Barack Obama on the Rise of Trump

Barack ObamaIn remarks as sharply critical as he’s ever been about the state of the 2016 GOP presidential race, Obama called the GOP presidential debate a combination of “fantasy, and school yard taunts, and sellin’ stuff like it’s the Home Shopping Network.”

Obama called Trump “a distillation of what has been going on in their party for more than a decade,” saying comparing establishment Republicans to Captain Louis Renault from the movie Casablanca.

“We’re shocked someone is fanning anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim sentiment!” he said. “We’re shocked! We’re shocked that someone could be loose with the facts. Or distort someone’s record. Shocked!

“How could you be shocked? This was the guy who was sure I was born in Kenya. And wasn’t letting go,” he said. “As long as it was being directed at me they were fine with it. It was a hoot — and suddenly they’re shocked! That gambling’s going on in this establishment,” he said.

Obama said the GOP message during his presidency is to “deny the evidence of science” or to accuse the other side of treason.

“Look it up, that’s what they’ve been saying. So they can’t be surprised when somebody says, ‘I can make up stuff better than that,'” he said.

—Gregory Korte
“They’re Shocked!” Obama Mocks GOP Establishment for Handling of Trump

Power Politics Is a Pathetic Need

Power PoliticsI hate power politics. I’m old enough that I’m pretty comfortable with who I am. I’m poor. I’m physically weak. I’m not handsome — I look old for my age. Intellectually I’m reasonable, but certainly not a standout. But I have a fair collection of skills. I don’t doubt that I have a place in the world and that the world, on the whole, values me. So it amuses me when people play power politics with me. They think they are putting me in my place, but all they ever do is just establish that they have some advantage over me in some minor area.

Growing up, like most small boys, I ran into many bigger boys who wanted to establish their credibility by showing that they were stronger. I can’t say that even at the age of six that I thought much of this. I’ve never valued physical strength — certainly not when used in that way. But what are you going to do? I mean we are talking about children here. I’m sure that many of these bullies went on to see the error of their ways and became good human beings.

Others, I’m afraid, did not.

This whole issue of power politics is not usually about physical violence. I’ve been involved with just such a case of power politics. I am currently being taught a lesson. I made the mistake of asserting myself to a bully and now I must be reminded again and again that I have no power. I must show in every way possible that they are the alpha dog. Of course, this is just in their mind. I am involved in a working relationship. I am finishing up the project as quickly as possible and then I will never have anything to do with this person ever again. The power is entirely mine because I have nothing to lose and the publisher does.

Power Politics: the Game Continues

I know I’ve written about this before. But something just happened. A few weeks ago, I received a document that explained the proper format for manuscripts. This is the third book I’ve done for the publisher and the first I’ve ever heard of it, but okay. Then I looked at the document and it was not a standard document that the publisher had been using for years. No, it was one created especially for me: what I must do to prove who the alpha dog is. It was pure power politics.

That was then. Yesterday, after having submitted four sections where everything was all right, the fifth section is balked at: the files must have the date on them! I’d already sent 20 chapters. They had all been accepted and formatted by the publisher. There was nothing in the document about including the date on the file names. No. This is just the publisher deciding that there is a new rule because there has been nothing to yell at me about recently. If dates are wanted, dates it shall be! Oh, the joy of power politics.

Soon I will be gloriously free of all this! But it is like dealing with a 10-year-old schoolyard bully. I guess it does something for them, but to me, it’s pathetic. From my side, this is all about some deeply messed up person trying to claim some power that they don’t feel in their hearts. Power politics is a game that sad and lonely people play. I have very little left to do on this project, but I fully expect a new requirement. Perhaps, “Start all correspondence with, ‘Oh Great and Glorious Publisher Without Whom I Would Be Lost…”

The one good thing about this is that I was totally stressed out before. This time, I just laughed when I got this new requirement. Power politics might make those who engage in them feel better, but any objective viewer can see how pathetic those using them are.

Afterword

I know you are all probably tired of my whining about this. But I find it interesting that in my day job, I manage a number of writers, and one of my primary jobs is to make their work easier. I’m supposed to make them feel good and valued. It isn’t about me, and making my life easier. Of course, this is the way I have always managed people. Life’s too short to be a jerk or to be around jerks — even ones who will be dead for weeks before anyone notices.

Morning Music: Jules and the Polar Bears Live

Got No Breading - Jules and the Polar BearsThere was one final Jules and the Polar Bears album, Bad for Business. I have heard it, but it was years ago and I didn’t much like it. It’s a lot like Fenêtîks (Phonetics) — but more so. So I want to feature a live set that the band did, about the time of the first album. And that, I believe, is Peter Gabriel introducing them. This would be during the time when Gabriel was doing his very best work. (I love those first three albums!)

What’s interesting here is that the live version of these songs sound very much like they do on Got No Breading. You just don’t need that much to create great music: start with a great songwriter, add a great band, and leave them alone. (One thing: the vocal harmonies are sometimes on the far side of embarrassing.) Of course, it doesn’t sound like the audience is terribly excited. Hard to tell. But it wouldn’t be the first time that an audience was clueless that they were being treated to something amazing. And admittedly: look at Jules Shear — he’s a crazy man.

And then there are things like the opening of “Driftwood From Disaster” where Shear totally blows it. This was apparently not unusual. From what I’ve heard, Jules and the Polar Bears itself was not that interested in performing live and rarely took it seriously. But this is where I tend to break with most people on music. I’d rather hear something that is real and uneven than something polished and dead. Although we must give the band its due. Other than the harmonies (which are often quite good, but uneven), they are very good. In particular, listen Richard Bredice on lead guitar! Wow. But they are all excellent, including the bass player (David White) who was not listed on the first two albums.

I’m going to leave Jules Shear for now. I’d like to get into his later adult contemporary work, but I’ll do that later. I’ve got something else to do for the next week.

Anniversary Post: Saint Bones and Nikephoros I

St Nikephoros - Saint BonesOn this day in 847, the bones of St Nikephoros I were interred at the Church of the Holy Apostles. As far as I can tell, this was a big deal. Nikephoros had died almost 20 years earlier. But saint bones were a very big thing back in the day. People thought that by being near them, they could be healed and stuff like that. Those were the days my friend!

That was when the church was kind of sealed off from the rest of the world and people looked upon it as a place of magic. And it was! If you consider power magic. And I do.

But the whole thing makes me think of Cadfael — the series of television movies (based upon Edith Pargeter’s novels, which I have not read). They take place in 12th century England. Cadfael is a monk — but one who entered the church later in life, having previously been a warrior. He is an herbalist and thoroughly anachronistic in that he is clearly an enlightenment thinker. All around him — even the good people — are stuck believing the most ridiculous nonsense. But not Cadfael.

Saint Bones of Winifred

Anyway, in the series, the abbey has the bones of St Winifred, and it acts as a kind of funding mechanism for the church. People come on pilgrimages to the abbey just to be near the bones. But we find out in A Morbid Taste for Bones (which was the first book, but not the first episode), that there are no saint bones in the box that apparently the church keeps these things in. Instead, it is the remains of a murderous (and mentally ill) monk. It makes for wonderful social commentary with people coming from hundreds of miles to be near the saint bones when the the saint bones are actually still in the ground in Wales.

Of course, the way Cadfael sees it, why can’t the bones of St Winifred work their magic from wherever they are? I mean, if it truly is magic — the work of God — what does proximity have to do with it? But these are the kind of enlightenment forms of thinking that do stick out in a story about 12th century England. Still: I recommend the films. They are great fun.