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.

a look around the neighborhood

”money trickles up. give it to the poor fellow and the rich fellow will have it in his pocket by nightfall – but at least it will have passed through the poor fellow’s hands.”

-Will Rogers

There’s something you need to understand before reading much further, and that is simply this: I have the absolute best landlord in East Nashville. Hands down, easily several laps around the track from pretty much any landlord I’ve ever had – my rear view mirror is essentially a collection of long-distance, absentees who only really wanted a check in their mailbox every month and couldn’t be bothered to hear about much else…with the odd property management company and overly nosy micromanager sprinkled in here and there.

My current guy is the SHIT.

But – having put the miles on my odometer that I have, and becoming intimately familiar with the impermanence of these little snapshots of life that – once you’ve learned to recognize them – you can actually catch yourself looking around you from time to time and thinking to yourself, “I need to soak this in and remember as much of it as I can, as best as I can, because I’m gonna want to smile about this a few years down the line, and I don’t wanna forget the details.”

I think I’ve known for a long time that this whole Nashville adventure was a vacation stop, a layover on a longer trip…but I’ve actually enjoyed a lot about my time here in my current circumstances – with my son hunkered down in the basement apartment and my daughter less than a mile down the road. Even though I don’t see either of them as much as you might think I would under the circumstances, just knowing they’re within arms’ reach has been a source of comfort.

My landlord has an easy smile, he doesn’t sweat the small shit, he’s a great hang, and he’s extended me an extra day or two on the two occasions when I’ve needed it with barely a shrug.

Now, though, Nashville – in the midst of a sweaty fervor to destroy everything that brought people into its tax base in the first place – has rewarded folks like my landlord with a record property tax increase. A Google search of the phrase “Nashville Property Tax Increase 2017” will induce what’s become a familiar blend of rage and cynicism – alongside stories from April reporting “an average increase of 37 percent”, there are stories from January with headlines reading “Barry: No Property Tax Increase in 2017” (quite Trumpian, in retrospect…although I’m actually quite fond of our mayor and understand enough about how these processes work to know that it’s not the work of a lone assassin at the top of the political food chain. Still, best not to talk shit about things you don’t have control over.)

In talking to my landlord today, he pointed out that there are pitchforks on both ends of the handle of this club…because he’s getting calls from his insurance company now, saying that “gee, man…your property is actually worth THIS much? you’re underinsured…so we’re gonna need to raise your rates to get you up to where you need to be.”

He was incredibly gracious, and I could tell he was uncomfortable even having the conversation. “Hey, listen, man…I knew this day was coming as soon as I heard about this. I know the rent’s gotta go up. If you need to take some time to come up with a number, that’s fine, but I’ll try to be ok with whatever you come up with.” In the end, we actually came up with a number on the spot, and it was less than I expected it to be, frankly…but it feels like a sign of things to come.

I’ve perhaps been avoiding the subject internally, or fooling myself about it, or maybe just ignoring it altogether…

…but this is not sustainable in the long term.

I don’t know if it ever really was.

I’m waving goodbye to friends like Paul Griffith, who’s moving to the west coast, and will probably be gone by the time I get back to Nashville from a week of gigs and sessions in Philadelphia. I’m saying goodbye to places I’d fallen in love with – Charlie Bob’s, the perfect marriage of roadside diner and beer joint, a 5 minute drive from my house…Savarino’s, the closest thing to passable Italian food I’d encountered since I got here.

There’s still a lot to love about Nashville. It took me a minute to figure that out, but it’s not dead yet. My kids love it here, and that makes me happy. Having them close by makes me happy. The burgers at the Family Wash make me happy. Brown’s Diner makes me happy. Bumping into Phil Kaufman around town makes me happy. Carter Vintage and Fanny’s and Eastside Music Supply makes me happy. Dino’s makes me happy.

There’s a lot of good left around here.

But it’s definitely time to start thinking about what lies further down the road.

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.


the past as prologue

Hello Blogness, my old friend…I’ve come to rant with you again…

It’s been a minute, ain’t it?

This thing is long in the tooth, to be certain.  It was here before social media, it’s been quietly preserving the posts left here during the reign of social media, and – at this point, I think it may be time to revert back to leaving certain things here, just because…well, just because.

Mainly because there’s just too much shit to keep up with these days…and this seems like a good place to start cataloging the insanity.

Grab something sturdy…


timelines are important

(Caroline – @rvawonk on Twitter – did the LexisNexis research that led to this rant, and gets full credit for it…this is the abridged version.)

Because talking points and soundbites seldom paint much of a picture, let’s put this whole Jeff Sessions thing into the context of what was happening around it at the time. Pay specific attention to the dates – they tell the lions’ share of the story, here.

Sessions’ second meeting with Russian Ambassador Kislyak was on September 8th.

Three days prior to that meeting, Obama and Putin were meeting in China at the G20 summit, discussing the sanctions that had been imposed on Russia on September 1st as a result of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine – where Putin was quoted as saying that they “did not discuss it in detail because I see no sense in discussing matters of this sort” – and clearly wasn’t pleased with the outcome.

On September 7th, DNI James Clapper publicly suggested for the first time that Russia was likely behind the DNC hack.

The following day – September 8th – the same day that Sessions met with the Ambassador – Trump told Larry King on RT (Russia Today) that he didn’t think that the Russians were behind the hack, and that it was Democratic propoganda. Later, both Trump and Pence were quoted in separate venues (interview with Matt Lauer on Today and in the NYT) praising Putin’s leadership style in contrast with President Obama.

And…as if by magic…after the Sessions/Kislyak meeting, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov releases a statement saying that “Moscow expects Washington to display political will on building good relations with Russia after the Presidential elections.”

So to recap – roughly a week earlier, in the aftermath of the G20 summit, Putin won’t even comment about the sanctions discussion and is notably agitated, and miraculously – a week later – his spokesman thinks everything’ll be coming up roses after the election.

THEN – five days later – on the 14th – the DNC emails were released to WikiLeaks.

If you want to read the supporting research on this timeline, pop over to Twitter and take a peek.  She’s on top of this.