Bernie or Bust?!

Bernie or Bust?!As you all can no doubt tell, I’m just not as plugged into politics as I used to be. I still follow big things. I’ve been reading a lot about the Panama Papers and I want to write about it. But things on the edge get past me. And one of those things that has gotten past me is the Bernie or Bust movement. It’s not that I didn’t know it existed. It’s that I didn’t know that people were actually serious about it. I’m shocked to find that they are.

As you all know, I’m a big Bernie Sanders supporter. I’ve not only been very vocal about that, but he’s the first presidential candidate that I’ve given money to since 1988. That’s right kiddos: almost 30 years! But there is no question that if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, that I will vote for her in the general election. Of course, I actually think far more highly of Clinton than a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters. So let’s make it really clear. Let’s take someone I absolute despise: Andrew Cuomo. It’s not just his policies, which are pretty bad on economic issues (though not always); it’s that I hate him in a visceral way. But despite what I’ve said in the past, if the choice were him and Trump, Cruz, or any of the Republicans, I would hold my nose and vote for Cuomo.

My question for the Bernie or Bust people is, “What do you think you will be accomplishing?” But I think I already know. I think they look at the Republican Party and think, “The hard right conservatives did the same thing to the Republicans and they won!” The problem with that idea is that it is totally wrong. The hard right didn’t take over the Republican Party by not voting for Nixon and Ford. They took over the party election by election at from the very lowest levels of the party. Not voting or voting for some third party candidate in the presidential race is not going to send any kind of message to the Democratic Party.

And what — Just what?! — do the Bernie or Bust people think this election was all about? To me, they sound like the silly Carey Wedler who thought that all we had to do is elect the right president and then all our dreams would come true. We aren’t living in a Disney animated feature. This isn’t about Bernie Sanders, even as much as I admire him. This is about a movement in the Democratic Party. And it is that movement that matters.

Polling indicates that Sanders is the preferred choice of about 40% of the Democratic Party. What that represents is the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. And that means we have more than enough power to take over the party. For one thing, a lot of people won’t vote for Sanders for a lot of non-ideological reasons (eg, the “S” word, the chance to elect the first woman president). The question is whether that movement will do something, rather than act like Carey Wedler, who groused for a couple of years and then burned her Obama t-shirt.

There are a lot of things you can do. Here are a few:

  • Get involved with your local Democratic Party (follow the links);
  • Find a local candidate and volunteer;
  • Start a group (it could even be a new chapter of Drinking Liberally);
  • Run for a local office.

I suppose I don’t really care if the Bernie or Bust people sit out this election. I think it is a mistake, but it’s their choice. But I suspect sitting out this election goes along with sitting out the next four years and complaining. We have already reached peak “burning political t-shirt” videos. If people are going to make a stand then they should really make a stand. Otherwise, they shouldn’t lazily help the Republicans replace Justice Scalia with an even worse person.

Morning Music: Last Kind Words

Dream Shadows - Last Kind WordsToday is a little sad, because the sound quality is so bad. But what are you going to do? The song is “Last Kind Words” — the Geeshie Wiley classic. I’ve featured the song before, performed by Christine Pizzuti. She’s one of these people that always make me impressed with humanity — someone producing great art in a bedroom and sending it out to the world for free.

But today’s version is by Eric & Suzy Thompson. They are kind of legends in the roots music and bluegrass community. They’ve played with everyone but almost no one knows who they are. But I’ve seen them live once, and I own their album Dream Shadows. It has their version of “Last Kind Words.” In fact, I’m pretty certain that it was Suzy Thompson who introduced me to Geeshie Wiley in the first place. But I’ve used about 5 seconds of the introduction to the song to fade out my videos. See, for example, Luigi Galvani’s Experiment Done by Mr. Rzykruski in Frankenweenie.

Despite the poor sound quality, this performance is the same as the studio version. They are just that good. That’s something I think that everyone learns as they gain expertise in something — be it music or woodworking or writing: your greatest work early on is much inferior to your worst work later on. It isn’t a question of inspiration. When you get really good at something, the inspiration is built into your performance from years of hard work. (This is not to say that you can’t also be a total hack.)

Anyway, here is the song. It’s a beautiful version of it.

Attila the Hun and Monty Python’s Worst Sketch

Attila the HunOn this day in 451, Attila the Hun sacked the town of Metz. This was part of an attack on the Western Roman Empire. Some day, I must set down and really get straight on all this history. But the truth is that I’m bad at it. This is why I’ve always liked math: you don’t have to remember anything. Generally, Attila the Hun is depicted today as a barbarian. But you know the definition of a barbarian: “not a Roman.” So that doesn’t actually mean that much. Regardless, I just don’t have the time to read up on the man for an anniversary post. I want to talk about something much closer to my heart: the worst Monty Python’s Flying Circus sketch ever.

That sketch was, of course, “The Attila The Hun Show.” It has all the signs of being a Terry Jones and Michael Palin kind of thing. But then it quickly becomes nothing but a straight parody of old 1950s family situation comedies. The only humor in it is that there is no humor in it. It is a bunch of tired jokes that are supposed to be funny because old situation comedies weren’t funny. For example, Attila the Hun gives his children a severed human head as a present, saying, “I want you kids to get ahead.” It is filled with canned laughter that makes it all the more annoying.

In addition to this, we have Eric Idle doing a black-face servant — “Uncle Tom” — that is offensive even coming from England. I blame John Cleese for the whole thing, but they all to blame. Thankfully, it doesn’t last long and they quickly transition into what strikes me as a very Terry Jones kind of sketch where a bunch of perverts in trench-coats watch as Graham Chapman plays a doctor examining Carol Cleveland. Any sketch where “The Stripper” is played was probably written by Jones. And this transitions to Jones himself doing a striptease, something he seems to have rather enjoyed.

Eventually, the whole thing gets to the high point of the episode, which is the documentary about Village Idiots — which still makes me laugh. And it is blistering social satire, especially once it moves to the “city idiots,” where one says, “Father was Home Secretary, and mother won the derby.” And then it goes into this great bit on Masonic conspiracies. It is, in other words, a great episode. But I rarely watch it because I can’t get past “The Attila the Hun Show” and, “I want you kids to get ahead”!