Politics: Democrats vs Republicans

Resolved: that future presidential debates ought to use the Lincoln-Douglas format

Partisan discourse can’t sink much lower. Now is the time to resurrect a format that was made for political debates.

The third and final “debate” between presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is now mercifully in the rearview mirror, but like a direct hit from an aggrieved skunk, it might take weeks for the stink to fully die down. This trifecta of vitriolic spew has held a mirror up before the face of the American system of political discourse, and what we’re seeing is utterly wretched.

And for what? What have we learned? Did the debates make us smarter? Did it leave us more capable of rendering an informed decision? Did it shed light on the election and the best interests of the Republic?

The sad truth is that the truth is pretty sad. These charades, these lowest common denominator spectacles, these premeditated travesties of dishonesty and rhetorical misdirection, we call them debates but they are no such thing. A real debate between candidates would be a wonderful thing, though. Continue reading


The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame can eat every dick in the bag

With each passing year, the R&RHoF further distances itself from any pretense at credibility. Artists who haven’t gotten the call should be proud.

It’s that time of year again, when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (aka, the Mistake by the Lake, part 2) reminds us of the depth of their corruption and irrelevance.

That’s right – the annual list of nominees is out. Let’s have a look, shall we?

Category 1: Wait – you mean these people aren’t in already?

  • ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA (ELO) – Should have happened years ago.
  • JOAN BAEZ – Hugely important for that branch of the R&R tree.
  • MC5 – I can’t believe the committee is even acknowledging the existence of a band with such utter lack of commercial appeal.
  • PEARL JAM – I’m not a big fan, but absolutely worthy.
  • THE CARS – I’d have bet the farm they were already members in good standing. How in the hell have they not made it in by 2016?
  • THE ZOMBIES – Again, I’m stunned they’re just now being put forward.
  • YES – Fucking Yes isn’t in yet? Oh well, at least Rock pioneers like Madonna have been duly enshrined.

Category 2: Really? Okay, I guess.

Continue reading

Nobel Committee gives Bob Dylan the wrong prize

Dylan is one of the greatest artists of his time. But his genius wasn’t about Literature.

Part 1 of a series.

The Nobel Committee today awarded American folk icon Bob Dylan its annual prize for Literature. Not surprisingly, reactions have been mixed.

I’m a bit torn myself. There is no questioning at all the immensity of Dylan’s artistic accomplishments, and there’s perhaps even less argument to be had over the influence he has wielded not only over popular music, but over the larger culture. It is simply impossible to imagine what the US would look like today had he never been born, but we can start by considering his role in the anti-war movement of the ’60s. In truth, you could look at his centrality to the revolts that eventually led to the end of that war and make a case that he deserved the Peace Prize.

And what about the who’s who of musical artists who followed in his steps? A very small catalog of those who owe their souls to Dylan would include these names, and if there’s nobody on here that you love and admire you just don’t like music. Continue reading

Donald Trump announces his candidacy for  president during a rally at his Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York, on Tuesday June 16, 2015. Mr. Trump also announced the release of a financial statement that he says denotes a personal net worth of over 8 billion dollars.

Donald Trump is a referendum on your character

I’m not asking who you’re voting for. I’m asking what kind of human being you are.

Trump Grab em by the pussyI’m sure you’ve read what Donald Trump said by now, but let’s watch the video and read the transcript just to make sure we’re all on the same page.

I was considering titling this essay “Donald Trump is a referendum on our character.” But it isn’t “our.” A significant majority of Americans hate Trump, including millions who are going to vote for him anyway.

So today I want to talk about you. You’re not at all comfortable with Donald Trump. Continue reading

It’s World Teachers Day: who changed your life?

It’s World Teachers Day. And I’m a little distressed by how little mention I have seen of it flying around on my Facebook feed. But then, what do I expect?

CATEGORY: EducationOnce upon a time we celebrated teachers for their wisdom and commitment to making their communities better places. Now, in addition, we celebrate them for their superhuman perseverance in the face of utterly overwhelming odds. Some of the stories I’ve heard from teachers border on the harrowing. And I’m just talking about what they’re expected to do in the classroom. Never mind what those who work in de facto war zones face.

It is hard to be truly dedicated to something that your society is at best indifferent, and at worst is actively hostile toward. Continue reading


Chelsea Clinton and “anecdotal evidence”

The once and future first daughter’s bout of reefer madness notwithstanding, please remember: “anecdotal evidence” is another way of saying “no evidence”…

Chelsea Clinton, who has been out on the stump a bit lately “helping” her mother’s campaign, recently dove face first into the muck by saying that pot can be fatal.

“…we also have anecdotal evidence now from Colorado where some of the people who were taking marijuana for those purposes, the coroner believes, after they died, there was drug interactions with other things they were taking.”

Clinton didn’t provide any details on this “anecdotal evidence,” and later one of her “spokesmen” was trotted out to explain that Chelsea “misspoke.” Continue reading


It’s official: Tom Brady just isn’t that good a quarterback

No, Pats fans, Tom Terrific doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. Not unless he’s sweeping up.

tom-brady-deflate-gate-memes-2For years we Denver Broncos fans, who feel like former superstar running back Terrell Davis belongs in the NFL Hall of Fame, have heard a variety of arguments against his candidacy. One that has always struck me goes like this.

Yes, Davis gained a lot of yards and was key to Denver’s two Super Bowl wins. BUT, after he retired the team generated the same kinds of results with a variety of nobody backs. In the several years post-TD the team was led in rushing by the likes of Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson and Rueben Droughns, who posted four 1,000 yard season between them. Add to this two 1,500-yard campaigns (these were two of his three best years) by Clinton Portis, and, the argument goes, yo momma could have gone for 1,000 in that system.

That’s the key word: system. It wasn’t Davis, it was Mike Shanahan’s system. Continue reading


Democracy in America: a bad idea

It’s now clear that democracy, as practiced in an anti-intellectual society like ours, doesn’t work. Let’s give elitism (properly understood) a try.

Democracy+ElitismMany of you probably read Andrew Sullivan’s New York Magazine piece back in April. If not, you should do so as soon as possible – it’s among the most important and insightful political essays we have seen in a generation and will reward your time. I won’t even try to summarize his message, because no paraphrase I could provide would do it justice. Short version: the US is in trouble, and democracy is perhaps the reason.

Sullivan got me to thinking, in some depth, about where I am politically and how I got here. More importantly, where do I go now? Continue reading

Monorail to the Future: reasserting the American Dream for #HopeTuesday

With the 1962 World’s Fair, Seattle asserted itself as the city that invented the future. Seattle Center, home to the Space Needle, Key Arena, the Pacific Science Center and other Jetsonesque architectural wonders, gave us a stunning Mid-Century Modern vision of our presumed technotopian future. In 2000 the EMP Museum opened, inserting a postmodern generational overlay in the form of Frank Gehry’s gripping postmodern architectural style. Ever upward, ever forward.

For #HopeTuesday today, I offer you a metaphor. Let’s rekindle our dream of a clean, sustainable, prosperous future with opportunity for all – a true and attainable American dream. I took this shot of the World’s Fair monorail, which connects the EMP and Seattle Center with downtown, in November of 2013. What could possibly be more optimistic, more hopeful, for Americans than a train destined for a technological Utopia?

Monorail, EMP Museum and Seattle Center

Monorail, EMP Museum and Seattle Center

Me, Albee and the Butterfly Effect: Scholars & Rogues Honors

An icon of the American theatre, Edward Albee, died this week. Scholars & Rogues honors him and notes the small ways that the influence of great artists can affect our lives for years to come.

The Zoo Story by Edward Albee, New Theatre Company, The Factory Theatre, Boston, 2/23/12-3/4/12

The Zoo Story by Edward Albee, New Theatre Company, The Factory Theatre, Boston, 2/23/12-3/4/12

We read The Zoo Story in one of my classes at Wake Forest – maybe freshman or sophomore year. I absolutely loved it. I think Jerry spoke to my teenage sense of who I was and what I didn’t want to be, and this dynamic was reinforced by the culture of the university. Wake was conservative and elite. I was conservative, but working class. Many of my fellow students were preparing themselves for sensible, practical, conventional lives. I wanted to be a poet. So while I don’t believe I necessarily understood that tension then the way I do now, I felt an immediacy in Peter and Jerry’s confrontation that, truth be told, still resonates for me today.  Continue reading

Happy Birthday to Jeffrey Dean Foster (Saturday Video Roundup)

We live in an era, sadly, where all too often our greatest talents never find the sort of broad audience their genius deserves. Once upon a time, back in the age of mass media and record labels committed to artist development, back before the Internet nichified music almost to death, back then Jeffrey Dean Foster would have been a massive star. Way too famous for a guy like me to have even met him, probably.

But that’s no reason for us not to appreciate him, is it? Let’s celebrate his day by listening to a few of his tunes. We’ll begin with my favorite Foster tune ever, “Summer of the Son of Sam,” which earned the highest praise I have for an artist: I wish I had written it.

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Examining a cynical, fake-patriotic Facebook meme

Instead of making yourself a tool for those whose agendas run counter to the best interests of the nation that flag represents, how about stepping back and asking  who’s playing you, and why?

This meme came across my Facebook feed earlier today.


Obviously somebody has an issue with Colin Kaepernick (and other black athletes) protesting injustice in America by refusing to stand during the national anthem. Continue reading

Why are Alaskan Malamutes on my new apartment’s restricted breed list?

Malamutes are about the least dangerous breed I can think of.

‘Splain to me something, doggie people. My new apartment has a list of restricted breeds. Here it is:

  • Pit Bull Terriers/Staffordshire Terriers
  • Rottweilers
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Chows
  • Presa Canarios
  • Akitas
  • Alaskan Malamutes
  • Wolf Hybrids

I’m not going to get into a defense of these breeds, not am I going to rant about how if you have a a bad dog you have a bad owner. Continue reading

Adam Silver NBA Hb2

NCAA decision on HB2: hey NC, stupid and hateful ain’t cheap

At some point the North Carolina legislature is going to capitulate on its “bathroom” law. Will the NCAA’s latest move be the tipping point?

Much has been written and said about NC’s discriminatory “bathroom” law. And now even more is going to be written and said, thanks to the NCAA’s decision to yank seven college sports championship events from the state.

Late Monday, the NCAA announced it was pulling seven championship events out of North Carolina in the coming school year over the state’s so-called “bathroom law” — legislation best known for barring transgender people from using government building bathrooms in accordance with their gender identities.

The action came on top of numerous protests and calls to repeal the measure, all of which have gone unheeded by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who’s running for reelection.

Continue reading

Colin Kaepernick

Shaun King is right. White America doesn’t approve of ANY form of black protest.

If you have an issue with what Colin Kaepernick is saying and doing, you’re defending racism and police brutality. Period.

Colin Kaepernick

Shaun King has a pointed question for all of you Colin Kaepernick critics: which form of protest do you actually prefer? 

It’s such a great question because when you think back on it, there has never been a black protest that America’s “reasonable” and “responsible” and “moderate” whites were cool with. We turned the hoses and attack dogs on MLK’s peaceful protests. We really didn’t like Malcolm X’s “by any means necessary.” The very existence of the Black Panthers made us apoplectic.

We disapproved of Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s black power salute. Continue reading