Sometimes I feel my relationship with the Democratic Party is the Supremes’ classic “Where Did Our Love Go”. In a time where the status quo is up for grabs, the Party offers a greatest hits of past ideas that people like until they hear the details. I’m bewildered. Trump’s election was caused by many things but a key aspect I’ve come to accept was he offered new alternatives. Greenland, the space force, funding high tech manufacturing in America for national security reasons are all good ideas. It is the beginning of an actual vision of the future.
There will be a tomorrow and a next day whether we live to see it or not. The current “dark green” moment is unfounded. Climate change is real and no good but we do have tools to fight it without resorting to death cults. We can harness nuclear energy more and despite the idea of danger (thanks to Big Oil propaganda) it isn’t going to destroy the world as we know it like fossil fuels will. When France and Vermont shut down nuclear power plants for renewable alternatives, they increased their reliance on fossil fuels.
Why are we stuck in this nostalgia crusade? Why in a time when individual actors have more capabilities than the largest bureaucracies of history dems only offer more centralization? Didn’t the election of Trump show us the limits of the presidency and the administrative state?
Biden’s self defenestration is mind boggling. I nominally viewed him as a viable candidate based on his shoot from the hip style as VP. Yet his campaign continually shoots itself in the foot over legitimate past choices. Most recently over Trump’s lynching comments in relation to his impeachment inquiry. Based on the scandal, one could assume we are a nation of grammar nazis not one where 70% never picks up a book post schooling.
Its hard to see any of the democratic candidates defeating Trump in 2020. If primary continues to be about regaining the voters who deflected to the Green party in 2016 rather than the ones who deflected to Trump. Clinton amd Obama’s grand coalitions will have been a blimps in history.
Politics is the art of the possible. It requires imagination. There is one Democrat whose possesses that quality: Andrew Yang. Many decry his lack of government experience but no one on the democrat stage possesses any achievements in government outside Biden who distances himself from much of what he accomplished. Unless we now consider showing up to collect a paycheck, a legislative achievement. Yang actually lives in 2019 America. The Freedom Dividend (UBI) is hos flagship proposal. It is the only policy being proposed that will meaningfully benefit most Americans. But Medicare for all you will say. By all recent budget breakdowns, the cost of medicare for all will require a federal budget increase of 75%. You will pay the same for your care now and more covering the cost of others in taxes. Same with most of Warren or Sanders soak the rich for gov programs ideas. Unlike the oil that funds the nordic dream, the rich aren’t a natural resource. They are quite the opposite. It’s hard to see companies and their leaders remaining in America at a cost to their bottom line. Much as Russian and Chinese elite now buy American and European real estate that can’t be seized by their home countries. The American elite would explore wealth alternatives.
That isn’t to say wealth inequality isn’t an issue but it is. I don’t think taxes will save us alone. Because it isn’t just some have so much and others have so little but your wealth decides most factors in our lives. Once the boss and you went to church together and your spouses and kids were friends. We were integrated beyond the workday. In our fragmented society today, we lost that community. I doubt that we can go back. I doubt that I would want to go back. The America we live in today where people are more free to be themselves socially than ever isn’t a bad place. Sometimes, I feel we are superficial in our tolerance as shown by our building of echo chambers. We have to reach and let ourselves be reached out to across group barriers. There might not be much or anything in common at all to begin with but simply spending time together is a commonality. We can’t just pay the government to do this work for us.
JFK didn’t say he alone or even the government alone could solve the challenges the country faced. “What you can do for your country”. That’s a message missing from the debate stage. It’s certainly not a question Trump has ever asked himself. Maybe it’s time we sold the elite a future.
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”
– T.S. Elliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
The Founding Fathers had a refounding with the ratification of the Constitution after the Articles of Confederation. The Radical Centrists may not be creating the greatest governing document ever written but sliced bread can only be invented once. While I am Catholic and believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We like all Americans love a second act.
The Radical Centrists was founded on the day of Trump’s election. Its purpose was to get our heterodox hot takes on the to the minute national conversation. A transmission into space, the saga of time carved into the rock of our collective tomb. Just as Rome once stood there was The United States America and it was beautiful.
Then the world didn’t end. We are a species capable of infinite outrage except us we burnt out some resignations and indictments ago. But isn’t that digital life? All the knowledge, all the beauty, and all the well: things. Yet we can’t forget there is always more: to scroll, tap, and reply. The conversations on sugar, porn, tv, video games, and drugs are all the same. When we remade ourselves in our own image the society we formed granted us unfettered access to get off in all the ways we wanted and we have. Sometimes it feels like we are building our own Truman Show.
We aim to make this a more productive space. We wish to focus wider. There was once more to our lives than politics and we believe that is the way forward. There will be discussions of cinema and literature. Meditations on the raindrop on our office window pane. Debates on office break room leftover ethics. We still support Mueller’s investigation without a doubt. Even if the conclusion was no collusion. Our expansion is an advance not a retreat.
At Easter Mass this year, the homily was on resurrections. It has stayed with me recently as I look back at where I was at the election and where I am today. In my opening salvo, I stated there was no such thing as a guilty pleasure. It was a statement I stand by though I said it hypocritically. The posts that followed were a guilty pleasure. In that my goal was to be right. The age of rebellion has past and an age of building must begin. In the new Radical Centrists, we aim to build. Each day will be a new brick.
Tax cuts for the already wealthy do not bring more or better jobs. Just handouts for the well off for being well off.
The bottom 80% move the Earth to generate the riches. We don’t deserve less for the more taxes we pay each year. We don’t deserve stagnant wages for higher productivity since 90.
A 20 percent corporate tax cut isn’t draining the swamp but an expansion of it.
Trump said it would be paid by Mexico and be like the Great Wall of China.
Trump said it would be funded by America and Mexico would get us back and it was a chain link fence.
Trump’s going to shut down America for a fence paid for by Mexico.
We elected Lear.
The state of modern drug testing in the workplace has barely improved since Reagan started the trend. I cannot understand why. Failed tests take a toll on the economy . At a least one plant, half of a failures are due to positive marijuana results. I’m pro-marijuana but safe work places especially when working with literal tons of metal are more important. The problem is current testing can’t tell if you are high now or were a month ago (just for thc, other chemicals fade faster). This means workers even in states where it is legal. Workers can’t enjoy the fruits of their labor without fear of being flagged. We can implant a microchip to operate as a credit card but we can’t tell when one last smoked is ridiculous.
Marijuana is safer than Alcohol and better for dealing with long term chronic pain than opiates. We can talk in circles all we want about mental addiction but you can be mentally addicted to any reinforced action and physical addiction that comes from alcohol, opiates, and other drugs has a far greater toll. I’m sure all physically addicted (to which there is no cure just the continuous work of recovery) would trade for a mental addiction (closer to a bad habit and can end). Studies have disproven the gateway theory. To deny the healthiest high on the grounds of tradition is bad policy.
To those who preach sobriety, I would argue without the human desire to get high, we would not have society and civilization as we know it. The history of beer is the history of us. That being said there is virtue in moderation and a balance between states is needed. Theres no reason or need to be high in most jobs. There can be great danger. Your supervisor might be a son of a bitch but he’s the son of a bitch whose job it is to get you back to your wife and kids. He needs better tools.
Perhaps it is a generational gap but we need 21st century solutions today because the century is going to pass us by.
Trump and his family are self described business folks. While their legacy in business is debatable, that they come from the corporate world not political becomes more obvious everyday. We don’t know yet if Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia last year but the Trump family isn’t making it easy for innocence to be considered.
This week Donald Trump Jr. became the center of the Russian storm. After days of having his ever changing story disproven by leaks, he released the emails in question. They did not vindicate him. When asked if he would like information on Clinton gathered by Russia to aid his father, he says he would love it. He brought Kushner and Manafort to the meeting, the Russian lawyer ended up not having anything on Clinton. Leaving us in a situation where we know that the Trump campaign would have colluded but not if they did.
Ignore the discussion of impeachment for a moment. What other implications are there? One is a revelation behind the curtain. Political operators have long been portrayed as ruthless anything goes types in movies but the real political world always had norms and bounds. I’m not saying they are knights of the round table. Yet even the Gore campaign called the FBI when someone leaked Bush’s campaign bible to them. This event shows the business world core of the Trump universe one where damning emails end in a fine and mea culpas but in politics things end differently just ask Abramoff.
The anti-left media keeps yelling Ukraine like its Benghazi (as a waste of time). A low level former staffer is not the same as a high campaign advisor and candidate’s child. Manafort did in fact lobby for pro Russia candidates in Ukraine and was unable to hide it. Whether the decision to remove support for Ukraine in its war against Russian invasion from the GOP platform came from Manafort is unknown. In the end, evidence from a foreign public investigation is not close to the same as a foreign nation stealing documents from a political opponent to aid a candidate. As Watergate taught us having your own countrymen steal documents is damning without foreign involvement.
The emails aren’t a smoking gun for criminal proceedings but they without a doubt bolster Mueller’s investigation. One can only wonder what subpeonas will uncover.
This New American Life
I write this in a booth waiting for my current delivery order to be prepared in an empty restaurant that ten years ago would have been crowded. The music is a soft bossa nova and the kitchen while busy is careful to avoid clangs. The decor is standard a medium brown stain colors the wood and the carpet is green and clean. A mother and her retired son are the only other customers. She is dancing while waiting for the spring rolls to arrive. The owner hands me a thai tea on the house while I wait. I can’t help but worry for the fate of America. I can’t help but wonder where do we go from here.
The internet has redefined what and why we eat. It’s less about what we like and having haunts we return to but posting from the current trends to be considered a cool kid. Even those who do not post on social media still Google and Yelp their choices based on the impression that the best rated by those apps have more value experience wise for their dollars. The hive mind that is social media causes attention inequality and narrows culture especially food culture.
Speaking of the Hive Mind. What do we talk about when we say we shouldn’t give someone a platform. As in the current uproar over Megyn Kelly interviewing Alex Jones, a man who has been paid to spew filth since my childhood. He long ago built his alternative media platform and give a place for wayward views. He helped Trump win without a doubt and his org Infowars will have white house press credentials. He doesn’t need an interview on NBC but NBC and those who oppose his views do need these kinds of interviews. Darkness cannot be allowed to fester. Pre-internet denying mainstream outlets was a good way to slow repulsive thought but now mainstream media is one if the last shared spaces in American life and is more effective as a means of exposing.
The tendency of the internet to drive conformity from food and fashion trends to preventing public discourse is disconcerting to say the least. Humanity’s story is one driven by innovation through diversity not just the kind on a college application check box. How much have we lost? What will it take next?
Practice What You Preach
It is late May, the culling time of television. The birthing season of fan petitions and thinkpieces by pedigreed “professionals” about how we watched TV wrong by not obeying their proclamations. The post-election partisanization of life has flavored this years crop. Rather than just duke it out in the trenches of Facebook. I thought I would stand on my soapbox.
First I’d like to discuss the left’s response. As exemplified by Maureen Ryan’s piece in Variety yesterday. After 8 shows that featured and/or were created by non whites/ non males, she rings the alarm: Whiteness is coming. She does note she hasn’t crunched the numbers. I will in my counter argument. Let’s begin with Fox: “Pitch” and “Rosewood”, both premiered low for broadcast (under 5 million viewers) and only went lower both failing to get more than 3 million to tune in each week. Compare to the renewed “Lethal Weapon” which brought in 6 (still low but twice as good and stars a non white lead). On Netflix- “Sense8” and “The Get Down” we don’t have viewing figures so won’t speculate there but in terms of production costs we know “The Get Down” cost over 120 mil for 12 episodes and still was terrible (on this critics will agree). Sense8 which filmed in over a dozen countries probably costed a similar amount. Thats alot for two shows that never achieved even critic darling status. On “Hulu” we have “East Los High” which is ending after 4 seasons (60 episodes) and a movie in the works. It was a low budget emmy nominated series that helped launch Hulu as a series creator. We don’t know the viewership but it was never had much buzz which is needed for a series for teens. On WGNA, “Underground” an expensive period piece that dropped from a million viewers at the beginning of season 2 to under half a million for the rest. It was cancelled because the owner of WGNA is selling the network and cancelled all of its scripted television as it pivots back to a focus on reality because viwership is down and scripted TV isn’t cheap. On MTV is “Sweet/Vicious” which had about 200k viewers on average on a network that averages around a million for a stable hit. On ABC is “American Crime” which in season 3 never got above 3 million viewers on broadcast, a sharp drop from the 8 million of the series premiere. This leads me to the grievances of the right.
The right doesn’t have many options in the 400-500 shows currently on air or streamed yet it makes up enough Americans to win the presidency and both houses of Congress. One show, they did have was “Last Man Standing” on ABC. It was the second most watched sitcom on the network (behind “Modern Family”) and averaged 8 million viewers in Season 6. This had lead to outcry from Trump supporters in particular as liberal censorship. As Tim Allen is a vocal Trumpist. In the end, It suffered from the behind the scenes money trail. It aired on ABC but was made by Fox. Part of the deal between the two companies was that Fox would cover the production costs through season 6. Now we are in Season 7 and ABC would have to foot the bill plus licensing fees to Fox for a show that has peaked. Any syndication money (its one of the few off network modern successes) goes to Fox. Thus it no longer is a money maker and the ax.
TV is a business. The shows are there to fill the space between commercials or an excuse to gig you a monthly fee. It also sells the audience. Every May is up fronts, presentations to Advertisers selling them spots based on viewership or prestige from awards. Over 50 million voted for Clinton last November, the left would have you believe that it is even bigger. Granted as I am a Clinton voter, who knows the actual number of progressives. Despite that, I do believe that the progressives are larger than the viewership of those shows. The ones I know watched none of those series. They watched the diverse shows not canceled like “The Mindy Project”, “Master of None”, “Dear White People”, and “Jessica Jones”. Viewership matters more than tweets or feelings. If more diversity is important to the left then they have to show up. I’m reminded of Frank Capra on the director’s cut: we have to show them we really care. His proposal to the studios was that a list of the ten best directors would be agreed by both sides and if a director ever messed up in editing, the union would fly in one of the ten even for a sixties sitcom to fix it on the union’s dime. Directors now have their cut. If diversity is the secret to success as claimed by progressives then they have to prove it. Make those shows, the shows to advertise on. Same goes for conservatives, a mild hit isn’t enough. There are a third of a billion people in America. You wouldn’t know that by the ratings. Be the person, you praise.
Since the beginning, America has struggled between two destinies: God and Gold. The Virginians and southern colonies birthed by Corporations and Massachusetts and it’s offshoots birthed by the Cloth. Later Slave and Free. Internal migration has shifted the strongholds as we grew and the struggle continues. In the Pax Americana, God is embodied in American Values and physical gold has become the intangible notion of Capital.
American Values have become endangered in the 21st century. The change from liberalism to neoliberalism was mostly removing the morality from the pursuit of profit. Sweat shop child labor became acceptable again for low low prices. Factory shuttering and relocation to countries where worker exploitation is still in vogue has damaged not just an American’s earning potential but our integrity. American world power is more than the number of aircraft carriers we have. It is that the international community is held to our standards and those that fall short are not rewarded. The current administration has voiced that profits are more important than human rights, the cornerstone of Americanism. This has been unspoken policy for some time.
How else can we explain American business’ dependence on China as anything other than selling out our values?
The Great Firewall blocks the truth and free speech maintained in large thanks to American companies. Google gave the Chinese government the data of dissents who are now jailed or executed. How do we explain a major arms sale to Saudi Arabia? A country that practices gender apartheid. A woman last month was detained in the Philippines while fleeing to Australia to escape a forced marriage who was beaten and tied up like a slave by the relatives sent to retrieve her. Our former territory is just as horrific under the murderer Duarte.
The American Way isn’t just a marketing phrase for comic books. It is why the Union won, why the Reich fell, and why Americans are still dying in the desert. It would be an incomprehensible tragedy for Freedom and Justice to survive the jihad to be slaughtered in the boardroom.
– E. C. Fiori