A number of my readers have complained that I use images or words from The Beatles to drive home my points. Here is a representative example of that criticism:
“How dare you use an image of George Harrison as click-bait for your pro-Trump bulls**t! George and the other Beatles never would have associated themselves that orange-haired a**hole. SHAME ON YOU! YOUR ARE NOT A REAL BEATLE FAN!”
The essay she is referring to is here: How the Democrats could still lose the 2018 midterms
I appreciate the profanity-soaked feedback…but let me respond.
First, for those of you under 40 that don’t know the significance of The Beatles, think of them as the 1960s version of Donald Glover, only there were four of them.
As to those who criticize my use of Beatles imagery, don’t assume you know how any of The Beatles would react to Donald Trump. Only two Beatles are still alive, of course, and neither have been aggressively anti-Trump (though Paul McCartney has written a song about Trump, which I am told is not complimentary).
But Paul has always had a tendency to aim for popular culture’s sweet spot.
Paul has also criticized Trump with respect to policy, recently telling the BCC, “You’ve got someone like Trump who says climate change is just a hoax. A lot of people like myself think that’s just madness.”
I am all for opposing Donald Trump on policy. For example, it would be nice if these rabid anti-Trumpers would carve out some time to protest the growing likelihood that the U.S. is going to war against Iran. Sadly, I don’t think the Democratic Party establishment has any problem with such a reckless and doomed-to-fail military adventure.
But back to The Beatles…
In contrast to Paul’s criticism of Trump, Richard Starkey (aka. Ringo Starr), who has unexpectedly become the good-looking Beatle in his reclining years, has come out in favor of the Brexit vote; and, offers some sage advice on Brexit that is equally applicable to the Resistance in the U.S.
“I think it’s a great move; I think, you know, to be in control of your country is a good move,” Starkey told the BBC. “The people voted and, you know, they have to get on with it. Suddenly, it’s like, ‘Oh, well, we don’t like that vote.’ What do you mean you don’t like that vote? You had the vote, this is what won, let’s get on with it.”
Damn! Ringo just hammered the European Union globalists like he did to his tom-toms on “Tomorrow Never Knows.”
As for the deceased Beatles, John Lennon and George Harrison, it is not so clear to me that they would reflexively support the Resistance.
Lets start with my favorite Beatle, George, who wrote my favorite Beatle song, “While my guitar gently weeps.”
George also wrote the best anti-big government, anti-tax song in the history of popular music: Taxman
If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat
If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet
Should five percent appear too small, be thankful I don’t take it all
George hated high taxes.
At the time he wrote Taxman, the top tax rate in Britain was 83 percent.
The Beatles, in general, had middle-class upbringings and were surprisingly bourgeois in their understanding of the world. When George visited San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district in the 1967’s Summer of Love, his description of the place when he returned to London was, “It turned out to be just a lot of bums…dropping acid.” Pat Buchanan or Billy Graham could have just easily had that reaction.
Oh, but surely John would be an outspoken Trump critic…right?
Maybe. Maybe not.
One of his most famous songs, Revolution, was actually a song against left-wing revolutions.
You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world…
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out…
But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait
Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright?
Revolution’s most poignant line is in its chorus: “Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright?” If there is one message John was trying to impart in this song, it was that even when serious problems exist, they are not existential.
In other words, the U.S. and the world will survive Donald Trump. We might even be better for having him.
British journalist, Maurice Hindle, who first interviewed Lennon in 1968, said “Lennon much regretted his earlier associations with the radical left.” The song Revolution was Lennon’s sharp reply to these activists that he viewed as directionless and inherently prone to violence.
Like his fellow Beatles, John had a middle-class upbringing. He was raised by his aunt and uncle, Mimi and George Smith, the latter making his career in the bookmaking business, before gambling away the family’s meager savings. John internalized that experience as he gained his own substantial wealth. And, as John’s financial fortunes grew, political groups began asking him for financial support, to whom he basically replied, ‘F**K OFF.’
John was more than happy to donate a song (e.g., “Give Peace a Chance”), but give money? Don’t forget one of John’s favorite childhood songs was Berry Gordy’s Motown song, Money, which included the lyric: ‘Money don’t get everything, it’s true, but what it don’t get, I can’t use. I need money, that’s what I want.’
And it wasn’t just on the topic of money where John was unapologetic about his bourgeois-esque attitudes.
While appearing on The Dick Cavett Show in 1971, Lennon was asked by a female audience member about whether he was concerned about overpopulation. Lennon’s answer surprised her and Cavett: “I don’t really believe it,” Lennon said. “I think whatever happens will balance itself out. It’s alright for us all living to say, ‘Well, there’s enough of us so we won’t have any more.’. I don’t believe in that.”
John would later dismiss the ‘over-population’ problem by noting that as he flew over the U.S. he noticed there was “a lot of room for more people.”
The issue of overpopulation was popular on the Left in 1971. Three years earlier, Stanford biologist Dr. Paul Ehrlich predicted in his book, “The Population Bomb,” that half of Americans would die by the late 1980s due to overpopulation and the resulting famine. (Where do you think Marvel’s idea for The Avengers’ main villain, Thanos, came from?)
Over 40 years removed from Lennon’s critique of Ehrlich’s overpopulation thesis, the intuition of an art school-educated rock star was far more accurate than that of the Stanford biologist.
If you want to draw an analogy to global warming and climate change, I won’t stop you. And I think the evidence supports the hypothesis that John, if he were alive today, would dismiss climate change alarmists as he did the overpopulation alarmists in the 1970s.
And in the end…
One last thought for those who are offended or bored by my frequent reference to The Beatles when writing about contemporary politics.
We all get to interpret their music and lyrics as we wish. I use Beatle music as a background choir to my daily diet of partisan, corporate-driven half-truths being promulgated by the mainstream news media (and I include Fox News in that wretched heap — though, I confess, I am a Bret Baier-fan).
For me, when The Beatles introduce to us the Fool on the Hill who thought the critics were the actual fools, they are warning about the fine line between arrogance and self-confidence. When John sings about the apolitical Nowhere Man who ‘knows not where he’s going to’ because he’s just like you and me, he’s talking about the importance of humility.
And, most importantly, The Beatles were about challenging authority. “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” environmental activist Jack Weinberg once said. [I prefer Ronald Reagan’s “trust but verify.”]
As I write this I am watching CNN’s Don Lemon lecture us about what a big liar Donald Trump is, and how anyone that believes the FBI spied on the Trump campaign is being duped.
Perhaps. Don, after all, has all of the Obama administration’s authorities on his side.
One of the risks in challenging authority is that, sometimes, the authorities are right.
This is not that time, however.
If you want to believe the FBI didn’t secretly investigate (i.e., ‘spy on’) the Trump campaign using informants and all of the intelligence collection tools available to them, go right ahead.
But listen to our nation’s former intelligence chief, James Clapper. When asked by The View’s Joy Behar whether the FBI spied on the Trump campaign, Clapper’s response was interesting.
“No, they were not,” Clapper answered. “They were spying on, a term I don’t particularly like, but on what the Russians were doing. Trying to understand were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage or influence which is what they do.”
In layman’s terms, the FBI was spying on the Russians by hanging around the Trump campaign. That is what we call a distinction without a difference.
Clapper’s response shows how much the Obama administration crafted their public response for when the “spying” program was revealed (which they knew it would be eventually).
Even if you accept Clapper’s distinction, it doesn’t change the fact that at least one Trump campaign adviser was targeted by a FISC-approved surveillance operation and a FBI counterintelligence operation targeting Trump campaign advisers was opened in late July 2016.
Those facts alone justify this simple question: Did political motivations influence the approvals of these intelligence efforts? And the suggestion by that skeptics of the Obama administration’s story are peddling conspiracy theories, is simply a shaming technique. It doesn’t require a conspiracy to believe the U.S. government lies. Out of convenience or perceived necessity, our government lies…a lot. Such behavior by our government leaders has been ‘normalized,’ as is so popular to say these days.
It is therefore fair to ask if politics influenced the FBI’s decision to run a counterintelligence operation against the Trump campaign. As yet, we have not received from the news media or the government a verifiable answer. A healthy skeptic is not going to just take their word for it. Show us the memos, the e-mails, and the meeting notes that started this operation. How was it funded? Who authorized? Who managed it? Was President Obama briefed? When? Etc. etc.
I don’t believe for a moment that the FBI’s decision to launch ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ (high marks to the FBI for their naming creativity, by the way) was sparked by a drunken George Papadopoulos spilling his guts to an Australian diplomat in a London bar in May of 2016.
NO F-ing WAY.
When the truth does comes out, we will likely discover our intelligence and law enforcement agencies’ were interested in Donald Trump long before that May 2016 meeting — probably around the time the Fusion GPS contract to collect intelligence on Donald Trump passed from the Washington Free Beacon to a Democratic Party-aligned law firm (with ties to the Clinton campaign). Just an educated guess.
At the same time, I am hardly shill for Trump. For example…
…I would not be surprised if Donald Trump is on a ‘pee pee tape’ and has allowed his business interests to get tied up with some very unsavory types (including, but not restricted to, Russians).
…I believe the Trump campaign made a significant effort to find dirt on Hillary Clinton, including her ‘deleted emails,’ even if that meant meeting with Russians. None of which is necessarily illegal.
…I believe Cambridge Analytica, at a minimum, knew their voter databases were ‘vulnerable’ to Russian hacking; or, worse, may have facilitated that transfer via servers located in Trump Tower and Russia’s Alfa and SVB Banks. [The New Republic’s Alex Shepard, however, provides compelling evidence that this probably did NOT happen.]
…I also believe Paul Manafort and Roger Stone are money-grubbing Beltway Bandit has-beens, proven by their known past to be devoid of integrity, and entirely capable of using their connections to Trump and Russian oligarchs for personal financial gain. They are pit vipers posing as human beings. The last two people a legitimate presidential campaign should bring aboard.
…and I swear, as it became clear on election night that Trump had won, I went onto my deck and could hear the Russians laughing at the stupidity and incompetence of the Obama administration and our two presidential candidates (Куча идиотов!).
Even if we take everything Clapper and other Obama administration officials have said as fact regarding spying on the Trump campaign, they need to account for they still allowed the Russians to not just meddle, but affect the final election outcome. [I have previously published evidence that the Trump campaign’s social media efforts, which had help from the Russians (knowingly or not), had a quantifiable impact on a significant percentage of voters. You can find my research here.]
That is my summary of the 2016 election. And everyone involved, from our two political parties to the partisan news media, is trying to cover their butts.
And, sadly, our journalists are not doing the job protected by our Founding Fathers when they wrote the Constitution. It is possible to believe the Russians meddled in the election, Donald Trump was unaware of this meddling, and the Obama administration spied on members of the Trump campaign. All three statement can be true. It would be nice if our journalist corps would press the current and former administrations for the truth.
Instead, today’s journalists are more likely to be telling us what their government handlers want us to hear instead of what we should hear.
Which is why I am always skeptical of corporate media. They’ve already misreported too many things in the Trump-Russia story for us to trust them now [Don’t believe me? You can find a list here].
Yes, the news media gets some things right. For example, I’m confident there is a volcano spewing lava in Hawaii right now.
There are still some good reporters out there, but many of them are trapped under the fetters of corporate media, motivated more by career advancement incentives than a healthy skepticism of ‘official sources.’
We would all be better served if we stopped accepting access journalism driven by anonymous government sources. For when we do, we are probably being played for fools.
We should demand independent, verifiable evidence. We should demand the truth.
The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald calls these access journalists the ‘stenographers’ for our nation’s political and economic elites. You don’t have to like Greenwald to know he’s right.
But the truth will come out eventually about what really happened in the 2016 election…unless we stop demanding it and just accept Don Lemon’s advice.
And for those of you that have made to the end of this essay, you are rewarded with the 2010 stereo remaster of John Lennon’s political rock masterpiece, “Gimme Some Truth.” Enjoy.