Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Send A Message

[Ed. Note: I published this on my Facebook page tonight. I’ve heard too many cable-TV-news pundits gleefully point to polls which suggest that only a small percentage of young Americans will actually vote in the midterm elections tomorrow. I’d like to hope – after Parkland, after Kavanaugh, after children in cages, after a host of awful current events that seemed to awaken a great many American high-school and college students, over the last two years – that there are indeed a great wave of new voters who will end-run the corporate media’s bleatings and the various pollsters that only contact landline-based Americans, and give American representative government a well-deserved kick in the rear. May it be so.

[So here’s that Facebook piece, which I wrote while thinking of all the fine folks who have been students at the public schools and colleges and drum major clinics where I’ve taught, all of whom I’ve been able to watch, via social media, turn into people whom I’d trust to run this country.]

 

All right, my fine FB younger friends — a legion of wonderful people with whom I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a music classroom, or a rehearsal stage, or a high school or college football field, or a DMA parking lot: pull up a chair while I do my Wise Old Sage Of The Desert act.

I beg you. I mean it: I beg you — prove the pundits wrong tomorrow. There are people who go on the TV and pontificate because they’re paid to convince you that they know something about the world, who say that only a handful of young voters will actually engage in the political process. MAKE THEM EAT THEIR WORDS.

Forgive me, but I don’t think it’s hyperbole to suggest that tomorrow’s election — at the all levels, federal, state and local — boils down to a very simple idea:

Empathy vs. selfishness.

Regarding virtually every important issue facing our country right now — climate change, health care, gun violence, public education, women’s health and rights, rights of people of color, LGBTQ and transgender rights, freedom of (or from) religion, immigration (CHILDREN ARE STILL IN CAGES), the Supreme Court, simple human decency, and oh by the way Congressional oversight of this corrupt bunch of pirates masquerading as an executive branch …

… the current Congressional majority and many Republican-held state legislatures have consistently and repeatedly demonstrated BY THEIR ACTIONS an utter lack of human decency and empathy.

So vote them out tomorrow (if you haven’t early-voted already). Vote in such overwhelming numbers that Russian meddlers won’t matter, that voter-suppression schemes won’t matter, that the corporate media’s obsession with pretending that “both sides are equally horrible” … JUST WON’T MATTER.

And at this moment in history, I’m sorry, but it’s more important to vote within the context of the political system as it is, rather than as we wish it were. Which means, I’m sorry again, that independent candidates can’t help us in this election. Down the road, perhaps; but not tomorrow.

Mark Twain once said, not without cause, “I don’t belong to an organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

BUT … this time around, Democratic Party majorities in the US House and Senate are the only way to throw the brakes on this miserable Republican-Party-led executive branch (yeah, That Guy). The current Republican Party majorities in the House and Senate have, through their actions, proven themselves willfully incompetent at governmental oversight, and indeed at representative government at all.

So go to the polls. Stand in the lines when you have to. Send a message … to our elected officials, and to the rest of the world (most of which has quite honestly been watching us for the last two years with horror) — that we’re not going to just sit here and take it. That we’re not going to let selfishness win out over empathy.

If you ask me: vote blue. Vote Democratic. But in any case: vote.

My young friends, all of whom I’ve held in very high regard whenever I’ve had the privilege of enjoying your company … this is your golden opportunity, TOMORROW: to take this country back from the (mostly) rich old white guys who have used their control of the government to gather all the riches to themselves, right now — AND to work diligently to make life harder for everybody but themselves, both now and into the future.

Make the Women’s March and the Science March and the March For Our Lives and the Families Belong Together March seem like mere whispering tiny preludes.

VOTE.

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November 5, 2018 Posted by | civil rights, current events, Facebook, government, news, politics, social media, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On This, All Depends

What’s tomorrow mean?

It means we have to vote.

We have to encourage everyone around us to vote.

Doesn’t matter whether they’re passionate or not.

Doesn’t matter whether they’re holding their noses.

It means we have to get people out to vote, because the more people vote, the better life is.

It means we have to make sure that the Short-Fingered Vulgarian doesn’t get elected.

It means we have to vote properly in the down-ticket elections — for the US Congress, for state legislatures, for state governors, for local dog-catcher.

But it means we have to vote properly for President, because SUPREME COURT.

There’s already one open seat in the row of nine Supreme Court justice chairs. And there will likely be one, two, or possibly three more.

It means we have to vote for a President who will have a remote prayer of appointing one or more justices who will rule in cases on the side of the common guy and not on the side of the corporations.

(As regards the down-ticket races … it means we have to vote properly so as to turn the US Senate blue so the President has a faint prayer of confirming any Justices.)

It means we have to ensure that the Court will vote to overturn Citizens United, which is only a first step toward getting dark money out of politics, but ya gotta start somewhere.

It means that once Citizens United is overturned, billionaires and corporations (who don’t even “live” in the US) will have less opportunity to affect elections, which will mean less influence on one particular issue: education; specifically public education.

It means that once billionaires and corporations don’t have such a chokehold on elections and on influencing education policy, we can get to work rebuilding education (and the morale of educators).

It means that once education is influenced chiefly by people who have experience in it and genuine care for it, we’ll begin to rebuild an educated population.

Because the uneducated (and economically unable-to-commit-time-to-learning-about-important-issues-through-no-fault-of-their-own) population currently is not equipped to cast educated votes.

It means that once Citizens United is overturned, we have a prayer of loosening the death grip with which the National Rifle Association currently holds so many of our elected officials, which will mean less influence on one particular issue: gun control … so that gun control legislation has a prayer of passing.

It means that perhaps we may be able to finally apply ourselves to the horror of military-grade weapons in the hands of any civilian anywhere for any or no very damn good reason.

So it means that this is a Cliffs Notes, quick-hit, flash-learning educational opportunity.

It’s an opportunity for me to suggest to you that if you [a] can’t conceive of voting for the Orange-Hair Jackwagon; or [b] wish you could have voted for Sen. Sanders but can’t and are really disappointed and are just not sure about Secretary Clinton; or [c] are thrilled to vote for Secretary Clinton,…

…it is vitally important that you vote for Secretary Clinton.

I cannot afford to sugarcoat this. And I cannot word this strongly enough.

Be it resolved: that a vote for Secretary Clinton is (but is not exclusively) a vote against the Vulgar Talking Yam, and that’s good for the health of the Republic and likely the survival of the three branches of government, not to mention our country’s reputation around the world.

Be it resolved: that a vote for Secretary Clinton is (but is not exclusively) a vote for the first female President in our history; and while that ought not be the only reason she gets a vote, that’s still good since it catches us up to a number of other major countries (England, Germany, India, …) … finally.

Be it resolved: that a vote for Secretary Clinton is (but is not exclusively) a vote for someone whose stated policies have been pushed rather distinctly toward the left by her strongest competitor, which honors him and bodes well (or better) for little things like civil rights and such.

What’s all this mean?

It means that voting for Secretary Clinton may work out to be one last opportunity to remain a viable democratic republic.

That is not remotely close to hyperbole.

Vote. Vote vote vote.

Vote IN the best person to responsibly lead this country in this or any time. Vote OUT the people who offer “thoughts and prayers” but no constructive solutions. In fact vote OUT the people who joined government for the expressed purpose of de-funding, dismantling, and de-legitimizing government.

On this, all depends.”

Heaven help us, either way.

November 7, 2016 Posted by | civil rights, current events, education, government, news, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Waiting Period

[Ed. Note: this is not political.

It has everything to do with a topic or two which is intensely political, but this piece itself and the thoughts expressed therein are not political at all.]

 

In many locations in these United States, although not all, and to varying degrees of strictness, there are laws on the books that govern how long someone should need to wait before purchasing some sort of firearm.

I’m sure there’s a fancy legal term for it, but if journalists are writing stories about it, it’s simply called a waiting period.

The idea is that between the purchase or reserving of a gun from a dealer and the moment when the purchaser may take possession of that gun, that purchaser needs to wait a set number of days, usually to allow a state government agency to run a background check and confirm that the purchaser is legally allowed to have that weapon.

The concept also exists regarding insurance policies – incidents which occur during a waiting period are not claimable. Also in the arena of business finance, wherein a company making an initial public offering of stock must keep quiet about it, so as not to articifially inflate the stock’s value. In that latter arena, that waiting period is also known as the “cooling-off period”.

In each case, it seems to me, that waiting period can be a useful tool to help people avoid doing something rash. Whether the rash activity is one of trying to succeed in business without really trying, or to get one’s hands on a weapon that can do physical harm … there are decisions that in the heat of certain moments might better be addressed without the red haze of wild emotion or avarice. Or at least they might more ethically be addressed.

Cooling-off period” is, I would judge, a tremendously apt term.

 

On Saturday, Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia was found to have died in his sleep, at a resort in Texas.

The 79-year-old judge had been a member of the Court since the late 1980s, and had been involved in many momentous decisions, decisions which have profoundly impacted American life and politics. As it happened, he had espoused “originalist” views of the Constitution and conservative takes on the issues that were being discussed as part of these decisions. I happen to have some very specific thoughts about those political views and about the way in which Scalia expressed them, but those thoughts are not germane to the topic that occurred to me Saturday afternoon, when I first heard the news.

As much as I didn’t really care for the man or his views, I tried to be a human being about his passing first. My first thoughts immediately flashed to the future makeup of the Supreme Court, even before a successor may be found, because eight Supremes (and particularly the currently-remaining eight) may decide cases in a different way than the previous nine. But I almost immediately felt badly about that, and concentrated on thoughts and prayers for Justice Scalia’s family and friends.

No matter how famous a person you are … no matter how much of a public figure you may be, and no matter what your effect upon the world and its mass-media current-affairs crucible … when you pass away, somebody else(s), some other human being(s) is (are) directly affected, and are thrown unexpectedly into the grieving process.

That grieving process is often illogical, it’s usually driven by emotion, and it sometimes results in things being said and emotions being expressed in ways that, thereafter, themselves require healing to take place. It’s a frightening and sad and angry time, and taking into account this knowledge aforethought, a lot of things are said and done that are understandable, if not immediately forgivable.

Previously, in this space, I had occasion to chronicle the passing of my college band director – and the reactions of the community upon which he had such an important influence – and the previous paragraph completely applied to that event. It was a rocky time, and people did make it through to varying degrees; but occasionally a few of us had to gently nudge the community as a whole and suggest, um, let’s consider the feelings of his family please, and let’s see if we can try to imagine what the world is going to look like after this immediate sharp stab of shock and grief has subsided, and perhaps even how our rash responses or actions might adversely impact it, yes?

 

Anyway, back to the current event: Justice Antonin Scalia died in his sleep Saturday.

Almost immediately after the San Antonio Express-News reported the judge’s death, wrote technology news and analysis website re/code, Twitter became the place where politicians and their proxies issued statements and began positioning the debate about his successor.

The news commentary website ThinkProgress noted, Mere moments after his death was confirmed, Conn Carroll, a key staffer for Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), promised Republicans would block anyone that Obama nominated[, on Twitter:] … ‘What is less than zero? The chances of Obama successfully appointing a Supreme Court Justice to replace Scalia?’”

And re/code continued, In the pre-Twitter era, both traditional and online publications would follow a predictable playbook for an event like this: Pre-reported obituaries first, followed by sober, restrained analysis. Anything that deviated from that would only show up in media’s margins, at least for the first few days. But now that people — journalists, politicians, celebrities and other influential figures with large audiences — can respond in real time, there’s a new kind of conversation that’s rapidly emerging.

Which, I thought, don’t make it right.

What’s a fella like me, with an opinion like that, to do?

Climb onto Facebook and post, of course.

I know. I spotted the gentle irony. (As a favorite media philosopher of mine once said, “I saw that one coming down Broadway with its doors open.”)

 

I did it anyway.

Okay, so I’m seeing a few of my FB friends posting thoughts … gentle thoughts, I must note … about the passing of Antonin Scalia, as it relates to the constitution of the Supreme Court going forward.

I have NO problem with these expressions. Especially as they have been, again, gentle, speculative, and in some cases elegantly stated.

The topic of the link below, though, I find substantively different. With the understanding that political people in DC need to get ahead of the curve, be prepared for tomorrow morning’s Meet-The-Press-like chat shows, etc etc … could *this* sort of expression not wait at least, say, an hour? Or 24?

In this case, there’s a difference between the social-media commentary of average persons and the policy-setting press releases of the legislative community.

The seeming Desperate Need for political professionals to pounce on this, in this way, at this speed, causes me to wonder if those professionals ever, EVER consider that the recently passed-on have *friends and family* who would like to focus on their loss, undistracted, for longer than, say, a few minutes.

These people.

Don’t know how in the world (at this point, in the era of instant online gratification and Twitter and the majority of humanity yielding to their knee-jerk reactions) one would regulate this sort of thing, but …

I wonder if there ought to be a waiting period.

February 14, 2016 Posted by | current events, Facebook, Famous Persons, government, Internet, news, politics, social media, technology, Twitter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment