Keiko Matsui Takes A “Journey To the Heart”

Keiko Matsui (photo: © Jordan Perlman. All Rights Reserved. )

Out of pain comes growth and in 2007, Keiko Matsui, emerged from a divorce, record label troubles, and embraced her new singularity by striking out in a bold new direction as she traveled to South Africa, paired up with trumpeter Hugh Masakela and the results was the adventurous Moyo, one of the brightest and best recordings of a 30-year career.

Fast forward nine years and Matsui’s back at it again with Journey To The Heart,  a spirited and joyful project that brims with equal parts euphoric passion and unbridled brilliance as Matsui seems invigorated as a player, composer, and bandleader. Paired with a drum-head tight new band, this is her finest album in nearly a decade.

Don’t call it world beat. Put a Japanese pianist in the studio with a Cuban bassist and drummer, (Del Puerto and Branley) add a guitarist from Peru (Stagnero) and a percussionist from Venzuela (Quintero) then just for grins invite a dazzling harmonica player from Switzerland (Maret) to join in on the festivities, and what you have is Matsui’s 27th album as a leader as she stakes out a bold new direction as she moves into more acoustic music. Intact is her signature precision on the piano and her stately compositions and arrangements.

I don’t have any proof,  but I wonder if Matsui stripping down her sound to a more acoustic setting has anything to do with another Japanese pianist, Hiromi Uehara unplugging with her Trio Project to positive reviews.   It’s possible, if not provable…

It takes supreme confidence in yourself and your fellow musicians to reign in and allow them to take the lead and compliment them instead of relegating them to little more than sidemen. Taking few solos here, Matsui has always been willing to unselfishly share the spotlight as her duet with Greigoire Maret on the riveting “Two Harbors” is ample evidence of.

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“Moving On” and “Carnival” are two romper stompers featuring guitarist Ramon Stagnero who nimbly navigates his way as Matsui trades leads with him until percussionist Luis Quintero brings it home. It’s exciting to follow in a way Matsui’s recent outings with studio pros were not.

Too many musicians reach a stage in their careers where they seemingly say, “That’s good enough. I’ve done a few different things. I can just keep making the same old same old with different titles and it will sell.” Maybe that’s true for a dinosaur rock band content to go on stage and crank out the hits, but for a jazz artist, that is a shortcut to stagnation and musical death.

When jazz musicians play it safe and are content to just make the donuts, it ceases to be jazz and becomes instrumental pop without vocals and who needs that? Keiko Matsui will never get her proper due for remaining true to the spirit of innovators and risk-takers who elevated the idiom, but Journey To The Heart serves as the testimonial she’s richly deserving of the accolades.

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“We need to find that common bond in our hearts. People are dying with violence, hunger and war. This music is my new journey,” explains  Matsui. “It is an evolution in many ways. I hope I can make a path and make some noise and leave a positive effect on the world. This is my mission and I am dedicating my music to this cause.”
Track Listing: Moving On; Carnival; The Edge of Twilight; Butterfly; Casablanca; Journey To The Heart; Havana Nights; New Beginning; Two Harbors; Blue Rose

Personnel: Keiko Matsui: piano; Carlitos Del Puerto: bass; Jimmy Branley: drums; Ramon Stagnero: guitars; Luis Quintero: percussion; Gregoire Maret: harmonica; JP Mourao; additional guitar (2), Randy Waldman; string arrangement (4, 6, 8); Gary Stockdale: string arrangement (10)

Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Shanachie Records | Style: Modern Jazz

(This review originally appeared in a different form at All About Jazz)

Donald Trump’s Worst Enemy Will Always Be Donald Trump

Here lies an American hero.


Here is an American liar.

Since he entered the race, Trump has insulted, mocked and picked fights with every Republican candidate and nearly every Democratic candidate, the wives of several candidates, the Pope, a reporter with a disability, Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims, pregnant women, the U.S. military, Europe, African-Americans, the media, and pretty much anybody who crossed him in any way, shape or form.

Going after Khizr and Ghazala Khan feels like a different sort of fight. This feels like a fight Trump can lose and lose badly. Taking on a Gold Star mother and father who are Muslim Americans that lost their son in defense of this country by a rich man’s brat who ducked military service and none of his brats have served either is a cowardly move. But that’s what Trump is: a coward. A gutless, craven, unprincipled, coward.

Every little insult prompts Trump to respond even when he shouldn’t and the Trump vs. The Khans fight is the one he shouldn’t have taken on as Trump is taking fire from both enemies and allies. Trump would sooner pull off that dyed dead raccoon off his head than ever apologize and as long as he can wave it away as refusing to bow to “political correctness” he won’t. If and When his supporters who seemingly are impervious to being offended by anything Trump says, finally find something even they are troubled by he will have to.

If Trump has no decency in him his supporters will have to find their own.

Picking a fight with Gold Star parents is dumb but Donald Trump is a big dummy.

Khizr Khan On NPR’s All Things Considered “I will do it [a] million times, I will do it louder, I will do it forcefully,” Khan told Kelly McEvers, host of NPR’s All Things Considered. “I’ll do it [a] hundred million times — now is the time for the rest of the world to see the true America, the decent America, the good America.”

But let’s not get carried away,yet. Trump had a bad week and he brought it all on himself, but it doesn’t mean he won’t have any good weeks. Even now, Clinton is still sticking her foot in her mouth over her damn emails saying FBI director James Comey cleared her of any wrongdoing when he did no such thing. Now there are hints, allegations and things unsaid the Clinton Foundation and the State Department were enjoying a cozy relationship.

It was truly a blessing for Clinton she drew the Trump Card as her opponent. With her low likability and even lower credibility with many voters, she might well be losing to Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, or even Ted Cruz. They would make mistakes too, but not like Trump’s mistakes.

Everything about Trump screams of terminal testosterone poisoning (we should be so lucky). That, or he has a microscopic penis. His desperate need to prove how tough he is and how he’d be merciless and pitiless to terrorists, suspected terrorists, families of terrorists, and anybody who says anything mean about Donald Trump screams of overcompensation.

I regret my amusement of last year. I should have been more suspicious of the capacity of the American people to discern genuine and authentic conservatism from swaggering macho posturing. Regrettably, I overestimated my fellow citizens who have been suckered into believing a con man who consciously and consistently avoided military service, denigrates Gold Star families, former P.O.W’s, and our current active duty soldiers, and fantasizes about dropping nukes on enemies, somehow projects “strength” and a bold America that can stare down anybody and make them take a backward step.

I fully expect should he show up for their first debate, at some point Trump will unzip his fly, pull out The Trump Tower, and sneer at Hillary Clinton, “Mine’s bigger than yours.” The mouth-breathers will love it.

There is no low too low for Donald Trump and he proved it yet again.

Trump TweetsThat was bad.  Really bad.   But Trump being Trump means there’s no bottom.    What’s smearing a grieving mother and father mean when you can suggest someone might shoot  Hillary Clinton if she’s elected?

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,.  Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Congratulations, Donald. You just made yourself responsible if anything happens to Hillary Clinton for the rest of this election.

Beating Trump was always Job One this election season. Getting Clinton elected and making Mitch McConnell the minority leader again was always of paramount importance, but not to the degree of keeping Trump out of the White House and away from the vast powers of the presidency was.

Now it’s not enough to beat Trump. Now he needs to be crushed. Squashed like a scuttling cockroach across the kitchen floor. Mashed into bits of viscera and bone, never to rise again and contaminate the American body politic with his disgustingly boorish coarseness and gross vulgarity again.

Beating Trump is no longer good enough. Defeating him is not enough. He must be humiliated and his failure must be massive, epic in scope and complete in its awful destructiveness.

“I’ll just keep doing the same thing I’m doing right now,” Trump told CNBC. “And at the end, it’s either going to work, or I’m going to, you know, I’m going to have a very, very nice, long vacation.”

Let’s send Donald on vacation. A real, LONG vacation.

Man Who Talks To Empty Chair Shares Equally Empty Opinions.

Donald Trump just emerged from a self-imposed Week in Political Purgatory, and that’s not good news for The Trumpster, but it’s not all bad. At least The Man With No Name Who Talks To Chairs appreciates him.

Clint Eastwood says that he hasn’t endorsed any candidate for president, but given a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, he’d choose the latter.

“That’s a tough one, isn’t it? I’d have to go for Trump … you know, ’cause she’s declared that she’s gonna follow in Obama’s footsteps,” Eastwood says in Esquire’s September issue. “There’s been just too much funny business on both sides of the aisle. She’s made a lot of dough out of being a politician. I gave up dough to be a politician. I’m sure that Ronald Reagan gave up dough to be a politician.”

Eastwood was clear that he hasn’t endorsed anyone — “I haven’t talked to Trump. I haven’t talked to anybody.” — but he was praiseworthy of the Republican nominee for being “onto something, because secretly everybody’s getting tired of political correctness, kissing up.”

In fact, Eastwood said that “we’re really in a pussy generation. Everybody’s walking on eggshells. We see people accusing people of being racist and all kinds of stuff. When I grew up, those things weren’t called racist.”

He added, “You know, he’s a racist now because he’s talked about this judge. And yeah, it’s a dumb thing to say. I mean, to predicate your opinion on the fact that the guy was born to Mexican parents or something. He’s said a lot of dumb things. So have all of them. Both sides. But everybody—the press and everybody’s going, ‘Oh, well, that’s racist,’ and they’re making a big hoodoo out of it. Just fucking get over it. It’s a sad time in history.”

Fucking A and Hell Yeah! That’s right! Racism? That’s sooooooo politically correct. Just fucking get over it!   Look at Trump and his supporters.  They’re over racism except when they say they’re being discriminated based upon being White.

An actor who plays made-up characters chats with his imaginary friend

An actor who plays made-up characters chats with his imaginary friend

Eastwood is right that it’s a sad time in history, but what’s even sadder is when people you liked when you were both young turn into somebody you can’t stand when you both get old and nothing screams Old Guy Talkin’ Like a  Gibbering Idiot than beginning a sentence with  “When I grew up…”

When you grew up Clint it was still a popular way to spend a slow Friday night by burning down Black folks houses and lynching the ones who complained! That your idea of The Good Ol’ Days? You feeling a bit wistful and misty-eyed about the open bigotry of your youth, Clint?

Anybody got Clint’s address? I’d like to send him some fan mail.

Dear Clint

Yeah, I know we’re all a bunch of p.c. pussies today and not real men like you who drop babies all over the country and scream at chairs, but I gotta tell ya, man, it would be a lot easier to “fucking get over” racism if old bastards like you would stop being so fucking racist.

Signed,

A Black Guy Who Loves Your Movies Though You Haven’t Made A Really Good One Since “Million Dollar Baby” But Hates How You Turned Into a Just Another Old White Guy Who Thinks His Age Gives Him the Right To Say Stupid Shit.

Resting Bitch Face Eastwood Style.

RNC 2016: The Audacity of A Dope

I’m with Stupid.

I didn’t watch the first night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and I don’t plan on watching any other nights either. I did hear something about Melania Trump, Donald’s mail order bride engaging in an absurd act of plagiarism and from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech to the Democratic National Convention, no less.

The audacity of such dopiness deserves breaking my blog silence. For those wanting the relevant passages to compare, read ’em and draw your own conclusions:

Mrs. Trump, Monday night:
“From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily lives. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

Mrs. Obama, in her 2008 speech:
“Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them. And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them onto the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.

Mrs. Trump:
“I was born in Slovenia, a small, beautiful and then-communist country in Central Europe. My sister, Ines, who is an incredible woman and a friend, and I were raised by my wonderful parents. My elegant and hardworking mother, Amalija, introduced me to fashion and beauty. My father, Viktor, instilled in me a passion for business and travel. Their integrity, compassion and intelligence reflects to this day on me and for my love of family and America.”

Mrs. Obama in 2008:
“And I come here as a daughter — raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue-collar city worker and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.”

What say you, gentle readers? Is Mrs. Trump an innocent conveyor of words coincidentally complied as a previous presidential aspirant’s spouse once did or is she guilty as hell of deliberately and purposefully ripping off Michelle Obama?

Set aside the sadistic schadenfreude of Melania Trump’s face-plant before a national audience, it can be reasonably argued her shitty speech was no better or worse than all the other shitty speeches I ignored in Day #1 of the Republican National We Hate Barry and Hillary Convention. However, not being important is not the same as not mattering.

When your best argument against the other candidate is they are dishonest and crooked and gets away with lying and then you lift entire sections from a speech made in public eight years ago, that goes past arrogance and headlong into stupid. Every word Melania Trump uttered was going to be recorded, fact-checked and stress tested. How long did campaign manager Paul Manifort think it would take before somebody stirred in their chair and said, “Say…that sure sounds familiar…?

For nobody on Team Trump to have caught this isn’t incompetence. It’s knowing their base won’t give a fuck.

This is how the Trump “campaign” does it. They lie and they lie loud and long and when they’re caught in the lie, they deny they lied in the first place, but if they did, it’s Clinton’s fault! Only groupies. blind partisans, and idiots let Trump get away with this shit and don’t believe the truth matters when they’re being lied to right in their face. David Frum lists ten reasons why Melania’s howler feeds into the narrative that the Trump “campaign” is like Indiana Jones making it up as they go along.

1) Melania Trump’s speech was the first and best opportunity to humanize Donald Trump. That opportunity was not only wasted, but the whole project of humanizing Trump has become a farce that will haunt the later attempts by Trump’s children to undo Monday night’s debacle.

Trump Family Values

3) Since Sunday, every journalist at this convention has been collecting examples of the Trump campaign’s failures and incompetence: the quarrel with Ohio Governor John Kasich, the absent senators and governors, the no-show donors, the convention’s financial embarrassments, the floor fight over rules, the lack of a proper schedule, and the defective apps and other technology. Suddenly, there is one easy-to-understand incident that encapsulates in one grim joke all this convention’s cavalcade of derp.

5) Trump has just vividly demonstrated that his campaign—never mind the campaign, he himself—have zero skill at crisis management. Confronted with this comically absurd failure, their instinct is not only to lie, shift blame, and refuse responsibility, but to do so in laughably unbelievable ways. It’s all a big joke when the crisis in question is a plagiarized speech by a would-be first lady. It won’t be so funny when a President Trump tries to manage a truly life-and-death crisis in the same blundering, dopey, and cowardly way.

9) Plagiarism draws attention to content of the passage plagiarized. In 2008, Michelle Obama summed up the values that she had learned from her parents and that she and Barack Obama now tried to instill in their children: work hard; tell the truth; keep your promises; treat others with dignity and respect. Donald Trump epically does not tell the truth, does not keep his promises, and does not treat others with dignity and respect. A plagiarized speech (and the failure to detect the plagiarism) pretty strongly confirms that the Trumps do not much care about hard work, either. “Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea, thine own lips testify against thee.”

Plagiarism MATTERS. Or at least it should, unless we accept when we’re talking Trump, the rules do not apply. I do not accept. The first night of the Republican convention is a bit early for a Clint Eastwood’s Chair moment but whoomp there it is.

Grumpy Old Man Gets Older and Grumpier

McCain in a bad light.

Remember when John McCain was the Reasonable Republican leader?   If you do, you’re showing your age.  That Johnny Mac is long gone.  This is who he is now.  A grumpy 79-year-old man who having got punked by Donald Trump.  In 2008,  McCain screwed his presidential chances by selecting Sarah Palin.   Now he sounds like Sarah Palin.

“Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaida went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures, utter failures, by pulling everybody out of Iraq. “So the responsibility for it lies with President Barack Obama and his failed policies.”
~ Sen. John McCain, 06/17/16

What in the entire fuck is wrong with McCain?  Is this just a Republican senator taking on a Democratic politics in the usual “I don’t like this guy since he beat my ass eight years ago and took the job I deserved, so I’m gonna hate on him and blame him for the worst mass murder in recent history.”

Politics are involved, all right. The politics of “I’m in a tough reelection fight and I can’t afford to piss off Donald Trump voters so even though he totally disrespected me, I’m gonna out-Trump Trump.”

McCain is in a harder primary fight than he expected, and even if he wins it he faces a strong Democratic challenger in the fall. He’s trying to save his ass and to do so he’s joined the lunatic fringe. If Trump had said the same damn thing everyone would shrug it off as the latest word vomit spewed from his rancid piehole. We’ve come to expect The Donald’s special disdain of truth and facts.

But this is Johnny Mac. Big-time war hero. P.O.W. Soldier. American hero. For him to shit out this garbage doesn’t lessen Barack Obama, but it does diminish McCain. It makes him small and it makes him look weak and like an old pol who’s hung on too fucking long, and right about now, those are things he can’t afford to be.

“I misspoke” is bullshit. Weak-ass BULLSHIT. It was bullshit as an excuse as Trump saying he was “misconstrued” in his bigoted attacks on Judge Curiel and it’s bullshit when a U.S. Senator accuses the President for being personally culpable for the deaths of 49 people. It’s worse when McCain does it, because when his mouth disengages from his brain, people actually listen and many of us can’t believe what we’re hearing from him.

Let’s apply John McCain’s twisted logic to his favorite person: John McCain. As a fighter pilot during the Viet Nam war, McCain was a pilot and part of the Operation: Rolling Thunder bombing campaign of North Vietnam. Estimates of civilians killed in the bombing vary between 52,00 and 182,000 killed, and critics of the war say villages and hospitals were targeted. McCain was personally involved in 23 combat missions.

A small man continuing to grow smaller.

A small man continuing to grow smaller.

Applying the senator’s reasoning to himself, instead of running for reelection as a war hero shouldn’t he be prosecuted as a war criminal instead?

Ludicrous? Absurd? Ridiculous? Sure, but so is Johnny Mac as he bows down to Trumpism, the philosophy of the guy who said about McCain, “I like people who weren’t captured.”

I like people who don’t run scared and talk out their ass.

First You Pray. Then You Act.

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Any country which has made the conscious decision to defend its guns over its own children has gone mad. If you can’t get some sensible gun laws passed when they’re carrying out the bodies of slaughtered children, you’re not going to get it when they’re carrying out the bodies of slaughtered gays and lesbians.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother to TRY.    I’m  damn tired of maniacs using the Second Amendment to shield them from scrutiny and give them the means to get assault weapons and other tools to commit mass murder.  IF we allow what happened at the Pulse nightclub to go by with nothing more than prayers and hand-wringing, we are going to see another maniac try to beat Omar Mateen’s body count.

What we do is taking it to Congress and we can start by calling and writing our U.S. Senators and demanding they answer this question:   What are YOU going to do to prevent another mass shooting like the one in Orlando?

I’ll provide the contact information for your senator at the end of this post.   Today, I came across a call to action from a man I know and respect,  Phil Martin.   Phil is the former executive director of Stonewall Columbus, a founder of the Columbus Gay Men’s Choir and a professor at North Central State College.    He is a conscientious activist, a passionate advocate and a stand-up dude and all-around damn fine human being.

I asked Phil if I could share here what he shared on Facebook and here it is:

When you get done being upset or sad…get angry!! REALLY ANGRY!!!

I’m ANGRY because our legislators are bought and paid for by the gun lobby!

I’m ANGRY because our spineless congress won’t do a God. Damn. Thing.

I’m ANGRY because this country has already said it is ok to kill first graders (Sandyhook), high school kids (Columbine), college kids (Virginia Tech), shoppers (Killeen, TX), and even soldiers (Fort Hood)…so what will it matter that a slew of young gay folks were killed??

I’m ANGRY because this will simply set a new record that someone will try to beat when they easily get their hands on these weapons of mass destruction.

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I’m ANGRY at all the politicians telling us to pray for the victims! When you’re done praying, get up off of your knees, STAND UP and demand that something be DONE for the victims!!

But most of all, I’m ANGRY because I’m TIRED OF BEING ANGRY!!!

Something MUST change!! Don’t vote for spineless politicians!! STAY ANGRY and hold our elected officials accountable!!! They have blood on their hands…and if we don’t do something, we do too!

I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I don’t want blood on my hands.   Well, maybe I want Mateen’s, but the Orlando SWAT team beat me to it.    That’s still no excuse for the 45 Senators who blocked background checks for gun purchases in the wake of the Sandy Hook rampage.   Many of them are still in Congress and every last mother’s son and daughter among them should have to answer for it now.

One of my representatives, Sherrod Brown voted correctly.  The other, Rob Portman did not and he is up for reelection in November.    Portman was considered vice-president material by Mitt Romney in 2012, but was passed over for Paul Ryan instead.   It was rumored what knocked Portman out of consideration was his vocal support for his son who had come out as a gay man.

The Orlando terrorist targeted the Pulse nightclub because it was popular with the LGBTQ community and Mateen reportedly was offended when he saw two men kissing.   Gay men like Rob Portman’s son.   Now there’s some irony in there.   Portman needs to account for his 2013 vote and what he’s going to do for the dead gay sons of other fathers gunned down in a spasm of hate and blood.

This is the phone and email information for the Senators of the 114th Congress.  Take a stand.  Ask the questions and don’t stop asking until you get the answers.

http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

orlando-shooting-0612-exlarge-169

Do not let this happen again because you did nothing now.

Hillary Makes History…To Be Continued.

In case there was any confusion.

First things first.   With all the faux drama of “What’s Bernie Gonna Do?” and “Ooh! The Donald Can Read a Teleprompter. How So Very Presidential of Him!” it should not be lost as the 2016 primaries come to a close  for the first time in American history a major political party has chosen a woman as its presidential nominee.

You can like it or you can lump it, but I think its a pretty goddamn significant moment for this country.    I get it some folks may not have set their alarm clocks and waking up to the reality of Hillary Clinton being the Democratic nominee for President of the United States may cause them to crawl back in bed and pull the covers over their heads, but it’s not going to help.

What happens next after the primaries are over (or all but over as the District of Columbia votes next week) is the winner starts consolidating the various factions of the party to form a united front against the other party’s top dog.   Usually, that’s how it plays out, but like everything else this political season, Bernie Sanders is making noises he’s got his own playbook and he’s not ready to make nice with Clinton.

This should surprise no one.   The Democrats are calling for unity, but Sanders has little inclination to heed the call.

Feeling Berned

The clock has chimed midnight and the masks are off. Tell me something I didn’t already know. There’s many reasons to slag Debbie Wasserman Schultz for the shit job she’s done as the DNC head, but the top reason is she should NEVER have allowed Sanders to run as a Democrat when he is not a Democrat, has not been a Democrat and will never be a Democrat.

Sanders has perpetrated a fraud and now that he’s over, done, cooked, toasted, roasted, basted, marinated and served up, he’s gone into his full Grumpy McCrankypants mode threatening to drag on a fight he’s lost and with nothing left to fight for.

If Hillary Clinton is indicted tomorrow the Democrats will not nominate Bernie Sanders to replace her on the ticket. If Hillary Clinton walks through a revolving door and disappears, spontaneously combusts or is abducted by aliens, the Democrats will not nominate Bernie Sanders to replace her on the ticket. If Hillary Clinton is brainwashed into supporting Bernie Sanders, the Democrats will not nominate Bernie Sanders to replace her on the ticket.

If by some quirk, trick or cosmic accident Bernie Sanders were to become the Democratic nominee I would not vote for him.    Take your Hillary Hate and go vote for Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, Donald Trump or DyJuan D. Barnes Yahweh and the other zombies running for prez.  Have a party.

But please don’t stand on your soapbox demanding someone “prove” something to you or plead with you for your vote. That’s not gonna happen and please have a bit of dignity and take that, “Well, I just might support Trump.”  You have fun with that.  Nothing says temper tantrum like voting for the guy your guy was running to beat.

Frankly, progressives who say they’d rather vote Trump than Clinton need to reconsider what’s so progressive about backing a bigot?   Anyhow,  it’s not much of a threat.  One of the most baffling things to contemplate is how in the entire hell anyone can say with a straight face, “I’m gonna vote for Trump because you made me.”

I’m bored silly by the petulant whining of Bernie Sanders and his supporters. There are no circumstances that exist or could even be imagined where I would come crawling on my hands and knees to Sanders and his supporters begging please, oh please, vote for Hillary and save us all from Donald “Captain Queeg” Trump!

If Clinton was such an awful choice and a weak candidate, why isn’t Bernie the nominee.  It should have been easy.    Because Clinton, Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic establishment cheated Sanders?  Save the bullshit.    How exactly was Sanders  “cheated?” The Bernie or Bust crew is long on rhetoric and real short on specifics. Like any specifics.

Nobody has told the Sanders supporters the ugly truth, not even Sanders himself, so I’ll share a little secret with y’all.  Democrats choose moderates, not liberals and there is no new liberal renaissance on the horizon. Not yet, anyway.

I am so completely over the entitlement of Sanders supporters who cry “You need us.” No. I really don’t. What I need is for YOU to shake yourself and wake up from this wonderful dream where you get everything you want despite your sainted candidate losing the popular vote, losing the pledged delegate count and losing  most states that held primaries.

It would  be nice to think there’s a middle ground where Sanders supporters and Clinton supporters could meet where they could say, “I don’t like this about Bernie and you don’t like that about Hillary, but we both don’t like anything about Donald.” Sadly, we’re nowhere near that middle ground and believe it or not, that was the same thing in 2008 when it was Clinton vs. Obama: Dawn of a Presidential First. It was ugly and divisive then too.

Eventually, the two sides came together to take on a mutual adversary, Sen. John McCain and the story ended with Obama as POTUS and Clinton as his Secretary of State. Yay. Group  hug.

This may happen. As time passes hot temperatures cool, rifts mend and wounds heal. The divisions of June may linger on recede when faced with the terrible alternative of President Trump in November. Or it may not.

I am an unapologetic Clinton supporter who will be proud to elect her as the nation’s first woman Chief Executive.  No one will be begged, coerced, bribed or butt-kissed to do likewise.

Do as you damn well please.

Never forget.

Muhammad Ali: Black Action Hero

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary.

Impossible is nothing.

~Muhammad Ali

President Barack Obama’s remarks on the passing of Muhammad Ali:
Muhammad Ali was The Greatest. Period. If you just asked him, he’d tell you. He’d tell you he was the double greatest; that he’d “handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail.”

But what made The Champ the greatest — what truly separated him from everyone else — is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing.

Like everyone else on the planet, Michelle and I mourn his passing. But we’re also grateful to God for how fortunate we are to have known him, if just for a while; for how fortunate we all are that The Greatest chose to grace our time.

In my private study, just off the Oval Office, I keep a pair of his gloves on display, just under that iconic photograph of him — the young champ, just 22 years old, roaring like a lion over a fallen Sonny Liston. I was too young when it was taken to understand who he was — still Cassius Clay, already an Olympic Gold Medal winner, yet to set out on a spiritual journey that would lead him to his Muslim faith, exile him at the peak of his power, and set the stage for his return to greatness with a name as familiar to the downtrodden in the slums of Southeast Asia and the villages of Africa as it was to cheering crowds in Madison Square Garden.

“I am America,” he once declared. “I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me — black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.”

That’s the Ali I came to know as I came of age — not just as skilled a poet on the mic as he was a fighter in the ring, but a man who fought for what was right. A man who fought for us. He stood with King and Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t. His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing. It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled, and nearly send him to jail. But Ali stood his ground. And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognize today.

He wasn’t perfect, of course. For all his magic in the ring, he could be careless with his words, and full of contradictions as his faith evolved. But his wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes — maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves. Later, as his physical powers ebbed, he became an even more powerful force for peace and reconciliation around the world. We saw a man who said he was so mean he’d make medicine sick reveal a soft spot, visiting children with illness and disability around the world, telling them they, too, could become the greatest. We watched a hero light a torch, and fight his greatest fight of all on the world stage once again; a battle against the disease that ravaged his body, but couldn’t take the spark from his eyes.

Muhammad Ali shook up the world. And the world is better for it. We are all better for it. Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family, and we pray that the greatest fighter of them all finally rests in peace.

RIP to The Greatest.


Perhaps there’s a way to honor Muhammad Ali in his passing without mentioning how he wasn’t just The Greatest, but America’s most famous conscientious objector, America’s most famous Muslim, and a transitory figure of social justice and Black pride.    Don’t sleep on that last point.  Ali was an American success story, but he was a Black super hero first and long before one showed up in the comic books.

Obama not only knows that, he celebrated Ali’s undisputed Blackness.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but losing Ali is so much more than losing another great athlete, a great humanitarian and activist and the G.O.A.T. For any conscious Black person, losing Ali is losing a hero, a role model, a symbol of Black power, pride, potential and principle. Ali was all that and at one time he was literally the most famous man on the planet and was recognized wherever he went in the world.

The important thing now is to not let The Greatest be neutered into some sort of cartoon character who beat guys up and said outrageous things.    Ali was Black Power Personified.   Controlled anger with a dangerous edge.  Sex, swagger, and style.   Ali didn’t just talk it, he walked it.   Ali was our Black James Bond: men wanted to be like him and women wanted him.    I should know and I’m not a woman.

If someone wants to say, “Ali was the Greatest,” that’s fine. If someone wants to go deeper and say “Ali was a hero and here’s why” that is also fine.    Haters should step off.

That was always the difference between Muhammad Ali and the rest of us. He came, he saw, and if he didn’t entirely conquer – he came as close as anybody we are likely to see in the lifetime of this doomed generation.
~ Hunter S. Thompson

Don’t believe the hype: They love Ali now but they hated Ali then.