One Thing is Certain

If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright. So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.  Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.

Amanda Gorman

At the Biden inauguration, a young woman, the youngest ever poet laureate at a presidential inauguration, absolutely blew everyone away. It was the most inspiring performance of any kind that I have seen for a long time. Her name is Amanda Gorman. She is a 22-year sophomore at Harvard and her voice will be ours to enjoy for years to come. I’ve put the video here and hope the link holds because I would like to watch it very occasionally for many years to come.

There is a bit of lightness in the air now. With Trump and his family banished from the White House and a new president in place who is earnest and sincere. We shall see. I am not as optimistic about the long term as many. But in the short term, just not having the constant barrage of negativity and nonsense feels like moving to the sunny side of the street on a cold day.

It’s the inconvenient truth that is seldom seriously discussed that democracy in the modern environment is for sale to the highest bidder. Those with the most money, donating to the politicians and hiring lobbyists, are able to influence favorable legislation that promotes their interests and welfare at the expense of others. This is not sustainable; but because it is not being discussed, it is not being addressed. The GA Senate runoff elections cost what a presidential run cost a decade ago. I get dozens of emails a week from politicians asking for money. 100% of them—are asking for donations. The message is of course that if you want your voice heard, you must pay.

We’ve had some robust conversations these past weeks over the virtual poker table. Mostly politics; foreign and domestic policy; economic policy; tax policy; immigration; social issues like racism and class division and economic inequality. Elon Musk was worth $20B a year ago and is now worth nearly $200B. Jeff Bezos also went from $100B > nearly $200B in the past year — after giving $30B to his ex wife. The particular type of capitalism being employed in the US, buoyed by a complicit and corrupt political system, is destroying the lives of the majority and will eventually threaten stability in society to a much greater degree even than we are seeing now.

I published an article in Medium based on my decision to finally leave Schwab for Fidelity. The article is here.

Surely a fools errand. I hate that Schwab was such a big contributor to Trump so I finally left them behind. Abigail Johnson, CEO of Fidelity has occasionally donated to some republicans, but she seems to favor democratically leaning PAC’s. She just seems a better person than old man Schwab but who the hell really knows. So I just decided to finally do it after threatening to for years. Of course it might have been nice to go with a small credit union for banking, but it is just so much easier to have investment accounts in the same institution so it is easy to move money between business and personal accounts and investment accounts. So that pushes me back to the larger organizations and who really knows the soul of these behemoths or their leadership? But I still fucking hate old man Schwab for donating $1M to Trump’s inauguration. When we are at the point in our society where one billionaire donates $1M to another billionaire to throw a party, it seems fair to say we’ve lost our way.

I also am not naturally a pessimist. I strive to be a realist with a bias towards optimism. With that, over these past years, I have come to believe that the gap between the myth of America and the reality of America is significant. Optimism, in my view, must be buoyed by facts and in the past 25 – 30 years, certainly since the Reagan and Gingrich era, we have been on an inevitable course towards the landscape we are now faced with and I am struggling to see any realistic scenario that results in the type of unity that is required for a country to act with purpose and positivity.

In our debates, I hear so many people blaming the press. As if they don’t represent the society they live and practice in. News organizations are mostly for-profit corporations (NPR a notable exception) that generate entertainment for sale and so simply provide the style of entertainment that is most profitable for them. It’s the essence of capitalism applied to news and public communications. However, I find the right-leaning organizations exploit this scenario far more often and far more acutely than the more traditional journalism-based organizations. None are perfect, but I find it disingenuous to throw them all into the same bucket.

Damn that Obama. Why did he have to write a book of 700 pages? And this is only half the story– he will write another massive tome which I will also have to read even though I already know how the story ends. I lived through it. Sure, there are plenty of details and nuanced explanations of context, but I know the highlights man because I was there. But…..it’s a good book and I want to read it. And so I shall. I am digging through as I have time.

I miss rugby. I really fucking miss playing rugby. I miss the camaraderie. I even miss the brutal practices Bullitt used to put us through. The wildness of combat and the adrenaline in the heat of battle.

So many great memories of rugby tournaments. Park City, Missoula, Spokane, Salt Lake City, Bozeman and the wonderful heads-up matches we would play against the Maggots in Salmon. Some of the best times in my life. Especially in those tournaments where we were competitive and played 2 or 3 games on Saturday and a final on Sunday. There is something immensely satisfying about that quality of tiredness that comes after 3 games in a day when you’ve left it all on the field. And then a few beers and a hot shower and dinner and a few more beers—all the wine already thinking about the next day’s final. What are their strengths and how are we doing to defend and contain and how can we exploit our strengths to create space and opportunity.

Friday Night Martini was a gin and tonic at L’Albatross. Decent enough place. Nice bar and food is pretty good. I had Botanist gin with elderberry tonic and a bit of citrus. For dinner, a pork belly dish with cauliflower.

Tomorrow Amy and I will go for a hike along with Hank. I will leave Pops at home—he is not as fond of Hank as I am and also he can’t handle more than a mile or two at a time. Bad wheel in the front.

I came on the following quote by ole Willie and found it endearing.

There are two kinds of men in the world. Those who have a crush on Linda Ronstadt and those who’ve never heard of her.

Willie Nelson

No other news of note.

Humbly submitted.

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