This episode is a bit of an odd duck. I was scanning a bunch of tunes I had saved up for future episodes of Tales From The Drop Box after enjoying a fine thanksgiving day with my family. After listening to several catchy tunes in a row, I just cobbled together this episode from that playlist. Tales From The Drop BoxEpisode 130 is a slightly mellow affair, but perhaps it was the big meal.
My takeaway after reading the full report is that climate change is real. But you already knew that. What you also know as a fact and the report confirms that unless very aggressive action is taken to reduce and eliminate carbon emissions that life is going to change for all of us. One of those changes is that on a global basis humans are going to suffer. Many will die from famine, disease and catastrophic weather events.
Another takeaway garnered from the response to the report by Trump is that we need to eliminate impediments to change. i.e. eliminate the noise created by climate change deniers that prevent action directed to reduce the impact of these events. We also need to stop fake presidents.
Tomorrows Tulips – “Certain Frantic Quality” (Harnessed To Flesh)
The Littlest Viking – “Deathdrop For Jesus” (Feelings & Stuff)
Color TV – “Pale & Vicious” (Color TV)
Workin’ Man Noise Unit – “Turn It Off” (It’s Not Nothin’)
Harlan T. Bobo – “Spiders” (A History Of Violence)
Gold Star – “This Is The Year” (Uppers & Downers)
Night Shop – “I Was Alone” (In The Break)
Hippo Campus – “Anxious” (Bambi)
Middle Class Rut – “Swimmin’ outta L.A.” (Strangler Days)
We Hate You Please Die – “Minimal Function” (Kids Are Lo-Fi)
Radio Birdman – “I-94” (The Essential Radio Birdman 1974-1978)
Escondido – “Bullet” (Warning Bells)
Je cherche le cerveau dans mon chemin et dans ma fête c’est la tête je fous plus rien mon dieu, mon dieu là c’est demain réalité la nier, ça m’f’rait du bien . . . I could say it right now but it’s not the time I see those friendly faces but they only make me anxious . . .
A return to (almost) regular programming – Tales From The Drop Box. Episode 129 is a return to the regular mix of stuff that I believe makes this show enjoyable to a diverse listening audience. As this is Thanksgiving Week, I would like to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. I have much to be truly thankful for in my life and a not insignificant part of what I am thankful for is the time I have to produce and put out these shows. These shows are, admittedly, an outlet for my passion which is new music. Of course, I am also thankful that you download and listen to these episodes and your supportive feedback.
So my wish for you this week is for you to experience only happiness and joy. That is, discover the good in your life, avoid negativity that seems to be omnipresent, and experience only joy in your life. Let your positive thoughts and actions be your guide forward through these somewhat dark times.
Again, a happy Thanksgiving Day to you and your families!
Here is what you’ll find in Episode #129:
The Ting Tings – “A&E” (The Black Light)
It Looks Sad – “Bike” (Sky Lake)
Together Pangea – “Hi-Fi Television” (Non-Stop Paranoia EP)
The Glands – “Tom Robertson” (Double Coda)
Laura Jane Grace – “Apocalypse Now (& Later)” (Bought To Rot)
Plastic People – “Riding High On Acid” (Visions)
Horror My Friend – “Rattled Bones” (Home Life)
Bad Sports – “Constant Stimulation” (Constant Stimulation)
La Dispute – “Said The King To The River” (Somewhere At The Bottom Of The River Between Vega and Altair)
Super American – “Date (You Got Blisters)” (Tequila Sunrise)
Late Night Episode – “Lay Off” (Lay Off)
The Men – “Hated” (Hated: 2008-2011)
The Senton Bombs – “Who We Are” (Outsiders)
Discharge – “Protest and Survive” (Hear Nothing Say Nothing)
EUT – “Sour Times” (Fool For The Vibes)
The savage mutilation of the human race is set on course protest and survive . . . and how we’ve trembled at the way that time assembles little fires of desire in the tundra of our skin so, do yourself a little favor savor every time you waver . . .
Tomorrow is election day – Go Out And Vote. Democracy only works if we all participate. You can listen to this episode, Tales From The Drop Box Episode 126, while you head to your polling station. If you live in California, you can locate your polling place fairly easily:
Here is your reward for voting – an aggressively positive episode! Enjoy!
Here is what you’ll find in Episode #126:
Now, Now – “SGL” (Saved)
Antarctigo Vespucci – “Kimmy” (Love In The Time Of E-mail)
The Aints! – “Red Aces” (The Church of Simultaneous Existence)
The Boss Hoss – “In Your Face” (Black Is Beautiful)
Arlington – “Hollow Moon” (A Walk Through Jackson County)
Atreyu – “In Our Wake” (In Your Wake)
Abandoned By Bears – “So Far Gone” (Headstorm)
Turnspit – “Midsentence” (Desire Paths)
A Gazillion Angry Mexicans – “Driving Fast With Your Friends” (Stonerpopdoompunk)
Hardcore Superstar – “AD/HD” (You Can’t Kill My Rock ‘n Roll)
Sister Disaster – “Kill” (Away)
Nerve Quakes – “Running” (Running b/w Rewind 7’’)
Revenge of the Psychotronic Man – “I Wanna Be A Spaceman” (That Was Just Noise (2004-2018))
The 4 Skins – A.C.A.B.” (The Albums)
dragSTER– “One Bad Cop” (Anti-Everything)
Hanging around with my mates one night we got in a little fight geezer comes with a knife in his fist I got cut along with the rest said … pick it up, baby, if I’m moving too slow I got the seat back windows up just say it, I’m yours now every word is heavy
Yet another diversionary tactic. Tales From The Drop Box Episode 125 is my humble attempt to divert your attention from reality – at least for an hour. With pipe bombs being sent around the country by yet another mental defective who finally lost the plot to the evil perpetrated by the a-hole in Pittsburgh, it would be easy to give up hope for a better world. However, we must not lose sight of the future and the unmistakable conclusion that we as a species can overcome evil. We must believe that good still exits in the world and not give in to the temptation that the horrific events occurring with seemingly increasing frequency are somehow “normal.” As we reflect on these tragedies, we must act against evil. The prescription is relatively easy. Perform good acts. Take time to be kind. Be helpful. Resist anger. Recognize good in others. Don’t blame. Be honest. All of these actions are within the capacity of us all.
oh…and rock on!
Here is what you’ll find in Episode #125:
Seasaw – “God (Zilla)” (Big Dogs)
Basement – “Slip Away” (Beside Myself)
Cloud Nothings – “In Shame” (Last Building Burning)
Strange Ranger – “New Hair” (How It Al l Went By EP)
GØGGS – “Killing Time” (Pre Strike Sweep)
Baked Beans – “Easy” (Babble)
The Frights – “Over It” (Hypochondriac)
Negative Scanner – “History Lesson” (Nose Picker)
The Cruel Intentions – “Check Your Head” (No Sign Of Relief)
The Parkinsons – “Metal Cranes” (The Shape Of Nothing To Come)
Templeton Pek – “Nowhere To Hide” (Watching The World Come Undone)
Jump, Little Children – “Hand on My Heartache” (Sparrow)
Curtail – “Sleight of Hand” (All Your Luck)
Joe Strummer – “London Is Burning” (Joe Strummer 001)
Amy Stroup – “Lost Ones” (Helen of Memphis)
The sirens’ risin’ there’s a distant blues dance on a crowded street the temperature’s a-risin’ soon you’re gonna be runnin’ down . . . I don’t need to say what I said before you never listened to me anyway, my voice is sore or I’m not sick at all, I’m just sick of you
I’ll bet you are glad that the introductory notes to this episode of Tales From The Drop Box Episode 124 are going to be thankfully short after last episode’s lengthy discussion of the California ballot propositions. I have a full week of work ahead, so you get the benefit – very little to read but a ton of good stuff to listen to in this show. I was digging around and found a couple of tracks that for some reason or another didn’t make it into the podcast because they were awkward. For example, the track by The Weeks “Button” is a live cut with a drum solo at the end. I love the song, but couldn’t figure out how to fit it smoothly into the show. I still haven’t, but I’m comfortable just dropping it in the middle of the show and living with it. The show is filled with these misaligned misfits but I have enjoyed every song in this episode a number of times before offering it up for your listening pleasure. Hopefully you like a little awkwardness in your music!
Here is what you’ll find in Episode #124:
The Regrettes – “Come Through” (Attention Seeker)
Family Of The Year – “Two Kids” (Goodbye Sunshine, Hello Nighttime)
Beachtape – “Fix It Up” (Fix It Up b/w Figure It Out 7’’)
King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – “Muckraker” (12 Bar Bruise)
The Weeks – “Buttons” (Inside The Pines)
Starcrawler – “I Love L.A.” (Starcrawler)
Tancred – “Hot Star” (Nightstand)
Drinking Boys and Girls Choir – “I’m A Fucking McDonalds” (Keep Drinking)
Assuming We Survive – “Make It out Alive” (Chapters EP)
Thrice – “Hold Up A Light” (Palms)
Gino and the Goons – “Wring Side Of A Cigarette” (She Was Crushed EP)
Last Dinosaurs – “Eleven” (Yumeno Garden)
The Town Heroes – “More” (Everything (will be fine when we get to where we think we’re going)
Cloves – “Bringing The House Down” (One Big Nothing)
You’ve got a lot of nerve when you’re trying to call me out but we both know very well you’re the one with the big mouth . . . lost some buttons to my overcoat pull your knife away from my throat she said, ‘smoke your cigarette, I hope you choke’ kissed my lips and quickly ran away
A tale of two shows in a single episode Tales From The Drop Box Episode 123 is split evenly into two distinct halves – each with vibrant energy – but each half producing different mood altering impacts. I am not sure how Episode 123 it will impact you overall, but it left me a little unsettled as I recorded the show. Not because the music is unsettling because it is not, but just how the tracks fell together created tension. I honestly have no idea where I’m going with this introduction, but I felt it was important to forewarn you that this show is mood altering – in a very pleasant way!
There is an important event occurring shortly that is relevant to your life – we have an election coming up on November 6!
NB: If you are one of the many foreign listeners to this podcast feel free to skip ahead! If you don’t live in California but live in the U.S., then read the next section and then skip ahead to the track listing at the bottom so you can see what the heck this episode is really about! Hint: Episode 123 begins with RunHideFight (an excellent new band from Pennsylvania) and ends with Mod Con (an excellent new band from Melbourne Australia). If you live in California, then read all of these notes! However, if you are not “feeling it” then skip to the bottom and check out the music.
The most important thing for everyone to do right now is register to vote! If you do not register, then you cannot vote. It is that simple. And as I have informed you before – it is really @^^!!!^&! important to vote. So, here is where you go to register:
For California residents there are, as always, a lengthy number of ballot propositions this year. Unfortunately this also means proposed legislation by special interest groups. Below you will find my voters guide to the 11 propositions on the ballot to be decided on November 6. You can read the official voters’ guide here: http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/propositions/ (But I think you will find my version much easier to read!)
Affordable Housing And Home-Purchase Assistance For Veterans: If passed, Proposition 1 would authorize the sale of $4 billion in bonds to finance existing housing programs, as well as infrastructure work and grants to match a local housing trust fund dollar-to-dollar. One-quarter of this $4 billion would help veterans purchase farms, homes and mobile homes.
I vote Yes. This was close. In fact, in order for me to vote yes, I had to make a huge leap of faith. The Proposition does not provide nearly enough money to make a significant impact, but will add units to the rental market. The $4 billion sets aside $1.5 billion to provide loans to renovate or build more rental housing. We need more rental housing – it is that simple. There are simply not enough available rental units and the price of those rental units is so high that most people cannot afford to rent them. Millions of dollars of the money raised by this proposition would also go toward grants to build or improve sewers, roads and water systems in cities i.e. infrastructure improvements which are desperately needed. So, on this one, I am a yes, but it is a qualified yes. If you believe that the State will actually utilize the money, monitor where is goes, and provide oversite then vote yes. If you believe government will waste the money or use it to reward pet projects, then vote No. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates the total cost, with interest, for the $3 billion in funding this measure calls for would end up at $5.9 billion. The loans for veterans has no impact as they are loans. I have a hard time swallowing the fact that Californian taxpayers will squander $1.00 for every $1.00 raised, but I believe we have to bite the bullet now as housing costs are only going to increase in this new era of tariff’s on soft lumber. We need the units. I’m just praying it works a little to ease the pressure.
Using Mental Health Dollars For Low-Income Housing: Proposition 2 would free up $2 billion in bonds to pay to build housing that includes mental health services for chronically homeless people. The original bonds are part of the Mental Health Services Act, approved by voters in 2004 to provide mental health services to Californians. Legislators tried to appropriate this money two years ago, but that law has been tied up in courts ever since.
I vote No. This was also actually a close call but in the end, a no vote is the correct call. This is the second of the two affordable housing measures (see Prop 1 above). Prop 2 wants to issue $2 billion in bonds to fund No Place Like Home, a state program that builds housing for homeless folks with mental illnesses. The state then wants to repay a part of the $2 billion bond utilizing $140 million a year out of the state’s Mental Health Services Fund. And this is where I have the issue with this proposition. Prop 2 on the surface sounds like a good idea because we should help the mentally ill and the homeless but in application the benefits may not be realized i.e. the actual consequences of the proposition can completely miss those people and by diverting funds away mental health treatment programs actually harm the people who need the support.
The Mental Health Services Fund was itself created by a proposition. Passed in 2004, Prop 63 taxed people making in excess of $1,000,000.00. The funds raised from that tax were to be utilized to expand mental health services, particularly for the homeless. A 2014 State auditor’s report demonstrated that the State had no idea as to where most of the approximately $13B raised was spent, and questioned whether the money raised had actually done anything to ease homelessness or impact California’s mental health crises. The 2017 Report is actually worse: https://www.auditor.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/2017-117.pdf . The report title provides the single best reason to vote no on this proposition: Mental Health Services Act – The State Could Better Ensure the Effective Use of Mental Health Services Act Funding. Therefore, I vote no because the success of the measure depends on close government oversight and monitoring and the State is wasting taxpayer money already. Do we want to give them more to waste? Certainly not.
Note: The congressional Annual Homeless Assessment Report estimated that California’s homeless population is around 134,000 people, and our “unsheltered” homeless population is around 92,000 people, an increase of 13.7% from 2016 to 2017. (See p. 13, Ex. 1.7.)
Authorizing Bonds for Safe Drinking Water and Water Infrastructure: With Proposition 3 voters will decide whether to authorize $8.87 billion in state bonds for water infrastructure. The majority of the revenue would go to safe drinking-water projects and watershed and fishery improvements, with money also going to habitat protection, dam repairs and other programs. The proposition also gives priority to disadvantaged communities, and would require some projects to come up with matching funds from non-state sources.
I vote NO. This is pay-to-play and promoted by individuals and entities that are going to be receiving a share of the bond money. This will be a pit of graft and waste all at the taxpayer’s expense. Prop 3 would authorize the largest water bond in California history, $8.9 billion. Add in $8.4 billion for interest payments and the total reaches $17.3 billion. That’s $430 million annually for 40 years. 3 water bonds in 4 years? The Central Valley will reap the rewards and the rest of California will pay for it. It is merely a pork-laden pet project list with no prioritization and it pisses me off that propositions like these keep appearing each year.
Authorizing Bonds for Children’s Hospitals: Proposition 4 would approve $1.5 billion of bonds to build, expand, renovate and equip qualifying children’s hospitals. The majority of funds would go to private nonprofit hospitals that provide services to children who qualify for certain government programs. This includes children with special needs who qualify for the for the California Children’s Services program. The rest of the funds would be allocated to the University of California’s acute care children’s clinics, and public and private nonprofit hospitals that serve qualified children.
I vote NO. You are likely reading this to yourself and saying to yourself only a cold cold hearted bastard would deny hospitals money for children with special needs. These are hospitals taking care of critically ill children and this bond would enable hospitals to acquire new cutting edge technology. I still vote NO. like past measures, enabling public support for a broken system prolongs the tax payer agony and does not improve healthcare. Making it easier for hospitals to feed from the public trough does not save lives. It creates waste and relieves the hospital administrators from prioritizing patient care, research and eliminating waste.
Granting Property Tax Break to Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons: Proposition 5 would grant a property tax break to property owners who are over 55 years old or severely disabled. The measure would allow them to transfer their property tax to a replacement property of equal or lesser value in a specific county.
I vote NO. Although well-intentioned, it is difficult to imagine how much harm to local communities would arise from the loss of tax revenue. Schools are funded in part from local tax revenues and this would not fix the problem of adding new units to the housing market. We are still going to have a severe housing shortage and this is definitely not the approach. Advanced by the California Association of Realtors, this would not fix the housing shortage. In order to fix a housing shortage the solution is to build more houses. Tinkering with tax breaks will result in long term harm to every community without impacting the housing shortage or the affordability problem.
Repealing the Gas Tax: Lawmakers’ increase to the gas tax has been contentious since the moment it passed last year. Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman was recalled in June in part over his “yes” vote on the tax. Proposition 6 would allow voters to repeal the gas tax increase that currently generates revenue to pay for improvements to local roads, state highways and public transportation. Prop. 81 would also require that the Legislature submit any future tax or fee on gas or diesel fuel, or on those driving a vehicle on public highways, to voters. Gov. Jerry Brown came out hard against the measure when it qualified for the ballot, calling it “flawed and dangerous” in a tweet.
I vote NO. Unless you live in a major city in California, and even in some of the smaller cities you cannot even believe how bad traffic really is in this state. In Los Angeles, on an average day to go from Pasadena to Santa Monica, a journey of 26 miles, can take on average more than 2 hours between the hours of 6:030 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. The journey home takes a little longer at rush hour. Rush hour is from 2:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. It is only getting worse. Repealing the gas tax would insure longer drives as the road repairs would not be made and the congestion is only going to get worse. It is too bad Los Angeles didn’t actually begin planning for public transportation that works until recently, but things are not going to change soon.
Revisiting Daylight Saving: California lawmakers have flirted with ditching seasonal time changes for years. Proposition 7 itself would not make permanent or abolish daylight saving time. The measure repeals a 1949 voter-approved proposition that established Daylight Saving Time in California. This would leave it up to the Legislature to decide how the state’s time should be set. The Legislature could then establish year-round Daylight Saving Time in California with a two-thirds vote and Congressional approval.
I vote NO. As much as I would like to say, really? We have a ballot measure that would permit our legislature to set our time clock, the real issue is that already people believe Californian’s are different. Do we want to be perceived with as much disdain as Newfies? Newfies are residents of Newfoundland, Canada and as the joke goes, they are always ½ hour behind the rest of us. There is no need for Californian’s to be out of synch with the rest of the country.
Limiting Dialysis Clinic Revenue: If passed, Proposition 8 would put a cap how much outpatient kidney dialysis clinics may charge patients, and would impose penalties for excessive bills. The measure would also prohibit clinics from discriminating against patients based on their method of payment. In a push for accountability, clinics would also be required to report annually to the state costs, revenue and charges.
I vote NO. This proposition was brought by two labor unions who attempted unsuccessfully to organize workers at dialysis clinics. This is essentially a unions large middle finger to the industry. It would hurt existing clinics, and frankly is an attempt to get the government to implement socialism in this industry. This would likely cause clinics to close and hurt patients. If there is one small positive about the proposition, at least the proponents were not deceptive about it’s true intent which is to interfere with the operation of these clinics as a business, who like every other business exist to make money. If passed this proposition would destroy competition, force closures and in the end increase the cost of services for patients who desperately need this service.
Sometimes the court’s actually work. This proposition which attempted to carve up California, was nonsense. Best evidence for why this is a bad idea are North Dakota and South Dakota. Do we really need multiple Californias? Hell no.
Allowing Local Authorities to Enact Rent Control: A measure seeking to give local authorities more freedom to enact rent control policies will be on the November ballot. Proposition 10 would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act and its ban on certain types of rent control, including protections for tenants of single-family homes, condos and apartments built after 1995.
I vote NO. There are some people who must think that the California electorate is stupid. You would have to have not a clue about how the State and most local governments work to vote yes on this proposition. Giving your elected officials control over the rental housing market is a very bad idea and would certainly make things even a bigger mess than they are. The reason California has a housing shortage is because of restrictive building and zoning laws that increase the cost of building new residential units. If you add on rent control, then you can guarantee that no one is going to build more units in California because the economics simply will not work.
Ambulance Workers To Remain On-Call On Meal And Rest Breaks and Get Paid; Disaster Training: If passed, Proposition 11 would require ambulance workers at for-profit medical-response companies to be on-call during meal and rest breaks, meaning that they would need to be reachable by mobile device in case of emergency. Workers would be required to be paid at their regular rate during these breaks, and interrupted breaks would not be counted toward the breaks a worker is required to receive per shift. The measure also requires companies to provide additional specialized training to ambulance workers, and to offer mental health services to employees. Companies would be required to either offer 10 paid mental health services per year, or to offer medical insurance that covers long-term mental health care, if the company provides health insurance.
I vote NO. This is another great example of a deceptive proposition for which California is known. Ambulance workers, like every other worker need meal and rest breaks. This one is designed to increase the overhead cost of every for-profit ambulance service by increasing the cost of services and increasing worker pay. If passed this proposition would also would guarantee mental health benefits for emergency medical technicians and paramedics, and mandate additional training for active shooters, terrorist attacks and natural disasters. This is a government required pay raise for workers supported by local unions who want to interfere with business decisions by owners of these companies. California workers have more than ample protections imposed by law. This is piling on.
Farm Animals Need Space: Proposition 12 bans the sale of meat derived from animals and their food products that are confined within certain areas. By 2021, the measure would also require that all eggs sold in California be from hens raised according to the United Egg Producers’ 2017 cage free guidelines. California passed a similar measure in 2008, Proposition 2, which banned the sale of certain animal products if the animals were confined in spaces that left them unable to turn around, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs. Prop. 12 would take this one step further by laying out specific square footage requirements.
I vote No. Regardless of how you feel about the treatment of our food supply i.e. we raise the animals in order to kill and eat them, the net effect of this proposition will be the same as Prop 2 – decrease production and substantially increase the cost of food. We already have a highly regulated agricultural industry and this will not improve it one iota and instead will substantially increase food prices.
So there you have it. My cheat sheet for all of the propositions on the California November ballot.
I am voting Yes on Prop 1 and voting No on all of the others. Information is power. A well informed electorate reduces the chance for major mistakes that hurt people.
Here is what you’ll find in Episode #123:
RunHideFight – “He’s A Jerk” (He’s A Jerk 7’’)
After 10 – “Paper Thin” (Bad Influences)
Famous World – “Candylegs” (Spesh)
The Villagers – “Fool” (The Art of Pretending To Swim)
Blue Heaven – “Assumptions” (Volume 1)
Broncho – “Boys Got To Go” (Bad Behavior)
Bleeding Knees – “Case” (Fade The Hammer)
Youth Killed It – “What’s So Great, Britain?” (What’s So Great, Britain?)
Peter Holsapple – “The Death of Rock” (Peter Holsapple v. Alex Chilton: The Death of Rock)
Bragging Rights – “Built To Destroy” (Bragging Rights)
Civic – “New Vietnam” (New Vietnam EP)
D.O.A. – “State Control” (Fight Back)
Drenge – “Fades To Black” (Autonomy EP)
The Libertines – “The Man Who Would Be King” (The Libertines)
Mod Con – “Tell Me Twice” (Modern Convenience)
Three nations divided in two under one banner old school views but we live in a new manor, traditional values have to evolve or stand like statues … To make what I quite like to make it through the night my heart beats slow fast, I don’t feel right with a sleight of hand I might die what about you over there?
Tales From The Drop Box Episode 122 is a legitimate exercise of free expression and protected by a Constitution. That Constitution was revealed this past week to be merely a piece of paper and not the touchstone of a democratic society. One observation that is obvious from the events surrounding the Kavanaugh appointment to the supreme court: our government is in free fall.
NB: This would be a good time to just skip to the bottom if you do not share the same political views as me or are just burnt out of a tumultuous political news environment …. Be assured that the podcast entitled Tales From The Drop Box is only about the music! We can respectfully disagree with one another as to how our government should operate but I think we can all agree that music should always matter!
Now for those of you who have not heeded the warning above and are still somewhat interested or perhaps curious in my humble opinion…
Our nation will survive this latest fall – a fall that began with the election of Trump – a vile creature that is pathological in his avoidance of the truth. I can also reassure you that at some point in the future the chaos will subside and order will be restored. However, as things stand right now, I think that we are in store for more difficult times ahead for our republican form of government.
Where does the blame lie? I think it squarely lies with us – you and me – and our inability to elect representatives “of and for” the people. This undemocratic situation would likely be easier medicine to swallow if it was the intent of the framers was to give control of the government to the citizens of the United States but, as we should all realize, the framers did not intend for the citizens to control the happenings in Washington. The framers of the Constitution envisioned a system of representative government that was, by design, created to prevent the voice of a large number of the people who elect those representatives from being heard. We are now free falling as a society because “we the people” have chosen, for more than 200 years, to ignore the obvious flaws in our system and fix the damned thing. Trump and Kavanaugh are the consequences of our collective failure.
The problem with our government is not the political party system. Although, after the sham Kavanaugh investigation controlled by the Republican party, you would tend to think that those morally bankrupt sycophants of Trump aka the Trump Party, are to blame for the state of the disunion – but they are not. The Republican party operates as the framers originally intended – to divest authority of government from the people and keep the wisdom in the hands of the “elite” few. Instead of draining the swamp, the swamp is thriving under Trump. I should probably note for you that I am not alone in this thinking. Someone actually took the time to gather empirical date to study the influence of the people on our elected representatives. Their conclusion confirms what we already know from observation that: “when the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” The authors then conclude that their findings  about democracy in America …
constitute troubling news for advocates of “populistic” democracy, who want governments to respond primarily or exclusively to the policy preferences of their citizens. In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it. (See Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.)
The inescapable conclusion is that the fault with our present system of government lies with us and that the issues we are currently experiencing are not only systemic but also inherent in our form of government. If it is possible to somehow assign blame for the Kavanaugh debacle, then any aspersions for the result (i.e. the confirmation of a person so politically partisan that he delegitimizes the court as a check on the power of the other branches of government), should be cast upon an electoral system that is fundamentally flawed. I have pointed out some of those flaws in the past, but here is a brief list of the big ones that would suggest that our democratic republic is a sham (again, for the record, the U.S. is not a democracy):
The person who receives the most votes from the people does not win the election for President (i.e. one person, one vote).
The electoral college. Why the fuck would we vote for electors at this point in our history? 538 people vote for president – you do not. In 21 states, no matter who you voted for president, your elector can choose whomever they want to be president.
A president who lost the popular vote by 2,864,974 nominated Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to serve lifetime appointments on the nation’s highest Court;
The Senate treats residents of small states as more worthy of representation than residents of larger states i.e. it treats a person from California as 1/67th of a person from Wyoming.
None of the above makes sense to anyone who can think rationally. I know, you are going to double check me, but even a Canadian immigrant can figure out that there is something truly fucked up with a system where the people “vote” for a President and that vote is merely illusion. Why are we still doing this?
As Alexander Hamilton and James Madison made clear in the Federalist Papers, the essence of our republic would consist “IN THE TOTAL EXCLUSION OF THE PEOPLE, IN THEIR COLLECTIVE CAPACITY, from any share” in the government. Instead, popular views would be translated into public policy through the election of representatives “whose wisdom may,” in Madison’s words, “best discern the true interest of their country.” Over the years, the spin we are taught in our classrooms is that the “people” can influence the outcome of elections. However, as noted in prior rants from my window to the world, not everyone votes, not every citizen can vote, and given the gerrymandering, electoral college, and gerrymandering (again), the odds are slim that the intent of Hamilton and Madison is going to change. A good place to start the process of change would be with the way we appoint supreme court justices. Baby steps…
I started off today thinking I was going to write something about the Supreme Court and how the confirmation of Kavanaugh confirms the illegitimacy of the Court. I am still angry at the subterfuge of the Republican Party in orchestrating the clown show that took place. What is more troublesome is that the blame lies on both sides of the aisle. I am no longer confident that the U.S. Supreme Court is worthy of the respect of its citizens and that is deeply troubling. So, rather than write about the “confirmation” of the supreme court’s illegitimacy (note: capital letters are reserved for a legitimate body), what follows below is the source of that illegitimacy for you to consider as you ponder the outcome of the failed process from last week.
I am not the first one to note that the Supreme Court has lost the mantle of legitimacy as a check on the other branches of government. For example, see this interesting law review article from 2013: The Supreme Court’s New Source of Legitimacy which argues that legitimacy derives from either expertise or popularity and in the introduction makes this observation: “the idea that judges decide salient cases based on their political preferences has become part of the common perception and has eroded the Court’s image as an expert in the public mind.” Well, if the other source of legitimacy, as the author suggests, is popularity, I venture to say that the confirmation of Kavanaugh has sealed the court’s fate – doomed to be viewed by the public as an illegitimate body. This is troubling on many levels. Without a legitimate high court i.e. a body that is non-partisan, conscious of bias, and acting as a legitimate check on the power of the President, the U.S. Constitution is rendered meaningless as a corrupt court twists the constitution into what it desires for the master it serves and as a consequence the rule of law is no longer the dominant driver of our society. A country without respect for the rule of law is no longer a country. It is tyranny. The preamble to the Constitution recites the rationale for the form of government proposed by the framers of the Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice . . .”
Establishing justice i.e. the rule of law, is a first principle established by the founders in order to form that more perfect union. It took the Supreme Court more than 25 years to find its place as the check on the power of the other branches of government i.e. as something more than a lackey to the President. As almost every high school student should know, this role of the Supreme Court was first established in Marbury v. Madison 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803). Kavanaugh’s confirmation – an intemperate partisan – who is, as alleged by his own Yale classmates, also a liar, is the consequence of that flawed electoral system. That flawed system has also created our immediate situation – a situation where a single appointment to the supreme court effectively and perhaps permanently eviscerates the power of the court to prevent the tyranny of the presidency. The supreme court was the last remaining restraint on presidential power because the Senate no longer functions as a co-equal and Congress is irrelevant. No matter what kind of justice Kavanaugh ends up being while on the bench, it is simply not possible to turn lead into gold. Oops, that may be possible. Perhaps shit into shinola.
The Supreme Court should not be partisan. Tales from the Drop Box is partisan. . . . and will always be partisan in favor of free will, the rule of law, individual freedoms and diversity. Know the difference. Believe.
Here is what you’ll find in Episode #122:
Gouge Away – “Hey Mercy” (Burnt Sugar)
Bad Sounds – “Avalanche” (Get Better)
Northern Faces – “Firecracker” (Fingers Crossed)
Death Valley Girls – “Wear Black” (Darkness Rains)
Tommy and the Commies – “Straight Jacket” (Here Come ….)
Viagra Boys – “Slow Learner” (Street Worms)
Save Face – “Plans” (Merci)
She Drew The Gun – “Something For The Pain” (Revolution Of Mind)
Engine Summer – “Basement” (Trophy Kids)
Gen Pop – “It’s A Trap” (Start Again)
The Goon Sax – “Love Lost” (We’re Not Talking)
Night Birds – “My Dad Is The BTK” (Roll Credits)
Buzzcocks – “Love Is Lies” (Love Bites)
The Beths – “You Wouldn’t Like Me” (Future Me Hates Me)
Love is lies, love is eyes love is everything that’s nice love is not as cold as ice but that’s what that means to me . . . you were making plans, I was sleeping in. Bet you didn’t think I’d notice the bruises on your skin. Yeah, you were making plans. You were making plans, you were sleeping out.