Sunday, May 18, 2014

I am finally at the age where I bury more friends than I make.

               Sometimes you meet a person that changes your life. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes, not. That's the crapshoot of friendship. If you are asked why you are friends with someone you likely spout platitudes as you grope for an answer. Friendship, like love is something that happens in spite of our best intentions.

Dan(Jeremiah) Freeman was a friend.

We met around thirty years ago. We both did cable TV. We both loved music. We both shared a best friend.

Jeremiah had spent years in the music business. He started playing professionally at thirteen. The man had a rough, raspy speaking voice but sang clear as a bell. He could take a sad country song and reduce you to a puddle of tears in a honky tonk. And he seemed to know them all.

He played bass guitar primarily. Though he was also an accomplished lead player when he wanted to be. But as a singer is where he made his greatest impact.

Danny was an old school country singer. He took the old classics and infused them with life. You felt the pain and joy in the lyrics. Love lost or found. Drinking to forget or remember. Riding the rails or your thumb across rural America or the factories of the North. And he could do all this loaded.

All the people who knew him have a plethora of "Jeremiah" stories. After a person's passing there is a tendency to gloss over flaws. Well, no matter how hard you try you'll never be able to paint Jeremiah Freeman as a saint. Hell, no one could do that with a straight face.

Danny was the kind of guy who drew strong reactions from people. If you knew him, you either loved or hated him. Sometimes both in the same hour. He could be kind and caring, then a real bastard. Sometimes, but not always, it depended on the Budweiser consumption, as to which Jeremiah you were dealing with.

He could give you the shirt off his back as he stabbed you in yours. He could be funny, sweet and charming. or he could be vicious as he told you how to fix your life, even if there was nothing wrong with it.

The bastard would have a handful of new jokes every day. They were never politically correct. He had a sharp wit. I once said to him"No one phrases like Willie Nelson." His reply? "Who'd want to?"

Oh, he drank. He would order two beers at the bar at a time. I once saw him so drunk he forgot the words to "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey". A friend of mine once observed that if he and I drank as much as people thought we did, we'd be dead. We simply couldn't drink that much and function. Jeremiah did drink as much as people thought he did. Sometimes more. He would then sing you down a country road, or across a forlorn stretch of highway.

In the last year we didn't see each other as much. I was too blind with cataracts and too broke to go see him. He was legally blind and no longer drove. But, we'd go see an act  at the house of a friend of his. He managed to get me lost going there. He also sang with Linda Ronstadt at one after show jam.

Sleepy LaBeef had him sitting in with the band whenever he played Columbus. Sleepy offered Danny a gig in the band. Jeremiah asked if he took it would I help him move to Northwestern Arkansas. I said, sure. Danny was getting sick then, I think and passed on it.
Danny playing bass for Sleepy LaBeef Aug. 2013

 We had a rocky relationship. There were days we hated each other. There were days when we we as close as two friends could be. And everything in between.

The city of Columbus is a little duller now. Even more boring. Dan was one of a kind. Thank God. I know my life will be duller, less chaotic and fun from now on.

                                                       Good-bye, Jumbo.

With Sleepy LaBeef at The Hey Hey gig in Aug.2013
(Photos copyright 2013 Thomas Givens all rights reserved)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The GOP House Gets Desperate.

               Speaker of the House John Boehner's district is about fifty miles west of where I live in Columbus Ohio.It has a reputation as perhaps the most conservative District in the Ohio Congressional Delegation. Southwestern Ohio is about as red as red can be and not be a flaming bastion of Klansmen and Neo-Confederates.

The Speaker has never been considered a brilliant political strategist. He may be best known for handing out checks from the tobacco lobby on the floor of the House. Basically a bag man.

Speaker Boehner's weak grip on his caucus has been evident since the Tea Party Wave of 2010 ushered in a group of Freshman Republicans who don't play well with the Party establishment. This has been evident since the Debt Ceiling negotiations in 2011. Boehner repeatedly thought he had a deal he could get passed in the House. He repeatedly had the plans thrown back at him by the Tea Party members.

He's allowed 50 + votes to repeal the ACA to placate the House Tea Party Caucus. He has put Members who call science "lies from the pits of Hell" on the Science and Technology Committee. He put Michelle Bachman Bachman on the Intelligence Committee. And so on and so on. These moves were made to placate the crazy Right Wing Members he has to contend with. Akin to herding cats.

The Speaker lost control of his caucus when the Tea Party adherents forced a Government Shutdown over the ACA. He was the victim of a Tea PArty Mutiny. He has been forced to move important legislation using Democratic votes to pass the House.

Boehner has been attacked by the Right for not being a "true conservative". There have been unsuccessful calls to replace him as Speaker.

He's allowed Darrell Issa (R-CA) to run witch hunts on the non existent scandals of the Obama Administration. Fast and Furious (Started under Bush). Te IRS. And of course, Benghazi, the Republican Beetlejuice.

The GOP in Washington has been focused on Benghazi since 2012 like a cat chasing a laser dot. It is the go to scandal to hype when events threaten to boost the president and other Dems. It is rolled out at every opportunity as a distraction and attempt to show just how lawless the Tyrant Obama truly is. It is also a way, they hope, to mortally wound a Hillary Clinton Candidacy.

The investigations of the faux scandals have been a bust for the rabid Obama haters posing as Members of Congress. So, there is only one logical option. A House Select Committee to interrupt and impede the current investigations. After A Select Committee is the only way to ensure partisan political gain is the objective and get the media exposure for their fantasies.

When he announced the formation of the committee, Speaker Boehner assured America this was not an exercise in political theater. Pursuit of information was the goal. He then went on to pronounce the Administration guilty. So much for an unbiased look at the issues.

This Special Committee has been welcomed by the tea Party Caucus.They obviously see this as a way to generate sound bites for their reelection campaigns at home. A public way to show how much they are serious about opposing POTUS.

Lurking in the background, since a lot of House Republicans have stated the President should be Impeached one must wonder just what the actual agenda is. Impeachment is the obvious answer.As weak as he is the Speaker will be unable to rein in the extremists in his caucus.

These Republicans are obviously hoping to gain the Senate and remove the Usurper from office. That has been Republican policy since president Clinton. A total rejection of any popularly elected Democratic President.

The Select Committee is a dangerous move in this coup attempt.

As they strut before the cameras, spouting their racist and conspiracy fueled views, normal Americans will react with contempt and vote for sanity. These RWNJ's on parade will make the US ,once again, the laughing stock of the world, damage our standing and cripple our diplomatic ability.

The Democrats can not boycott the committee. There has to be a voice of sanity to oppose the madness that has gripped DC.

God save the United States.