Narcos Mexico-Season 2

It’s more about thought than action, although plenty of people are shot and beat-up.

But it all comes down to this…do you want to be a cog in the system or control the system?

This is the issue confronting America today. Used to be the cogs were well-taken care of. They had high-paying jobs for life. With good health care. A line worker for GM could own a boat and go on vacation.

Not anymore.

Now no one believes the corporation is on their side. And the biggest winners are thieves, even though they’re lionized.

Like Bill Gates.

He charged for Windows even if you didn’t put it on the machine. Which dented Linux. Which ensured Windows’ triumph in the marketplace. But now he is lauded as a humanitarian.

What is that aphorism, “behind every great fortune lies a great crime”?

The only difference between Mexico and the U.S. is that in the U.S. it’s done under the appearance of legality, whereas in Mexico the corruption is visible right up front.

So, Felix Gallardo has a plan. He wants to unite the plazas and then stand up to the Colombian cocaine cartel. He wants to end internecine warfare and then stick it to the man.

The only problem is he can’t keep the plazas (i.e. regional cartels), in line. They’re all cowboys. Fighting each other. Like in the Democratic primary.

And one of Gallardo’s lieutenants ultimately says the price Felix extracts is too high.

So, you need to pay off the police. Pretty easy to do. Actually, Felix Gallardo started out as a policeman. You ultimately give them no choice. Corruption is better than death.

And then you pay off the politicians.

Gallardo is stumped when the new candidate won’t take his money. EVERYBODY needs his money.

Finally the real story outs. The new President plans to privatize much of the nation’s industry and the people he’s delivering for are fronting his campaign. AND IT HAPPENED! Before there were only three Mexicans on the Forbes list, after there were double-digits.

And you wonder how everybody got so rich.

The public has had enough. So a clean candidate is drafted and then the PRI, the party in control, rigs the election. It’s Felix’s idea. The key is to promote false results from Mexico City initially, so the voters in the rest of the country will become demoralized and not even bother to vote and the PRI candidate will win legally. When the subterfuge surfaces, the cartels just change the results, ensuring the new regime’s fealty to Felix.

Sound far-fetched?

Can you say “hanging chads”?

Can you say “voter suppression”?

Can you say “Iowa caucus”?

Forever America has convinced itself that it is the best, that it can’t happen here, but it has and continues to do so.

Kinda like the Donald last night. Stopping the coronavirus through his voice. And then, today, a whistleblower came out and said that the possibly infected returnees were greeted by government workers sans protection, who subsequently flew on planes all over the country:

U.S. workers without protective gear assisted coronavirus evacuees, HHS whistleblower says

When she raised her hand, she was reassigned! And why would anybody be a whistleblower anymore anyway, after impeachment. Trump was exonerated and then cleaned house, just like a drug lord. You can no longer rely on the rule of law.

Now if you want the definitive story of the Mexican drug war, read Don Winslow’s “Power of the Dog” trilogy. It’s fiction, but it nails it.

But “Narcos Mexico” is essentially true. You keep pinching yourself. Can this really happen?

And you recognize some of the names, like El Chapo.

And the elite of our government are in cahoots with the Mexicans, undercutting the agents in the field. And the DEA and the FBI are at war.

And it’s all about loyalty, just like with Trump.

And everyone needs to be taught a lesson, to stay in line, which is where Trump’s purge comes in.

Now I see these Mexicans in Vail, the resort is famous for it. They’re all wearing the latest fashions, even the children are wearing Bogner. And there are stories how some fly home and leave the clothing behind, the money doesn’t matter! Corruption sowed so many of those fortunes.

And there’s corruption here. It’s rampant. But the IRS has been hampered and it seems like almost all of the Wall Streeters get off while they extract cash from our economy and give nothing back. Wall Street used to build things, now it’s a business unto itself.

But in a country where we’re all in our own silos, we can’t unite and stand up to the man and the corruption.

Meanwhile, the news is a disinformation machine. Trump and Fox have made facts fungible, while decimating the reputations of other media, which rarely stand up to the man, they print false equivalencies.

And just like Trump is a vapid TV star, whose CV is shaky, what about all those people on TV news? Tune in. There’s no reporting, just bloviating. All the reporting is done by the NYT and the WaPo, which are quoted constantly.

As for the NYT…it’s on a single-minded mission to prevent Bernie Sanders from winning the nomination. Believing that the media can sway the mind-set of the people. But less than ever before. Bloomberg is spending all that money and he hasn’t won yet.

But he might.

And if he does, it’ll be just like Felix Gallardo. The strongman keeps the peace, the man with the money does it his way.

If Bloomberg wins it’ll be because people want protection, not because they believe in him. After all, he’s really a Republican.

Now the cartels are run like Mafia families, you don’t cross ’em and you can never get out. Which is why Trump’s cronies pledge fealty…they want the spoils and they’re afraid of what will happen to them if they go against the grain, I mean look at Vindman.

Everybody knows the story of Pablo Escobar, but he’s dead.

Once you move on to the Mexican drug-lords the story is more murky, if for no other reason than it’s still going on. We hear all about the opioid manufacturers. What we don’t hear is the Mexicans move in and sell cheap heroin to help the addicted with their fix, they’ll even deliver it to your house!

But most people don’t know this.

Most people don’t know much, and they’re susceptible to lies.

So, “Narcos Mexico” is a learning experience. Only one man (or woman) can be on top. It’s a fight for that spot. And you always have to be on guard, you can never relax. And keeping your organization in line is a full-time job, and you do it via violence, no one wants to die, then it’s over, done deal.

This is business today. All over the world. One person’s will herded over others, squeezing out the competition.

But they cover it up with their philanthropy, just like Pablo Escobar and these drug-lords.

So in Mexico you can’t stand up to the man. You literally get shot. You read the news, don’t you?

But it’s turning out that way in America too. You may not get shot, but they want to make sure you get no power. This is Bernie’s mission. Who cares what he’ll do in office, we want one of ours in there, who hopefully won’t be corrupted.

Because we’ve lost faith.

America is run by drug-lords just like Mexico. Only they hide behind names like Facebook and GM and…play your cards wrong and you lose power, like GE.

And there’s only one metric, MONEY!

Which is what the Dow is all about.

Come on, it doesn’t mean anything to you, right?

But to the big swinging dicks it does, this is how the keep score, this is how they gain entrance, this is how they raise money at low rates.

So, we’ve got a lack of sophistication crossed with strongmen, and they are mostly men.

Education is given lip service, but there’s no money for it.

Taxes have to be lowered so money can trickle down like a drug-lord builds a soccer field.

We were supposed to be different.

I’m not sure we are anymore.

Emilio Castillo-This Week’s Podcast

Emilio Castillo is the only person who’s been in every iteration of Tower of Power. It was a joy talking to Emilio, hearing how he formed the band, their various record deals, rehab, marriage, Bill Graham, Ted Templeman… Even if you think you’re not interested in TOP you will love Emilio’s stories, learning how he went from there to here.

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Tonight’s Debate

This election is about hope.

I am utterly astounded that the media and most of those running, never mind the consultants, just don’t get this. They believe this is a game, a known quantity, and he or she with the most experience and expertise wins.

But they are wrong. A tsunami has already wiped out that game, but the people with the most money and the most power are somehow unaware of this.

The people have been left out. Of not only the decisions, but the spoils.

Elizabeth Warren K.O.’ed Mike Bloomberg early, when she said he supported Lindsey Graham in his Senate run. Is there anything else you need to hear? Isn’t Graham public enemy #2? A weasel with no backbone who does what is expedient? No amount of support for good causes makes up for that and the other heinous candidates Bloomberg has supported over the years. As for stop and frisk…he said it was 95% wrong. Can you enlighten me as to the 5% where it was good? The guy’s been hammered over this policy for months but he still doesn’t get it, or maybe this is a wink to the racist who will sacrifice anything for law and order. The same people who are worried about online privacy, who pay lip service to people of color, but don’t want them living in their neighborhood, who are afraid whenever they’re out of their element.

But it’s too late for Warren. She displayed fight too late.

As for Mayor Pete…the more he talks, the less you like him. He’s a young ‘un who’s a traitor to his class. He keeps talking about gradual change, a return to what once was, while his brethren are paying off student debt and can’t afford to buy a house, never mind get a job at McKinsey.

Klobuchar has the same problem. I did it before, give me your trust. But that’s not what we want. We don’t want incremental change, we want revolution. Yup, despite Pete sneering at the concept as a relic of the sixties. This is what Trump delivered to his acolytes, a revolution. And all the left can do is say his supporters are wealthy or white supremacists. When the truth is blue collar voters pulled the lever for Trump because they wanted change. Forget that he’s a phony, forget that he’s not as rich as he says, forget that he got all that exposure on TV, Trump promised a right wing revolution, a return to what once was, and it may not be that great but he is certainly pulling the country there, what part of this does the media and the left not understand?

Trump promised to shake it all up. Don’t dig into the details of the tax cut for corporations and billionaires, look to him giving the middle finger to said media and the left. Meanwhile, those he scorns just laugh, and believe they’re better than his supporters, never mind those less fortunate who are still members of the Democratic Party.

Biden doesn’t get it. We’re not concerned with what you did, but what you’re gonna do! Barack Obama’s tenure was more a failure than a victory in the eyes of Bernie’s supporters. They believe Obama did not do enough to press their case, that he tried to negotiate with the right while it stonewalled him, that he just did not exercise his leverage. Trump’s credo was hope by jetting us to the past. That’s the Republican ethos. The Democratic ethos is just the opposite, we want to be jetted into the future!

Let’s forget Tom Steyer, everybody else has. It’s like a bad movie, no one from nowhere gets accidentally placed somewhere. Steyer comes across like Gomer Pyle in Mayberry, lacking sophistication and experience. Get off the stage, now!

So that leaves us with Bernie.

Even when the moderators teed it up the other candidates couldn’t deliver. Bloomberg couldn’t come up with an aphorism describing him, he just quoted himself!

Bernie quoted Nelson Mandela.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

A black man elected President?

Check!

Gay marriage?

Check!

Legal marijuana?

Check!

But Medicare for all no. Why?

Oh yeah, the insurance companies and the medical establishment don’t want it, and they own D.C. Most people want it, it’s doable, it’s been done not only in Denmark, but Canada and the U.K.

But it can’t happen here because of fear.

That’s what all the candidates other than Bernie were selling, fear. And we don’t need any more fear, it’s bad enough for us already, how much worse can it get?

We don’t want business as usual! We don’t want a return to what once was!

And it’s not only the lower classes and the millennials, it’s the boomers too.

Let me see…

You go to a good college and get a graduate degree but you find out you’re at the end of the line, the billionaires and the rest of the rich have bought up all the tickets and have got all the reservations at the restaurants. They employ not only their money, but their connections to make this happen. People kowtow to the ultra-rich, that’s the way it goes. Whether you’re an individual hankering for a ride on the private plane or Emily’s List. The playing field is not level for nearly everybody!

But those who are advantaged by this system are too blind to see this.

Credit the rich Republicans, they vote their pocketbooks, they do what’s right for them, they make no bones about it.

But only on the left do you get rich and powerful people saying they’re doing it for everybody else when in truth they’re just doing it for themselves. It’s even worse, they’ve got no idea how the rest of us live!

We want opportunity.

So the economy is roaring. How’s that gonna help me get a well-paying job? Sure, I can work at McDonald’s, but I can’t feed my family on that.

The rich and powerful have hoovered up not only concert tickets and restaurant reservations but college admissions too. That’s right, they’ve removed the ladder those on the bottom used to climb to the top. Instead of ask what you can do for your country, it’s all about asking what you can do for yourself!

It didn’t used to be this way.

Tax rates were sky high under Eisenhower, a Republican.

FDR instituted social security.

Income inequality hasn’t been this bad since the Gilded Age, we survived that but we can’t survive, can’t get rid of income inequality today?

And all this anti-government, anti-tax stuff.

If you’ve got a business, you’re nothing without customers, no one makes it on their own, you’ve got to cough up your share.

And the government provides roads and schools and…

Yup, the Republicans have relabeled public schools “government schools,” this is a wedge they’re employing to get public funding for parochial and private schools. The Republicans have renamed the Democratic Party…they keep saying it’s the “Democrat” Party. What do the Democrats do about this? Ignore it and fight amongst themselves. Just like the Republicans labeled Hillary and she lost, the same way they define the debate.

So we need a leader. And it’s certainly not the DNC, the gang that can’t shoot straight.

As for centrists… Turns out there are not that many. As there are not that many independents. We hear this blabbering…from Bloomberg tonight that we can’t alienate those who voted for Trump who might come back. Reminds me of my phone call with a manager after his household name act left him. He was telling me what he was gonna say when the act wanted to come back. I told him the act was never coming back, and it never has!

For a minute there, it looked like Warren was gonna get traction. She skewered Bloomberg, but then got gun-shy, she didn’t talk that much thereafter, instead we got Klobuchar bloviating that we should trust her.

We don’t trust anybody.

And all of the candidates went after Sanders, hard. But he always escaped. By taking a moment and then explaining his position. He’s the only one who can go up against Trump. Certainly not Bloomberg, with his lame jokes. Also, if that guy mails me one more time…Bloomberg has crossed the line from marketing to spam.

And when Bernie said that our enemies can sometimes do something right…

This is anathema to the yahoos. It’s all America all the time. And the Democrats are afraid of alienating anyone, so they buy into it, whereas Bernie admitted the world was chiaroscuro, which every thinking person knows, especially millennials. Bernie was speaking English when everybody else was speaking gobbledygook.

It’s over. The other candidates just didn’t play their cards right. They dismissed Bernie and then fell back into their usual raps, I did this, trust me here, I’m thinking about you…but that hasn’t worked here since 1969!

This election is about emotions, not facts.

Come on, if it was about facts, Trump would have no chance, no President has ever lied so much.

How do you feel about somebody?

And in a world where there’s a rainbow of color on television, where “Black Panther” is a hit, our country is not open only to the tall and good-looking. That’s another thing the media has wrong. Sure, looks matter. Bernie looks like a guy more interested in his ideas than his appearance, he looks like a guy who’s trying to get stuff done.

As for all the criticism about what he’s achieved in Congress…

We believe he’s been thwarted.

As for being thwarted as President?

Trump hasn’t been too thwarted, the chief executive has a lot of power these days.

As for coattails…

How about Obama, who had some of the worst coattails of all time, losing both houses of Congress and many statehouses…yup, that’s what we want.

We are at an inflection point. Either recognize this and make change or get out of the way.

The old tropes don’t work anymore. Bezos pledges $10 billion to the environment and he gets crap. Amazon pays no taxes and why should Bezos control the disbursement of these funds rather than we, the people?

All of the above may seem like hogwash to you.

But it doesn’t matter.

Bernie’s winning.

And he’s gonna beat Trump handily.

Trump just doesn’t work for most people. And returning to the Obama years is not that appealing to most. Stop citing his name, it’s a disadvantage. It all went sour under his watch. This is another thing the media and the candidates have wrong.

The polls say Sanders is the best candidate to run against Trump and most of them say Bernie will beat the Donald.

But the left wing elite, the cognoscenti, are selective in their use of facts, just like the right.

I’m worn out with the process. There’s nothing new here. The election should be June or July 1st, so we’re not subjected to inanities for nine more months.

But we all can’t take our eyes off the race because it’s the only thing that matters.

We cannot retreat into our lives. Music may soothe, but it’s out of touch with what’s happening. Movies too. Occasionally TV gets it right.

But the truth is life in these United States is a train-wreck. We know it, we feel it, there’s nothing you can say to change our minds. We’re sick and tired of it, we’re not gonna take it anymore. We’re all in on Bernie because he’s the only one speaking directly to us.

You’re just on the wrong side.

Train Playlist

Train Playlist

“Train Song”
Wendy Waldman

It’s got the rhythm of a train, just like “Midnight Rider” has got the rhythm of a galloping horse.

This is the opening cut from Wendy’s debut album “Love Has Got Me” which got a stellar review in “Rolling Stone,” which boosted her career.

They don’t make records like this anymore. Maybe because there’s no money to and anybody with a computer can upload their acoustic music and spam the public saying it’s great.

Wendy’s had a lot of covers, Robert Smith, yes, of the Cure, covered “Pirate Ships” from this LP.

And, of course, Maria Muldaur had her huge breakthrough hit with “Vaudeville Man.”

But as much as I like “Train Song,” I’d recommend you begin with the second side and “Old Time Love.” Which blends into “Vaudeville Man” and then my absolute favorite from the album, “Lee’s Traveling Song”:

Hitch a ride on a plane to California
My mind won’t let me be
Whoa, whoa, what will be my destiny

“Riding On A Railroad”
James Taylor

From “Mud Slide Slim,” the follow-up to “Sweet Baby James,” which contains the huge hit cover of Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend,” but I never cottoned to that.

There were three tracks I loved on this LP, and when CD players arrived in the eighties I’d program them and put them on endless repeat.

The above, “Machine Gun Kelly” and…

“You Can Close Your Eyes.”

Funny how decades later album tracks that were the best but did not get mainstream traction are acknowledged for their greatness. Like the Beach Boys’ “Til I Die.”

And James Taylor’s “You Can Close Your Eyes.”

“Hitchcock Railway”
Joe Cocker

From the second album, with “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,” “Delta Lady,” “Something” and “Dear Landlord.”

I’d say it’s a crime that Joe Cocker is not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but that institution has lost all credibility.

You probably don’t know this, you should!

“The Panama Limited”
Tom Rush

From Tom’s 1965 album, when many boomers were enamored of the Beatles and were unaware of the coffee house folk/blues music that had started on college campuses and had flourished amongst those just a bit older.

The original song is by Bukka White, but Tom Rush popularized it along with songs by James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne.

Seek out and go to a Tom Rush show, he performs “The Panama Limited” just as well as he ever did, it’s a treat.

“Train Ride”
Rhino Bucket

The right band at the wrong time.

1990 was the year of Mariah Carey, pop was making a comeback, MTV was steering away from the hair bands to pop and rap. And this music was not rare back then, but it is now.

Then again, some of the lyrics wouldn’t work in the #MeToo era. Like the opening cut, “One Night Stand.”

If this is your sound, and it appeals to many, you’re gonna dig this.

If it was released today this album would be a smash. It seems like this formula has been lost, pull it up and listen to the first four tracks, “One Night Stand,” “Beg For Your Love,” “Train Ride” and “Going Down Tonight.”

“Can’t You See”
The Marshall Tucker Band

Seems like more people remember “Heard It In A Love Song,” but this cut, the second from their debut, was their absolute best. Back when songs were long, went through movements.

Toy Caldwell passed over a quarter century ago, but he’s an unheralded writer/player/singer, truly great.

“Two Trains”
Little Feat

From “Dixie Chicken,” the title track of which seems to be the only cut which has survived. Even Bonnie Raitt’s cover of “Fool Yourself” seems to have been forgotten.

This is Lowell George’s pinnacle, and when it didn’t instantly go gold, it seems like he got further into drugs and…he slowly retreated from his own band, at least in terms of songwriting.

Yes, Billy Payne turned out to be an all-star, but Lowell George was a member of the pantheon, a god.

There are his vocals, so mellifluous, and he never oversang.

And his slide…

And his ability to fade into the woodwork yet not be forgotten. He added subtleties to so many of your favorite records.

Start with the totally forgotten “Juliette.” You need know manual, no key to get into it, to understand it.

Then “Fool Yourself.”

Then go to “Roll Um Easy,” of which J.D. Souther does a great cover.

And, of course, “Fat Man In The Bathtub.”

And finally the definitive take of Allen Toussaint’s “On Your Way Down.” This is not made for a party, to bump your asses, it’s to be played long after dark, maybe in darkness, maybe when you’re alone.

And, remember:

The same dudes you misuse on your way up
You might meet up on your way down

“It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry”
“Super Session”

From the second side, with the legendary eleven minute cover of Donovan’s “Season Of The Witch.”

A completely different version than the Dylan original, all the focus is on Mike Bloomfield’s contribution to this album, but Stephen Stills holds his own, but somehow he’s been labeled difficult and doesn’t get his due.

“Downbound Train”
Bruce Springsteen

My favorite cut on “Born In The U.S.A,” it was never a single and no one ever talks about it, but it evidences a feeling, of losing, of being a cog in the system, of believing the game is rigged against you.

“The City of New Orleans”
Arlo Guthrie

Does anybody remember this was written by Steve Goodman? Does anybody remember Steve Goodman?

“Night Train”
Steve Winwood

Right smack dab in the middle of side two of “Arc Of A Diver,” an album that sold prodigiously, but at this late date people only seem to talk about the hit, “While You See A Chance,” maybe “Spanish Dancer,” but this is the essence for me, genius, I never burn out on it, I listen to it on a regular basis.

This is another cut that’s got the rhythm of a chugging train. And it feature’s Winwood’s stellar guitar playing (go see him and hear him perform “Dear Mr. Fantasy”) as well as his keyboard and vocal chops.

“Trans-Europe Express”
Kraftwerk

“Autobahn” was seen as a novelty. Little did the hoi polloi know Kraftwerk would end up the most influential act in electronic music.

Now if you lived in L.A., you ultimately heard “Pocket Calculator” on KROQ, from the act’s best album, 1981’s “Computer World” (talk about being ahead of your time). But the essence of that album is not “Pocket Calculator,” seen as a novelty itself, but “Computer Love.”

Kraftwerk ran out of gas. Only one original member is still in the act. It seems just when people were waking up to the influence of Kraftwerk, they lost the inspiration and stopped making new music.

“Trans-Europe Express” sounds like you’re on the train, in the middle of the night, wide awake, watching the cities go by.