Conversations with the Ghost of America’s Future Past (Gov. Starkey edition)

America's Future Past
In the future! Minnesota Governor Carson Starkey (R) sits down with us for a conversation about the future – future, his immediate plans, and his commitment to the electoral “grift machine” cash-in of taking advantage of powerless and impoverished white people by getting them all worked up about impoverished black and brown people. 

St. Paul, MN — Earlier this week for our 4th of July special we sat down with Carson Starkey, who was elected Governor of Minnesota a few years back as a Republican. The following is a run-down of our conversation.

Troy

In retrospect Mr. Governor, you’re the perfect candidate GOP candidate in Minnesota, moving margins on the range which had been trending, that’s your home town, move margins in St. Paul where you live, which has long been an opportunity to trend GOP, as AgreeingLoudly.com cited back in 2015 through 2017, so it all makes sense.

Governor Starkey

Most of the lobbyist meetings focus on criminalizing contraception and making (edited for content)…. punishable by death.

Troy

The standard former President Pence platform?

Governor Starkey

Exactly. And it helped that I stumped for him in ’24 and ’28. I also campaigned on the promise that I would spend most of my first term reducing unemployment (editorial note: unemployment is 9.7% in Minnesota, which is better than 37 states in the country). I feel like I’m going to have to hold a press conference to disavow that promise. Small government priorities seem to hold different meanings for voters compared to lobbyists.

Troy

I would argue the GOP is not, nor has it ever been a small government political party.

Governor Starkey

Your reluctance to play the game is why you’re a failure.

Troy

Admittedly the full page ad I took out in the Strib to stop your election, which I’m surprised they published since robot Koch bros. bought the paper in 2025, did nothing to stop your election. The 2030 Starkey coalition is on record for being the most bizarre electoral coalition in political history perhaps. Ranging from working class Springsteen fans, to hippy lefties who know you personally, the chamber crowd, then of course your impressive out-state showing where your flannel wearing literature really took off. And I’m not talking about a picture where you’re wearing flannel, I’m talking about the lit itself. All flannel. Impressive. Almost as good as the American flag lit. Your opponents never stood a chance.

Starkey for Guvnah
Carson Starkey (R-MN) won with 43% of the vote, thanks to impressive showings upstate and a declining national Democratic Party, which has begun to have negative effects on the last competent state party, the DFL, which continues to see defections.

Governor Starkey

Which is not to suggest that I’m invincible. Minnesota will never be Kansas. I can’t run astronomical deficits and bankrupt the University of Minnesota (editorial note: the U of MN system is the last public universities left in the state of Minnesota ever since MnSCU leaders converted all their facilities to automation and robotics factories, a key contributing factor to rising unemployment in the state). After all, tax rebates for millionaires have to come from somewhere.

Troy

How do you plan to balance the budget next year?

Governor Starkey

Mostly tax hikes on people making less than $50,000 per year. And fees. Fees for everything.

Troy

Isn’t that going to cause more social problems though? Not to mention anger your political base? Who prefer small government? Raising taxes — isn’t that heresy?

Governor Starkey 

Possibly, but everyone from Duluth to East Grand Forks will be busy talking about the Hmong/Somali deportation force. And tax hikes on people that can’t make large campaign contributions are acceptable as long as people with the last name Swenson know that people of color in Minneapolis are suffering more than they are.

Troy

That’s incredibly sad and depressing. But I’m not one to argue with “very serious people.” Now on a personal note — how does it feel to be a very serious and very smart person now?

Governor Starkey

More comfortable. Food is certainly better.

Troy

Surely the spread in the National Review (“America’s Manliest Governor”) with the trademark beard had to be a thrill. Your (mostly) former hippy friends are hoping you’ll pull a 180 and start endorsing progressive legislation… is that in the cards or am I in denial?

Governor Starkey

That’s contingent on the right mix of think tank and lobbying jobs available for friends and relatives. Slightly more people having health insurance doesn’t pay well. At least not for most donors.

Troy

Opposition to President FDR Jr., the first non-Republican President since 2017 (44) seemed to propel you into office in the midterms of ’30 but Jr. is gearing up for re-election and you’ll have to stand on your record in ’34. The pressure is on. Any small previews of your re-election message?

Governor Starkey 

More of what has been successful. Blame urban areas for imaginary problems. Create widespread pain so that any small improvement seems dramatic. Voter suppression for people of color. With five minor liberal candidates splitting the 20-plus percent from the Democratic candidate’s total, I’ll win with 35 percent of the vote like Jessie Venture did.

Troy

Some in the press, myself included, are taken aback by how transparent you are about the inside game — any comments about that?

Governor Starkey

Americans respect strength. They respond to tone and facial expressions. If I promised to burn down the Mayo Clinic to prevent it from falling into the hands of terrorists with a broad smile, 70% of Minnesotans would support the move.

Troy

Is it your goal to make Minnesota more like the politics of its neighbors?

Governor Starkey

I’m indifferent about national trends or party goals broadly. My primary goal is to get paid. With enough success in my political career, the next ten generations of Starkeys will never work a day. Which is the only true American success story that matters.

Troy

So ambitions for higher office then? The GOP bench is certainly still deep while the Dems are still being led by Pelosi, Schumer, DWS, etc. creating more and more defections. You can give up the game — you guys are all friends right? And American “progressivism” or “liberalism” as quoted by elites is in fact a shadow operation paid for by the chamber?

Governor Starkey

To a certain extent. We agree that personal financial success is paramount. They’re not as successful.

Troy

And this is why the grassroots have caught onto it… although as you said, the vote has often split 4/5 ways in many areas between the liberal progressives, the progressive liberals, the real progressives, and the progress-progressives.

Governor Starkey

I’d like to run for president. Winning would be a colorful story. But the endgame is giving speeches in Aspen for a million dollars per engagement.

Troy

But isn’t the object of politics to improve society? Solve societal problems? Improve the lives of people?

Governor Starkey

If you think that politics is about solving problems or helping people, I have an infrastructure bill to sell you that consists entirely of privatization schemes and tax subsidies. Visiting professorships, hotels with your name on them in gold lettering, and accumulating wealth are the goals of politics.

Troy

I guess I’m just naive still, and “not a very serious person” as Forbes pointed out in ’22. Did you read my new book which claimed U.S. politics and political leaders were now indistinguishable from organized crime?

Governor Starkey

I did. It was as good as any book not promoted by AM talk radio personalities can be. Maybe you can market it as a textbook. They have real money to throw around.

Troy

But how does your overall viewpoint square with the declining overall results? The big picture? How does 1.2 percent growth and an economy that hasn’t worked for most people for decades help anything?

Governor Starkey

“Good for most people” is contrary to how America overall prospers. As long as we lead the world in total incarceration and billionaires that own sports franchises, we are succeeding as a society. Wages are an outdated measure of prosperity.

Troy

1.2 percent growth compared to peak years? Passed by China in overall GDP a decade ago… you’re running out of excuses Governor.

At this point in the interview Troy was rushed out of the room by Gov. Starkey aides, he has subsequently been audited by the state, and accused of nonprofit embezzlement.

“The tyranny that Athens imposed on others it ultimately imposed on itself.” 

 

 

 

 

Agreeing Loudly Does Music

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Stop watching “Game of Thrones” for an hour tonight and have a listen to our top ten essential albums list, released in concert with 89.3 – The Current, a local Minnesota favorite station. It is perhaps fitting that we finally do an all-music podcast the week that a Minnesota music legend, Prince, was taken from the world all-too-soon at the age of 57. Feel free to listen in any of the following formats below…

Direct Download 

Streaming

iTunes

Podbay.fm

….and also enjoy this video of Bruce opening his concert in Brooklyn recently with “Purple Rain”, the song, album, and film that took Prince from stardom to super-stardom music God-type status. Enjoy! And to the city of Minneapolis, the state of Minnesota, and the planet of Earth – stay purple.

Peace from Pat, Troy, and Carson.

 

Kleiner Mann Joe Blue Collar, Was Nun?: The Way Forward for Those Who Don’t Care About The Heritage Foundation’s Agenda

By Carson Starkey

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Darren McCollester | Getty Images

Hans Fallada’s “Little Man, What Now?” was first published in 1932. Johannes Pinneberg, the protagonist, faces constant economic anxieties, petty humiliations, and social disillusionment in post-World War One Germany. He travels through a broad range of emotions, but most of all, he feels disconnected and abandoned…abandoned by faceless, uncaring “leaders.” As he sees it, somebody should be looking out for him. He doesn’t hold grandiose, sophisticated ideas about public policy, history, economics, or politics. He wants a steady job, a place to live free from his repulsive mother-in-law, affordable healthcare for his wife Emma, and food for his son Horst. He’s not angry about socialism, trade unionism, or fascism. He’s angry that self-declared “serious” people in government can’t or won’t protect him from avoidable misery. A fair number of scholars assert that the book acts a broad explanation for the future political success of fascism in Germany. Johannes Blue Collar wasn’t obsessed with waging expensive, seemingly endless warfare or subjugating everyone that disagreed with him politically. He just wanted to pay his bills and maintain some measure of human dignity. Of course that was true in 1932. It has been true throughout the course of human history. It’s true today. Which brings us to Joe Blue Collar in contemporary America and his broad interest in, if not sympathy with, Donald Trump.

What has been most intriguing, in my view anyway, about the rise of Trumpism (broad, detail-free populist declarations about making America great) are the reactions among Establishment or respectable conservatives. “Establishment conservatives” has come to mean Republican Party voters that favor millionaire welfare checks, eternal warfare with Muslims, and racial segregation without the burden of supporting a politically inexperienced, orange-skinned, toupee-adorned grifter who plies shoddy products at Macy’s. Now that Trump is going to be the Republican presidential nominee, respectable conservatives are melting down in highly public, Mel Gibson-esque spectacles that reveal the ugly yet honest ideological foundations of American conservatism. Respectable, establishment conservatives claim to care about intellectually serious matters like Supreme Court nominees, small government, or fiscal restraint…although no evidence exists to support the contention that those same conservatives have ever worried about such matters in the past three quarters of a century, unless we mean preserving low tax rates for rich people or criminalizing the existence of non-white people. No, what rankles self-proclaimed grown-up conservatives about Trump is that he’s giving away the inside game by verifying an uncomfortable suspicion that Heritage Foundation “scholars” have always attempted to suppress during campaigns. That is, most self-proclaimed conservative voters don’t care about the Ayn Rand agenda. While abolishing taxation, dissolving social insurance, and building Pax Americana are important causes to people who work at The Wall Street Journal, all that Jane or Joe Blue Collar care about relates to making financial ends meet. Which makes conservative aristocrats angry bordering on hysterical.

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Songs for the American Working Class

by Allan Branstiter and Carson Starkey

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It’s that time of the month. Bills are coming in the mail. Paycheck’s still a week or more away. Management won’t get off your back. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Landlord keeps getting on you about your dog. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump are the favored Republican nominees for president, and one Democratic candidate president made more giving one speech to Goldman Sachs than you’ve made in a decade.

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. While we may not have the money or the machine on our side, we have the music. So here’s a list of songs to get you through your day. Let the melancholy, exuberant, repressed and empowered voices of these singers remind you it’s a privilege to be working-class.

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“It Was A Good Day” by Ice Cube (1993) – This song is simple enough; it’s about a good day in South Central Los Angeles. And as any working class American can tell you, sometimes the pleasures of good day are all you can hope for and more.

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“Factory” by Bruce Springsteen (1978) – The most culturally relevant rock hero in the world today wrote this at the height of stagflation, oil embargoes, and deindustrialization. America’s blue collar working populace, which bestrode the planet unchallenged in its productivity and prosperity for a generation after World War Two, was under ferocious attack from ultra-conservative elected officials, investment bankers, and industry owners who used racial bigotry as a vile, divisive wedge when they saw their opportunity to shatter both the consensus of progressive policy outcomes as well as the spirit of political consensus among ordinary people. “Factory” and the overall album “Darkeness on the Edge of Town” came from a place of sadness, anger, and anxiety about the future we non-millionaires faced (and continue to face) in a brave new world dominated by ferocious culture war distractions and wage slavery.

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“Hard Time Come Again No More” by Stephen Foster (1854) – I’m going WAY into the deep cuts here, but I’m going to start with the Father of American Music, Stephen Foster. “Hard Times Come Again No More” is a parlor song that was extremely popular among Civil War soldiers, who satirized it as “Hard Tack Come Again No More.” Although it had an international audience and was printed as piano sheet music for middle class families, the song is a story of sadness and poverty, with images of cabins, lost comrades, and toil. One of America’s original working-class songs, it has been covered by Springsteen, Dolly Parton, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and a slew of others.

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“Maggie’s Farm” by Bob Dylan (1965) – Dylan’s early counterculture war cry makes you remember why you’re in love with political music. Maybe your parents played Dylan in the car or in the house as white noise, and you never bothered to listen to the lyrics until you found yourself questioning the wisdom of unpleasant drudgery that otherwise “respectable” adults assured you would build character while they always disappeared during the heavy lifting. At some point, we all decided that we didn’t want to endure any more unfairness, or work for Maggie’s parents.

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“Big Bad John” by Jimmy Dean (1961) – I love this old country song for its story-telling qualities. This song hearkens back to a day, our folk heroes were working people: Paul Bunyan, Calamity Jane, Joe Magarac, Casey Jones, Pecos Bill, and John Henry. “Big Bad John” is a story from that mold: a transient worker on the edges of society, whose strength not only killed a man, but saved his fellow miners. Absent from this story are the mining companies and managers, as Jimmy Dean focuses on miners toiling in “that worthless pit.” What else needs to be said other than “At the Bottom of this Mine Lays a Big Big Man, Big John.”

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“Chain Gang” by Sam Cooke (1960) – We can level a fair amount of criticism at popular music/musicians/record labels for giving excessive air time to the working songs of mostly white men. Sam Cooke, for all of his substantial crossover appeal to white people, blazed trails singing about the Civil Rights Movement and about an institution that had been used/still is associated with demoralizing poor black people. Sure, there aren’t explicit references to black people swinging hammers in the song, but the cultural references were clear then and now.

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“Fancy” by Bobbie Gentry (1970) – No, this isn’t Iggy Azalea’s terrible song. Bobbie Gentry wrote “Fancy” in 1969, and it was famously covered by Reba McEntire in 1990. “Fancy” is in many ways a problematic song since it approaches prostitution as both redemptive and exploitative. Fancy’s ma’s words betray the extreme precariousness of their situation as she tells her “Your Pa’s runned off and I’m real sick and the baby’s gonna starve to death” and urges he to “Just be nice to the gentlemen, Fancy, and they’ll be nice to you.” Despite the fact that she was completely dependent on men for a living, Fancy never loses her determination to be true to herself, escape her dependent state, and her pride. Gentry argued that this song was her strongest statement for women’s lib, and she supported women’s equality, equal pay, and abortion rights (no small thing for a woman from Chickasaw County, Mississippi in the 1960s). “Fancy” still confounds us to this day, but the tone of the song never betrays an underlying truth—the powerless are not inevitably doomed to their powerlessness forever.

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“Union Burying Ground” by Woody Guthrie (1976) – Towering hero to Springsteen, Dylan, and Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie’s anthems defined, and continue to define, the language of American workers seeking better wages, safer workplaces, and a fairer society for actual wealth creators.

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“Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man” by Travis Tritt (1992) – The Tritt Kickers raise a fair point of frustration. Why is the rich man always dancing while the poor man pays the band? And why is it that when Big Gummit’ needs a dime (for unwinnable wars, or for tax cuts that exclusively benefit millionaires), they just help themselves to the little people’s pockets?

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“Rain On The Scarecrow” by John Mellencamp (1985) – A lot of Mellencamp songs come in mind for this list, but I want to go with the less obvious “Rain On The Scarecrow” solely because of the three farmers at the beginning of the music video. For all the strengths of “Jack & Diane,” “Pink Houses,” and “Small Town,” none of Mellencamp’s songs capture the plight of the Farm Crisis like these guys:

“Well, all the government wants to talk about is they wanna keep givin’ more loans, that’s all. Seems like that’s all they’ve got in their head. We don’t need another loan, we need a good price. . . . Just another farm loan, that’s another payment we gotta make and we can’t afford to do that. . . . I think the politicians are playing games with us, you know. It don’t cost them anything to change a rule, you know, and embargo another country. . . . All they want is cheap food and I can see that, but they don’t take the farmer into consideration at all. . . . Just sick of working ten or twelve hours a day or more and just breakin’ even if you lucky, if you’re real good. . . . If I knew what it was gonna be like when I got out of high school, I probably wouldn’t of done it. You wanna buy a far?”

If you don’t have people like this in your life, I feel sorry for you. Today’s liberals are making a mistake when they underestimate the intelligence and legitimate anger of the rural working folk. It’s no wonder we’ve lost them to the Cruzes and Palins of the world.

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“Last Fair Deal Gone Down” by Robert Johnson/Performed by Keb’ Mo’ (1996) – Blues legend Robert Johnson originally recorded this song in 1936, and it has been covered by the likes of Eric Clapton, Todd Rundgren, and Beck. If it’s not sacrilegious to say so, I prefer Keb’ Mo’s fusion of New Orleans jazz and Delta blues in his 1996 cover of the song. This song has a little bit of everything: reassurances to a penny-pinched spouse, a terrible boss, and the road home. “If you cry ‘bout a nickel, you’ll die ‘bout a dime.”

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“Paying the Cost to be the Boss” by B.B. King (1968) – Hating the grind of a nine-to-five job is understandable. The pay is usually not commensurate with the grief. The leadership doesn’t have your best interests in mind. The one redeeming quality of working for a living is that you retain some measure of independence, and that independence stems from claiming or controlling your wages. You can tell other people who disagree with your decisions that you earn and pay the bills. Another reminder that working people don’t need high-falutin’ titles or lifestyle morality lectures.

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“One Piece At A Time” by Johnny Cash (1976) – There’s nothing like stealing from your boss with the help of your friends. More light-hearted than Johnny Paycheck “Take this Job and Shove It” and a million times less racist than any of Merle Haggard’s songs, Johnny Cash’s “One Piece At A Time” is my choice for the best country music working man song of the 1970s.

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“Song of the South” by Alabama (1989)  There once was a time when country music had a lefty bent, thanks to the legacy of farm socialism and populism. Sure, so much of it had neo-Confederate overtones and overly simplistic memories of FDR’s alphabet soup of agricultural agencies, but the key message here still rings true: life is better when land and wealth is distributed more equally. If only we could resurrect that message without all the old racism and sexism. Country hasn’t been the same since the height of Alabama and Garth Brooks’s popularity.

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“Solidarity Forever” by Ralph Chaplin (1915)/Performed by Pete Seeger (1955) – The single most famous song of the American labor movement. Required at any left-of-center political event because of its eternally relevant lyrics. If you’re not singing this song on Labor Day, you’re doing it wrong. Full stop.