The Different Drummer
Politics, Family, Music and other Musings.
By Carl J. Petersen
- Richard Ojeda
While the victory in the midterm elections was not as definitive as some had expected, the Democrats did secure a majority in the House of Representatives and with it a much-needed firewall to Trump’s policies. Assuming the Democratic caucus stands firm, additional deficit-exploding tax cuts for the 1% are off the table. Legislative paths towards criminalizing abortion, legalizing discrimination against LGBTQ+ Americans and repealing Obamacare have also been blocked.
For the many who have been endangered by Trump’s bigoted policies, the ability to finally play defense should provide some sense of relief, but it is not enough. Since they did not gain a majority in the Senate, Democrats have no way to block Trump’s judicial appointments. This will certainly result in the judiciary being stocked with judges whose sole qualification is a willingness to engage in judicial activism to push a conservative agenda. We cannot rely on the courts to protect the historic progress that our country has made in the last half-century of civil rights battles or to provide the check on the Executive Branch that our Constitution mandates. Have no doubt, the condition of our country will worsen in the years ahead.Read more
- Steve Knight
If this were Nazi Germany, David Brayton would have been wearing a brown shirt. Instead, he sat down to shoot a commercial with Congressman Steve Knight with a shirt emblazoned with the word “infidel.” This only hinted at his hatred of the Muslim religion and other “overt bigotry”Read more
- Richard N. Ojeda
If leaders are born out of a crisis, then once again the Trump presidency has been stillborn. Even though bombs were still in circulation and the perpetrator was still on the loose, Tweets from the President of the United States revolved around an unsubstantiated complaint that Twitter was limiting the number of his followers and the fact that the news was covering assassination attempts against his political foes instead of “talking politics”. Even worse, he fed right-wing conspiracy theorists by framing the word “bomb” in quotes, contradicting his FBI Director who directly stated that they were “not hoax devices”. Leaders put the common good above their own. Donald Trump is a narcissist who cannot stand a storyline that does not advance his own interests.Read more
- Hillary Clinton
Coming out of the 2016 presidential elections it looked like the Republican party was hopelessly fractured. Trump had steamrolled past primary opponents favored by the establishment turning party orthodoxy on its head. After a failed last-minute attempt to block his ascension at the convention, the party faithful fell into line and prepared themselves for a certain loss; they would regroup in 2020 and take on Clinton for her reelection.
But then Trump beat the odds and won. The Never Trumpers fell away along with long-standing planks in the Republican platform. The party that used to believe in free trade sat by while Trump instituted ill-conceived tariffs and started trade wars. While they once responded to complaints of abuse by police officers with the retort of “blue-lives matter”, no defense was forthcoming for career FBI agents subjected to Trump’s unsubstantiated charges against them. Former deficit hawks who used to insist on “pay for” for any social program gladly voted for a tax bill that primarily benefited corporations and the 1% while ballooning the deficit and increasing income inequality.Read more
- Brett Kavanaugh
Like a child who had gotten caught with his hands in the cookie jar, SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh looked into the eyes of United States Senators and the American people and said he did not do it. However, no amount of tears or righteous indignation will change the fact that placing “Renate Alumnius” on his yearbook page was not an act of “affection”, he was not old enough to legally drink at the time he allegedly tried to rape Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, or that he regularly attended parties like the one described by Ford.
- Brett Kavanaugh
Much like Dr. Christine Ford, Monica Lewinsky’s life was turned upside down by the glare of someone else's spotlight. While Brett Kavanaugh asserted that engaging in sexual relations with Bill Clinton turned “her life into a shambles”, from Lewinsky's point of view it was his boss, Kenneth Starr, “who turned [her] 24-year-old life into a living hell”. As tribal politics raged, it was not the sex acts, but Clinton’s use of her as “a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position” that provided his contribution to her enduring victimization.Read more
- Don Henley
When Don Henley released the song “The Boys of Summer” in 1984, I had just begun my senior year in high school and life was exciting. With a long-term girlfriend, I was exploring what it was like to be in a relationship. My unrestricted driver’s license was brand new and I could now make plans without having to rely on my mother for transportation. My band, in which I was the drummer, was taking the first steps towards turning noise into music and my school notebooks were peppered with lyrics for songs that were waiting to be written. While I planned to move on to college, I dreamed of becoming a rock star.
Donald Trump is a master of branding. He took a “small loan of a million dollars”, bought some gold spray paint and turned the Trump name into something synonymous with how poor people think rich people live. Sure, you could not afford to live in the Trump Tower where the penthouse has “over over-the-top surroundings that might make Liberace blush” and the “upper-level residential floors are not equipped with fire sprinklers”, but what about some Trump Steaks? They were best when “cooked well-done and smothered in ketchup.” If these “dreadful pieces of meat for a high price” did not kill you and you still had room left on your credit card, you could have looked for a class at Trump University on how to inherit millions from your father and turn it into six bankruptcies.Read more
As the temperature heads towards 120° in Los Angeles, I am trying to concentrate on cool thoughts. Having been part of the last generation of paperboys in suburban New York, there are plenty of snowy memories to rely on.
In one of my favorites, I woke up after an overnight snowstorm having to deliver a thick Sunday paper using roads that had still not been plowed. Not wanting to make several trips, I had the brilliant plan of strapping a milk crate to my sled. This worked great for the first half of my route, at which point the sun came out in full force and completely melted the fresh snow. It took me forever to finish my route as I dragged the sled over solid ground.
“Man Plans and God Laughs.”
- Yiddish proverb
"Congress placed marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and, as such, growing, distributing, and possessing marijuana in any capacity, other than as part of a federally authorized research program, is a violation of federal law regardless of state laws permitting such activities."
- Obama’s Justice Department
While the right-wing likes to pretend that Barack Obama was “the most liberal president in America's history”, the fact is that he governed from the corporate center. He may have campaigned on a stimulus package that would have created a $10 billion foreclosure prevention fund and a $60 billion infrastructure bank, but the end result was a package that relied more heavily on $288 billion in tax cuts. In the 2008 campaign, he opposed Clinton’s call to use the Republican idea of mandating the purchase of health insurance coverage, but this was a key part of the Obamacare system that was eventually passed. Candidate Obama expressed concern about “a system that locks away too many young, first-time, non-violent offenders for the better part of their lives”, but President Obama left office with many of those prisoners older and still behind bars.Read more