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Mar 26, 2018

In the Firefly episode Out of Gas, Malcolm Reynolds says, “No matter how far the long arm of the Alliance might get, we’ll just get ourselves a little further.”
 
This is The Celtfather, Marc Gunn. I’m going to share with you the story behind my song “The Long Arm”. It was the first single released for my new Firefly album, As Long As I’m Flyin’. The album came out on March 6, 2018. And the physical CD will no longer be available after March 31. So if you want that album, buy it in my Bandcamp store.
 
SHOW TIMES
 
0:30 Celtfather News
2:01 Intro toThe Long Arm 
4:15 Verse One, Basic Human Rights
5:50 Verse Two, Environmentalism and Unification
8:22 Verse Three, Fake News, Lies, and Resistance
10:25 Chorus, Fighting Back Thru the Arts
12:05 Creating Change Through Politics
14:44 Congressional Dish Podcast Recommendation
 
NEWS
 
Before we get to that, I want to share some news. 
 
My next CeltfatherLive internet concert is scheduled for Sunday, April 15, 2018. If you want to watch that show or future internet shows, please register now at celtfather.com/watch/
 
If you love the TV show Firefly, like I do, please follow my Firefly Drinking Songs playlist on Spotify. You can listen to all of my Firefly albums PLUS other Firefly songs by other artists.
 
You can find all of my upcoming news for April in the Celtfather Monthly. It's a free post on Patreon. You'll also learn a great tip for engaging on social media.
 
Find all these links in the shownotes.
 
In general, I prefer to let my music speak for itself. “The Long Arm” has a lot of nuances though. So I want to talk about it. 
 
While it is set in the Firefly verse, it is a very political song. It is inspired by our current administration which I am not fond of. So if you are a fan of what’s happening in the White House, you probably don't want to listen to this episode. 
 
Might I suggest instead that you check out the Canton Radio episode of Geek Pub Songs
 
Alright, I'm hoping everyone who doesn't want to listen has logged off now.
 
ABOUT THE LONG ARM
 
When that line by Malcolm Reynolds is first spoken, it comes from a man who’s been beaten. Reynolds fought in one of the worst battles in the Unification War. The Battle of Serenity Valley saw some of the biggest loss of life of that war. 
 
You can hear in his voice a man who had lost his faith in God, in justice and in humanity. He just wanted to hide away and avoid the encroaching “civilization” of the Alliance. He wanted to escape. 
 
The Serenity movie turned that all around. He and the crew learned about one of the atrocities committed by the Alliance. He found faith in a cause bigger than himself. And once again he took up arms and won. 
 
This song is about fighting for something bigger than oneself. 
 
It was written at the very beginning of the Trump Administration. Trump was picking people to run various parts of the government with an obvious aim to dismantle the government. Most were corporate flunkies, people who wanted to decrease the size of the government and strengthen their own businesses. Liberals were up in arms and I believe rightfully so. 
 
You see, one of the things Trump ran on was to run the government like a business. I used to be a fan of that idea. I remember watching the movie Dave. One of the lines that stuck with me is “if I ran my business like this, I would be out of business.”
 
I remember thinking, “right!”
 
Then I saw it in practice. A government cannot be run as a business. Because either you end up giving one business a monopoly or you stop thinking about what’s best for the people. 
 
The for-profit business does what’s best for the business. That is not always what's best for its customers. The for-profit business focuses on what's best for its shareholders. Sometimes they coincide, but not always.
 
I am not a fan of big debts and deficits. America's is out of control. And the supposedly fiscally-conservative Congress is not doing anything to stop it. In fact, they're making it bigger, even while they attempt to dismantle the minuscule programs that actually help every day Americans like you and me.
 
It comes down to another lie by Trump. The Machiavellian idea of "the ends justify the means". He'll lie and support that lie even if he doesn't believe it, as long as he gets support for it.
 
I'm sort of jumping ahead of myself. So let's break down the lyrics.
 
The Long Arm is reaching for you
Wants to wrest and take control
It struck down your family  
Now it's aimin' for your soul
 
The Long Arm is of course the Trump administration fighting to take away the basic human rights of Americans. It is trying to destroy everything that makes America beautiful and beloved by its people.
 
This might be an over-dramatization. But it makes the point.
 
It's grasp is filled with hate.
It's fingers naught but fear
White knuckled, it grips you
Till your eyes fill with tears.
 
One of the things I've noticed most about the election of Trump is the hate. I'm not gonna point fingers at conservatives though. This is a universal thing. Conservatives are arguing that Liberals are hate-filled and Liberals are saying the same about Conservatives.
 
I think it's safe to say that this administration inspires hate. Trump is very polarizing. He bullies and belittles those who disagree with him. And he riles people up, both his supporters and those who despise him.
 
That's a narrative that liberals tried to warn about during the election. That's what all the claims of sexual misconduct were all about. Yes, Trump will never sue those women who claimed he abused them because he did, either physically or with emotional abuse. I have no doubt. He's the worst kind of person.
 
That's why I used the imagery of rape in this verse. I wanted the listener to get the feeling of being forced against your will to submit to Trump's will.
 
Alright, I'm gonna save the chorus for the last because admittedly, it takes a slightly different twist.
 
The Long Arm took our planet
Down our throats, it done rammed
The promise of unification
But it left us all damned.
 
This second verse is mostly about environmentalism. However, it starts with another broken promise of Trump. Much like in Firefly, the Alliance promised unification. But that idea was only if it's under their rule.
 
Trump was the same. He promised to unite America and to work across the aisle. But he lied about that. Yes, Liberals were not willing to work with him. But he didn't even try. The great "negotiator" once again was not so great. Because all he cares about is himself and maybe his progeny. The rest of us are damned.
 
Laid waste to our landscape
While its pockets grew fat
Left us homeless and cold
Now it's time we fight back
 
Now we get to the next prediction, that Trump would make it easier for corporations to destroy our environment for his own profit.
 
To that end, he removed a lot of bad regulations that Obama setup. And I say bad, because Obama did not get these passed as law. He used executive orders to protect our country because he couldn't get the Republican Congress to pass any laws to protect our country.
 
So let me talk a moment about regulations. I am not a fan of regulations. Or at least the idea of them. But this goes back to why for-profits should not run non-profit institutions. 
 
Corporations are beholden to their shareholders. The most-important thing for investors is to make money. So if that means cutting costs or not doing stuff, like regulating your own company in the short-term so that your investors are happy, so be it. 
 
Meaning, Corporations will not regulate themselves. And when it comes to convenience, consumers will not regulate corporations. That's one of the big pro-free market lies. The market will not regulate corporations if there's no immediate incentive. 
 
So sure, when Conservatives finally see climate change as a real thing because our air quality, water quality and health diminish, THEN they will be fine with regulating corporations. But by then it's too late.
 
This goes back to Firefly too. "Earth's resources were all used up."
 
Why on Earth would any sensible person wait until THEN to protect our resources. It's stupid. Regulations are necessary to prevent profit over health.
 
Of course, who's making money while our environment goes to hell? Trump and his corporate cronies. Who's not? You and me.
 
The only way to protect true Americans is to defend the environment and to regulate corporations.
 
We're done running from the Long Arm
Browncoats rise again
We'll weaken your grip 
And the stories you spin 
 
As we start the final verse, I bring it back to the Independents. The Browncoats rising to fight for freedom and to fight against the "stories we spin" aka Fake News. 
 
In the case of the Browncoats, it's the news spread over the Cortex by the Alliance. In our case, it's pretty much everything that Trump says and tweets. He is the #1 creator of Fake News in our country. Everything is Trump extremism.
 
I wish that "weaking your grip" was as easy as sharing the "facts". But as Ben Kenobi said in Empire Strikes Back.
 
Obi-Wan: "So what I told you was true, from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."
 
Yes. There are many facts that are easy to dispute. That's why Politifact has a scorecard for Trump that lists about 69% of his statements as Mostly False all the way down to Pants on Fire at 15%, higher than any other politician. Follow the link in the shownotes to see specific truths and lies
 
Even though Trump is held accountable for every statement, if you're a true believer in him, you will blow off facts. That's a truth for any believer. Whether you're a fan of Trump or Obama or whatever you believe. If you are a believer, you will ignore facts.
 
This is especially true if he's keeping his big promises. And according to Politifact he's working on those. Even stupid ones like building a wall.
 
Like you done with all your lies
That you packed in your fist
But you ain't seen the truth yet
Till you seen us resist
 
Of course, the final line calls for Browncoats and Americans to stand up and fight back, to Resist against tyranny. 
 
We fight for freedom, freedom,
For poetry and song
We fight for actors and authors
Painters and potters,
Dancers and dreamers,
Laborers and learners,
It's them artists who make us strong.
 
I should point out that despite the resistance and calls for fighting for freedom, I am personally a pacifist. I believe in peaceful resistance. While this hearkens back to the Browncoats fighting for independence, I believe in fighting back through poetry and song, through the arts.
 
This actually makes a lot of sense, because the arts are often some of the first things attacked by conservative politicians as they rail on about fiscal responsibility while spending even more money elsewhere.
 
The arts are easy to overlook. But they are the best sign of a prosperous country. They're a sign of culture and humanity. The arts tell a story. Truth is revealed through that story. That's how humans grow. That's why we are no longer living in the dark ages. We live longer. We are more prosperous. 
 
Even a small independent musician like me, I can make a living playing music thanks to the arts and the internet. I am able to tell this story.
 
And of course, I'm not alone. There's actors and authors, painters and potters, dancers and dreamers. Thank you Patty for coming up with the "dreamers". That line got new meaning because DACA, Differed Action for Child Arrivals, that was up in the air back in February.
 
And of course laborers and learners.
 
It's you who make us strong.
 
But it's not just the artists. It's each and every one of us who tries to make a living in this country. We're all struggling to be heard. We are all the heroes of our own Firefly episode. Each of us can make a difference. But we have to fight for a better world.
 
We can't just stand by idly and watch the world go to hell. We have to get to the polls and vote for people who stand for something better, people who will make a difference. 
 
And I don't mean egotistical billionaires like Trump. I mean you or one of your friends.
 
Over the past year, I feel like I have finally learned how our government works. There's so much I didn't understand. But I read and learned.
 
Last December, Doug Jones won a senate seat here in Alabama. What I learned from that win and from everything last year is that our votes matter. Even a Democrat in Alabama can win a seat in a very Republican state if we vote, and if we find non-extremist people to run for office.
 
Republicans tried to brand Jones as an extremist liberal. But he's not. He's moderate who is now campaigning for bipartisanship, the very thing our Congress needs right now.
 
But how many others could step up and make a difference, in Congress or even at the state level. Or heck! How about the city level.
 
I saw a post on Facebook by a libertarian friend. He went to a school board meeting and was aghast. He ranted why couldn't the board do what was in the best interest of the students instead of trying to put money in their own pockets.
 
Of course, my friend Jamie and I rolled our eyes after reading that. Because the same could be said about your city hall, your state legislature, and definitely the Congress and Trump. 
 
OpenSecrets.org publishes data on how each politician gets their money. Most are lobbied and owned by corporations. That's why the NRA has such a stranglehold on gun legislation. That's why Wall Street and banks were able to remove many of the regulations that were setup to prevent another recession like we had ten years ago. They own many of our politicians. And that's why the oil companies block the development of renewable energy resources. 
 
But just imagine if you wanted to just do good for your city, state, or federal government. Just imagine if you weren't in it to get rich quick. 
 
Well, the fact is you can do it. Anyone can get elected. Thanks to the internet, anyone can raise funding. All it takes is a passion and a willingness to make good change for our country.
 
That's ultimately what "The Long Arm" is about. It's about doing what's right for individuals. It's about standing against governments or corporations or anyone who tries to limit your freedoms. I pray to God that we never end up with a Unification War like on Firefly. "The Long Arm" is my small contribution to make sure that never happens. 
 
Plus it’s just a gorgeous song inspired by an amazing tv show. 
 
One final note. The president doesn’t make the laws. That job falls to Congress. But the news doesn’t report much about the laws that congress passes. 
 
That’s why Jennifer Brinely started Congressional Dish. She reads the actual laws to see what’s in them and shares the facts. She also provides references in the shownotes. This is a great podcast if you want to find out what’s happening in our country beyond the headline. 
 
I can’t say the show is unbiased. Brinely has very strong opinions. But I do think she does a good job at staying with the facts. She was very critical of Obama and is just as much of Trump. But more than anything she is critical of congress no matter what side they are on. 
 
It’s an awesome show. You can subscribe for free at congressionaldish.com
 
-
 
Thank you so much for listening. I know politics these days is very divisive. And I'm not gonna make a habit of doing political episodes. But if I'm to be true to myself and my songwriting, I felt I should share my thoughts on this song. 
 
You can support this podcast for as little as $1 per month when you join the Gunn Runners Club on Patreon. You'll get hours of great content for one low fee and help me create new music for you. 
 
You can also subscribe to the podcast and download free music at celtfather.com.