In My Life

While trying to keep track of the of the intenders, contenders and pretenders lining up to run for President in 2016 is much akin to watching geese and assorted other water fowl land on a lake. Not every bird lands on the water with majestic grace. Some find their favorite spot quite easily. And some do not. Some are scared off by the more domineering members of the flock while others prefer to just land somewhere else so as not disturb their fellow feathered friends.

To me, much like these birds, watching the combatants who are trying to wrest their respective party’s nomination to run for President has always had little interest for me. The fact is that there will always be a bunch of people at the beginning of the process trying to get the nomination, but only one will be ultimately chosen. It’s much like watching a basketball game. The outcome is usually decided in the last 3 ½ minutes of play. That’s the part of the game that is of the most interest to me.

To date, there are three people on the Democratic side that want your vote. Hilary R. Clinton, the odds on choice to get the nomination leads the pack, but Bernie Sanders, the Independent party long-shot is surprisingly gaining ground on the front-runner while Martin O’Malley former Governor of Maryland and former Mayor of Baltimore actually thinks he has a shot to overtake Hilary and Bernie. The British have an expression in sizing up O’Malley’s chances with the phrase, “not bloody likely.” But, he will continue to press on, tilting at windmills in the best quixotic tradition made famous by dreamers and pretenders.

On the Republican side, the number of announced candidates so far can easily comprise of every position on a baseball team complete with more people designated as pinch-hitters. Moreover, there will be even more candidates expecting to announce their intentions to run in the coming weeks. Watching these people slug it out for the nomination is like watching middle-aged combatants engage in mud wrestling. Not a lot of style, virtually no class and the results are significant only to those who really care. The only saving grace is the entertainment values in watching these people look for any angle to belittle their opponents by slinging mud.

For the most part, I am truly disinterested until the polls and the voters have determined who the few remaining candidates are. Those are the ones whose voices and views will resonate the most with the voters. Usually, at that point in the race, issues and personalities are clearly defined and it becomes my time to seriously consider which one of them will get my vote. It’s much like the last 3 ½ minutes of a basketball game. So, I thought that I had plenty time to wait and see who will rise above the fray.

That was until last week, when Donald J. Trump imperiously rode down an escalator to grace a group of seemingly paid participants with his presence to announce his Presidential candidacy. In a short speech, he was deftly able to insult many ethnic groups, a handful of countries, tell us how rich he was and declare that he (and only he) knows how to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. In Yiddish, his speech could be described as “chutzpah on steroids.”

My only concern is witnessing this charade was that the song being played as “The Donald” descended the Trump Tower escalator to meet the masses which was Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” What? How would Neil allow this guy to use his song? Well, apparently Neil didn’t and immediately issued a cease and desist order for the Trump camp not to use the song in the campaign. Clearly this rejection upset the Trumpsters. Usually a rejection of this magnitude may prompt some type of retaliation. I was thinking that perhaps a good way for them to punish Neil would be that from now on, no Neil Young songs can be played in any Trump property elevator, male and female rest room or sauna anywhere in the world.

Neil Young wrote the song, he owns the song and being of the stature he is in the music business has earned, has every right to dictate how the song should or should not be used. This action by Mr. Young is not new in political campaigns. The L.A. Times reported on August 14, 2008 that Jackson Browne sued presidential candidate John McCain for using Browne’s song “Running on Empty” in a campaign ad without permission. Of course, it didn’t help that Mr. McCain’s and Mr. Browne’s political views are considerably different, so no amount of possible negotiation between the two sides would have yielded a different result.

Apparently the McCain campaign had a history of using songs for his campaigns without prior permission. He used a Mellencamp song, ABBA song and a Frankie Valli song, all without permission.

The bottom line is that we live in a society of laws. Those laws are designed to protect everyone’s rights. Right wing, left wing, centrist, it doesn’t matter; we’re all protected. Songs are intellectual property and using them by other than the author for political reasons requires the simple granting of permission.

Going into July 4, 2015, a mere 239 years since the United States declared independence from England, serves as a reminder that there are still some people that are not mindful of the rights of others. Soldiers have fought and died for those rights. Let’s not forget those soldiers on July 4th and also remember the rights that this country has so valiantly fought for.

Rock On.
Happy July 4th!