The independence to be boring

“boring in the best possible way”

joebidenThere are lots of important, vital things that this country still needs to address. Climate change, failing infrastructure, social justice, economic inequity, increasing violence – the list is too long to note here.

Yet I’ve been feeling independence from a certain level of stress much of this year, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. That is until I saw this in the Boston Globe.

Joe Biden stays out of our face. Isn’t it great? For the first time in decades, America has a president who avoids the limelight.

“Five months into his presidency, it is clear that Biden… isn’t gripped by a desperate craving to be seen and heard and talked about. After four years of a president whose narcissism was bottomless and exhausting, and, before him, eight years of a president who also didn’t suffer from any lack of vanity, Biden’s willingness to stay largely behind the scenes is not just refreshing, but downright admirable.”

I would be exhausted by the daily barrage of tweets and off-the-cuff comments at press conferences by his predecessor. In fact, I’m convinced that if he had avoided those COVID briefings, or said nothing, he might have been REALLY reelected.

Columnist Jeff Jacoby doesn’t necessarily agree with “Biden’s policy agenda. From his gargantuan spending bills to his outreach toward Iran to his embrace of woke racial ideology, I think he is on the wrong track.”

Not dominating every news cycle

However, “Biden is content to stay out of public view and not make himself or his thoughts each day’s top story. He doesn’t comment on every political development. He doesn’t give daily briefings. And he doesn’t weigh in on every Washington dispute.” The silence is refreshing.

As Peter Nicholas wrote in The Atlantic, the Biden White House has made the “conscious calculation that people don’t need — or want — to hear from the president on an hour-by-hour basis.”

As one anonymous former Biden campaign aide told Nicholas: “He’s boring in the best possible way. We need boring. We want boring.” He’s an antidote to an in-your-face presidency.

Joe Biden “endured a fair amount of ‘Where’s Joe?’ mockery” during the 2020 campaign. “But it didn’t keep him from winning the election. Perhaps he and his advisers have concluded that staying out of the spotlight will continue to work to his benefit, both by demonstrating how different he is from Trump and by minimizing opportunities for the gaffes to which he himself says he is prone.”

 

Independence Day/4th of July music

Let the whole world know that today is a day of reckoning.

Martina McBrideIt’s the fourth of July. Independence Day in America. I’ve been hearing a lot of fireworks for about a month now. I’ve rather tired of it, actually. Instead of the usual musical fare, I’ve listed some perhaps less obvious songs that can represent the day. Add your choices in the comments.

Martina McBride. This song, written by Gretchen Peters, has been covered by several artists including Carrie Underwood. “In 2014, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the song #77 in their list of the 100 greatest country songs.”
“She tried to pretend he wasn’t drinkin’ again
“But daddy’d left the proof on her cheek.”

Independence Day – Bruce Springsteen, from The River album.
“There’s a lot of people leaving town now
“Leaving their friends, their homes”

Independence Day – David Byrne.
“We know what will make us happy
“We know what will ease our pain”
More cheerful. I love this musically.

Independence Day – 5 Seconds of Summer.
“I gotta break away or nothing’s gonna change
“You’ve got to go, it’s the end of the road”

Independence Day – the Shires.
“You’re better off without
“Someone who gets you down”

Instrumental interlude:
ID4 Reprise – Independence Day Resurgence Official Soundtrack

Every day’s…

On the 4th of July – James Taylor
“Unbelievable you, impossible me,
“The fool who fell out of the family tree.”

Fourth of July – Pete Droge
“When you’re sick of the trying
“And you’re tired of the crying”
A depressing song.

Fourth of July – Sufjan Stevens
“It was night when you died, my firefly.”
Ditto.

Fourth of July –Fall Out Boy
“You and I were fire, fire fireworks that went off too soon.”

4th of July –Shooter Jennings
“Couldn’t take no more of that rock ‘n’ roll”
Oddly, there’s a lot of rock riffs in that country guitar, I think.

4th of July – Soundgarden
“Pale in the flare light
“The scared light cracks and disappears”

What will keep America great?

A shrinking population and labor force will cause the economy to contract

In the middle of the night, I woke up, wondering what my country was becoming, and what has has always made America great. In the words of the Hamilton mixtape, it’s Immigrants (We Get The Job Done).

Any cursory view of the history of immigration to the United States will show “huddled masses yearning to be free” yet not always fully welcomed. “Irish need not apply,” and the like.

Yet it was the enslaved, and formerly enslaved people, and poor, dirty, destitute people, traveling thousands of miles, seeking a better life who have made America great, despite the hardship and discrimination.

The current immigration debate, while toxic, isn’t exactly brand-new. The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of immigrants have always wanted to bar the door after “their” kind got in. Still, Almost 13% of the U.S. population is foreign-born, for a total of more than 40 million people.

The immigrant entrepreneurs were not usually “merit-based” people but folks fleeing difficult situations. “The belief that anyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps in America still resonates today and drives many immigrants to come to the States to try their luck. And while success is rare and never guaranteed, some notable examples have managed to not only get ahead in America, but achieve extraordinary success.”

Native-born Americans are having fewer children, which will eventually shrink our labor force. One has seen in Japan, e.g., that a shrinking population and labor force will cause the economy to contract.

As a business librarian and someone who will be collecting Social Security soon enough, I recognize that more immigrants, of varied skills, are needed to keep the population, labor force, and economy strong and expanding. This will keep America great.

Bloomberg, hardly a bleeding-heart organization, notes that U.S. Farms Can’t Compete Without Foreign Workers.

Meanwhile, because of perceived xenophobic policies in DC – even illegal immigration does not increase violent crimeAs Flow of Foreign Students Wanes, U.S. Universities Feel the Sting. And soon enough, the country will feel the loss of the intellectual capital those educated people might have brought.

“Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles.”

Let’s keep America great.

E is for fireworks EAR-itation

I’ve NEVER seen on Facebook such unanimity from all over the city.

Albany, NY has some wonderful fireworks each year on the Empire State Plaza downtown.

Unfortunately, in the past few holidays, there’s been lots of competition from private individuals, and it has only became worse in the last two years when the Albany County legislature allowed individuals to buy items that had previously been banned.

The 4th of July was on a Tuesday in 2017, but I heard what sounded like a war zone each night from the 1st through the 5th.

I did laugh nervously when the family visited a CVS drug store, in adjacent Greene County, in June. Store space devoted to the fireworks was accompanied by a sign that warned people not to smoke near them. Smoking is illegal in most stores anyway, but it such an absurdist thing to see in a building that houses medicine and a pharmacy.

The three of us traversed out to see the downtown fireworks from the soccer field behind the high school, a couple miles from downtown. I had made a point of wearing ear plugs, the kind one uses to block out snoring or the like. I was very happy about that, because the competing local ordinance was close by, and therefore LOUD.

Unfortunately, the haze from the fireworks was THICK. As someone described it, “It was like morning fog by the river in the fall.” There is a potential impact on respiratory health to boot. I’ve NEVER seen on Facebook such unanimity from all over the city, antipathy for the new law.

As it turns out, the nearby Schenectady County legislature voted to ban, again, fireworks, but it widely ignored. Easy enough to do since all the counties around Schenectady still offer them for sale.

Googling for this post, I came across this story about pets suffering from late night fireworks. But it was about Albany, GEORGIA. So we’re not the only Albany suffering.

For ABC Wednesday

“Their just powers from the consent of the governed”

Political parties would “push a narrow, self-interested agenda that would block the national interest” and “create a deadlocked and dysfunctional democracy” that would “leave citizens frustrated by inefficiency and ineffectiveness.”

Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I have found many things that have taken place on the political landscape in the last six months or so worthy of celebration.

There have been protests, many of them local, for banning the bomb, upholding women’s rights, protecting the immigrant and the refugee, saving the environment, and several other causes.

People are becoming actively engaged in the political process, working on special elections, running for office, or at least considering it. They are showing up at town halls when members of Congress come back to town.

The veil is coming off FOX “news”. Yet other news outlets are thriving.

A couple interviews on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah in June 2017, on successive days in June 2017, gave me encouragement. William J. Barber II is shifting the moral conversation about the poor, a group neither major candidate for President talked about last year. Among other things, Rev. Barber is the architect of the Forward Together Moral Monday Movement.

I was also taken by John Avlon. The Daily Beast’s Editor-in-Chief was promoting his new book “Washington’s Farewell: The Founding Father’s Warning to Future Generations.”

George Washington feared, he explained, that political parties would “push a narrow, self-interested agenda that would block the national interest” and “create a deadlocked and dysfunctional democracy” that would leave citizens “so frustrated by the inefficiency and ineffectiveness that it could open the door to a demagogue with authoritarian ambitions.”

And by demagogue, I mean “a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.”

So on this Independence Day, it is important to note the words of another of our Founders, Alexander Hamilton: “Of those men who have overturned the liberty of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by playing an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants.”

We must always push back against tyranny.