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Friday, November 11, 2016

Up the creek.

What the hell, Mitch. A week ago you didn't care whether we went on this tour or not, and now you're acting like the mill is on fire. What's the matter with you, boy? And don't point that deadly laser at me - you know how nervous I get about that kind of thing.

Well, it seems like Mitch is in kind of a hurry now to get off this miserable pimple of a planet known as Earth. Not sure what's behind the sudden change of mood. He woke up in a bit of a mood Wednesday afternoon after a long night of what I assume was mad science experimentation, and now he's all about planet KIC 8462852. That's fine and good, right, but if we're going there in the Plywood 9000 rocket we rented from SpaceY, well ... we may have trouble breaking out of Earth orbit. In fact, we may have trouble clearing the treeline. The truth is, that thing isn't getting off the ground at all.

Nah. That'll never work.What's our plan B? Not sure we have one. There's plan 9 from outer space, but hey ... that's a movie. Plan B might be to hunker down in the Cheney Hammer Mill, record some more songs, and venture out only to retrieve nuts and berries from the nearby Adirondack woodlands. Or pizzas from the nearby Adirondack Pizza Parlor. Or beer from the nearby .... well, you get the idea. I'm not at all sure why we opt for these interstellar tours in the first place. They're not profitable. They're long and pointless. They're occasionally dangerous to the point of being life-threatening. But then, a desk job will kill you after 20-25 years, so ... it's probably just as well.

I told you last week about the latest episode of THIS IS BIG GREEN, our podcast, which should be posted soon-ish. We've done rough mixes of all 7 songs, and it's a strange lot, I will admit, but you be the judge. Hey, be the jury as well. What the fuck, go ahead and throw our sorry asses in music jail. At least THAT would keep me from having to climb aboard a Plywood 9000 rocket with a madman at the helm. P.S. .... HAAAALP!

Small "d".

You've already heard enough about Tuesday's election, I know. My feeling since that night has been pretty much, the struggle continues - move on. I'll take a few moments, though, to share a few thoughts about Trump's win.

First, this was a low turn-out election, plain and simple. Though Clinton won the popular vote by about 400,000 ballots Tuesday night, she received about six million fewer votes than Obama did in 2012. Trump received a million less than Romney's 2012 totals. Some of that difference can be attributed to turnout in large states like California, but many of the swing states - Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, for instance - were significantly down from 2012. People did not show up to vote for either party, but their absence was most keenly felt by the Clinton campaign, which was trying to call out the Obama coalition and failed miserably. So don't let anyone tell you this was a historic groundswell of support for Trump - far from it. He under-performed his party's unsuccessful (and notoriously uninspiring) candidate from 2012.

All is forgiven? Well ... Second, there's some reason to believe that Trump's success, in the absence of a traditional ground GOTV campaign, was based in large measure on free media in the form of speeches and appearances that ran on practically every news channel for hours a week over the last year. I have heard NBC reporters (sometimes referred to as "journalists") connect this Trump phenomenon with the large number of Trump signs they saw in rural communities. That, of course, was just a symptom of the mental disease that afflicts non-rich Trump supporters. The vector by which the disease spread was their own "reporting" - namely, serving up hours of this man's bullshit on multiple platforms to millions of hungry minds, hence the signs. But they are no more reliable an indication of the level of support than the number of people showing up at Trump rallies. Sure, he had large crowds. So did Bernie. So did Ralph Nader in 2000. When the day came, the numbers were pretty flaccid.

So there was no phenomenal groundswell on either side. The warning signs for the Democrats were apparent during the primary season, when voter turnout was relatively low. There has obviously been an enthusiasm gap, but that is a failure of organizing - we need to work harder to convince people of how vital it is to vote as a means of advancing policy goals, not as some kind of rough demonstration of your values. We may never know why tens of thousands of Democratic voters in key swing states - people who put Obama over the top twice - didn't show up last Tuesday. There are no exit polls on no-shows. But it places in stark relief the fundamental injustice of our presidential elections, which value some voters over others. There is no justification for not having one-person, one-vote nationwide; we no longer need the training wheels of the electoral college. Pundits are fond of describing our presidential elections as a series of 50 different elections, but if that were the case, the winner would be president of only those states that supported him/her.

The presidency is a national office: as Americans, we should all have an equal say in who holds it. If you agree, find one of the petitions circulating for abolishing the electoral college and sign it.

Next week: The consequences of Nov. 8, 2016 (part I).