire. The facts speak for themselves as stated. He was one of us, politically speaking.

But when you drive down the field and kick a field goal with the clock running out to put three points on the board when you’re down by seventy points, generally speaking – nobody talks about your brilliant last-minute drive to make that kick.

But the folks on the right are losing their shit over that field goal – “the folks on the left have amped up their anti-trump rhetoric to the point of bloodshed!” “Kathy Griffin!” “SHAKESPEARE!!!”

It’s literally as if they were Amish until late last night and have no idea what’s been happening for the past twenty years.

Let’s revisit Dylann Roof’s left wing sympathies and his burning desire for racial harmony that spoke to him when he set out to murder black parishioners in Charleston.

Robert Dear was clearly sympathizing with women’s right to choose when he shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.

I’m sure Jared Lee Loughner was making a statement about income equality when he shot Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona…killing six, including a 9 year old girl.

Even the Fort Hood and Washington Navy Yard shootings were never attributed to a particular political leaning – and if that had even been a possibility, I’m sure it would’ve surfaced within the first 24 hours of the news cycle.

Statistics bear out the ugly fact that a clear majority of random shootings in America are perpetrated by angry, bittter, violent, disenfranchised white males…and the majority of them have had leanings that are anything BUT liberal.
There are concurrent threads that run through almost every mass shooting that’s taken place in America, and they’re various flavors of mental illness – but to stand on the sidelines and pretend that there’s some violent groundswell of bloodthirst on the political left after watching a certain candidate spend a year on the campaign trail leading chants of “lock her up” and telling supporters to kick the shit out of protesters embodies a brand of panache that I can’t even wrap my head around.

We live in a world where a hero of the extreme right will be paraded on national television ON FUCKING FATHERS’ DAY after furthering a conspiracy theory that Sandy Hook was a hoax…after getting White House press credentials for his batshit crazy staff of “reporters”. We walk every day through Bizarro America, where a carnival barker managed to convince 63 million people that he could turn back the clock to the Age of Eisenhower simply because he said he could.

We’ve collectively lost our shit. This is who we are now.

But to listen to the very folks who would otherwise be preaching that we shouldn’t politicize a tragedy talk shit about the “rhetoric on the left” blows my fucking mind.

You don’t get to complain about having your lunch money stolen on the last day of school when you’ve been beating up other kids and stealing their wallets all year long.

We see what you did, there. Nice try, but thanks for playing.

final note: i’m sure I’ll wake up in a few hours to a handful of comments calling me a “gun grabber”, spouting NRA slogans and various phrases from the Official Fox News Sean Hannity flashcards…to those of you who think this is an anti-gun screed, I’ll ask you to take a deep breath and re-read what I wrote. this isn’t anti-gun…it’s anti-hypocrisy. and if you take issue with me calling out the Right for being butt-hurt over the Resistance…there’s plenty of campaign footage on youTube to review. Check Yourself.

As for me, I’m gonna go to bed and try to summon some empathy. It’s not comin’ any easier these days.

never take a vote for granted

this is why I think we’ll wake up tomorrow morning to find the TrumpCare bill will have passed the House vote.

Sherrod Brown of Ohio wrote this editorial fourteen years ago…and if anything, things have only gotten worse.

Never before has the House of Representatives operated in such secrecy:

At 2:54 a.m. on a Friday in March, the House cut veterans’ benefits by three votes.

At 2:39 a.m. on a Friday in April, the House slashed education and health care

by five votes.

At 1:56 a.m. on a Friday in May, the House passed the Leave No Millionaire Behind tax-cut bill by a handful of votes.

At 2:33 a.m. on a Friday in June, the House passed the Medicare privatization and prescription drug bill by one vote.

At 12:57 a.m. on a Friday in July, the House eviscerated Head Start by one vote.

And then, after returning from summer recess, at 12:12 a.m. on a Friday in October, the House voted $87 billion for Iraq.

Always in the middle of the night. Always after the press had passed their deadlines. Always after the American people had turned off the news and gone to bed.

What did the public see? At best, Americans read a small story with a brief explanation of the bill and the vote count in Saturday’s papers.

But what did the public miss? They didn’t see the House votes, which normally take no more than 20 minutes, dragging on for as long as an hour as members of the Republican leadership trolled for enough votes to cobble together a majority.

They didn’t see GOP leaders stalking the floor for whoever was not in line. They didn’t see Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Tom DeLay coerce enough Republican members into switching their votes to produce the desired result.

In other words, they didn’t see the subversion of democracy.

And late last month, they did it again. The most sweeping changes to Medicare in its 38-year history were forced through the House at 5:55 on a Saturday morning.

The debate started at midnight. The roll call began at 3 a.m. Most of us voted within the typical 20 minutes. Normally, the speaker would have gaveled the vote closed. But not this time; the Republican-driven bill was losing.

By 4 a.m., the bill had been defeated 216-218, with only one member, Democrat David Wu, not voting. Still, the speaker refused to gavel the vote closed.

Then the assault began.

Hastert, DeLay, Republican Whip Roy Blount, Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas, Energy and Commerce Chairman Billy Tauzin – all searched the floor for stray Republicans to bully.

I watched them surround Cincinnati’s Steve Chabot, trying first a carrot, then a stick; but he remained defiant. Next, they aimed at retiring Michigan Congressman Nick Smith, whose son is running to succeed him. They promised support if he changed his vote to yes and threatened his son’s future if he refused. He stood his ground.

Many of the two dozen Republicans who voted against the bill had fled the floor. One Republican hid in the Democratic cloakroom.

By 4:30, the browbeating had moved into the Republican cloakroom, out of sight of C-SPAN cameras and the insomniac public. Republican leaders woke President George W. Bush, and a White House aide passed a cell phone from one recalcitrant member to another in the cloakroom.

At 5:55, two hours and 55 minutes after the roll call had begun – twice as long as any previous vote in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives – two obscure western Republicans emerged from the cloakroom. They walked, ashen and cowed, down the aisle to the front of the chamber, scrawled their names and district numbers on green cards to change their votes and surrendered the cards to the clerk.

The speaker gaveled the vote closed; Medicare privatization had passed.

You can do a lot in the middle of the night, under the cover of darkness.

I’m willing to concede that there’s every chance I could be wrong about this, but I’ve got a hunch I might not be.