Re-Share: Has Bernie Sanders Been Casting Pearls Before Swine?

As the world sits silently and watches the COVID-19 crisis unfold, it is easy to feel like life is on pause as we learn to face this new and unexpected challenge. Perhaps sadly, that is not the case, and even as we focus on the fresh fight ahead of us, old and familiar cycles are repeating themselves right under our noses.

Today, we look back to a post from June 5th, 2016. Has America learned nothing in the four years since then?

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This week, the American people will have their final chance to capitalize on the heartfelt platform of hope proffered by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Will they take this opportunity, or has Bernie merely been casting pearls before swine?

We’ll find out on June 7th, as the DNC hosts their final major round of primaries, with 6 states holding contests, and a grand-total of 694 pledged delegates up for grabs. As of the writing of this article, the pledged delegate count sits at 1500 for Bernie Sanders, and 1770 for his opponent Hilary Clinton.

It must here be noted that this does not include super-delegates—the patently undemocratic party elites who are afforded the opportunity to pledge their loyalty according to their personal interests, rather than the will of their constituents. Of these, Hillary currently has 520, while Bernie holds a comparably measly 45. Although these super-delegates have currently promised their loyalty as such, their support is not locked in until the Convention in July. It’s possible therefore that the events of June 7th could weigh heavily on this final process, and herein lays Bernie Sander’s greatest hope.

sandersBased on these current numbers, Sanders would need to take ~71% of the vote on the 7th in order to enter the Convention with a compelling argument. It’s a tall order to be sure—but not wholly impossible. Still, even if Sanders and Clinton went to convention with relatively equal delegate counts, the onus would be on Sanders to convince the super-delegates to throw their support behind him—a revolutionary thinker who has consistently challenged the very sort of entrenched Establishment politics upon which the super-delegates are based.

It’s not an encouraging scenario, and it brings us back to our initial question. In his campaign, Bernie has been infallibly consistent in the message he’s delivered to the American electorate. His vision is that of a nation which values its people as a whole, and not simply its business owners and billionaires. He has captivated the youth and other well-meaning people of the nation with the rather seditious notion that government must serve its people: that fair taxes must be paid by everyone, and that the use of those taxes must at all times be aimed at improving the station of the population as a whole—rather than merely protecting the interests of the rich and powerful.

For the majority of the civilized world, these ideas are already held as sacrosanct. Unfortunately for him, Bernie Sanders is running in America, where the reek of Reaganomics still lingers in the very fabric of the economic structures, and the working class still confuses the meanings of freedom and fiefdom.

So if Bernie’s natural empathy for the working class and indefatigable hope for the future have captured the minds of the electorate, it may prove rather less effective in securing the support of the ruling elite. Rather, his argument will soon switch focus—insisting (and not without merit) that he is the most likely Democratic contender to topple Donald Trump—that unholy mess streaming down from the recently self-eviscerated GOP.

Unfortunately, the Democratic National Committee is firmly entrenched in its current politics—hell, their pocketbooks depend on it. So this argument—though valid—may still fall upon deaf ears, leaving America in a more dismal situation than ever.

If June 7th turns sour for Bernie, this rare opportunity for positive growth will have been momentarily squandered, and Americans will be left with a choice between Donald Trump: a hair-brained demagogue promising to fan the already raging flames of fear and bigotry, or Hillary Clinton: a sorry shill of a candidate whose sound-bite message changes with every opinion poll, but whose true priorities are as intrinsically tied to Wall St. and the corporate elite as is her fundraising. Either would likely mean another four years of rule by corporate interests…and a depressing admission that despite the growing mass of well-informed and even-headed voters, the powers that be still have a fatal stranglehold on American politics.

For voters on both sides of the political spectrum, this scenario would amount to little more than a compulsion to vote for the ‘lesser of two evils’—all while knowing full well that the end result will favour the entitled rich, and further isolate the vast majority of society from active political discourse.

1401x788-Screen-Shot-2015-06-04-at-12.45.15-PMHowever, this won’t be the case…at least not entirely. The message Bernie has been spreading is nothing new—hell, he’s been saying it the entirety of his 35-year political career, and most of his life besides that. What’s more, it is the ever-growing sentiment of the caring and politically-informed—not restricted to the young alone as the media often claims—open and accessible to all with the mind to understand the scope of their situation, and the resolve to damn well do something about it.

Bernie has not created this movement, but rather he has acted as the lightning rod for an already growing resistance. He has become the voice of a generation who have had enough of the unfair playing field they have been given, and who seek to build a system that is fair and compassionate; one which provides for all of its citizens the opportunity to flourish in a country which has no justifiable reason to offer anything less.

While Bernie has been the mouthpiece, this surging tide will not end with his campaign (should it indeed end). Bernie Sanders has shone a light on the reality of our station—showing countless people that they are not alone in their hope for a better world, and that they are not naively idealistic in their expectations. This ever increasing sense of justice is one that cannot help but spread, simply because it is rooted in a truth far more fundamental than the forces of greed and vice against which they strive.

If Bernie’s message could be encapsulated in a few words, it would be this: ‘We can do much better’. He has spoken this time and again—sounding often enough like a broken record—and despite the potentially disappointing results of this year’s primaries; his message has not fallen on deaf ears. People perceive how much better we can do, and even though the forces of greed may once again prevail, the lasting sentiment of this movement will continue to flourish. Now, its message is a bit different. The knowledge of a better world is beyond doubt, but so too are the obstacles to obtaining it all the more evident.

So perhaps Bernie has cast pearls before swine—far too many swine at least. But his pearls have nonetheless been plucked up by deserving and admirable minds, and their message now, seeing the fight before them, may be best expressed with a line stolen from the late great Pete Seeger. Democratic Socialism and Bernie Sander’s Revolution are of one clear and conscientious message: ‘We are not afraid.’

sanders-vpr-laslo-20150910So, although trampled and despoiled, pearls they remain. And if there are dark times ahead, then so too is there the promise of brighter days. The masses, I am convinced, have been awoken, and never again will their eyes be closed to the truth of their oppression, nor from the laudable promise of a fair and equitable world which values it’s humanity above its finances. For this at least, we owe Bernie Sanders a debt of thanks—time alone will reveal just what a great debt that is.

-Brad OH Inc.

Right, Left, and Everything in Between: What Will Become of America?

purelyspeculationThree days after the 2016 General Election in America, a pall of dread hangs over not just the nation, but the world. There is doubt, confusion, and no small amount of fear. The very thing which everyone said simply could not happen has now come to pass—Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States.

Not only fear, this also creates a lot of questions. How did this happen? Why did we doubt it could? What does this say about the American people? What does the future hold for the ‘Land of the Free’?

Coming to power astride a wave of grandiose lies and dangerous bombast, Trump has openly called for violence, insulted multiple races, defiled men, and debased women on his path to the most powerful office in the world. The ludicrous ideas he has espoused pale in their absurdity only in comparison to the ignorant and ever-shifting ideologies he has endorsed.

Now there are riots in the streets, which are unlikely to end any time soon. To be honest, I expect this would have been little different had Hillary Clinton won.

The madness and peculiarity of this shocking election cycle did not happen by random chance. It was a clear reflection of the state of the American political structure, and more importantly, the American people.

This race has seen the utter devastation of both traditional parties—party lines are in shambles and voters are in doubt. Amidst all of this, we must remember one very important fact.

Donald Trump was elected President.

One of the questions going through many minds is, how did this happen?

Well, words are always important, and the key word to the above phrase is ‘elected’. He won enough votes to take control of the Electoral College—quite handily at that. The fairness or effectiveness of the Electoral College is not the current purpose of this article mind you, and the fact simply remains that by the rules of the democracy, Trump had the voters he needed to win.

Who are these people?

Some of them—and possibly no small number—are just those who vote red no matter what. Both parties have always had plenty of those.

Others were likely the empowered bigots that inevitably sprout up under a vile demagogue like Trump, but I believe (and certainly pray) this number is far from being as high as many people believe.

A large portion of Trump voters, I expect, were simply just so reactionary and angry with the crooked system that they were willing to gamble. They were tired of false promises. They were tired of all the money going upward. They were tired of politicians being bought and paid for. They were tired of having no voice, and were long overdue to strike back at a political establishment which for far too long has functioned only for the moneyed interests which it serves.

As a Bernie guy, I get that.

The fact that enough people were willing to vote Trump rather than continue with the status quo is a damning condemnation on the current state of party politics. Yet, the oldest mistake in the history of democracy is to reject a failed system without due caution, and conjure into reality something even more fierce and immediate.

This election—all the way back to the primaries—was an aggressive rejection of crooked politics, corporate interference, economic mismanagement, and elitism. Yet the failure of the electorate to unite on the true issues, and the constant projection of aggression and fear onto one another has finally, in the end, led to the election of the Anti-Cause. Trump is the living embodiment of all the miserable vices which usurped the democratic process and threatened liberty to begin with.

There’s too much fear and anger. Any nerd can tell you what those lead to.

So here we are, and the question remains—what can we expect now?

One of the most common fears is the effect Trump’s antics will have on the populace, that he will inspire bigotry with confidence when it should rightly hide in shadows. Already, we’re seeing examples of this being reported, and there is sure to be more in the weeks to come.

But we must not yet take this to be the majority of his voters, or the true tone of the American people. If we listen to interviews, such hate is not the motivating factor for a great many—and we would do well not to ignore the expressed desires and intentions of the people. That, after all, is precisely what’s carried us to this precipice.

Nor indeed must any decent person trade hate for hate—to act violently or even unkindly towards these frustrated voters is to fall into the very pit of anger and hatred which most would claim to despise.

In this ailing democracy of ours, we can only hope for the best at this point. We must support what works, and vigorously fight what doesn’t. But above all and without fail, we must continue the fight against an entrenched establishment that has turned its back on the people it was created to represent in favour of its own interests. This may only happen if we step out of the cycle of blame and distrust. Talk to people on the other side of the spectrum—learn about their fears and their hopes. Share your own. Speak up against intolerance, but never slip into it yourself. Never forget how easy this is to do. Talk, share, and be honest. Set a model of decency in the truest sense—that is how you improve the world.

Finally, while so justified, while so understandable and well-earned, we must remember the very forces that brought us to this point. Avoid despair, avoid rage. Most importantly, fear not…

-Brad OH Inc.

Has Bernie Sanders Been Casting Pearls Before Swine?

purelyspeculationThis week, the American people will have their final chance to capitalize on the heartfelt platform of hope proffered by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Will they take this opportunity, or has Bernie merely been casting pearls before swine?

We’ll find out on June 7th, as the DNC hosts their final major round of primaries, with 6 states holding contests, and a grand-total of 694 pledged delegates up for grabs. As of the writing of this article, the pledged delegate count sits at 1500 for Bernie Sanders, and 1770 for his opponent Hilary Clinton.

It must here be noted that this does not include super-delegates—the patently undemocratic party elites who are afforded the opportunity to pledge their loyalty according to their personal interests, rather than the will of their constituents. Of these, Hillary currently has 520, while Bernie holds a comparably measly 45. Although these super-delegates have currently promised their loyalty as such, their support is not locked in until the Convention in July. It’s possible therefore that the events of June 7th could weigh heavily on this final process, and herein lays Bernie Sander’s greatest hope.

sandersBased on these current numbers, Sanders would need to take ~71% of the vote on the 7th in order to enter the Convention with a compelling argument. It’s a tall order to be sure—but not wholly impossible. Still, even if Sanders and Clinton went to convention with relatively equal delegate counts, the onus would be on Sanders to convince the super-delegates to throw their support behind him—a revolutionary thinker who has consistently challenged the very sort of entrenched Establishment politics upon which the super-delegates are based.

It’s not an encouraging scenario, and it brings us back to our initial question. In his campaign, Bernie has been infallibly consistent in the message he’s delivered to the American electorate. His vision is that of a nation which values its people as a whole, and not simply its business owners and billionaires. He has captivated the youth and other well-meaning people of the nation with the rather seditious notion that government must serve its people: that fair taxes must be paid by everyone, and that the use of those taxes must at all times be aimed at improving the station of the population as a whole—rather than merely protecting the interests of the rich and powerful.

For the majority of the civilized world, these ideas are already held as sacrosanct. Unfortunately for him, Bernie Sanders is running in America, where the reek of Reaganomics still lingers in the very fabric of the economic structures, and the working class still confuses the meanings of freedom and fiefdom.

So if Bernie’s natural empathy for the working class and indefatigable hope for the future have captured the minds of the electorate, it may prove rather less effective in securing the support of the ruling elite. Rather, his argument will soon switch focus—insisting (and not without merit) that he is the most likely Democratic contender to topple Donald Trump—that unholy mess streaming down from the recently self-eviscerated GOP.

Unfortunately, the Democratic National Committee is firmly entrenched in its current politics—hell, their pocketbooks depend on it. So this argument—though valid—may still fall upon deaf ears, leaving America in a more dismal situation than ever.

If June 7th turns sour for Bernie, this rare opportunity for positive growth will have been momentarily squandered, and Americans will be left with a choice between Donald Trump: a hair-brained demagogue promising to fan the already raging flames of fear and bigotry, or Hillary Clinton: a sorry shill of a candidate whose sound-bite message changes with every opinion poll, but whose true priorities are as intrinsically tied to Wall St. and the corporate elite as is her fundraising. Either would likely mean another four years of rule by corporate interests…and a depressing admission that despite the growing mass of well-informed and even-headed voters, the powers that be still have a fatal stranglehold on American politics.

For voters on both sides of the political spectrum, this scenario would amount to little more than a compulsion to vote for the ‘lesser of two evils’—all while knowing full well that the end result will favour the entitled rich, and further isolate the vast majority of society from active political discourse.

1401x788-Screen-Shot-2015-06-04-at-12.45.15-PMHowever, this won’t be the case…at least not entirely. The message Bernie has been spreading is nothing new—hell, he’s been saying it the entirety of his 35-year political career, and most of his life besides that. What’s more, it is the ever-growing sentiment of the caring and politically-informed—not restricted to the young alone as the media often claims—open and accessible to all with the mind to understand the scope of their situation, and the resolve to damn well do something about it.

Bernie has not created this movement, but rather he has acted as the lightning rod for an already growing resistance. He has become the voice of a generation who have had enough of the unfair playing field they have been given, and who seek to build a system that is fair and compassionate; one which provides for all of its citizens the opportunity to flourish in a country which has no justifiable reason to offer anything less.

While Bernie has been the mouthpiece, this surging tide will not end with his campaign (should it indeed end). Bernie Sanders has shone a light on the reality of our station—showing countless people that they are not alone in their hope for a better world, and that they are not naively idealistic in their expectations. This ever increasing sense of justice is one that cannot help but spread, simply because it is rooted in a truth far more fundamental than the forces of greed and vice against which they strive.

If Bernie’s message could be encapsulated in a few words, it would be this: ‘We can do much better’. He has spoken this time and again—sounding often enough like a broken record—and despite the potentially disappointing results of this year’s primaries; his message has not fallen on deaf ears. People perceive how much better we can do, and even though the forces of greed may once again prevail, the lasting sentiment of this movement will continue to flourish. Now, its message is a bit different. The knowledge of a better world is beyond doubt, but so too are the obstacles to obtaining it all the more evident.

So perhaps Bernie has cast pearls before swine—far too many swine at least. But his pearls have nonetheless been plucked up by deserving and admirable minds, and their message now, seeing the fight before them, may be best expressed with a line stolen from the late great Pete Seeger. Democratic Socialism and Bernie Sander’s Revolution are of one clear and conscientious message: ‘We are not afraid.’

sanders-vpr-laslo-20150910So, although trampled and despoiled, pearls they remain. And if there are dark times ahead, then so too is there the promise of brighter days. The masses, I am convinced, have been awoken, and never again will their eyes be closed to the truth of their oppression, nor from the laudable promise of a fair and equitable world which values it’s humanity above its finances. For this at least, we owe Bernie Sanders a debt of thanks—time alone will reveal just what a great debt that is.

-Brad OH Inc.

What is Democratic Socialism?

purelyspeculationBernie Sanders has been making a lot of headlines lately. With his recent surge of popularity in both the Iowa and New Hampshire Democratic Primaries, Sander’s unique vision for the future of America seems to have struck alight in the tinder of the American youth.

Unique to Sander’s campaign is a fresh dedication to revitalizing the American political and economic structures alike. While other candidates from the DNC and RNC offer the same tired promises and non-committal platitudes that have been reiterated for decades uncounted, Sander’s is addressing issues relevant to the people: poverty, equality, fair electoral changes, equality and justice. Not only doe he hit these hot-button issues, but he does so in a way few other candidates have dared to do in the past—and none so brazenly.

Bernie Sanders is not playing by the rules. Rather, he is attempting to rewrite them. Bernie’s campaign promises a political revolution that will return the American democracy to its rightful owners—the citizenry of the country—from the hands of the wealthy corporations which currently hold it enthralled.

Most disconcertingly however, is that Sander’s promises all of this change under the banner of what he boldly calls ‘Democratic Socialism’ (Link). That’s where the alarms are set off for a great majority of the voting public.

A seemingly oxymoronic term, ‘Democratic Socialism’ inspires both the comfort and equity of our beloved democratic system, while adding a twist of the dreaded red-scare socialism so reviled in the western world. How can these two seemingly opposite systems be reconciled? How can a candidate in a democratic race so brazenly call themselves a socialist and harbour any chance of receiving the favour of voters?

More to the point…just what is ‘Democratic Socialism’?

To understand this question, we must first distinguish between the two faces of government: Political and Economic. As covered in our article ‘Saving the World 101’ (Link), the Political system is meant to address systems of voting and voter representation—essentially it is the process by which elected representatives are meant to conduct the will of the people. In contrast, the Economic system governs the exchange of wealth, property, resources, etc.

The current condition of the government is what could loosely be described as a ‘Democratic Capitalism’. The implication here should be clear enough. There is a Democratic system for politics, and a Capitalist system for economics. With ‘Democratic Socialism’, the political system would remain a Democratic one, while the political system would be shifted towards a more Socialist focus.

As a point of clarification, this primarily differs from the typically more palatable ‘Social-Democracy’ because Democratic Socialism is more actively committed to the systemic transformation of the economy (Link).

This isn’t an entirely new concept in America. In fact, Sanders himself references the laudable FDR as a pioneer Democratic Socialist due to his economic reforms. Nor are socialist institutions a particularly foreign notion, despite the ingrained fear of the word still harboured by many as a relic of the Cold War. Defense spending, highways, public libraries, Police, Fire Departments, postal services, infrastructure, healthcare, farm subsidies, public schools, social security and more are all socialist institutions. True, they do not cart you off to internment camps after taking all you’ve ever earned—but that, despite the rhetoric, isn’t really what socialism is about.

As established in our article ‘On Bernie Sanders and Changing Economic Systems’ (Link), the focus of socialist institutions is the betterment of society. This stands in stark contrast to the focus of capitalism, which—as the name surely implies—is relegated strictly to the creation of capital. This means private wealth.

Social programs use the productivity of society to keep that society going in a way that is accessible and fair to everyone involved. And why not? After all, society is the product of history—and the bounty of society cannot ever be tied solely to its current operators, but rather to the cumulative work of generations of people. For more on this key distinction, see our article ‘On the Concept of Society’ (Link).

Here we can see that the main driving force of Democratic Socialism is a transition in the motives of the economic system. This shift will take it from a self-motivated and arguably rigged system—in which the rich get richer and the poor get squat—to a system which works for the betterment of society as a whole. A socialist economy would actively promote education, access to services, fair minimum wages, and far more. The intended result would be that every member of the citizenry would truly have an equal opportunity to contribute and thrive. By improving wages, education, healthcare and more, no longer would such a large subsection of society be left to the despair of sickness and poverty as the established powers use their political influence to buy votes and change laws to fit their needs alone.

These are the changes to the economic system. A shift from a focus on capital to a focus on society. As for the political system, this would remain largely the same—at least on paper. While the democratic element remains the driving political focus of Democratic Socialism, the economic changes—most specifically the removal of Corporate money from politics—would render the democratic system far more responsive the needs to the citizenry en masse, thus vastly improving the intended function of the political sphere.

This, I believe, offers us a more clear view on what exactly is meant by the occasionally scary-sounding brand of revolution that Sander’s offers. Democratic Socialism is not a surreptitious villain come to rob you of your earnings in the dead of night, but rather a series of reforms protecting your God-given right to participate equally in, and benefit equally from, the society of which you are a part.

To wrap up, let us examine Senator Sander’s own definition of Democratic Socialism:

“So let me define for you, simply and straightforwardly, what democratic socialism means to me,” Sanders told the auditorium full of students, who’d spent hours waiting in the rain to see the presidential hopeful speak. “It means what Franklin Delano Roosevelt said when he fought for guaranteed economic rights for all Americans. And it builds on what Martin Luther King, Jr. said in 1968 when he stated that ‘this country has socialism for the rich, and rugged individualism for the poor.’

“My view of democratic socialism builds on the success of many other countries around the world that have done a far better job than we have in protecting the needs of their working families, their elderly citizens, the children, the sick and the poor. Democratic socialism means that we must reform a political system that is corrupt, that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy.” (Source).

Finally, we can see clearly that despite the dread reserved for anything with a Socialist focus, the revolution of Democratic Socialism is one rooted firmly in the interests of the citizens—not corporate interests or the desires of the Super PACS which have for too long held the politics of the nation in thrall. Democratic Socialism is an attempt to return the freedom and privilege of a free society to the people to whom it rightfully belongs.

It is up to those people, if they so choose, to ensure this opportunity for deliverance comes to pass. A word of warning from your friends at Brad OH Inc.*—you may not get another chance at this.

-Brad OH Inc.

*This in no way reflects the official Corporate interests of Brad OH Inc. We happily encourage one and all to sit at home on Election Day and assume the best results will happen without you. Place your faith in the system—and reserve none for yourself.

The Little Book of Bourbon

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

The stink of sweat, and the wet hiss of street cars. Saxophones screech from dark alcoves like debutantes that took a wrong turn.

Pedestrians rule the streets, beaten up cars working around them like Indians in a barnyard. New Orleans is a city alive in the truest sense—throbbing with its own potential, adorned in its own inequity like Joseph’s spastic coat.

Here, a man can drink on the streets—paved with cobblestone and flanked by sweaty brick buildings 300 years old.

Citizens crazed—with heat, booze, or lust I cannot tell—approach and talk cordially amongst themselves, and this stranger as well.

As the absinthe flows, the thick, cloying air lightens in tandem with the mood, and the night is alive with a thousand potential stories both new, and as old as the dry bones used by the Voodoo Mama just around the corner, ready to divine fortunes for a false smile and a real fee.

Some men look at a city and decide upon its potential early. They go to bed with the falling sun, counting the hours until they can rise to cut deals and exploit the less proactive denizens of this shared hell they inhabit.

Others rise late and party till dawn, seeing the promise of the city instead scrawled upon the cobblestone alleys and dark crevices of the establishments reborn at dusk; eager to meet and engage with the searing enthusiasm burning in a city alight in its own decadence.

For them there is no hell—and heaven is just a street corner away.

I struggle daily with an overwhelming compulsion to defy the norm, to taste and touch as much of life as time will allow while balancing an ‘acceptable’ life. Others fight for normalcy in a world fraught with turmoil. The most we can take from this is the weight of experience on the psyche, and the importance of mad rushes of varied tastes and flourishes of culture. Old cities like this are a natural extension of the social impulse…a thing lost in more modern complexes.

The Natchez steamboat screeches calliope tunes at me as I pass misshapen statues and covens of filthy pigeons. The $300 I came with has been reduced to a dirty pack of crumpled ones.

My knuckles are bloody—seafood or scuffles, I cannot be certain.

I stop to listen to a soapbox evangelist, the frenzy of vacation scaring off my familiar apathy. But his words are unfamiliar, unexpected. He says that religion is an affront to the spirit. God is an ideal. Original sin—as it is described, is the animal nature in us all, whereas God is the perfect goal we are meant to aspire towards.

True or not—this is not the point; the goal is soul, and perfection is a high watermark to all the savage bastards on this earth.

There is a great sense of ownership in this city. Men speak of renovations like child-rearing, and date each building with the care of tracking genealogy.

The ancient weight of history rests upon the streets like a shroud, cloaking the denizens in its comforting embrace, and a sense of community identity permeates all.

It was around 4:00pm, in a small jazz club off Bourbon, when I realized that I’d never leave this town alive if I couldn’t acquire a strengthened taste for straight liquor and twisted people. But there is something horribly sleazy about drinking fine Bourbon from kitschy party cups. Like hiding cocaine in an animal shaped children’s party balloon.

There can be no doubt that I am yet to find true equilibrium. The battle between the boisterous extrovert and the mumbling, cantankerous recluse wages on daily.

Also, I’m a big fan of absinthe.

It’s a funny line to walk—being tugged between the joys and regrets so inherent to a life well lived.

But if a man can persist, and persevere beyond the quagmires he so ceaselessly chooses to embroil himself in, soon enough the straight road may reveal itself.

And just like that, things were making sense again. The night must get dark before the stars appear again to light the way. And if they need still further darkness… it’s always waiting on Bourbon St. …just a breakdown away!

The Little Book of BourbonI’ve learned I lean towards an older crowd than my own age merits, more towards the 50+ blues crowd, willing to truly talk without any of the flirtatious pretension. But this knowledge does little to ease my mind.

A lovely lady lives behind the bar at ‘The Blue Note’ off Bourbon and St. Louis, and feeds me tastes of each drink she makes, providing shots for words as she purrs siren-like about her life and times in NOLA.

She was good, but he was better. She had the kind of angel voice and deadly looks that could with a word command a man into the sickest sort of depravities even he would never have imagined himself capable of. But he had the sort of prodigious talent, and plucked those strings with rhythm and precision sufficient to lift that same man to higher planes of self.

I’ve got to get out of this place. A city of saints and sinners in the truest sense—both more than willing to send a man off his rails and leave him begging for more while reeling with sickness and exhaustion… just as long as you tip.

But not just the tip. They’ll take it all. Your money, your ideals, your direction. Everything that separates a man from these goddamn flea-bitten apes you see on discovery channel as you drink your box wine and eat your cold pizza.

I’ll be dragged down for sure. Deeper than the determined bodies clawing their way up; jealous of those laying in the moldy crypts—spiting sea-levels and buoyancy for the sweeter rumours of voodoo and ancient evils.

No—they’re for another time. I’ll be down in the bayous, a bottle of Jameson clutched in my hand as the gators feast on my bones.

Elsewhere, a woman will stand alone, singing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ acapella as a man elsewhere strums out Beethoven on his guitar.

What am I rambling about?

I’ve got to get out of this place before I’m just a stain on its streets.

I’ve heard it said—both recently and before, that all the great things mankind has done have been the result of the powerful—corporations, empires, tyrants—these are the builders, and this I cannot deny.

But the stage is nothing without its actors, and the great stories and moments have always arisen from the fearless few willing to rise up and rage against the rat bastards with everything that makes us human and keeps us animal.

In the face of the depravity and madness I’ve faced, I still cast my lot proudly not with the world builders, but with the rabble and ravers of humanity.

I just need a woman with an eye for photography or an ear for music—either one will do.

I realized rather early on, but feel it all the more pressingly now, that this city must cease to fear the magic of the past and learn to harness that of the present.

A Guest Article by your Friend and Ours,

-Duke O’Brady

‘The Election’ Published on GonzoToday

cropped-cropped-blogbanner13.jpgHere at Brad OH Inc., we’re happy to announce that our Single Serving StoryThe Election’ is now available for reading on GonzoToday.

A direct link can be found right here.

Further, the downloadable version of ‘The Election’ over at Smashwords is very fast approaching the 100 Downloads mark. That’s even more reason to celebrate! Click on the image below to access a free, downloadable copy of ‘The Election’ on Smashwords.

theelectioncoverWe want to take this occasion to thank everyone who’s downloaded it for your support—we truly appreciate it, and hope you enjoyed the read. For those of you who haven’t yet read ‘The Election’, now is as good a time as any. So click here, or on the image above, and check it out absolutely free in any e-reader format that suits you! Alternatively, you can view it (along with many other fantastic articles) in-browser over at our friends ‘GonzoToday‘ by clicking right here.

-Brad OH Inc.

Donald Trump, Arrested Development, and the Future of the Free World

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

Recently, we here at Brad OH Inc. read an article (Link) about Donald Trump Pinatas being sold in Mexico. This was hailed as a fine example of capitalism in action—the Mexican people, angered by Trump’s racist remarks (Link), were using their money to show what they think of the man.

‘Capitalism in Action’… I wonder how true this is.

What if it was all a ruse by Trump himself, who is not really the racist idiot he’s been portraying lately, but is in fact exactly what he’s always claimed to be: a brilliant capitalist.

Of course, even the finest financial minds require a bit of inspiration, and I think Trump may have found his when recently watching Season 4 of Netflix’s ‘Arrested Development’ (Link).

In the fourth season of this commendable show, there is a storyline involving building a wall on the Mexican border. There’s also a day called ‘Cinco de Quatro’. This mockery of ‘Cinco de Mayo’ was a day invented by the racially-reactive Lucille Bluth as a means of destroying ‘Cinco de Mayo’ novelties in advance of the day.

As it turned out of course, this only proved a very lucrative opportunity for the enterprising local immigrants in the O.C. (don’t call it that).

But considering these events juxtaposed to Trump’s recent activities, I wonder if he formed a particularly wicked little scheme of his own.

Claiming to run for office was all part of the plan, as it created a sufficient platform to insult the entirety of the Mexican people by claiming he would build a wall and have them pay for it.

Trump, and we can assume by this hair-brained scheme that he is at least a bit racist, used this as the bait, and then went to establishing a large-scale business just south of the border producing Donald Trump piñatas.

Clearly, his heinous gambit paid off, and Trump has once again proven himself the insightful genius he’d have you all think.

Or maybe he’s really just a racist windbag. What do you think?

-Brad OH Inc.

‘The Election’

Here at Brad OH Inc., we spend a lot of time discussing current political events, and what sort of future they might suggest. We’ve also explored many different writers and styles over the years. Today, we have a treat for you that combines the two!

Inspired by the unique ‘Gonzo’ writings of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, ‘The Election’ is the story of a cynical journalist covering the heinous events of the fourth annual ‘United Corporate Election’. In this dystopian future inspired by contemporary politics, Corporations control all aspects of government, and elections have been reduced to satirical pantomimes in which citizens use their ‘Citizen Spending Credits’ to vote on their favourite features for the elected effigy.

Journalist Duke O’Brady ventures into this ridiculous spectacle to experience the madness firsthand, but may be in for more than even he anticipated…

This short story is one of our favourites–after all, what sort of self-loathing Corporation wouldn’t dream of such an idyllic future?

We certainly hope you enjoy it as much as all of us here at Brad OH Inc. enjoyed writing it.

theelectioncoverCover Art by- Troy Barker

‘The Election’- Smashwords

-Brad OH Inc.

The ‘Jenga’ Analogy

purelyspeculationEarlier this week, I found myself playing a friendly game of Jenga. Well, not entirely friendly perhaps—it was naturally filled with all the taunting and tension so common to the game.

With each log I drew from the base with tremulous fingers, I breathed a sigh of relief as I watched the tower teeter and totter back and forth. But when it finally found its balance once more, the work was only halfway done.

After a brief period of respite marred only by a victorious sneer at my young opponent, it was time for me to finish my task. With the newly liberated block held delicately between my fingers, I raised it up and let it hover a moment above the top of the now lopsided and treacherous monstrosity we’d created.

Finally, I took a deep breath in and held it. The careful extraction was not my victory, for now I had to place the block on top—hoping against hope that the imbalance I had done to the tower’s base would not prove fatal.

Sadly, my hopes were dashed, and the tower came crumbling down. Wooden blocks scattered across the tabletop, and a squeal of unrestrained joy was loosed from the grandstanding lips of my tactless opponent.

‘If only I hadn’t had to put it on top’, I lamented. But that’s just the point here. It’s easy to cause imbalance. It’s far more difficult to deal with the consequences. When I’d slid the block out, I had created tension—specifically between the increasingly poor engineering of the tower, and the immutable force of gravity.

If it hadn’t been expressly forbidden by the sacrosanct rules of Jenga, I could have tossed the block lackadaisically over my shoulder and passed the buck onto the unaware child before me—forcing them to deal with the repercussions of my block choice.

“Again!” he cried, encouraged by his victory and likely reeling with a distinct sense of invulnerability.

But my mind was elsewhere, and time was not on my side. As I gathered up the blocks and began to replace them in the box, I turned to the clock on the wall to gauge my schedule. 11:00am—just enough time to get one last visit in before lunch.

Oh lunch: the vaunted reprieve from workday responsibilities. With a half-hour of stress-free liberty, my only significant choice would be where to eat. And if that’s the only conflict to resolve, things are pretty good in my books.

But as the last of the Jenga blocks was returned to its rightful place, my hunger-laden mind recalled suddenly the ongoing string of strikes and demonstrations against fast food operations around the world (Link).

Workers had taken to the streets, demanding delivery from the poverty level wages they had been faced with for far too long. The demonstrations were primarily peaceful shows of unity and hope—asking only a fair wage for a fair days work. But as is the leitmotif of any political discourse these days, the demand was mired in controversy and misgivings.

Among the myriad complaints aimed at the workers was the age-old notion of fiscal strain. The argument goes that if restaurants (and it should be noted here that the vast majority of those affected are multinational Corporations) were ‘forced’ to increase their minimum wage, the resultant loss of capital would have to come from somewhere else.

It’s a logical notion to be sure—money is finite after all, and if moved to one place, it must have come from another. The natural remedies, in the Corporate mind at least, are to lay off workers, increase prices, or decrease quality.

Of course, these options lead to long line-ups, inflated meal prices, and dangerously cheap ingredients. As images of soggy lettuce, smeared condiments, and dry, grey ‘all-beef patties’ danced before my eyes, my lunch options seemed somehow less appealing.

There is a problem with this key assumption however, and as so many problems are these days, it is tied to the fundamental structure of the Corporation. Guided by the anti-social leaning philosophies laid out in the ‘Friedman Doctrine’ (Link), a Corporation is structured with only one true responsibility—the shareholder. This means that with every decision a Corporation makes, it is obligated to ensure that the bottom line of share value is being increased.

In essence: no matter what the problem or potential solutions, the goal should be greater profit for the Corporation. Of course, this has historically led to a litany of grave injustices (Link), but just at this moment, it was my impending meal I was most concerned about.

And herein lies the problem. While it’s difficult to argue that workers aren’t entitled to a living wage—particularly in a world where an ever growing number of jobs are being pushed into the minimum wage bracket by increased automation and other factors—I still want a good meal.

But these desires are incompatible in the Corporate mind. You can’t have fair pay, good food, AND reasonable prices…at least not if stock prices are to continue rising.

And so it goes: as each year passes, Corporations continue to take money away from the bottom, while ensuring it also stays at the top. Increase the wages—lay off employees. Respect environmental regulations—decrease the quality of the product. Comply with fair tax regulations—jack up the prices.

You take a block from the bottom, and you put it on top.

The easy answer of course, is that Corporations should, and must, accept that as society changes and technology grows, sometimes they may see a decrease in overall profits. But this should be felt at the top—the shareholders and the CEO’s who are in dire need of learning that just as they claim that ‘a person doing a minimum-skill job deserves only a minimum salary’, so too must the directors of a decreasingly relevant franchise ultimately see a stall in their (still exorbitant) profit margins.

Of course, this isn’t what happens. While many of these fast-food franchises likely started out as very solid businesses offering a decent meal at a competitive price, they have long since grown unwieldy. As the towers of their Corporate offices rose higher into the skyline, their bases grew increasingly unsteady. And we’ve all seen the end result many times before. Eventually, the whole operation comes crumbling down. After all, no one wants to pay $14 for a shitty burger just so the CEO can afford to take a private jet to his island resort.

And this, better than anything else, illustrates the fundamental failing which has occurred in our conception of capitalism. Namely, the transfer of implicit company responsibility away from its customers—who rely on a strong and reliable base—to its shareholders—who care only for how high it can reach before they sell their shares and watch it all crumble from the vantage point of the next opportunity they make ready to despoil.

It’s a depressing thought to say the least. And so, as I slid the Jenga box into my bag and made off to my next visit, I made a decision. Today, maybe I could pass on lunch. I was hungry no doubt, but as I thought about the implications behind which barely-edible meal I’d buy, I found that my appetite was gone.

Fuck it, I’d just go hungry. After all, if the Corporations had it their way, that would be the fate of the lot of us.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Uncomfortable Issue of Population Control

purelyspeculationLast week on Brad OH Inc., we discussed the old and misconstrued ‘Fear of Big Government’. In that article, we explored the common revulsion toward the notion of government intervention in the lives of its citizens, and the ubiquitous but erroneous assumption founded by the repugnant Ronald Reagan that we need to get government ‘off our backs’.

The core thesis we developed in that article was that while the actions of many governments have been less than desirable in both past and present, the true purpose of government is the protection and promotion of its citizens—a function which should not be feared but rather revered. To these ends, there are certain central domains in which government control must undoubtedly be focussed, primarily: healthcare, education, infrastructure, stable wages/ living conditions, scientific research, promotion of environmental concerns, and access to food and water.

This is admittedly a very basic list, but it does provide a functional framework for government interventions. All efforts in these areas must—in any democratic government meant to represent the people—be aimed not at increasing profits for corporations and special interest groups which line the pockets of government officials, but rather at solving problems and promoting the general welfare of the electorate.

A quick peruse of these topics will, however, reveal one common and absolutely key concept for any government hoping to moderate over a well-functioning society; the uncomfortable and cringe inducing issue of population control. While money must never be the dominant issue guiding government practice, it certainly is an important concern when discussing support of citizens balanced against fair taxation, and as such the population size of a country is a crucial consideration.

Perhaps ‘population control’ isn’t the right term. Depending on where we are going with these notions, a better term might really be ‘population management’. If a government is to promote equity and access amongst its citizens, then central to its task will be the ability to understand the size and growth rates of its populace, and design an intelligent and functioning society to accommodate this.

At present, the ongoing fear of big government is serving its role well, rallying citizens to follow the lead of the unscrupulous political right in decrying government involvement in anything that might possibly help the general welfare and direction of the nation, while allowing it only in promotion of economic gain for involved parties. The results are clear as day; it’s a strange and subversive sign of the times, that it’s our poor who grow fat as our rich stay healthy.

Corporate needs dominate the political spectrum, poisoning our citizens and environment alike as record profits are posted and the ‘free-market’ is heralded as a success.

Naïve fools the lot.

So if turning the reigns over to profit-driven corporations and entrusting them to care for the people of the nation isn’t the right approach—and it most certainly is not—then what is?

The key issue here is not whether we must change the current system, but what system will fill its stead. An issue like population management is a heavy one to discuss beyond doubt, but it must be addressed directly and with honesty intention if we are to avoid it’s becoming a taboo issue discussed only behind closed doors by parties of questionable motives.

It is a driving issue, and must be discussed by the whole of the population to be managed. For even if we deny the issue, it will be a key factor in how we manage our economy, food stores, treat the poor, provide education and healthcare, etc.

Clearly, the more people exist, the more demand for resources, and in an unideal world, hence more scarcity. Even if we learn to plan our resources around population, and ever increasing population would lead to heavy sacrifices rather quickly. Ultimately, when it comes to the effective management of a population, there are, as I see it, essentially three basic approaches.

The first approach would be to simply accept that some people are less entitled to the productivity of mankind than others. This is most similar to our current approach. In this scenario, resource access would be determined by factors such as social standing, property/ business ownership, socio-economic status, and more broadly, location of birth.

Taking a stand such as this one, resources would be divvied up by priority, with some people gleaning great wealth and prosperity from our system, while an ever-increasing number receives very little.

A second approach—and the one which makes this such a delicate issue—is the more conventional definition of ‘population control’. A policy like this would demand a clear account of extant resources, and a broad understanding of what sort of lifestyle citizens are entitled to. From there, it would be a simple matter of division to determine the ideal size of the population, and steps—ranging from sterilization, birth limits, eugenics, or population culling—would be taken to make the numbers match.

This scenario has been enacted several times in the past, and represents some of the darkest and most horrifying eras in human history.

Neither of these approaches to population management result in the sort of society that I—and I should hope any of my readers—would hope for. So then we are left with the question, if not these failed methods, then what?

Given the incredible state society has managed to reach in spite of our past missteps, and the unspeakable potential promised by a commercially freed and unleashed scientific community, I believe we are entirely capable of creating a third, more ideal solution. I have little doubt that the combined power of modern computing, science, and human vision is able to design a system to monitor and anticipate both changes in population size and need, as well as existing resources. Such information would allow for a more dynamic and responsive means of addressing scarcity.

Further, in order for such a system to be created and maintained, increased government funding would be necessitated towards science, education, and healthcare—the lot of which would perforce be universal human rights if we are to expect any positive shift in the direction of our society.

A streamlined scientific community, coupled with an economy dedicated to the positive growth of culture and equity, would be fully empowered to find creative solutions to production, provision, and other means of positive population management through a system motivated not by profit, but by simply improving the general human condition.

Furthermore, one key long-term goal would be that of interplanetary exploration. This would provide for both an alternate source of resources, and ultimately alternate planets to inhabit and build upon. But this might be better discussed in a… future article.

The roots of these convictions have already taken hold. Examples range from innovative solutions to solving urban food scarcity (Link), to active attempts at subverting the mounting energy crisis (Link), to community based food-sharing programs (Link). It is by examples such as these that we will work actively towards solutions, rather than merely using obfuscated politics to justify corporate-manufactured deficits.

The end-goal here is to plan for the world we want to live in, rather than cope with the one we’ve created through greed and ignorance. But first, we need to change our priorities. A culture which focusses solely on profit, and defines freedom strictly in market terms, is forever doomed to the scarcity and inequality inherent to such ideals. It is science, not business, which must be unleashed; that, and the passion of earth’s good people—determined to build a better world. On this front at least, I remain convinced that scarcity is not an issue.

-Brad OH Inc.