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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

If you are trying to make sense of two mass shootings in a weekend and you want to see change, I applaud you, but there’s bad news ahead. As we who have been fighting this issue since Sandy Hook know, in the next few days people you know and love and respect are going to start telling you horrible lies about this issue. They are going to tell you 2.5 million people used their guns defensively last year (not true, not even possible). They are going to tell you mass shootings are often stopped by good guys with guns (not true).

They are going to say more Americans own guns now, which is why crime has dropped (household gun ownership has shrunk to a third of Americans, and if you think a shrinking number of Americans are stopping most of the nation’s crime, you have serious math and logic problems).

You are going to hear that armed Americans are the foundation of social stability because they can rise up against tyranny (an idea that, given the strength of our military, ranges from the ridiculous to the treasonous, since it suggests a single nonconformist is allowed to nullify laws and societal changes he doesn’t like).

You are going to hear that assault weapons either don’t exist or that they are the same things as six shooters. Actually, they were defined by law in the 1990s; they have higher muzzle velocity and can be easily converted to full auto with a few tweaks, something gun nuts like to laugh about on YouTube as they gaslight the rest of us and say “No such thing.”) You are going to hear that the Founding Fathers didn’t want gun restrictions. That is categorically false. The people who say otherwise learned history in a backyard from a person with anger management problems, not from actually reading history.

They will also tell you gun control laws don’t work (just because you don’t understand the way they work or don’t like the way they work doesn’t mean they don’t work).

People you love tell these lies for obvious reasons: It helps them defend their choices and behavior. Nobody wants to be told they are doing something harmful, especially if they were raised to think it was right. If they were to change, it would hurt their identity and it would hurt their parents. I have seen some people change on this issue but many people can’t because the psychological wound it would cause is too deep. But this is where we are: We call murder weapons defense weapons even though it is an insult to the concept of physics. Almost every gun fan talking point is a lie rooted in the real defense mechanism–the psychological one.

The NRA fought its war for “gun liberation” (i.e., murder weapon marketing) on the ground–in the state legislatures, places in which most people would be at a loss to name their representatives and where lobbyist bullying is greatly effective. But since Sandy Hook (and especially since the Parkland, Fla., school shooting), there is now a gun sense lobby and it has made representatives increasingly accountable to it–or at least not as totally beholden as they once were to weapons manufacturers.

If you are feeling distraught and feel like you need to do something, you can: march in any anti-gun marches you see planned near you. And give money to Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords or Sandy Hook Promise. These groups are on the front lines and have thrived despite death threats, disinformation campaigns, online bullying and harassment from the “good guys with guns.” The wheel is turning slowly, but it is turning. I have personally seen stubborn people switch sides on this issue and embrace gun sense, and that has given me a great deal of hope as these horrific news stories unravel. There is no need to think we are going to have to forever endure putting our families–our children, wives, husbands, mothers, sisters, fathers–at risk of sudden horrific death to satisfy a value system based entirely on falsehoods.

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Vote Today

Voting is like preventive medicine. Spend a little time in line today and maybe you won’t have to spend the next 10 years marching.

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Since forever, women have endured the calumny that they aren’t good leaders because they are too emotional, irrational, non-competitive, and weak to oversee or be equals with men in the workplace. What harm would it do if for a while we indulge the opposite conclusion: that men are too territorial, unitasking, uncooperative, combative, and prone to sexual stimulation to be leaders, to be over-represented in the workforce or be overcompensated in pay? Just for fun, what if we thought that way for a while?

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Want to know a way you can help the world right now? Something you can do with very little effort? (I did it while folding my laundry.) You can call 202-224-3121 and speak with your senators and representative in Washington and tell them to oppose the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity” bills floating through Congress. These bills, if enacted, would force states with strong and effective gun laws to recognize permits from states whose laws are much weaker. It sounds like an innocuous, clinical name, “concealed carry reciprocity,” but it’s very dangerous. It allows the NRA to override and nullify local laws and rob people of the ability to make their own local safety decisions. It is the exact opposite of states’ rights. At the same time, it gives the gun lobby a way to pursue its real agenda, which is to put guns everywhere, when every study with any rigor and reproducibility says more guns equal more violent crime.
 
That’s more risk your family takes on for going to the movies, going to a concert, going to church and going to school. Soon, it could mean extra risk for New Yorkers going to Times Square, where they will have to confront less vetted or unvetted gun carriers.
 
The congressmen who introduced this measure are well funded by the NRA and know that it’s the organization’s top priority. The bills languished temporarily after the recent Las Vegas and Texas mass shootings, but they are moving forward now–this week.
 
Spokespeople in the offices of both my senator and House representative told me the same thing:
 
The best thing to do is call them! 202-224-3121. It takes very little time.

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Imagine …

Imagine the evil of a man who demands blind loyalty from his followers; who preys upon their low self-esteem and insecurity, promising them pride they haven’t earned by offering them membership in a special tribal identity; who robs them of their individuality by offering them love and esteem in exchange for total deference; who deflects any questions about his competence or leadership by inventing bugaboos, weaving conspiracies and projecting his worst behavior onto his enemies and thus normalizing his behavior by claiming that it’s universal. Imagine his thorough success at this strategy is such that his followers eventually accept non-facts as fact, create their own argot that further alienates them from non-group members, turn violently on those who question the group dogma and otherwise allow their higher-brain qualities of doubt and inquiry to become neutered and destroyed.

And in other news, Charles Manson died.

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Driver, Take This Cab to the Depths of the SoulMy 13th album, “Driver Take This Cab to the Depths of the Soul,” by my musical act “Salon de la Guerre,” is now available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, CD Baby and other sites were music is sold or streamed.

I began this year, like all decent people, in a funk over the direction our country had taken, the amorality of Donald Trump’s election and the violent rhetoric that had become the mainstay of Republicanism only some 30 years after Ronald Reagan’s sunny optimism. I wondered how a person who lied so easily to stupid people, in a populist idiom familiar to failed states, had somehow managed to become the leader of a country whose institutions are often reliably immune to such behavior. I wondered how to tell my child that a person who had spent his campaign bullying, blustering, threatening vulnerable minorities and flirting with treason had somehow succeeded with those very traits to wangle his way into the Oval Office. I wondered if telling my child to be a good human being was still possible, desirable in the world Republicans had bequeathed us.

The only way I could think to deal with our new anomie was to become a better guitar player.

After all, telling people the truth and demonstrating to them exactly how they are wrong–these are somehow no longer satisfactory ways to make change. As I’ve stated elsewhere, any person appealing to a Trump voter is effectively arguing with the person’s Dad. A Bad Dad who has kept this person a child-hostage of abstractions and made him repeat them well into the adulthood, often long after said Bad Dad is in the grave. Hiding Americans’ sins and Dad’s racism are two such abstractions and the pain of disloyalty for the hapless Trump supporter is as close to him as his skin.

Since the violence of the Antifa school doesn’t work to advance decency, and since the current Republican-controlled Congress will ensure that Trump, who is already manifestly guilty of obstruction of justice, flies above the law as easily as whistling, I have no hope for his quick removal, deserved as it is.

I wrought my despair into art. Some of the first few things I wrote for this album were so bad and so angry and shrill that I left them off. But then I found a groove with a song called “Cain and Abel,” a morality tale about the rationalizing of murder and the cost of getting away with it–if there is any. A couple of nasty anti-Trump lyrics remained in other songs, but I noticed as I worked that the album’s tone became sunnier. It seems that I had redeemed myself by making art, if I couldn’t redeem the world.

Why should you care? The good news is, you don’t have to! I’ve achieved things I’m greatly proud of on this album, recorded the best guitar instrumental I might ever play in my life, wrote some probing lyrics that went beyond despair and shrill polemics. The victory is personal and belongs to me. If other people want to hear it, bless them, but I don’t force my music down anyone’s throat. If you, dear reader, are a fan of my stuff, I hope I can still make you happy even as I go off in different directions.

As I describe it on my CD Baby page, “the new album is a collection of pop songs, piano pieces, free form electric guitar jams and weird electronica made in order to navigate our tough political and spiritual times.” I made a switch to electronic music last year and recorded most of my last four albums in Garage Band, using computer instruments. Here, I reintroduce my guitar (which, I learned after a long period of being scared of the idea, can actually be plugged into an iPhone thanks to some clever electronics makers). It was about the same time that I discovered my ability and desire to do fast-finger runs on a guitar, which I think gives the electronic stuff more excitement and dimension.

I don’t think Donald Trump fans will object to these songs, since there are few outright insults. (You can read those on this post!) My greatest desire with my music, if I have any, is to encourage other people to make art–which anybody can do–or if not that, find new things they were capable of that they didn’t know about. Why is it important to me? Because it makes them better people. It reminds them of the constructive acts they are capable of, the creativity and imagination and empathy they’ve always had as gifted mammals crawling out of the caves. The pride a Donald Trump offers them is as ephemeral and cheap as the kiss of a prostitute. While some 63 million Trump voters painfully learn that lesson, it’s important for all of us to remember we can continue to work on things that make us feel good about ourselves. Giving to charity. Helping out our brothers and sisters in distress in Houston and Puerto Rico and Florida. Telling our children to do the right things and not hate–because that still matters. And becoming excited about the next thing around the corner. I found that ability very, very late in life. A cure for bitterness. And I won’t let the current political environment ruin that.

If you’re into it … my first single off the new album.

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“I did not want white nationalists in the White House. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want to register members of a religion in contravention of the First Amendment. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want to revisit the morality of Japanese internment camps. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want people to make fun of the disabled–to say it was OK for my kid to do it, or for my disabled kid to suffer it. I just wanted change.”
“I did not say it’s OK for entitled, powerful rich men to aggressively try to sleep with my wife. I just wanted change.”
“I did not think it was OK to grab women by the crotch. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want the United States to start torturing prisoners again. I just wanted change.”
“I was not for committing war crimes against the innocent bystander relatives of suspected terrorists. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want to let banks start doing the same things they were doing before the financial crisis. I just wanted change.”
“I did not think it was OK to denigrate a guy who was beaten three times a week by the North Vietnamese as some sort of loser. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want to free polluters and contribute to a global climate phenomenon that is going to affect the quality of life for my child. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want to signal to a president that it was OK for him to basically merge his business interests with his political interests by using his children as a meaningless buffer. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want the KKK to feel emboldened. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want a rude tone set for politics from the top down by a man who made political incivility his trademark. I just wanted the change.”

Congratulations. If all these things became acceptable to you, you’ve changed.

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