The Sunday Driver, S1, E2: Monday, Monday

Good Evening to you and yours; this week we do Sunday on Monday. I truly hope each and all of us had a safe and restful weekend, celebrating America’s birthday, good, bad or indifferent. As John Hancock famously uttered 244 years ago, “We are about to brave the storm in a ship made of paper. And how it will end, only God will know.”

Moving to the immovable object, we’ll check the numbers. As of this writing, the US has chalked up a milestone with 3,006,240 total Covid-19 cases; among these are 44,530 new cases, 251 new deaths, and 1,571,960 active patients. Our national death toll now stands at 132,704. For some holiday perspective, that is nearly twenty times the total number of American combat deaths in the Revolution; Happy Independence Day, again.

Here in the Mitten, we now have 66,173 total cases, 297 new cases, 3 freshly and dearly departed, and 5,975 total deaths. Who else thinks we may have reopened a mite too soon?

Monday, Monday

“Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day, Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way, Oh Monday mornin’ you gave me no warnin’ of what was to be, Oh Monday, Monday, how could you leave and not take me?”–John Phillips, 1966

Just as the whiff of gunpowder and manufactured hell-scape hysteria from the weekend waft away, we get bad news this afternoon on the lost-legacy front. Charlie (Charles Edward) Daniels died suddenly today at the age of 83 from a hemorrhagic stroke, passing at Summit Medical Center in Nashville. Daniels scored his most iconic hit, The Devil Went Down to Georgia, in 1979, charting at number 1 and number 3 on Billboard’s Hot Country and Hot 100, respectively. Daniels enjoyed a reasonably prolific career of over 60 years, earning him inductions into the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame in 2002, the Grand Ole Opry in 2008, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009, and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.

Notably, Daniels made the same political progression we witness in so many folks as they age without growth or evolution; his earliest hit, 1973’s “Uneasy Rider,” portrays him as a country boy in the counterculture movement, arguing with right-wingers in a honky-tonk redneck bar. And yet, by 1975, we find him penning “The South’s Gonna Do it (Again),” in which he sings “So gather ’round, gather ’round chillun’, get down . . . well you can be loud and be proud . . . be proud you’re a rebel ’cause the South’s gonna do it again and again.” Later that year the Ku Klux Klan inserted the song into its radio spot for the Louisiana Klan Rally, prompting Daniels to disagree with the context, but without suing the Klan. Smooth.

Moving across the pond to perhaps more genteel material, very sad news came out of Rome, Italy with word that Ennio Morricone, the Oscar-winning composer of over 500 scores, passed from complications following a broken femur at 91.The son of a trumpet player, Morricone began composing at age 6, and burst onto the scene early with his singular scores for A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Morricone’s enormous and unfailing body of work can most simply be described as sublime, in the same fashion that Pope Julius II had to acknowledge the sheer, divine genius of Michelangelo, despite the Pontiff’s misgivings.

If you ever feel a personal need to revisit all the longing, angst, hope and heartache from the most poignant parts of your life, play Morricone’s main themes from the films Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), and Cinema Paradiso (1988); if you don’t weep openly, you’re already dead.

Supreme For a Reason

Speaking of courts, how about that Chief Justice John Roberts? Coming off an already remarkable bit of institutional stewardship in which Roberts’ votes saved Title VII employment protections for LGBTQ Americans, and citizenship opportunities for nearly a million DACA kids, blue-eyes was at it again last week.

In two June 30 decisions you could characterize as quasi-religious bookends, the SCOTUS first struck down Louisiana’s abortion restriction in June Medical Services v. Russo. June et al involved Lousiana’s use of draconian restrictions on admitting privileges to help set the footings to overturn Roe v. Wade, restrictions that were gleefully endorsed by the usual suspect Justices Clarence Tee, Alito, Gorsuch and Beach Week. It was noted that while Roberts had voted to stay the law last year, his position was a cipher, and he decided to come down on the side of judicial restraint and stare decisis, IE “let’s not get so hasty we look stupid.”

But you don’t have to take it from the likes of me; in the words of an obscenely more learned court-watcher, Prof. Jane Schacter of Stanford Law stated “What does this mean for abortion rights going forward? The victory in June Medical is unquestionably a significant one, but it does not end the debate. It is noteworthy that the formulation of undue burden recited by Roberts is unclear, with some of his language at least leaving doors open to more freewheeling regulation of abortion.”

Proof of Robert’s lack of a left-wing conversion can be found in the same-day ruling of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, which blew a considerable hole in the wall between church and state. For brief background, the Montana legislature had established a modest tax credit scholarship program, which conferred a benefit to those who donate to organizations that, in turn, grant scholarships to elementary school students. When the plaintiff sought said monies for her daughter at a Christian school, the state’s Blaine Amendment nixed the grant.

Writing for the court, Roberts opined “A State need not subsidize private education . . . But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.” So the Lord giveth, and taketh away, just like that. Can’t wait to see what they come up with regarding Trump’s tax and financial information in Trump v. Vance and related matters this week; indeed, the court that pretends to be apolitical could decide the election with the stroke of a pen.

The War on Christmas (in July)

And as we round third and head for home, anyone who has the misfortune of knowing me is aware of my staunch position on the War on Christmas, and other reliably fake, utter right-wing bullshit. Writing on my theory of Shambolism four short years ago, I spewed as follows: “Showing how he could make any fallacies the GOP had heretofore constructed even huger, better and gold-er, Trump grabbed dozens of debunked, hackneyed grievances of the right, blew them up into hordes of gargantuan, rampaging canards and produced a drive-in movie we can call Trumpocalypse. And when Politifact finds 71% of Trump’s statements false, and 72% of Clinton’s true, yet we’re at margin of error on election eve, we know shambolism works.”

This year, the GOP hoped that with an economy humming for folks already humming, Trump & Co. could ride to re-election with little or no heavy lifting or deep thought, provided of course there was no real need for studious, serious, sane leadership. Well, Covid-19, a crushed economy, MPD Ofc. Derek Chauvin and 64% of Americans who support BLM protests had other ideas.

If anyone doubted where this gaping leadership void would lead, Trump’s Friday Night Follies at Mt. Rushmore ended the speculation. Essentially drawing a culture-war line in the sand to protect monuments exalting some of the most heinous treasonists in US history, Trump went there, bellowing “Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children . . . Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our Founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities . . . They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive. But no, the American people are strong and proud, and they will not allow our country . . . to be taken from them.” And the mask-less crowd went wild.

The following night, Trump staged a redux on the National Mall, loudly proclaiming “We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and people who in many instances have absolutely no clue what they are doing.” If only such passions could be aroused for the protection of nearly 50,000 Americans per day who’ve recently tested positive for Covid-19 leading up to such epic buffoonery.

On a few final and related musical notes, I had the privilege of sitting in with a regular band-mate’s side project on the Fourth. While Gus had lined up another drummer, that gentleman’s wife forbade him from attending the large, MAGA-leaning, packed lake-house soiree out of very real Covid fears. Although Teresa and I mind ourselves in our household as well, I decided to do my pal a solid, and took as many precautions as I could. At the gig, when I elbow bumped the homeowner in lieu of a handshake, he gave me an odd look, but later on the real deal occurred in slow-motion.

As I was chatting with a beefy, bearded bull of a boy about health and safety, his Grandpa came up. “Hey Gramps, this is the drummer. He can’t shake, he’s got a (sic) immune girl at home.” With that, the old man pulled the plastic spoon he was sucking on out of his mouth, opened a large chafing dish, stirred up the chili and began eating directly out of it, sneering at me all the while. I wasn’t hungry anyway.

God Bless America and All Ships at Sea.

Author: Bill Urich

A tail-end baby-boomer, Bill Urich was born in Cleveland to a grade school teacher and her Navy vet husband, and reared in Greater Detroit. Working his way through school primarily at night, Mr. Urich holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism, Phi Beta Kappa, and a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University. In his legal career he has acted as an assistant state prosecutor, city attorney, special prosecutor, mediator, magistrate, private practitioner and mayor of Royal Oak, a large home-rule city in Michigan. Mr. Urich continues in private practice and municipal prosecution, is on faculty to DePaul University, pens regular contributions to political publications, and remains active in selected campaigns and causes related to labor, social and criminal justice. A father of three mostly-grown sons, he spends his precious free time on family, friends, the pursuit of happiness, beauty and truth, three rescue cats, and fronting the rock band Calcutta Rugs from behind the drum kit.

What say you, the people?