Of course the speaker is getting pushback. Pelosi displaying the tiniest bit of rage exemplifies the scrutiny that awaits her and women in politics — a scrutiny that is even worse for women of color. Women learn early on to mask anger because they know they’ll be punished for it. While Trump gets to have a meltdown almost every day, female politicians have to be much more savvy and calculated when communicating even the slightest bit of emotion.
But as I watched the twittersphere debate whether Pelosi’s small act of civil disobedience was out of line or not, all I could think about were the Democratic voters I got to interview in Iowa this week leading up to the Iowa caucus. And how desperate they are to win this November. The stakes in the 2020 elections are higher than ever and the voters feel it. Every single caucusgoer I spoke to said the same thing: “We need someone who can beat Trump.”
So will the Democrats continue to play nice? Will they smile through their frustration as the president hurls insults and disgraces the office he is privileged to sit in every day? Or do they want to win?
Pelosi — and I choose this word deliberately — triggers Republicans because she’s (a) a woman, and (b) plays hardball. She’s not fucking around. She was cool as ice as she tore that speech — it was like she was ripping up a junk mail credit card offer. It’s Republicans who’ve flipped out emotionally.
For decades now Republicans have been playing win-at-any-cost hardball politics, while Democrats have played nice. Trump’s presidency has laid bare what should have been obvious to Democrats long ago — they must play hardball too. The difference has been hardball vs. playing-nice-ball. It needs to be win-at-any-cost-including-subverting-democracy hardball (Republicans) vs. hardball with integrity (Democrats).
Pelosi gets that. And it drives Republicans nuts. The Democrats have played nice for so long that Republicans are outraged when a Democrat simply gives them a taste of their own hardball medicine.
That’s what you want to hear from me, music insight, right?
Well, there’s a very simple insight the media doesn’t want to acknowledge, that the music business includes much more than the Spotify Top 50. While the major labels try to manipulate the “Billboard” chart, so that media will publish that their product is successful, #1, even though next week it’s not even in the Top Ten, the truth is the money is made on the road, as are careers, and the public wants to see and hear a vast swath of acts and material, irrelevant of the charts, but this gets little media attention.
Which brings us to the issue of high ticket prices discussed in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal: Why Concert Tickets Are So Expensive. Ticket prices are high because people want to pay them! We’re selling a desirable item, and it’s not like a BMW or Mercedes, where you can calculate the cost of the content, it’s an emotional purchase, you either need to go or you don’t, and in an age of commoditized possessions, where we all have the same smartphones, going to a show offers a unique experience that makes you unique, and no one is forcing you to go!
Used to be that acts were afraid of overcharging. But today everyone knows the price is the price. And the only people bitching are those who want to sit in the front row for free, because they stream the music at home ad infinitum.
If you desire to keep prices low, there are mechanisms for this. Paperless, rolling bar codes. But then you always get some ignorant wanker who complains to the press… Screw them, your fans know the score and they appreciate what you’ve done and the truth is the story only adds to the fire of your exploits in an era where everything can be ignored.
Not that there are not consequences of high prices. If you appear greedy, if you need to extract every last dollar, beware of the future, if you don’t have another hit, if people don’t find a new reason to go, your business may fall off. Taylor Swift boasted about wringing all the money out of a gig, but now she’s hitless and the audience has moved on, at least some people.
As far as getting rid of scalpers, it’s very easy to do. Just ask Prince, or Garth Brooks. Play enough gigs to satiate desire. And you can keep the price cheap. Frequently, the scalpers’ prices give a picture of demand that does not exist. And if all the money is on the road, why not satiate those who want to see you? Which is the essence of Vegas residencies, let them come to you! And they’re paying for flights and hotels, why not charge a high price? Why should the most memorable experience be cheap?
As for those seats down front… Platinum. The wealthy will find a way to get them whether the act sells them at a high price or the scalper. The rich get what they want, they can afford it. Also, the truth is the not-so-rich will overpay to see their one and only, and the truth is most concertgoers only go to one or maybe two shows a year, it’s like a vacation, the price is worth it.
We live in an era where it’s all about the Benjamins, credibility is something from the sixties, we need a sea change in the national ethos to change this.
Which is what Warren and Sanders are providing.
And the mainstream is resisting.
If you read only one article this week, forget the WSJ ticketing one, read this one about centrist bias in the New York Times: How ‘Centrist Bias’ Hurts Sanders and Warren: The Media has a bigger problem than liberal bias. I’ve been wanting to write a similar article for weeks now, how the mainstream media affects perception. The mainstream is even worse than the internet and its Facebook ads and false information. The mainstream says Warren and Sanders are out of touch and have no chance and the hero is Biden, but is that how the voters really feel? It seems like the voters have trouble with income inequality, and every day I hear something about health care costs from friends. Do you really want to go to the emergency room knowing you’re gonna be out of pocket 5k? And that’s from a friend who can afford it! I’d give more examples, but this is about billionaires.
Yet somehow Michael Bloomberg knows better. Is this what the public really thinks?
Which brings me to Hasan Minhaj. You know, the South Asian comedian with a weekly show on Netflix. Seems you’re either in the loop or not. Then again, I really need two other lives, one to read all the books I want to and another to watch all the TV.
So even though I’m a fan, I don’t watch every Minhaj show.
But then Jake e-mailed me about the one about billionaire philanthropy.
Now, through the magic of intelligence, which the music business lacks, you can see this Netflix episode on YouTube, because unlike the music business Netflix understands the big issue is obscurity, not getting paid, and if you build a big enough audience, there’s plenty of money to be had.
So you need to watch this, yes you do:
Why Billionaires Won’t Save Us | Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj | Netflix
But you won’t. Because you don’t have enough time, you think you know it already and who cares anyway.
But the truth is you do care, it involves your future.
But how come nothing gets traction these days? Stories in the papers? Here today, gone tomorrow. Even a TV show which is available on demand, to stream whenever you want, how do you get people to watch?
The truth is everybody is overwhelmed, to the point where the only thing that matters is their own little life. So stuff they should pay attention to goes ignored, while the perceptions that filter down to them, perpetrated by those who care, are oftentimes wrong.
What the media doesn’t understand is we’re ready for a reset.
And the DNC still thinks it’s the 2016 reset.
But there’s a concomitant reset on the left, which the media and the billionaires are missing. The public is pissed. About income inequality, corporations paying no taxes, everybody having a better lifestyle than they do, the lack of opportunity.
But the DNC is letting Trump define the issues. And because 30%+ will vote for Trump even if he shoots someone in the street, this vocal minority has the mainstream cowering, afraid to offend them.
The story of our age isn’t a return to the gilded age. That already happened, it’s the rebellion against that. The public wants a leader.
The right had Trump, who didn’t deliver.
The left is afraid to make a stand, like Trump did in 2016, to appeal to its true base, not the overeducated elite comfortable in their 5,000 square foot homes who don’t want to sacrifice a single thing, but those who were left out.
And it starts at the top, with billionaires, because their money influences the debate, and they think they know better.
But they don’t.
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2018 is the year when everyone, everyone, in the state ran from the fires or choked on the fumes. It is a before-and-after moment. In California, in mid-November of 2018, it became as clear as it did in New York in mid-September of 2001 that what was a once-distant threat has now arrived.
Climate change denialists — and this the entire Republican party — have blood on their hands.
So do the sham artists that sold the Paris Agreement as something that would help. Empty promises from countries that have no desire to actually do anything are worthless. Just gives people false hope that somewhere governments are doing something when none actually are.
I recently attended a small conference on climate change. The major message (new for me) is that the focus on mitigation, while still important, should now take second place to adaptation. That is, it's mostly too late to stem the worst of climate change. Now we must learn to adapt to the new reality over time. Sobering.
Sometimes it’s specific, some kind of corrupt alliance; other
times it’s amorphous, some kind of inexplicable hold Putin has
over Trump by force of personality. But the kind of people who
never said this kind of thing are saying it now. Somehow the
President is compromised. Putin has something on him; or he has
tempted his avarice with something. But there’s simply no innocent
explanation for what we’re seeing.
That’s the shift. The Monday press conference made cautious,
prominent people start to come to grips with the reality that
Donald Trump, as crazy as it sounds and as difficult as it may
be to believe, is under some kind of influence or control by a
foreign adversary power, whether by fear or avarice or some
As yet, there’s little difference of behavior from elected
Republicans. And I don’t expect any. What veteran foreign policy
or diplomatic hands say on CNN is not the most important thing.
But I think they are indicators of a change, a change of
perception I expect is occurring among many who can’t yet speak.
Isn't Gruber also the guy who doesn't like conspiracy theories. This is twilight zone rhetoric. Ridiculous. Notice these types of articles never point to any actual policy. Just vague "feelings". I think Trump's personality has a lot of issues but to be an agent of a foreign power. ooohhh!!! Spooky.
Policy is far from the only measure of impact.
Repeatedly siding with a hostile dictator over his own intelligence community? That’s a big deal.
There could be another reason why he did it other than collusion/coercion/etc, but it gets harder and harder to think what they might be.
Policy is being impacted. More obviously, PROCESS is being impacted. Process is how policy gets made, and Trump is making agreements without letting his government and staff know what he's agreeing to. If you think that's just a conspiracy theory, you're not reading the news. This isn't normal, nor is it a sign of a healthy policy environment.
Again. No concrete data. You "think" policy "may" be impacted. Is it? I don't see any policy being impacted. Just because you "imagine" policy "could" be impacted doesn't make it show. I'll give you one policy that wasn't impacted as an example. Trump authorized the sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine. That is in spite of what Putin would want. I'll post the link next from the WaPo which is NOT a Trump supporting news source. There I have 100% more data than you.
Please don't misunderstand me. I am NOT saying Trump is great or anything like that. I am simply saying the idea that he is an agent of a foreign power is an ignorant idea not based in fact but "feelings".
Now we come to the fifth commandment and it is a genuine classic: “Inviting questions is more valuable than supplying answers.”
There is perhaps no commandment in the series that better captures the ethos of modern liberalism. Position yourself as humble and inquisitive, merely on a journey of discovery. And position the other side as less-than-humble dispensers of dogma. Brilliant.
Indeed, this is Gulley’s complaint about the church. He argues the church has been “committed to propaganda” and “towing the party line” instead of the “vigorous exploration of the truth” (93).
Ok, so what shall we make of this fifth “commandment”? A few thoughts.
A Caricature of Christianity
We begin by noting (as we have in other installments), that there is an element of truth here. No doubt there are some, even many, who come from a more fundamentalist background where a quick (and rather unsatisfying) answer to questions was always in ready supply, but any serious intellectual engagement with those questions was frowned upon.
In such contexts, questions were not encouraged. You were merely to accept the answer you were given. No discussion allowed.
If the commandment above is designed merely to correct this particular version of Christianity, then point taken. Such a correction is needed.
But, it would be a caricature to portray Christians (or Christianity) as a whole as anti-intellectual propaganda-dispensers. Indeed, most Christians have pressed very hard on the Bible and asked it the toughest of questions–intellectual, historical, and personal.
And they have found that it has provided solid and compelling answers. Why should this be the cause for ridicule?
Which Position is Intellectually Irresponsible?
I suspect that part of the issue in play is that progressives think it is intellectually irresponsible to make the kind of truth claims that Christians have historically made. It sounds arrogant. Even cocksure. How could anyone know such a thing?
The better course of action, they argue, is to say, “I don’t know.”
While this approach gives off an air of humility, there are problems with it. For one, “I don’t know” is only the right answer if in fact that there is no epistemological basis by which a person could know something.
But, what if a person does, in fact, have a basis for knowing? If he does, then saying “I don’t know” would actually be the irresponsible thing to do.
In other words, “I don’t know” is not always the right answer. Sometimes its the wrong answer.
Let’s imagine you just took a class on the Civil War. If at a later point your friend asks, “Did Abraham Lincoln sign the Emancipation Proclamation?,” and you answer, “yes,” you could hardly be chided as an arrogant know-it-all.
Indeed, if you were asked that question and you said, “I don’t know” (out of some mistaken notion of intellectual humility) then you ought to be chided for rejecting a clear historical truth.
Of course, progressives will argue this is a false comparison because we know Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, but we don’t know that, say, Jesus was raised from the dead.
But, that is the very thing in dispute! If the Bible is, in fact, the inspired Word of God, then arguably we can be more certain about the resurrection than about Abraham Lincoln.
The only way the progressive argument works is if he already knows the Bible is not the Word of God and therefore can declare all its truth claims to be dubious. But, how does the progressive know this? I thought it was off limits to claim absolute knowledge about such things?
To put it another way, the progressive has to know that you can’t know about the resurrection. But that would require a high level of intellectual certainty, something that the progressive has just claimed that one cannot have.
Smuggling Certainty Through the Back Door
This leads to real problem with the progressive position, namely that its inconsistent.
On the one hand, Gulley laments the dogmatism and certainty of biblical Christianity. All would be much better, he argues, if everyone would just admit their uncertainty.
But then, on the other hand, Gulley is quite certain about his views. In fact, so certainty that he is quick to condemn other positions. On one occasion he describes another person’s view of conversion as a “childish point of view” and that he was clearly “stuck” in a bad theological position.
In other words, he just smuggles his certainty through the back door.
And it is not just Gulley who does this. Progressives are quick to condemn all sorts of behavior they see in the world around them, while insisting Bible-believing Christians are wrong when they do so.
So in the debate over same-sex marriage, for example, notice that we hear very few progressives say things like, “Well, we just don’t know the answer here. We can’t be certain about what to think about it.”
No, instead we get absolutism. We get certainty. We get dogmatism.
Thus, one gets the impression that the real issue is not really certainty at all. It is what one is certain about. Progressives have simply swapped one set of certain beliefs for another.
In the end, we all have things we are certain about. Things we believe are true and real. The real question is the basis for our certainty. Christians base their certainty on God’s Word.
While that will be mocked by the world, that is the place Jesus himself stood. He declared, “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17).