Open letter to progressives… or whatever liberals aren’t ashamed of calling themselves today

liberalism-definition-then-and-nowDear Not Conservatives,

You motherfuckers. You really fucked this shit up, didn’t you?

You’ve forgotten what it means to be liberal.

The truth is, it’s not you’re fault. Its actual definition is so outdated that it’s referred to as classical liberalism. You know, like those cats from the Scottish Enlightenment whose work inspired the declaration of independence: John Locke, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, David Hume. I mean, conservatives had to invent a new word – libertarianism – just to make it ok for them to accept anything containing the word “liberal” without having to call a spade a spade.

But the good news is this: if you reclaim liberal, and I mean really own that shit for what it is, conservatives will have nothing left to offer the American electorate.

Conservatives run on the pretense of wanting to limit the power and scope of government. We all know that’s bullshit. Shit, some don’t even pretend anymore. They’re just big government conservatives. But the only issue they have left that gains any traction with the electorate, and there is a point to be made here if you’re growns up enough to deal with real life, is fiscal stuff. And this is not to say they’re anywhere near anything that resembles “good” on fiscal/economic/regulatory policy. They just run on it. And don’t even do that well. Politicians are a joke.

Now here’s the potential difficulty for modern day liberals: you just need to out-liberal the conservatives. I’m talking classically. Fortunately, you already should on almost everything but the fiscal stuff. And the healthcare stuff. And the entitlement stuff. And regulations. Taxes too. Wars. Some other stuff. Ok, this might seem crazy, but just hear me out.

Remember Bernie Sanders going all free market on CNBC talking head and faux free marketeer Larry Kudlow (who equates Alexander Hamilton with free markets, which is an automatic nonstarter since Hamilton was actually the original crony capitalist, but I digress) amidst the financial crisis back in 2007? You only need the first thirty seconds for the true impact.

Proof positive that this shit can work!

Conservatives pretend to be fiscal hawks when it suits them. No secret. But the truth is, and this has noting to do with liberal or conservative, everybody needs to be like 180 degrees more hawkish in reality, and not just on a cable news split screen shouting match, because none of us are immune to… what’s it called… math.

To liberalize financial and other regulations is to repeal them, and yes that’s a good thing. Deregulate is really just code for reregulate. Even “regulate” is just code for giving the most powerful factions the ability to pad their bottom lines at everybody else’s expense by paying for codified protections from competition, taxation, and prosecution. In simpler terms, to regulate is the power to dole out favors. To properly out-liberal them you must un-regulate from the public sector to allow market solutions to emerge and (actually) work. So be more liberal.

Take a recent real life example. Some people don’t want to purchase and eat food with GMOs. I’m also aware that some people like to argue over the science behind GMOs and whether or not they’re harmful, and that’s great. But good, bad, or ugly, here’s what’s relevant for now…

There’s been plenty of rabble rabble made in recent years about passing laws at all kinds of levels of all kinds of governments  to mandate food labeling for GMOs. Through all of the noise, certain organizations like The Non-GMO Project (which has actually been around for a decade now) emerged as the regulators of record. Their logo began popping up on stuff I was already buying, regardless of my GMO indifference, and I remembered thinking that desire is a powerful force. Grocers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and restaurants like Chipotle have responded by reducing, if not eliminating, GMOs from their businesses. Other grocery stores have both options. It seems that passing laws can’t hold a candle to consumer demand. Who knew?

Speaking of supply and demand stuff, when you tax something, you get less of that something. To liberalize tax policy is to lower taxes as well as closing loopholes. The tax code is just a game invented for those wealthy enough to game it. Start to take chunks out of that, game over. So be more liberal.

To liberalize education policy and actually turn things around, you need to limit the scope of government intrusion into the classroom and allow for competition and innovation to extract new solutions and practices to better advance learning, because clearly all of these standardized tests aren’t turning the trick. Just let teachers teach so we know which ones are good, bad, overpaid, underpaid, etc. All of which is a long way around saying, be more liberal.

To liberalize foreign policy means ending the wars and the Global Military Team America World Police Empire in favor of talk and trade. To liberalize immigration policy means to open borders. Liberal. More.

Healthcare. I’ve already said all I’m going to say on it. When a cartelized industry’s companies’ respective stock prices are rising in value as a result of legislation being passed, that’s probably not a good sign. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you need to be more liberal. You can read more later if you still have the stomach for it: Like your health plan? Go fuck yourself!

I’m sure by now you can see a pattern forming here, being more liberal: remove as much government as possible and power to the people. That’s what those aforementioned enlightened Scotts were all about. They were liberals in their time. You still have a chance to be. Shit, there’s even a list of distinguished minds from across the globe that recently threw down the gauntlet and reclaimed the word liberal cuz they’re not scared of it!

Conservatives will have nothing left. Nothing. Women’s reproductive rights? They lose. LGBT equality? They lose. Drug war? They lose. Conservatives lose.

If that’s what really motivates you, then just imagine liberals winning election after election against some teary eyed look alike of a hybrid Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum. You might also have a positive impact on liberty in the process, but you don’t have to pretend to like it.

Love,
Craig

Like your health plan? Go fuck yourself!

Inspector GadgetIf you’re like me and don’t rely on the employer mandated monopoly route of obtaining health insurance, perhaps you’ve had a similar experience.

This morning I received an email from my current insurance provider, BCBS of Tennessee, to inform me that my policy will be discontinued as of July 31, 2015. Since I set up recurring payments through my online bill pay, I must admit to being a bit puzzled by the email. When I called to inquire further into the matter, a representative informed me that my policy isn’t approved by ObamaCare.

Whatever happened to all of that rhetorical bullshit about getting to keep your plan if you’re happy with it?!?

Now just to be clear, I’m not “happy” with my plan. However, I wasn’t looking to change it either. For lack of a better way of putting it, I was content to keep my plan because my options are limited within this cartelized corporate oligopoly called the insurance industry. So are yours. Thanks to ObamaCare, now it’s even worse.

If anybody thinks that this law does anything to improve access to and quality of health care, you have your head buried in the sand… or up the ass of some politician(s). I’m no fan of the health care law for obvious reasons. So in lieu of today’s events I wanted to share my ObamaCare rant from almost three years ago, because I’m just worn the fuck out over here:

My thoughts on health care, and the PPACA (aka ObamaCare) in particular, are that the bill does nothing to bust up the already existing health insurance monopolies – regional and otherwise – that predated the bill. Quite the opposite. In fact, it protects the health insurance companies by guaranteeing them 300+ million customers in perpetuity. In other words, their incentive to lower costs is almost nonexistent. If we got back to an actual market for health care (not insurance, insurance is the driving factor that keeps costs up) then we would actually know what things truly cost. Health care is the only good/service that we don’t even shop around for.

Imagine a market solution where we can completely blow the lid off of supply. So states like Mississippi that have only one or two insurance providers now have to deal with an influx of competition. Instead of waiting on infinitely long lines, imagine walking into Kidneys-R-Us to get your organ and transplant at a fraction of the cost. Plus, markets would eliminate the need for insurance coverage for routine checkups such as annual physical, dental cleaning, eye exam, dermatologist exam, etc. Insurance will only come into play for catastrophic coverage or preexisting conditions – which will all be much easier to afford when costs drop dramatically as a result of getting health care back to Doctor-patient relationships and a pay-as-you-go model. If you actually have to pay directly for your health care, the inflated coasts will come down instantly. The well-intended regulations and laws only serve to create bubbles in health care pricing. As far as tax exemptions and credits go, this just proves the crony nature of ObamaCare and the perverse incentives it offers.

Every reasonable person can agree that all should have access to quality, affordable health care (care, not insurance). But this individual mandate approach, originally a conservative plot conceived by the American Enterprise Institute to battle HillaryCare, currently being embraced by the progressives and high liberals is somewhat ironic. No public option. Massive corporatist giveaway to large incumbent insurance companies that effectively eliminated their competition and incentives to compete and lower costs. Sounds pretty perverse. Let’s at least get back to a free, voluntary exchange and actually let markets work for a change. If we don’t try to control and steer them, they won’t go haywire. But if it’s still a messed up system, reform will be much easier then what is currently going on with health care legislation… polishing a turd!

Farming In Fear Documentary Trailer

Sean Malone‘s latest documentary Farming in Fear features the Radar vs Wolf song “Get Gone” and has an instrumental version running throughout the trailer. The full film premiers July 11th at the Anthem Film Festival.

Tales From The Road: “Slut” Shaming and Catcalling

“I am still as stupid as anyone, but I know my mistakes.” – Propagandhi

play bass and sing vocal harmonies in a rock band, which involves extensive travel and puts me in contact with all sorts of people from every possible walk of life across the country. One observation from my travels that rings true, regardless of which locality I happen to be in, is that sexism and misogyny are very real.

Thanks to my punk rock upbringing, I’ve been acutely aware of the individualist feminist struggle against things like slut” shamingstreet harassment, and rape culture from a young age. Institutionalized and indoctrinated sexism and misogyny run so deep that it requires confrontation through direct, individual action. None of the following anecdotes are horrific or even overt, but I often feel that the subtle incidents require more attention because it’s easier to sweep them under the rug and/or shrug them off as random, isolated incidents.

“Slut” Shaming

“Slut” shaming is normalized to the degree that people are often completely unaware that they’re engaging in it. After one particular show we were hanging by our van when some young women made their way over to us. There had definitely been some alcohol consumption going on that night. After a few minutes of jovial, semi-slurred banter one of the girls referred to her “skanky shirt” in an underhanded manner, which I can only guess stemmed from a prior experience(s) being shamed for dressing a certain way.

That triggered my serious face. I looked her square in the eyes and said, “HEY. Don’t slut shame yourself, it’s enough of an uphill battle as it is!” To which her friend promptly perked up, pointed right at me, and said, “See?! This guy knows what the fuck he’s talking about!” All I could really do at that point was smile, put my fist in the air and triumphantly say, “Solidarity.” But there was a genuine appreciation and mood change from that moment on. Perhaps it helped alleviate the stigma of “girls approaching band boys after shows must be sluts… and sluts are bad!”

Catcalling

One night we were hanging outside of the venue prior to the show. It was a busy section of the city, so it made for some interesting people watching. At one point a car parallel parked up the street and three well dressed girls got out. For some reason the night’s first performer decided it would be a good idea to shout, “HEY BABY! You wanna come in here and watch me perform for ya?!” I was pretty well steamed, not to mention embarrassed. As much as I wanted to confront this guy I knew I needed a different route.

The girls were walking down the sidewalk towards us, and I decided to start walking towards them. As we approached each other I looked up and quickly and quietly said, “I’m really sorry about that jerk back there yelling at you like that. It’s totally uncalled for. I don’t know what you’re up to tonight, but if you’re planning on attending the show then I’m especially sorry and hope you can still enjoy yourselves.”

They smiled, thanked me, and kept walking. Not only were they there to attend the show, they stayed until the bitter end and bought our shirts, cd’s, and posters. They even stuck around for a bit to hang and chat. I’d like to think that’s mostly due to the fact that we don’t suck. I’d also like to think, at least, a small part had to be associated with how I apologized to them for the catcall.

Male on Male Harassment

I’ve fought against sexism and all that stems from it for years, especially slut shaming. But I wanted to wrap this all up with a more personal episode due to its absurdity. The only thing that’s relevant is that a fellow male performer slut shamed me for engaging in certain consensual behaviors with a young woman after our show one night.

The presumption that I was doing something unethical with a woman made me beyond irate. All I could really do without losing my cool was laugh at him, ultimately knowing that others would unintentionally throw it back in his face a few days later, which they did. And making him look and feel like an ignorant ass without having to move a muscle or utter another word was a magnificently cathartic moment.

This post originally appeared at The UnSlut Project.

MarseeMarci on Craig and Radar vs Wolf

During our fall tour we played Las Vegas, where I used to live for about four and a half years during 2006-2010. I hadn’t been back since, so it was great to return and see some friendly faces! It also ended up being one of our best shows of the fall. My friend Marci Aguilar has some kind words for me and Radar vs Wolf (although she did suspiciously leave out that I introduced her to Arrested Development. Ahem!), not to mention some rad photos! Check it out:

Hello November! This one is a quickie featuring my friend Craig in his band, Radar vs Wolf! (You can check out their latest music/news/updates here!) They toured all the way from Nashville, TN to play at The Beauty Bar here in downtown Las Vegas.. Craig taught me everything there is to know about baseball (GO ANGELS!) and will always be my favorite person to share cat photos with.. Baseball, cats and he plays the bass?? Sounds like a perfect combo to me! Now go check ’em out!

Flying Under The Radar: My Life As A Bassist

RvWHere’s a quick little interview I did with the Amarillo Globe back on November 5th while out on the road with Radar vs Wolf. Our show in Amarillo also happened to be one of my favorites on our fall schedule. Enjoy!

As a bass player, Craig Schlesinger is used to flying under the radar.

And that’s what he loves about his instrument.

“You have to be the rhythm with the drums but you also have to provide some kind of melodic movement to glue it all together,” Schlesinger said. “I think the real challenge is to find something simple and tasty that complements the song.”

“Some bass players can get lost in that need to stand out and be heard,” Schlesinger said. “There’s a time and a place for that, but it’s really about what does the song call for and what does the band need.”

It was his recognition of that need that made him part of the band in the first place in 2011, long after James Bratton and Tomas Gorrio first formed it as a duo.

Bratton and Gorrio booked studio time with producer Mike Marsh, who brought in Schlesinger to take part.

“Mike and I have been close friends for almost 20 years, and Tomas and James are really tight, and I think there was this real synergistic chemistry that was going on in the studio that felt like we were really onto something,” Schlesinger said.

He decided to tour with the band, while Marsh plans to join up again in time for the full band’s next album, due out next year.

Kyle Cox: The Plan, The Mess

the plan the mess cover artKyle Cox‘s much anticipated debut full-length album The Plan, The Mess is out now!

The album features producer/drummer Mike Marsh (The Avett Brothers, Dashboard Confessional, Paper, Seville, The Agency), myself on bass, Paul DeFiglia (The Avett Brothers) on upright bass on “Honey Let’s Run Away” and “Let My Love”, Cherrill Green (Eden’s Edge) on mandolin on “I Found Love“, Mike Docuhette (too many credits to list here) on pedal steel on “Never Looking Back” and “Old City Train”, Brian Seligman on banjo on “Honey Let’s Run Away”, and additional vocals by AJ Cheek, Corey Quintard, James Roquemore, and Rachel Smith throughout the entire album. Right, and some guy named Kyle on vocals, guitars, keys, organ, and harmonica.

Everything was recorded at Mike Marsh’s East Nashville recording studio The Paper Mill. Neal Cappellino did the mixing, and Eric Conn did the mastering.

You can purchase The Plan, The Mess on iTunes, on CD, and/or on vinyl. But before you do, watch the music video for the album’s first single “I Ain’t Been Lonely, Until I Met You” below. Plus you can stream three more tracks here before you inevitably decide to buy the album on all three formats. Or Something. Enjoy the #songs!

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