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Brown Town

With the election of Scott Brown to the United States Senate it appears that the Republicans will get what they have wanted – nothing.  The 59 votes will not be enough in the Senate to pass the health care reform legislation over the 41 conscience-driven Republicans who will be willing to filibuster. 

I have said it before and if you read this blog you really should go on Amazon.com and purchase Nixonland.  The lesson is that the last time a Democratic President tried to push forward a sweeping and needed social agenda – middle class white anger rose up to deliver monstrous losses in the midterm elections.  Lyndon Johnson won big in 1964 and then watched most of his congressional gains disappear in 1966.  And LBJ had the advantage of not being a confident black man in an era of constantly streaming information and misinformation.  Perhaps if Don Draper were running a 24 hour-a-day campaign against the Civil Rights Act and the country had a troubled, centuries-long relationship with Texans then LBJ would have known what Obama is up against.   Seriously – if you have not read Nixonland you are cheating yourself at a chance to predict the future.

What would the Tea Partiers (and their co-voters) have thought of LBJ? "He's bad, buuuuuut it could be worse..."

Martha Coakley certainly ran a poor campaign, which hurts even more given that she is a Williams Eph.  However, just 9 years after George W. Bush took office, I am hearing “Scott Brown drove a pick up truck” and “Coakley didn’t know who Curt Schilling was.”   This stuff still matters? 

Republicans are taking the country to Brown Town.

The Republicans have become the party that cheers when a perfect game is broken up.  Sure you can’t win, but in a sense neither can the other guy.  And that is now our politics – since when did every single piece of legislation of any meaning require 60 votes in the Senate – oh right, 2009.  I don’t remember liberals like Ted Kennedy fighting George Bush on No Child Left Behind – W.’s signature act in his first term not related to unjust war or tax cuts for wealthy people (until Bush underfunded it).  But Scott Brown is coming to town on a “no cap and trade,” “no health care reform” platform.  The health insurance industry has spent $100 million fighting health care reform to convince people that it is a fundamental threat to our society, second only to Islamic fundamentalism.  The Democrats bent to pro-life concerns and to Joe Lieberman and still not one Republican came over.  Republicans have become a party of hypocritical (really – how can you buy the Republicans as the party of populism in practice – it would be like believing those Exxon commercials where their “workers” talk about helping to create fuel efficient vehicles) obstructionists, which I guess if you consider environmental protection and expanded health care coverage the “wrong direction for America” then you probably think these guys are just voting their consciences.

And I was out there calling Obama a little arrogant during the campaign (because he seemed to have a few moments), but claims that he is acting arrogantly from some voters I think is coded language and false.  The man was elected with the most votes in United States History and has tried to push an agenda (and will likely fail) reflective of that mandate.  These folks might as well say uppity because I think that is part of what some of the backlash is about, at least in terms of the speed and intensity with which it came.  I don’t think it is a coincidence that in our country’s history there has always been a middle class white backlash following massive strides for black people.  After the Civil War and Reconstruction came the Compromise of 1877 which ceded the South to Democrats (the old pre-Strom Thurmond Democrats, the ones that hated Lincoln) and Jim Crow; The Great Society which yielded The Voting Rights Act and The Civil Rights Act gave way just a few years later to sweeping middle class white anger spearheaded by Sarah Palin’s uglier, smarter, better educated and more paranoid predecessor, Richard Nixon; and then the election of Barack Obama gave way almost instantaneously to zealous anger.

Furthermore, in a society of iPhones, blackberries, YouTube, etc. people say they want change, but are no longer conditioned to wait for it.  As George W. showed, fear from terror makes people loyal to you (at least for a time), but when people’s wallets are hurting it’s every man and woman for themselves.   Our lack of patience is another factor that has led us to Brown Town. 

Of course now most Democrats are running for the hills at this point because the only thing more important in DC than doing what you think is right in the face of manipulative lobbying campaigns is holding on to your power.  So unfortunately, we are all headed to Brown Town soon.

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My Ten Favorite Things From 2009

No movies made this list (but I have already given you my Top Ten of the Year, so they don’t really need another platform anyway).  Not everything is from this year, but they were read, viewed, worn or observed by me this year.

10. Fred Armisen.  In a year that had some ups and downs, he represented both.  He gave what is the least funny impression ever on Saturday Night Live and he did it week after week.  To quote Forrest Whitaker’s character from The Shield, “It’s like he is pissing in my mouth!”  But the bright side of that is that one year in there is still a void for a decent Obama impression.  If ever there was hope for me in 2010…

You give me hope Fred Armisen.  Hope that SNL will change who does Obama.
You give me hope Fred Armisen. Hope that SNL will change who does Obama.

9. Arrested Development – I know this show is older, but I watched the first three seasons on Netflix this year and it is the funniest multi-season show I have ever seen (important distinction hint hint).  If you have not seen it, you should.

8. Laid Off/Full Time Comedian

According to my biopic script:

I walked out from the law firm that had crushed my soul with a defiant stride knowing that although I was taking a risk pursuing comedy full time I had the confidence of knowing that I would follow my dream and in the end be a success.  I was also touched by the slow clap I received from all my co-workers as I left on my last day.

According to reality:

I planned on going to do comedy full time in 2009 at some point, but given the economic climate and the generally good feeling of a swollen bank account (from a pretty nice place to work as law firms go) I probably needed the push, or shove, of being laid off to pursue comedy full time.  Now my dream still feels attainable, but is starting to resemble a bad acid trip as much as it does a dream on its way to fulfillment.

7. Steeler Super Bowl – This was cool because it was a great game and washed away memories of the only Super Bowl the Steelers had won in my lifetime – Super Bowl XL (40), which was the worst Super Bowl ever played.  I also cannot put the Yankees title on here, because although I like many of the players, something about that victory felt like cheering Goldman Sachs’ bankers when they date rape your daughter and your pension fund.  Of course the Steelers did not help themselves with their “ni-ger” shouting fans this season, but perhaps a poor season will be their punishment for having racist fans.

6. Obama’s Inauguration/Nixonland – Such a cool moment when Obama was inaugurated.  Even cooler was being able to predict how half of America would turn on him as soon as they could and how his young supporters would realize that politics is work and detail and compromise and not a pop culture reality show called For The Love of Obama on VH1.  I always bet on old people in the long term in politics and in 2010 the book Nixonland will prove quite prescient when the Republicans break through the 60 voting block in the Senate and win about 30 seats back in the House.  If you like politics or just want to predict the 2010 election read Nixonland.  But January 20, 2009 was still a great day.  The country was divided on September 10, 2001 and after 9/11 the country rallied around Bush (91% approval, after being dismally low before).  Do you think if the same happened today the country would rally around its President?  I am guessing not.

5. The West Wing – Watched the entire seven seasons on DVD in 5 weeks.  The greatest dramatic series I have ever watched not named The Wire.  Sorry The Sopranos I think you’re great as well, but the detail and the writing of The West Wing was intimidating in its brilliance.

4. New York’s Funniest Comedian – I am still waiting for an e-mail response(to a very politely and respectfully worded e-mail) from a certain comedy club as to why I never got a call back, despite being promised a spot in a showcase and simultaneously being denied a chance to audition because it was unnecessary.  This moment was a low point in my comedy naivete, but also a wake up call that was invaluable.  That is not to say that 40 years from now when I am sitting a lone in a mansion, miserably counting my money in the dark, that I won’t assault, with a bowling pin, some booker or manager or assistant sycophant who shows up to my home.  That reminds me, I think my next CD will be entitled “I’m Finished!”

Sure I will do your show.  But first you have to tell me that bringers and cattle calls are bullsh*t and that you have made false promises.
Sure I will do your show. But first you have to tell me that bringers and cattle calls are bullsh*t and that you have made false promises.

3. The Bonfire of the Vanities – The most enjoyable piece of fiction I have ever read.  Did for novel writing what The West Wing did for me in terms of television.  As Salieri said of Mozart’s music in Amadeus, “Remove one note and there would be diminishment.” That is how I felt about every sentence of this 600+ page novel, which is just as relevant today as it was 22 years ago.  Just don’t see the movie before or after reading it. 

2. Paul Millsap Jersey – I received this gift Christmas 2008, but I did not wear it until this hoops season.  If it’s the thought that counts, then I have never received a better gift in my life.  And I seem to be the only person outside of Utah to possess one, which makes it even more exceptional if you consider things in Utah fashionable. 

The jersey may look ugly to you, but when I got it as a present it made me very happy.
The jersey may look ugly to you, but when I got it as a present it made me very happy.

1. Eastbound and Down – So this is the answer to the question what could be better than great literature, historic national elections, pursuing your dream or seeing your team win a title?  That’s right – a fu-king redneck.  If Eastbound and Down ended after only these 6 episodes it would be like Guns N Roses dying after releasing Appetite For Destruction – a perfect debut to live on forever.  So apologies to my girlfriend, Barack Obama, Tom Wolfe, Jason Bateman, The Steelers, stand up comedy, and everything else that went on this year, but my favorite thing this year was a foul mouthed racist pitcher form Shelby, North Carolina – Mr. Kenny Powers.

And feel free to support Kenny Powers with a Kenny Powers jersey: Kenny Powers Jersey

2009 was your motherfu-kin' year Kenny Powers.
2009 was your motherfu-kin' year Kenny Powers.

Have a Happy New Year readers and fans.  All 6 of you.