Brickspolitics.com is part of the brickwahl.com universe that also includes brickspicks.com (music and culture), bricksbrain.com (cognition, perception and my epilepsy), brickshistory.com and bricksscience.com.

Advertisements

Cheer up and vote

Saw a post about how democracy and civil rights have not changed much in the 250 years of American history. That it remains much as it stood when the country began. I replied with this:

If you say the country hasn’t changed very much you’re saying that all the progress thus far has been for naught. It’s changed vastly and for the better, it just can be even better. I remember back when I worked for the UFW we were delivering food to an impoverished farm workers camp on a ranch outside Santa Paula. It wasn’t the worst such camp I’d seen but this one was engaged in a strike and was being threatened with mass evictions. We did a helluva lot of work supporting that cause. A couple years ago I was telling Fyl that story as we drove down the 126 and noticed we’d missed our turn and needed to go back. I pulled into a driveway and I realized that this was the site of that wretched encampment but now I was looking at a rows of clean, modern farm workers housing that I didn’t even know was there. No filthy outhouses. No raw sewage in open ditches. No kids playing in dirt. This was the direct result of the big effort the UFW to get the filthy old camp replaced by decent housing. Don’t tell me a couple centuries of civil rights struggles have gotten us nowhere.

And let me add this now, that I think we get carried away by the unreality of virtual reality into not seeing what has really been done and why we have to keep doing more. We’re all keyboard warriors here and keyboard warriors’ fingers tire quickly. But civil rights and democracy are real world things that impact real people, even us. They require much more than our fired up fingers. They require commitment and not just our opinion. We are winning and have been winning, it’s just that the struggle is a never ending one.

So cheer up and vote.

Memes

The George Bush chimp meme set off the meme wars, if only because he was president when Facebook took off in a big way. As soon as Obama was elected the Right–especially the Tea Party–went nuts with their own vicious memes. And now with Trump we return the favor. And it’ll keep happening because each side holds the other side to rules that they themselves do not abide by. Which is nothing new, the pamphlets and newspapers in the 18th and 19th century were incredibly offensive and insulting and just as low brow as anything you see on your iPhone today. And both sides back then raged the same way we are all raging now, mortally offended by what the other side posts and finding all sorts of excuses for posting their own. Calls for censorship abounded, like they abound now, though the First Amendment prevented that for the most part. Now, though, with Facebook and Twitter essentially privatizing communication in ways that Ronald Reagan never imagined, wholesale censorship is possible in social media because the internet is somehow not considered to exist in the same heady constitutional air as the airwaves. Funny seeing the conservative stance on the internet suddenly condemned by outraged conservatives bewildered by the First Amendment. And funny too watching progressives defend social media as privately owned and free from those First Amendment restrictions. Meanwhile memes are fading, replaced by furious bursts of words. Not particularly intelligent words, necessarily, but words nonetheless. We’re getting oddly literate in the Age of Trump, even as Trump himself can barely tweet a coherent sentence.

Rainbow

chuck-mannings-rainbowMy saxophonist pal Chuck Manning took this shot last year from the JPL parking lot. I had thought it was some NASA publicity stunt. But no, it was real, and someone called ICE who found a couple leprechauns at its end, impounded their gold, seized their pot and deported them back to Ireland.

Get off our lawns

By 2040 seventy percent of Americans will live in fifteen states, which means that the population of the thirty five least populated states will have a super majority of seventy seats in the Senate. So a political party that has most of the senators from those thirty five states combined with a few of the larger states could have a lock on the Senate and prevent the other party from passing any legislation at all, even if the other party had a majority in the House and the presidency. It could also block all supreme Court appointments, cabinet picks, and treaties.

I imagine there will be a renewed interest in John C. Calhoun’s doctrines of the concurrent majority and nullification. They might even put his statue back up.

And then there’s this: by 2060 (I’ll be a spry 103, repeating myself on Geezerbook) one of every four American voters will be over 65. That’s not one of every four registered voters, or one of every four people of voting age, but one of every four people who actually vote. Over seventy per cent of people over 65 vote. The number of voters drops by age. Under thirties vote about 40-45 per cent of the time. This was true when people over 65 now were in their twenties as well (though they won’t admit it now. They were clean and respectful too.) Which means that if this voting trend continues as it always has, combined with the continuing decline in the birth rate (there has never been this few children as a proportion of the population as now) and increase in lifespan (people live an election cycle longer now than they did forty years ago) by 2060 about one out of every three voters will be over sixty. A virtual gerontocracy. Lawns will be kept off of by law.

To tie these paragraphs together, the states where the proportion of the population over 65 is growing and that under thirty is shrinking are almost all (if not all) among the 35 least populated. And I once looked at a map that showed the counties where the population was aging in red and those where the population was growing younger in blue. Then I looked at a map of the counties in the 2016 election, Trump’s in red, Hillary’s in blue. It was remarkable how similarly the colors were distributed on both maps. The older the county’s residents, the more likely Trump won it’s vote. But is this an age thing, or a generational thing? I’ll never know.

(Apologies for the lack of links to sources but I’m a dumb guy on a smart phone. When I get back on the computer I will add sources.)

Out of their cotton picking minds

You’re out of your cotton picking mind was a catch phrase made up by the people who wrote the Bugs Bunny cartoons. Can’t remember which character would say it, but it sure sounds like the giant rooster Foghorn Leghorn would say. I say son, you must be out of your cotton picking mind! Foghorn Leghorn was based based on the extremely popular character Beauregard Claghorn on The Fred Allen Radio Show in the 1940’s, a parody of a blustery Southern senator the likes of which haven’t been seen since Senator Sam Ervin. Senator Claghorn would say all sorts of ridiculous things in a thick and flowery Southern accent, many of which became popular catchphrases of the day. When the Looney Tunes people turned Beauregard Claghorn into Foghorn Leghorn they kept the character exactly the same, and Mel Blanc did a dead on perfect impression of Kenny Delmar’s Senator Claghorn voice. Basically, Foghorn Leghorn was Beauregard Claghorn in a chicken suit. The people watching the Bugs Bunny cartoons between features at the movie house knew that. Everyone was in on the joke. And everyone imitated both.

Hence, you’re out of your cotton picking mind. Though eighty years later it’s probably all that remains of the voice of Claghorn/Leghorn, aside from beginning a sentence with “Son….” Of course, few people younger than Baby Boomers remember Foghorn Leghorn. No one remembers Beauregard Claghorn. So “You’re out of your cotton picking mind” stands alone, without context. As is the wont of our time, everything is parsed for meaning, today, the result of two decades of humorless semiotics courses. And suddenly “You’re out of your cotton picking mind is a racist epitet. A line dashed off in a cartoon studio. Cotton picking was never an adjective before a giant cartoon chicken said it to a cartoon rabbit. You can a legacy of oppression in the oddest places, apparently. Imagine Bugs Bunny’s surprise.

That’s all folks.

The NRA at the crest of the Trump Revolution

As the NRA has been so successful at getting NRA true believers elected in red states and red districts, arming teachers has been the position of probably most Republicans in Congress for years, certainly in the House anyway.

And Lapierre’s crazed speech today at CPAC was aimed at the NRA membership, to get them fired up and terrifying Republicans into not defying Trump on this, being that Trump is essentially doing exactly what the NRA has long pushed for. They’ll even give up on bump stocks in exchange.

At the same time there will now undoubtedly be armed teacher legislation proposed in states nationwide, and much of it will pass. The most extreme gun rights legislation can always be found at the state level where the influence of the NRA is at its most effective. It might seem counter intuitive, but mass shootings invariably increase NRA membership and fundraising, not to mention cause rushes on ammo and assault weaponry. The NRA is at its peak after mass shootings. They are taking advantage of that power surge now.

So we are now at the very crest of the Trump revolution, before the 2018 deluge come November. His base is frenzied and the NRA are coldly calculating the possibilities. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.