Secretary of Ignorance and Blind Devotion

(The Senate has apparently confirmed DeVos as Secretary of Education: Hold onto your hats, this being like cherry-picking the worst traits of BC Ministers of Ed going back to Billy VDZ and rolling them into one Transformer-like incarnation of ignorant waste-laying)


Betsy DeVos is DJT’s nominee for Secretary of Education for the US. There are many objections to her confirmation, among them that she simply has no background in education, that she is a corporate shill for privatized education, a neanderthal on social issues, the sister of Erik Prince (Blackwater, Xe of mercenary fame) and part of the New Snopes group infecting the Washington swamp. The floor of the Senate has apparently been occupied overnight by a filibuster looking for time to scrounge up a couple more Republicans to deep-six Betty’s nomination because, in a tie game, Mike Pence casts the deciding vote and he just loves Betty and all that she stands for.

We might all fear, though, the prospect of Betty’s going down to defeat, not because any sane person would want such a nasty piece of work in charge of the indoctrination of the minds of the next generation or two of Deplorables, but because there seems not to be a shortage of plunderers and know-nothings willing to step up and do the bidding of the New Snopes Family (and their backers in the finance, pharma, fossil fuel and arms côteries), and do we have at our disposal the resources to fight every nominee to every cabinet post and every judicial vacancy?

There’s a little line or two from an old tune that I heard on a James Cotton album back in 1968 that intones:

Before I cut you loose, I know I wouldn’t shake that curse.

I’d fine me another little woman who’d be just as bad or worse.

We have the same phenomenon right here at home at various junior levels of government where successive mayors have continued the tradition of seeking to re-establish some of the industrial glory of the late 1970s, or have had to deal with a council that firmly blocked any initiative aimed at taking a different direction. Likewise, there was a time when it might have been thought that Gordon Campbell was the incarnation of all that was most exploitative, corrupt and vengeful, but lo! we have Christy Clark, who most deftly fills the rôle of that “other little woman” who is indeed, just as bad or worse.

Does anyone seriously think that getting rid of Clark would be the end of the corruption woes in BC? The first order of business of any new régime here has to be the legislative blocking, with the very sharp teeth of penalties and enforcement, of the kind of processes that allow money and privilege to magnify its voice at the expense of the common good and thereby, perhaps, decapitate the line-up to succeed Clark’s crowd at the trough.




(Apparently, the tune was written by Mel London and released by Ricky Allen in 1962)

Absurdities, Atrocities


As long as people believe in absurdities, they will continue to commit atrocities. 
It would be no exaggeration to say that absurdities abound in our current social and political realm, and the atrocities, though perhaps somewhat distant and out of the sightlines of those who care to ignore them, are following suit nicely. Syria, Iraq, various South American countries and all over North America with drug wars, oil infrastructure, the sell-off of the commons, the financialization of everything and the rise of the New Selfishness should be enough to convince any sane person that we’ve stepped over a tipping point into something like a cross between Alice in Wonderland and your pick of Kafka’s novels. The responsibility is widespread and manifold: DJT and those who have blown into the Washington vortex as part of his backwash (or advanced guard, depending on your perception of which is the horse and which is the cart )may be more a product than cause, but Republicans of all stripes, as well as mainline Democrats, are very much on the hook for having pursued pretty much the same agenda in favour of the same constituency for decades, with the Dems getting extra credit for acute hypocrisy. The constant fawning over monied interests in pursuit of self-perpetuation in power seems common, even now, in the motivation of both “sides” of the political apparatus.
As Andrew Coyne pointed out in a recent piece about our own PMJT and his broken campaign promises, the fault is also ours for believing the absurdities (such as the idea that an elected politician might actually follow through on stump rhetoric, in this case relating to voting systems). Our behaviour that merits rebuke and reprobation is driven by our ignorance or our sloth, or both, as we don’t generally take the time to be active and informed on the nature of our own governance, sometimes because we just have more gratifying items on the agenda, sometimes because of the conflictual and unpleasant nature of much of the political activity in which we would be called to engage. Same onus for believing in anything but the hollowness of pretty-boy promises, though it must be said that the urgency of expediting an exit for the Harperites might have driven much of the (minority) of votes that JT garnered on his golden path to sunnier days and sunnier ways. Our failure to engage with others on issues of substance, combined with a tsunami of obfuscation and misdirection on the part of most “news” sources ensures that the options at the ballot are likely to be somewhat meaningless. Who knows what might have been better had we elected Angry Tom (anywhere there is Brian Topp, there is unlikely to be much of anything other than back room deals). Thus, we still have corrosive  trade deals, First Nations deprived of the basics of infrastructure that most of us take for granted, pipelines, tankers, fighter aircraft and overseas wars, expensive ancillary health care, rapacious financial institutions lining up at the infrastructure trough and a warped economy to accompany the petty bickering and corruption in legislative assemblies from coast to coast to coast.
Sadly, the time for deep and lengthy dialogue and reflection seems to shorten up constantly as scientific evidence piles up that our existential crises are converging and that their combined tipping points are approaching even more rapidly than we had been given to believe, or perhaps it was just vain hope. Doing nothing, or retreating back into the comfortable cocoon of self-interest are not options, neither does it look like a good option to engage in the kind of aggressive bullying, posturing, nastiness and violence that drives so much of what we call government. meaning that there is almost certain to be a degree of resignation present in any attempt to move people off positions defending a system that is patently in crisis, but that resignation mustn’t preclude steadfastness in whatever attempt is made to leave this place a little better than when it found us.
Valtaire also said, famously:
Il faut cultiver notre jardin. (We must cultivate our garden)
Now here’s what I wanted to contemplate before I go off to chase some of the sustainability, resilience and relocalization that seems so necessary as an antidote to our multilevel Washington-Concensus, Chicago School of Economics, Neo-Liberal, Neo-Conservative, Neo-Fascist way of doing business:
Several decades ago, I bought a used LP at Rohan’s Records on Fourth Avenue in Vancouver, a set by Thomas Jefferson Kaye, for which I paid the princely sum of $1.75, as still attested by the grease pen marking on the front of the jacket. I was initially drawn by the graphics and the name, but likely wouldn’t have bothered to buy it if I hadn’t noticed a couple of names in the liner notes, in particular Rick Schlossen, whom I had recently seen playing with Box Scaggs, and Rick Derringer. So I did buy it, partially because of the star power (my definition) and partly because I knew I could trade it in for most of its face value if it turned out to be a dog. It wasn’t everything I would have liked or anticipated, but it opened up some new doors and has turned out to be a long-time favourite of mine.
This month also brought out a new recording by Bill Kitchen, a twang-master alumnus of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, back in the depths of time. Kirchen’s somewhat virtuoso twanging combines with a sense of humour akin to Amos Garrett and Leo Kottke. I like this stuff a lot even if it’s not my main musical interest. Thing is, his new recording, Transatlanticana, also features keyboardist Austin de Lone, of whom I had never seen mention anywhere, but casting about, I did find a set of recordings he did back in 1991, so , with Kirchen’s de facto endorsement, I bought it: love at first listen and a great reward for following he connecting instinct.

Here’s some Thomas Jefferson Kaye with a little Derringer flash at the end: