Nothin’ But The Truth

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There’s no room for white men in the Democratic Party, hardworking individuals who believe they’re doing the right thing and just want to feed their families, and drink a little beer…

That’s what Van Jones said on the David Axelrod podcast.

I’ll be honest, it’s been too surreal. Like we’re living in a sci-fi/horror movie, but when the monster comes on nobody laughs and the lights never go up, and you start to realize half of the audience is with you and half is against, and the half that’s against, they want their pound of flesh.

That’s right, it’s a “Merchant Of Venice” reference, hopefully they still teach Shakespeare in high school, although I skipped the bard in college because the egotist blowhard teaching the subject rubbed me the wrong way, I couldn’t imagine spending a whole semester with him.

And many people can’t imagine spending four more years with a Democrat.

That’s another thing Van Jones said in that podcast, that when he left Tennessee for Yale Law School the students in New Haven made fun of him, even the African-Americans, he didn’t know the words, he wasn’t as well read, he didn’t go to Stanford, never mind Andover, he was behind the curve. Jones decided to beat these wankers at their own game, by reading, which is what put these people ahead of him in the first place. And I experienced that firsthand, at Middlebury, I thought the guy pronouncing Celtic with a “K” was an uneducated nitwit, but it was I who was uninformed, I went to a college composed of 45% prep school graduates, taught me a thing or two, which most people never learn. That was the advantage of going to Middlebury, seeing how the other half lived. Most people never see how the other half lives. And the other half… In their NPR holier-than-thou attitude they become hatable, and are rejected.

Van Jones said that too. Very gently. I’m histrionic, he’s calm. And when he talked about fathers…

My mind was blown. You see you can’t be a man anymore, they don’t need men, and of course I’m overstating, but the truth is there’s no discussion of rape, not amongst reasonable people, it’s a third rail topic, taboo, and someone accused is guilty, in some cases even if proven innocent. And I don’t mean women aren’t taken advantage of, I’m not saying that when they come forth their lives aren’t ruined, all I’m saying is if you’re a man, you can shut up…

Or vote for Donald Trump.

There, I said it.

I don’t want to hear any more about the popular vote, or the lack of turnout. Donald Trump won, fair and square. By the rules as written. Try to change them if you want, but we couldn’t even pass the Equal Rights Amendment, good luck.

So, if we want change, we have to start with ourselves. We have to cast aside our own prejudices, be more accepting, let others into the tent, otherwise the Democratic Party is doomed. It can’t win with only the intelligentsia and the Latinos and African-Americans, Trump just proved that.

Not that I’m not scared, I’m scared plenty.

Did you see that story in the “New York Times,” about an increase in hate activity on campus since the election, brazen actions? Is it trumped up or real, who knows, because the truth is I can no longer trust the “Times,” not because the right wing denigrated it, but because it got it so wrong, and is so old school, believing the institution is more important than its employees. No, we live in a world of stars, and they keep leaving the “Times,” because there’s no room for them to stretch out and be them, whether it be Nate Silver or Frank Rich. All we’ve got left is faceless workers beholden to the Gray Lady, and that just sucks.

But the point is, we’re all Jews now, we’re all African-Americans.


Can I tell you about the time they spray-painted “Jew” and a Star of David on my garage? How did they know? I’d only been living in my abode briefly and hadn’t interacted with anybody!

Be very afraid.

That’s Tavis Smiley’s point, that we’re all African-Americans now, who’ve been enduring hatred and discrimination from time immemorial, now we know what it feels like. And we know you can never give up on fighting back.

But right now I’m reeling.

I certainly can’t believe in media institutions, it wasn’t only the “Times” that got it wrong, it’s like everybody ignored an entire swath of Americans. Not all Trump voters are bad people, but when they’re constantly told they are, when they keep ceding economic territory as the elites fight over microaggressions, they dig their heels in in protest. It’s kind of like rioters burning down their own neighborhoods. You might think it’s stupid, but when you’ve got nothing and no one’s paying attention you don’t care. And after the Rodney King verdict rioters invaded Hollywood. Are we safe in America or not?

I’m worried about the Supreme Court.

But I don’t think the average person even knows how it works. That the justices hold the legality of abortion in their own little hands, that they ride herd over voter laws and corporate donations and so much more. It’s always the fine print that’ll get you. But no one cares about the fine print anymore, but how could you, every time you download new software, which seemingly happens every day, you’ve got to agree to conditions that even a lawyer couldn’t decipher, that take away all your rights and force you into arbitration.


I’m not sure where I fit in anymore.

And I’m not the only one.

But one thing I know for sure is Mac McAnally’s song “Nothin’ But The Truth” has been playing in my head this week. Because of these lines:

I was knockin’ around in the grocery store, baby
On the night of the last election

Songs hook us up to the universe, they not only build culture, they give us something to grab on to. And it only matters if the song is important to us, no chart or sales action can convince us otherwise, it’s an emotional response.

Mac McAnally was the new country hope. And with the launch of his eponymous label David Geffen decided to conquer all genres. He signed Mac. Mac’s album failed.

It came out in 1983. I’m holding the vinyl in my hands right now. This was just before CDs, I’ve still got all my records, not for the fidelity so much as the history, this is my life, I bought each and every one, I know them all. It may be worthless information to you, but it’s everything to me.

We was flippin’ the pages in the bookstore, baby
When I realized we hit the skids
I got a book about contraceptives
And you got a book about kids

Differences, they can break up a relationship.

But if you stay with “Nothin’ But The Truth” you find out that is not the case in this instance:

We’ve been together for so long, baby
We both have had the urge to leave
With our little white lies and our look away eyes
It is ourselves that we deceive
We believe that we might have done better
But we both know we could’ve done a lot worse
Were stayin’ right here
And it’s nothin’ but the truth we curse

We ain’t moving to Canada. Where it’s pretty good, in many ways better than the U.S.A., I go all the time, some of my best friends are from the Great White North.

But we were born here. Or we immigrated here. And we live here. This is our land, from California to the New York island.

That’s right, that’s a song, one both the left and the right know. From an era where our music brought us together as opposed to tearing us apart.

I love that Katy Perry stumped for Hillary, but I come up empty when I look for the message in her music, other than girl power, what is it?

And Beyonce… She’s taking a stand, but it’s so wrapped up in costumes and production, the penumbra, that the light has a hard time shining through. Once upon a time the music was enough, can it be that way again?

And as far as the great white hope Bruce Springsteen… He’s 67. He hasn’t had a hit in years. And I’m gonna go on record and say that his bio is damn near unreadable. Sure, he wrote it himself, but just because you’re a great songwriter that does not mean you’re a great book writer. But we keep hearing the same press that said Hillary couldn’t lose tell us that Springsteen’s book is a classic, even though I haven’t heard it brought up in conversation since the initial hype died down. That’s how it is today, they hype it and we forget it, it’s not important to us at all.

But Bruce Springsteen was important once.

We just need new artists to be important today.

And we need leaders, who watch the parking meters.

Artists are just signposts, vessels, they can point the way, but we need others to rise to the challenge, to do the work.

Say what you want about his policies, but one thing’s for sure, Bernie Sanders is a rock star, that’s his appeal.

And so is Donald Trump.

You might despise him, like Jim Dandy of Black Oak Arkansas, or Ted Nugent, but the point is…they appeal to somebody, that’s how they got their fame, that’s how they got their celebrity.

The biggest star in the Democratic Party is Elizabeth Warren. Did you see her on Rachel Maddow last night? She was inspiring. Because she speaks the truth and fights back.

We need people to fight back, not just tell us how much better than us they are.

But that’s the America we live in, where the winners believe they’re entitled to their success, that the little people had nothing to do with it, that they didn’t purchase their wares, and the purveyors know better.

Let me tell you, you don’t need to go to Harvard to know which way the wind blows.

But it helps.

But the goal is not to get too big for your britches, not to forget where you came from, that’s what Van Jones’s dad told him, a man who was brought up in poverty and eventually became a school principal.

Live long enough and you’ll discover we’re all equal. Just because you had rich parents and went to a good school that does not mean your kids won’t get addicted to dope, your spouse won’t leave you, you won’t get cancer and you won’t go bankrupt. Bad stuff happens. And you’ve got to have compassion for others.

True, right now the right wing has no compassion for us.

But, we dug in our heels and lost.

Now it’s time to try a different tack.

Now it’s time to touch people’s souls.

With nothin’ but the truth.

Ep. 95 – Van Jones – The Axe Files with David Axelrod

“Tavis Smiley: Donald Trump Must Be Held Accountable”

“Campuses Confront Hostile Acts Against Minorities After Donald Trump’s Election”

“Senator Warren: ‘We stand up and we fight back'”

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