All posts by rexmerritt

Time to Sober Up

If one lived during the times of the tragically brief presidential campaign of New York Senator Robert Kennedy, it’s easy to imagine how supporters of Bernie Sanders feel.

Frankly one must be heartless not to share Bernie backers’ enthusiasm and admire their devotion. Okay. Fury. Or one must be a pragmatist, an American who knows what our vast middle will tolerate. And won’t.

Regardless of whatever “-ism” respective sides attach to him, the Vermont senator will be denied the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

Inspire multitudes as Sanders does, has, and further might, his flavor will not find favor with the majority of Democratic voters.

The blind zeal of Bernie Backers reminds me of the factions fighting against the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War. Various Republican parties (in the Spanish conflict Republicans were the good guys), communist cadres, and anarchists banded together to preserve the Spanish Republic. From the jump it was an unwieldy mob.

In the end, despite the same goal of defending the Republic, then envisioning their design steering the saved nation, factional differences split them apart. Once riven by disunity, any ability to fight cohesively deserted them. The movement collapsed.

That resulted in nearly 40 years of Falangist rule under Francisco Franco.

The Loyalists, or Monarchists or Nationalists if preferred, sought to establish an autocracy. Not only were all rights singing the same Psalms from the same hymnal books, but they also received manna from godless Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

Memories of the Great War’s slaughter still fresh throughout the non-axis world, the Spanish Republic’s natural allies – other democracies – were reluctant to contribute what we now popularly call blood and treasure. Despite espousing the same noble principles as the beleaguered state, leading democracies refused aiding the Spanish Republicans. Such a commitment by them not only would’ve preserved Republican Spain, but given Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s fascist Italy, and the Imperial Japanese empire pause about future rampaging.

Emboldened by the democratic states’ cowardice, the rogue trio correctly determined them weak. The Soviet Union concluded the same. A natural foe of the Nazis, Stalin rightly judged the situation by entering a non-aggression pact with Hitler.

Stalin was not going to go it alone. Reading tea leaves was unnecessary to see another European war on the near horizon.

The destruction and displacement that occurred during the 20th century’s second great conflagration could’ve been delayed, if not altogether thwarted, had the democracies banded together for Republican Spain. Instead they remained on the sidelines, a stance just as good as opposing the duly elected Spanish government.

Rather than fight for their common good, Spanish Republican components eventually splintered into partisan blocs – especially the anarchist wings. At times, the anarchists even turned their weapons on allies.

In our 2020 election, those claiming themselves “progressives” are coming across as Spanish anarchists did. Believing only their cause righteous, they have purposely lost sight of the ultimate aim.

Menaced today as the United States is from within, Americans now are not prey to fascism. Reactionaries, evangelicals, white identity groups, and the corporate entities exploiting the trio’s self-invented grievances as far as these will plump bottom lines have no grand intent to marginalize and eliminate populaces they find offensive. But how imminent might that become with four more years of Donald Trump? And how much further egging on from the short-fingered vulgarian will similarly embolden such sickness here as the 1930s democracies’ failure to act did fascism?

Four more years of the vile pig currently soiling the Oval Office may be enough to jolt red-in-the-face theory into a society disrupting force. That is an opening no true American should wish to provide.

In Spain, the immediate fight was to preserve the Republic. In 2020 America, the goal which will save the United States is defeating the real estate fraud and diluting GOP federal legislative power. Both goals are quite attainable.

Under Der Trump’s misrule and the GOP’s insistence on dismantling as much of the federal machinery as possible – sparing, of course, our bloated military – America no longer enjoys any of its former preeminence. Yes, we retain unmatched armed might. Yet what good is a musclebound state if its leadership is brainless?

Even if it results in hobbling the Democratic Party and its increasingly likely candidate former vice-president Joe Biden, progressives will insist their brand of self-destructive purity should be accepted over mainstream appeal and nation-saving pragmatism. I mustn’t imagine how the self-absorbed romanticism of the avowed left has consumed them with misguided fervor. There’s nothing sexy about the mundane, the tried-and-true.

Yet drab expertise and experience make systems work. Seeing how dysfunctional our federal machinery has become and the inability of anyone currently at the top to repair and then operate it properly during our virus agonies is fine advertising for smart and steady.

The Nationalists victorious, the Spain which had blossomed under Republicanism after drab centuries, imposed rule that stunted the Iberian nation more than had earlier eras.

And while the most committed of Spanish Civil War losers possessed sterling memories and told swell tales of “the good fight,” they nonetheless lost the war. Isn’t that the worst-ever second place? Certainly their recollections, their telling of them, would’ve been better had their side won.

It is known victors write history. Less known is losers only get to read it, not revise it.

Hearing progressives today perhaps we should be concerned they’d take some kind of tarnished glory from intentionally sabotaging the presumed mutual objectives of all true Americans. After all, should Democrats lose in November, progressives can find selfish comfort knowing they remained unbowed in their insolence at the nation’s expense.

May no American ever celebrate our decline so joyously.

Despite renown for being bold people, Americans are generally timid and cautious at heart. Timid and cautious, not weak.

Sure, we’re innovative and inventive. We’ve made and may continue making great strides in technology.

However, on the societal and cultural planes Americans barely advance incrementally enough to achieve station-to-station progress. Understand it took the Depression, World War II, and Sputnik for the vast majority of us to put aside our social divisions and regional differences to ease, win or solve each of those calamities.

Eugene Debs, Norman Thomas, and certainly Henry Wallace, all earlier socialists who ran for the presidency, presented ideas which had these been implemented just might’ve further improved citizens’ lots. The decisive electoral defeats of each candidate simply prove Americans impervious to electoral leaps of faith.

Admittedly some of Bernie’s proposals sway great numbers of us. Primarily the myopic. The senator is a wonderful salesman for pie-in-the-sky.

Also given these Trump times ours may appear akin to those upheavals that introduced America to mid-20th century challenges. The short-fingered vulgarian looks so bad in our eyes because those who lived through truly perilous times established provisions that cushioned and cosseted us so well for the longest.

Ingrates as many of us have become, we’ve ignored the past. We now foolishly believe ourselves bulletproof to cataclysm. Seems coronavirus and the gradual shredding of the safety nets and financial safeguards since the Reagan Era are about to retire our air of invulnerability
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The upside? A lot more of us may get to learn the melody and lyrics to Brother Can You Spare a Dime?

Yes. Der Trump is a disgusting disgrace. Nonetheless the vile pig being relative to what this nation has endured, he’s a rash, not a shattered limb.

If momentum is veering towards Joe Biden, it’s because Americans are practical people. More and more of us are coming to the instinctive conclusion that unswerving as Bernie styles himself, he’s offering the United States impractical snake oil.

Revamped Wasteland

Since cord cutting, I’ve been doing a lot more finagling with my digital over the air antennae. Stream to watch TV as I often do, the nature of the beast still leaves viewers vulnerable to blank screens.

Wonder if the cable system goes down? More likely, when comes the inevitable next instance of Las Vegas area OTA stations unwilling to pay higher re-transmission fees to cable or satellite providers? Continue reading Revamped Wasteland

Crazed

Let me give two examples of just how different life is here in Las Vegas.

Earlier in the month, a complete stranger sidled up to me. He asked where he could score some “H.” Some smack.

Drat! If only he’d sought hookers instead.

It wasn’t an integrity test because those involve straight-up cash for providing/procuring abnormal services and goods. Or swiping property from the premises or persons on them.

Facilitating the request or thieving is never the problem. Getting caught, as one in the hospitality sector does now and then, is the problem. For a destination marketing itself as a place where inhibitions can be left at home, at the airport, or abandoned inside hotel rooms, Las Vegas has contradictory notions about sinning.

Sorry. Vice.

Financial ruin through gambling and dissipation by assembly-line cocktail bingeing is accepted. In fact aren’t both encouraged?

Yet the sexual exchanges can only be so mercantile and deviant, while drug usage tests the full extent of schizophrenia. Several topless shows and male reviews render the artifice of naughtiness entertaining. However, the authorities cast cold eyes upon visitors and locals alike who seek to forsake life through vicarious distance for actual fleshly delights.

Nevadans who approved cannabis use laughed then dismissed the “medicinal purposes” nuisances in order to enjoy weed recreationally. But giving the people what they want and allowing it are two different things. Instead of standing aside, legislators established vindictive hurdles in regards to where marijuana may be consumed.

Happy to report that in libertarian Nevada, the rules are being ignored. The aroma of icky-sticky wafts around public places and in prohibited hotel areas. Fortunately for all involved, the authorities aren’t crusading to keep sidewalks and parks free of stoners. Also, hoteliers quickly understood an increasing percentage of their guests looked upon the restrictions as less reason to visit the Big Mayberry.

After all, what can’t happen in Vegas?

The hotel industry realizes much clearer than the soberest bureaucrat that a good percentage of Las Vegas visits are impulsive. No one here wants such trade to put much thought into a Las Vegas journey. The concerned enterprises want that first germ to sprout and overwhelm all other contemplation with its abundant blossoms.

Thought beyond the initial urge could call into question whether it would worthwhile paying Strip addresses’ exorbitant restaurant and cocktail prices, the high fees for amenities, sundries, and parking as well as shouldering a club’s table service expenses. Thinking about any or all of them may be enough to cast shade upon visiting Las Vegas.

Simpler is better for those in every facet of the industry. They don’t want prospective guests pondering. They want prospective guests looking eagerly to the journey and adventures once here.

Anyway, about the visitor seeking a deck to calm the monkey on his back I could do nothing. Thankfully for us both he wasn’t jonesing. Despite my inability to aid him directly, I suggested a few avenues he might pursue. Surely on one of them he’d find a hollowed-out figure who could help him score.

In February, the above encounter has not been the month’s most unusual. Nor its least unpleasant.

Driving home from work for the weekend, one of the city’s legion of wild-eyed homeless men accosted me at a red light. At least he wasn’t scabby, grime-encrusted. His hair wasn’t unkempt and matted.

After a shower, a shave, and detox he might’ve appeared presentable enough to have applied for a job. Bet that notion never pierced his voluntary haze.

A nice high desert day, I’d rolled down the car windows. Normally the beggars perched on the sidewalk curbs make quick pitches. Until relocating to Nevada I never gave “spare change” much thought. Employed throughout adult life, my money has been fairly rigidly apportioned.

Being unresponsive normally suffices to have the pavement wretch “bless” you then shuffle along to the next possible soft touch. Not this one, though. Not only was he anchored at my window, he was also insistent.

Hearing his rapid patter, why wasn’t this cat on some store floor persuading gullible customers to make unnecessary purchases? Isn’t there good money in that?

He reminded me of a salesman working on commission. One who had to close steep sales goals in order to receive his percentage.

Rough living had aged him. Subject to the elements and these exacerbated by whatever chemical compositions coursed through his system, the poor devil couldn’t have been far on either side of 30. Despite this he was still in better shape than me.

Seeing his target resistant to parting with any coins at all, he tried guilt-tripping me. Give him this, for a crazed piece of drug-addled, two-legged vermin he was observant. He spied my watch and driving glasses. Yes. Both carried prestige labels. Yes. Both were expensive. Neither were gifts. I bought the latter after earning the money through work; the former a reward from opportunity provided by industry.

About the glasses, I love the brand. In fact I own a pair of shades bearing the same mark. You bet they get workouts during Mojave summers. Besides, wearing them makes me look cooler. The watch? The watch has a background that has startled listeners.

Practicality and sentiment. Two attributes I knew my supplicant had lost any and all appreciation of if he’d ever possessed either.

The way he rattled on must’ve lengthened the time at the stop light. Or maybe it was another manifestation of Einstein’s theory of time. In a second’s duration, a kiss from a lovely girl lingers less than an instant; holding a red-hot poker lasts an eternity.

My tormentor had enough time to delve into personal insults.

Nice to know my withholding a contribution had driven him into further desperation. My refusing to donate, really barely acknowledging him actually, frustrated him further.

No. Us both knowing he lacked any outlet probably angered him more.

No. My taking satisfaction in us both knowing him stuck in futility when the light finally turned green and me moving on while he remained mired in whatever hell he’d created himself hopefully angered him the most.

Good.

Shallow Thanks

Once again, that most American of holidays is upon us. Thanksgiving. That day may be our finest national holidays because it commemorates nothing. Nor does it beg solemnity for anything.

Doesn’t Thanksgiving typify us? The fourth Thursday in November just insists we wallow in mindless gluttony while passionately pursuing socio-political points as we solidify family grudges. Continue reading Shallow Thanks

Sidewalks Are Not for Sleeping

Middle of November 2019, the Las Vegas city council approved ordinances to corral the homeless. The legislation will ultimately frustrate all involved and prove meaningless. The only good which may come from them is a somewhat honest public debate regarding transient control and the funds taxpayers will wish to dedicate to such.

There should be no doubt that a good portion of residents will suggest loading vagrants onto Union Pacific freight cars then shipping and leaving them in the Mojave. Here in libertarian Nevada, the idea of an individual making him- or herself incapable of carrying his or her own water, of being an intentional public burden, will rankle. Continue reading Sidewalks Are Not for Sleeping