The late and still-great Dan Fogelberg always said it best while conjuring up some bittersweet memory for all of us.
Happy New Year to you all. And 2016: Just move along and drop dead.
This is a tribute to the people we lost in 2016. I’ll start you off with a few musicians and you go ahead and add more.
On January 10, we lost David Bowie. He was 69 and died of cancer.
On January 17, we lost Glenn Frey (67) of the Eagles.
On January 28, we lost Paul Kanter (74) of Jefferson Airplane.
On March 11, we lost Keith Emerson (71) and on December 7 we lost Greg Lake (69) of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer
On April 6, we lost Merle Haggard (79). (I’ll skip my editorial on this song for respect for the dead.)
On April 21, we lost Prince (57).
On November 10, we lost Leonard Cohen (82).
On November 13, we lost Leon Russell (74).
On December 25, we lost George Michael (53).
On December 28, we lost Debbie Reynolds (84), a day after her daughter, General Leia died.
And these are just the musicians, and just the very well-known at that. Many others near and dear to us died as well. Honor them in the comments.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Essay question: Why have I posted this?
Not because he ran against Hillary (or even how he ran against Hillary although that is an excellent argument for another post) but because he is a failure as a leader.
Here’s a guy who started out with a massive social media following of the Professional Left and those who followed them. It wasn’t as large as Takei, but still large and similar followers.
Without the pre-existing 25-year feud the media’s been having with Hillary, Bernie was free to campaign unfettered and un-vetted. The media only stepped in to accuse Hillary people of not knowing the meaning of Socialism and of red-baiting (because obviously, if you’re for universal health care and roads, you also want an authoritarian leader and to wait in line for toilet paper).
Bernie’s rallies were just like Trump’s—where he’d continuously remind you that your life is miserable and the Democratic party and your country sucked and how there was something inherently wrong with you if you were happy or satisfied. Status quo people are happy and satisfied. If you had ever worked on a political project in your life, you were the establishment. Those people who for decades had phone-banked and stuffed envelopes, who now provided the very forums where he could speak, were establishment scum. The people of Planned Parenthood and Human Rights Campaign, who had worked their asses off for decades to get a seat at the table were now, because they had a seat at the table, establishment. It was important for Bernie to get and keep people angry and he is very good at that.
He taught them nothing. To this day, they remain vastly ignorant about our political process. They didn’t know that parties select their nominees through primaries that are largely limited to members of the party. Even though a volunteer group set up a website that explained how to vote for Bernie. It contained detailed instructions on where and how to register and provided deadlines, by state. Bernie could have taken some time out of being jealous over Clinton’s speeches to explain how that worked. Instead of flocking to rallies like people used to go to Grateful Dead concerts, they could have missed just one to go register to vote. Not one to let an opportunity go unexploited, Bernie instead claimed that the primaries were rigged. For that, may he Bern In Hell.
Bernie was the guy who ran for class president by promising free ice cream for lunch and Friday afternoons off. His followers never asked him how. The media never asked him how. It wasn’t until the NY primary rolled around and the NY Daily News got around to asking him how and he stammered and then admitted he hadn’t thought that far. But it was too late. His followers were already true believers who thought reciting a bunch of acronyms and bumper stickers was indeed issues-based policy discussion. Meanwhile, even though Hillary had a website packed with sound, achievable policies on all of the issues, they said she had no positions on the issues and her supporters were just voting their vaginas. (No one does sexism and misogyny quite like the Left of the Left.) To this day, a good 80% of them don’t know what TPP stands for or what about it they don’t like. (Fun fact: they adore PM Justin Trudeau of Canada and laud him as a True Progressive™ yet Trudeau is for both TPP and the Keystone XL Pipeline!)
He failed to teach them about coalition building and how to organize. They were merely insufferable purity trolls running on Red Bull. Although, because they are adept at social media, had a few assists from the right wing, and weren’t bound by tired old rules of common decency, they were able to get pretty far.
He fanned the flames of poor sportsmanship and team playing. A party he spent a lifetime criticizing graciously allowed him to run as one of us. He even admitted he was using us for the money, the infrastructure, and the media exposure. For our largess, he stole our data and turned around and sued us for noticing. Things only deteriorated from there. Not once did Hillary go after him with a negative smear or ad.
Bernie promised them a revolution. Evolution takes time. Revolution is instant gratification. He reinforced their belief that the process was stupid, wrong, or rigged and must change to their demands without anyone needing to do any of the work to effect that change. And only a set of rules that would benefit Bernie and no one else would be gratifying. That’s why Bernie is for open primaries, against Super delegates but sadly silent on the most undemocratic process of all: caucuses.
In the end, all Bernie taught them was to keep their anger hot. For that, we can always count on them to show up for a rally or a protest, although the risk of a misspelled sign or a violent riot is high.
He taught them nothing about the big picture or the greater good or seven generations ahead or about coalitions and dancing with them who brung you.
For years, we have been threatened with SCOTUS and The End Civilization As We Know It over far more benign opponents. Look where we are now. The presidency will be occupied by a buffoon who ran literally using Hitler as a model and who hires the least qualified, most rapacious people. Both houses of Congress remain controlled by the Stupid Party. SCOTUS is hosed for 30 years. We are one state legislature away from a Constitutional amendment by people who believe in Alex Jones. This is that nightmare they have always threatened us with. The one upside is: we are now impervious to their threats. None are as dangerous as those who have nothing to lose. Or as free. For example, I am free to vote against every single candidate Bernie or his fans endorse for the rest of my life. And I will.
Many factors went into giving us Herr Buffoon and IMHO, the media was the worst (I’ll address them at another time). But here was a guy who did no small amount of unnecessary damage in service to his ego. I cannot do enough to repay him.