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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Sunday Cartoon Blogging – July 1, 2018

Welcome to Sunday. It’s beastly hot in the Northeast of the US. Three things to help you cool off: Did you realize that the Trump/Putin Summit in Helsinki on July 16, takes place one day after soccer’s World Cup final? We know that Trump doesn’t care about soccer, but since the World Cup is taking place in Russia, Putin wouldn’t meet until after the World Cup was over. They settled on having the meeting the very next day.

Second, everyone should read Cheryl Russell’s blog. She is the former editor-in-chief of American Demographics magazine. She recently wrote about median household income:

Median household income in May 2018 climbed to $61,858, according to Sentier Research. This is a higher median than in any month since January 2000, after adjusting for inflation. The May 2018 median was 1.8% higher than the May 2017 median.

Median household income in May was 3.7% higher than the median of December 2007, when the Great Recession began. It is 13.3% higher than the post-Great Recession low of June 2011. The trend line has been positive for nearly seven years. This should be looked at very carefully by people who think Democrats have an easy path to winning the House of Representatives this fall.

Third, it’s doubtful you knew that the University of Tulsa has an Institute of Bob Dylan Studies. The George Kaiser Family Foundation and the University of Tulsa acquired the Bob Dylan Archives, and now is the national hotbed of all things Dylan. Unsurprisingly, Dylan hasn’t visited.

On to cartoons. Mitch is large and in charge:

Republicans treat the Constitution like they do the Bible, picking and choosing parts they like for personal benefit:

Trump picks a surprising nominee:

(And the GOP would probably confirm him.)

Kids need to get their priorities straight:

Trump has new idea for the Wall:

Supreme Court hands public unions a big loss:

Bonus: 2012 Tom Toles cartoon on the Court. Bottom line − we all lost:

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – October 16, 2016

(this is a re-post of Sunday’s column after the site’s database crashed)

“Important issues in the presidential campaign are like the Oakland A’s. You aren’t going to see much of them in October” Rocky Mountain Mike

The best things that happened last week were the Nobel Prize for Bob Dylan and Michelle Obama’s speech. Perhaps the worst thing last week was the US’s deeper involvement in Yemen: The Saudis bombed a funeral. An American naval vessel was attacked at sea by the Houthis. We launched cruise missiles at Yemen. The Iranian navy started patrolling off of Yemen in the same space as the US navy. Escalation, and what does the US get out of this? The Obama administration must be held to account for this.

Dylan wins the Nobel:

cow-get-stoned

Trump’s decline in the polls means his call “Hillary for jail” has a new meaning:

cow-hillary-for-jail

The GOP establishment walks away from Trump just a little:

cow-hedge-your-bets

Trump admitting sexual assault has given some Christian supporters a moral dilemma:

cow-christian-values

 

Trump gets a new campaign logo:

cow-grope

 

 

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The Perfect Rock Albums?

Monday was the 50th anniversary of the release of two of the most important albums in classic rock’s canon, and it shouldn’t slip by unnoticed: Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde” and the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds.” Today, both are considered among the first (and finest) concept rock albums.

Its difficult to believe they came out on the same day.

Let’s start with “Pet Sounds”: It wasn’t an immediate sensation in the US, making it to #10 on Billboard’s list, significantly below what was then expected of a Beach Boys album. Capitol Records even rushed out a Greatest Hits package to keep the BBs in the forefront of the public’s mind.

Over time, however, Pet Sounds has come to occupy a place in the upper echelons of Rock’s best-of lists.

The album opens with “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and contains “God Only Knows”, “Sloop John B” and “Caroline, No”, all great Beach Boys tunes.

For the album’s closer, 23-year-old Brian Wilson was thinking of his teenage crush on a cheerleader named Carol Mountain. In 1966, Wilson had discovered that Mountain was married and still living in their home town of Hawthorne, CA not far from his home in Hollywood. Though both were married, Wilson began to call Carol Mountain, who had no inkling of his true feelings until decades later.

Though they didn’t meet in person, Wilson grew depressed that the torch he carried for Mountain had begun to dim. He told that to Tony Asher, who penned a chorus in the form of a dialogue between the two: “Oh, Carol, I know.” Wilson misheard this as “Caroline, No,” giving the song its title.

Here is “Caroline, No”:

For those who read the Wrongologist in email you can view the video here.

Next, Bob Dylan’s “Blonde On Blonde” also released on May 16, 1966. Recorded in Nashville, it was the first double LP in rock music, and it is the final piece of a trilogy of albums released in a creative burst over 15 months in 1965 and 1966, beginning with “Bringing It All Back Home”, then followed by “Highway 61 Revisited”.

Blonde on Blonde spawned two singles that were top-20 hits in the US: “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” and “I Want You“. Two additional songs, “Just Like a Woman” and “Visions of Johanna“, have been named as among Dylan’s greatest compositions and are included in Rolling Stone‘s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list.

Side two of four is the strongest, with “I Want You”; “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again”; “Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat” and “Just like a Woman”. Side Four has one track, an 11 minute “Sad Eyed Lady of The Lowlands”.

Blonde on Blonde” is part of Wrongo’s ultimate Dylan playlist, along with “Blood on the Tracks”.

The album’s first Nashville session would produce “Visions of Johanna,” which Dylan first debuted in 1965. At seven minutes+, it set the tone for the longer songs that are all over “Blonde on Blonde”.

Here is “Visions of Johanna”:

For those who read the Wrongologist in email, you can view the video here.

When you think of favorite albums, you must ask: Is it the album you play when you want to hear some Beach Boys or Dylan? When was the last time you played it? When formats shifted from LPs to CDs, was it one of the first dozen or so CDs you went out and got? Did you ever replace the LP with the CD?

Are they albums you started your children’s rock appreciation with?

Your mileage may vary.

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Veterans Day: 11/11/2015

In his latest book, The Last of the Presidents Men, Bob Woodward reveals a previously unreported memo from 1972 in which Nixon writes Kissinger, saying that a years-long bombing campaign in Vietnam had produced “zilch,” even as he pitched the exact opposite message to the American public. He wrote that the day after giving an interview to Dan Rather, declaring that the bombing of North Vietnam had been “very, very effective”. Nixon’s note said:

K. We have had 10 years of total control of the air in Laos and V.Nam. The result=Zilch. There is something wrong with the strategy or the Air Force.

Nixon then increased bombing, dropping some 1.1 million tons in 1972 alone — more than in any single year of LBJ’s presidency. From Woodward: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

[Nixon] Us[ed] Vietnam to enhance his re-election prospects…breaking perhaps the most sacred trust for a commander in chief.

All these years later, it is hard to believe that anything Nixon did could surprise us, yet there it is.

Since the 1970’s, a meme among conservatives is that the reason we lost in Vietnam was a lack of will, brought on by liberals and war protesters. But thinking that the primary reason we lost Vietnam was that liberals stabbed America in the back is ridiculous. You may remember that in 1968, Nixon said he had a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War. He had no plan, and by 1972, when he sent the note to Kissinger, he knew he was losing the war.

In total, the war stretched on for 7 years after the announcement of Nixon’s “secret plan” to end it.

Today we hear that feckless leadership is causing us to “lose” in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. This comes from a few career military, and many, many Republican Chicken Hawks, who continue to raise the specter of Vietnam.

On Veterans Day, let’s remember that Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan are all places where our boys bled and died on foreign soil. All are places where our money was recycled to the war profiteers, and where we left behind zero ability to foster the “democratic” way of life that our politicians wanted to bring to those nations.

And what about the “sacred trust?” Politicians break the sacred trust to its citizens and soldiers all the time, if there is an opportunity to spread the gospel, secure the oil, or beat the “enemy”. War profiteering for private corporations, socialized losses for the people. US soldiers dead or maimed for life. Their families robbed of optimism, their memories an open wound.

THAT is the sacred trust in ruins. That is the legacy of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan on this, and on all Veterans Days.

And do the Chicken Hawks take care of our veterans after the fact, once they come home? They do not. The CH’s “cut taxes” mantra means that more money for the oligarchs has to come from somewhere. So, they try to cut social programs, because war profiteers (including those in Congress) can’t make any money off government-run, not-for-profit social programs.

Veterans have been with us since before the founding of the Republic. To observe this Veterans Day, here is a reasonably obscure song by Bob Dylan, “’Cross the Green Mountain.” It appeared on the soundtrack of the film, “Gods and Generals,” a Civil War film that was entirely financed by Ted Turner as a pet project.

The song speaks to the horror faced by soldiers in the Civil War. Dylan’s Civil War tale could be about any war, as his worn-down singing captures the essence of a soldier pining for home while reflecting on what may be his last battle, his last moments in life. Below is the abbreviated version of the song that was used as the official music video:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

That gives you a taste, but if you want the whole thing, the full 8 minute song was part of Dylan’s Bootleg Series #8: “Tell Tale Signs,” and you can view it here.

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