Why the Democratic race is a joke

The American people face the most serious time in their history. We are observing politicians submitting to a ruler who thinks he “is” the people. Not since the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings has such a mentality become the ideology of the day. To oppose this nonsense, you would think that the Democrats would put their differences aside and select a politician more committed to the rule of law than by fiat, and the contenders throw their support behind him or her.

What we are getting instead is the same style of nomination process that worked for Donald Trump, with the same thinking in mind: If Bernie Sanders is thought of as such a loony toon (I think he is fine but this is the wrong time for him), why don’t the others forget their ambitions and unite against him? Once again, like the Coronation of Trump, this is appearing to be a coronation of Sanders, which all but hands Trump his second term, and exacerbates any divisions in the country.

The reason it hands the victory to Trump, is because Sanders exactly fits the stereotype of the Democrats that Trump wants to attack. Trump and those in his party stereotype the Democrats as “socialists” and “extremists”, and so on. While none of that has been remotely true for over 50 years, and the Dems have been just as guilty of abandoning the working class over that time (half the reason Trump appealed to those same people in the Rust Belt), they open themselves to the worst attacks, nigtmare scenarios and conspiracy theories that the Republicans can throw at them.

Overall, I actually hope for a Sanders win, with control of the house and senate turned over to the Democrats. I just think that the dems are better off with a more moderate foil to Trump. But this lack of united front seems to be more helpful to Trump, since they thrive on division, and the choice of dems to divide themselves just makes the Republican’s job easier.

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Senate and Parliamentary Reform: 40 years too late

I remember growing up in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, as a transplanted Torontonian in a Grade 11 Social Studies classroom, listening to a whole classroom full of Western discontent. There were good reasons to be discontented in the 1970s and years previous. If wheat was grown in Saskatchewan, why not process the flour in Saskatchewan? Instead, it was shipped by freight train to Toronto and milled there. I know, because I remember the Five Roses flour mill south of Toronto’s Lakeshore Boulevard before I left for the West. Basically, the argument that seemed to capture the Western Canadian imagination as I saw it in my classroom was that industry jobs were moving east, while the west remained a sparsely-populated backwater of natural resources for everyone else. The Crow’s Nest rate for shipping wheat by freight was costly to farmers while being a boondoggle to the Eastern flour mills. The wheat marketing board, which these days acts as giving a fair shake to all Western farmers while keeping away multinationals which would put thousands of farmers out of business, is considered uppopular by farmers who are frustrated by the board’s habit of severely underpricing the wheat, and for not being able allowed to sell their wheat for “whatever the traffic will bear”. The wheat board, once again, was bowing to Eastern industry and forsaking those they were supposed to help.

The argument as I heard it, was that a big part of the problem was that there was a lack of Western representation in Parliament. That meant that any laws passed or bills tabelled were done largely in favour of Eastern interests. In addition, the Senate, whose purpose was to represent all regions of Canada equally and thus act as a foil to Parliament’s favouritism to the East, was packed with Liberal-appointed senators, largely favouring interests in the East, thus institutionalizing the problem. Obviously, westerners had good reason to be miffed. They, however, faced a humbling problem with a lack of population to justify any added seats.

But forty years on, with Conservatives in power (mostly westerners who were repurposed from the Reform Party of Canada in the most influential positions — most of the rest are absolute rookies with no parliamentary experience) they’re ready, willing, and raring to go with the reforms that were merely dreamt of 40 years ago. But the world has changed from underneath them. Westerners who wanted their reforms (which would still not be a bad idea, to a degree) will have to think of a different reason for wanting them. Jobs are moving out of the country these days, and much less so to Ontario and Quebec. Westerners and easterners alike are now confronted with something beyond our power, which is globalization. The reasons for reform that were so convincing 40 years ago can no longer be used as reasons.

Much of the reforms today are motivated by advice givers from the US-Republican party, and many have said that Stephen Harper’s political style is more consistent with the Republican party: cutting government costs, and being tough on crime. The idea of an elected senate might look good on the surface, but these senators can’t represent the interests of voters, since that’s already being done by the lower chamber. The Senate is supposed to have a different role. It is purportedly a sanity check, ensuring that the interests of minority groups, underpopulated regions and so on, were given consideration in bills that were passed in the lower chamber. The main weakness of the senate is that all senators are appointed by the Prime Minister, greatly politicising the appointments, and once done those senators are there for as long as they want to be. Any appointments made for short-term gain mean that you have to live with these appointments for possibly decades.

Electing a senate has its own problems, in that it becomes reduced to merely just another level of bureaucracy to reflect the interests of voters, thus continuing the tyranny of the majority. In that case, the function of “sober second thought” becomes little more than a charade, so why bother at all? We need a body of people to act as thinkers of the consequences of legislation over the long term. This means that the interest of voters and of worrying about the next election cannot be the top priority of the senate. What is the effect of legislation over decades? What is popular in terms of making it to the next election is not necessarily in the best interests of the country over the long term. But what is needed is to find a way to make these appointments less politicized.

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Crappy Album Covers #30 — RAP! ZAP! POW! BOOM!

With Just-Ice’s 1986 album “Back to the Old School”, we now see who the initial artistic influence was behind the designing of the album covers for the Putumayo collection. All a cover artist would need to do is remove the graffiti and a few of the logos, put smiles on everyone’s faces, and you now have the basic artistic elements for a sterilized, dumbed-down Putumayo album cover. Re-title it something like “Putumayo goes to The Bronx”, and the joke is perfect.

First released in 1986 and re-released in 2005, this CD has been the artistic force behind what is, in the album’s contents, a major influential work in the history of hip-hop music. It is said that by today’s standards, the music is a bit tame, but it wasn’t tame in its day. It’s just that, yeah, the cover could have used some work.

Ode to Devastatin’ Dave by Strider

I give my all for my fans
across the entire nation
From my glasses to my pants
which cut my circulation.
My mullet and my ‘stache
are the marks of a white rapper
Who has to sell more
or my career goes down the crapper.

“Zip Zap Rap”
in the colours of my desk jet
are the colours you obey! Sucka!

You know, if it were not for people like Devastatin’ Dave The Turntable Slave (who, by the way, looks like a dead ringer for Weird Al), there would be no fun in making these entries. Look at the color scheme. Yes, they really are the four basic inkjet colours: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. I would suppose that these must be the colours most recognised and feared by the peeps in his ‘hood!

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Crappy Album Covers #29 — More Celebrities

This is a curious album, since Jimmy Carter is talked about, and does not appear on this 1977 album.

Preview Records is a company that keeps track of the history and lore of the song-poem industry. It is not known which company put this out, but it seems to be MSR Records of Hollywood (now defunct).

The song-poem industry is borne of all those tabloid ads you might have seen in the back pages among all those other word ads which Preview aptly refers to as “the human misery ghetto”. They are quite frank in their description of this industry. To quote spokesperson and historian Phil Milstein:

Song-poem music is a scam in which innocent people are deceived into paying to have a poem or song lyric they’ve written set to a tune and recorded. Although the song-poem company suggests in its promotional literature that it will support the finished recording, and that it therefore has a chance to become a smash hit, in reality once the record is completed and returned to the customer it is quickly forgotten about, in favor of the location and seduction of new victims.

Song-poem companies profit by doing volume business, and so must create a literal factory of music, with the songs being shuttled from melody-writing to fabrication on an assembly-line basis. It is the aesthetic clashes between the work of the amateur and often graceless lyricists and that of the professional studio personnel forced to work too hastily that sparks song-poem music’s unique pleasures. The genre has a long and colorful history, much of which is imparted throughout this website.

It turns out that in 1998, Jimmy Carter was in the studio of Boston’s NPR radio station WBUR-FM when the DJ played a song off of this album and piped the off-air feed into the studio Carter was sitting in. He reportedly liked the song, but said he had never heard it before.

Well, that is all the goofy “Democrat” covers I could find. If you have any suggestions, please send them along.

Now, to be fair, to be utterly fair and on the level … this John Wayne album cover doesn’t really qualify as crappy. Look at the depiction: Confederate-era hat, American flag, cowboy clothes. This is not crappy, because this is exactly what we expect to see from John Wayne.

It is with the same attitude that I refuse to spotlight almost all heavy metal album covers. There are just some albums that we expect will suck, and the fact that they suck is the very thing that makes people buy them.

I would rather that the tastelessness be un-intended, and the artists be serious and earnest. That, my friends, is a formula for disaster.

This disaster is a case in point.

In recent years (that is, some time since the 90s), I recall Kreskin offering a reward of 10,000 dollars to anyone who can prove the existence of a subconscious. The subconscious, it is thought, should be revealed by hypnosis. Kreskin swore up and down that all that was utter hogwash. Yet, here is a depiction of Kreskin supposedly putting the person in front of him under a hypnotic trance. And what does hypnosis have to do with ESP?

Known to his parents as George Joseph Kresge, Jr., The Amazing Kreskin  maintains his own blog and sells DVDs and other stuff. The website seems to keep the kitch factor to a minimum, to his credit.

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