Monday, February 6, 2017

Term In Nation

Tax time is here.

We're lucky enough to get a fair return when this time of year comes around, because we actually ask for more income tax to be taken off our checks than is necessary, so we get it back in accumulated amounts when it comes time to file.  Along with fixing up things that need to be done with the house, we allow ourselves little treats for ourselves, too, that we wouldn't normally be able to afford.  For me this year, it'll be a nice ride cymbal and tambourine with a multi-clamp for my drum kit.

I get to thinking sometimes of the old days, really old days, when my brother Greg got me my first drum set for my 13th birthday.  I remember I was clueless how to play it.  It was just an upside down snare with the snare wires over the top of the batter head, a small bass drum, and hi hats with a stand.  But it did the trick.  These were the only tools I needed to start my journey to becoming a drummer.  I met this friend, we'll call him "Ed", in school, and we were mutual KISS fans.  He was a guitar player who was self-taught himself, and I taught myself how to play my drums.  Ed and myself evolved into being able to play fairly well throughout our teen years.

But Ed was a troubled guy.  Like me, his dad died in his early years, and I think he had a lot of trouble dealing, like I did.  But he took to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain.  Through it all, his personality kind of changed.  He was the same likeable guy, but he tended to tell you things you wanted to hear to get your approval, only to leave you disappointed when time went on.  It was kind of part of his charisma, which he had a lot of.  People would believe what he said even when they were faced with the truth.  He wasn't always untruthful, but too often not.  My guess is that he desperately wanted the approval from people that he never got from his father.  We all come from somewhere, right?

We veered off separate ways in our late teens, when we got girlfriends.  That took me a lot longer, though.  I didn't have the confidence he did when it came to girls.  I remember, though, he had a girlfriend he was with for a little while, and she had friends that would tag along with them sometimes.  Ed would tell me that her friends 'liked' me and that we were actually out on dates, when really we weren't.  I had such a hard time finding girls to date that I would just believe it.  It was almost never true.  He'd tell me they said nice things about me that they never said.  Again, to gain favor.  Man, that kind of wrecked me back in those days.  Putting it short, really, Ed was a chronic liar that would say whatever it took to gain favor and leverage.

I didn't want to be around him anymore because of his excessive pot and alcohol use.  When he told me he was done with it and wanted to jam again a few years ago, we played a few times, and then it became evident he was just the same old Ed.  His old habits came back along with his old behaviors.  I was saddened by a couple of things:  That he hadn't come around from his old vices, and that I allowed myself to be taken in yet again by it all.  Ed's a smooth talker who had a knack for getting his way, only to do something entirely different when you weren't around him.

These days I just play my drums by myself, because it appears my friends have either grown out of their hobby or they just don't want to jam anymore, at least with me or whatever.  But the way I see it, once a drummer, always a drummer.  If opportunity comes knocking to make some noise with somebody, I'm there to take it.

Lady Gaga was on the Superbowl halftime show this year.  I'm really not a fan, I don't like her stuff, for me.  Just not my style.  But I had to respect the performance.  She pulled out all the stops to entertain everyone and did an exceptional job.  If she was lip syncing, it wasn't noticeable.  For the most part it looked pretty legit.  But... I long for music with real musicians and less machines and programming, and less overproducing.  My thinking is, for every person playing an instrument you take away and replace with a machine, that's one less soul you have in the music.  And music lacks soul these days.  There really isn't any.  And you can hit all the notes in your singing you want, it doesn't mean you should.  I'm looking at you, Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande, and pretty much every "pop princess" on the top 40 these days.

One thing Gaga didn't do, allegedly because she was told not to, was wax political onstage during the halftime show.  You just know she was itching to.  You had to think that the Trump Reich Trump Administration was watching, with the Donald having his tiny thumbs at the ready on his Twitter account if she made one false move.

And speaking of his Twitter account, it's a marvelous way to trip the wires of the man's temper, isn't it?  Like a teenager with her iPhone frustrated standing in line at a fast food restaurant because she isn't getting served sooner, he explodes when something just isn't going his way.  Just look at any tweets regarding the Obamas, the "so-called judge", Muslims in general, or anyone who disagrees with him at all.  But... if he meets face to face with any of these people, it's all peaches and cream, isn't it?  He shakes hands, praises them and tells you how much he admires them.  Then when it comes time to write executive orders, that's all out the window, and his true nature makes itself clear.  Just like that 'Ed' fellow I told you about.  He'll tell you everything you want to hear to get what he wants, and once he gets it, so what.  Trump did that all through is election.  He came off as a populist, promising to give people everything they wanted.  That is, until he got what he wanted, which was the people's vote.

In that regard, I sympathize with Trump voters.  We all know what it's like to be taken in by a charismatic con artist, and to feel the regret when we realize we'd been taken in.  It's frustrating.  Who likes a pathological promise-breaker?  Liberals, or democrats, tend to think they're higher thinkers than republicans or conservatives are, and look down on those without like-minded thinking.  But the reverse is also true.  There has to be common ground in there somewhere, though.  Could there be a simple solution?  I doubt it.  But I did ponder it, and this is my pitch on it.  Not like anyone would take it seriously, but still...

Imagine this... if every four years, there was a presidential election, where there was no such thing as more than one term.  But during that term, it's a Democratic president.  Everyone had to choose from a field of democratic candidates, whether they're registered Republicans or Democrats.  That's right... republicans get a say in who the Democratic president will be.  Congress is elected as usual, but the Democratic president gets the usual powers of veto and all the other dressings that come with it.  There are no squabbles about who the president is, because everyone chose him/her.  The term is over, then a republican nomination is chosen, and everyone decides who the best Republican president will be for the next four years.

This way the president is truly chosen by the people en masse each and every time.  It doesn't solve all the problems, but I'll tell you this... it'd go a long way into ensuring guys like Trump don't get into office again.  Oh, and do away with this delegate nonsense.  If that never existed in the first place, Bernie Sanders would be president right now and all of this upheaval would never have taken place.  In fact, Sanders is a perfect example of someone who appeals to both sides of the voting block.

This same rule would apply nicely to Canada, although our voting system is vastly different from the one in the U.S.  We have a parliamentary system that kind of mucks up the idea.  But the abolishing of the "first past the post" system is a start, something Prime Minister Trudeau promised, but reneged on.  Hence the need for it in the first place.

Regardless, we need some way, whether it's via mandatory one-term leaders or not, to tell certain leaders they have no way of saying "I'll be back".

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