Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Gil Scott-Heron was one of those people who everyone listened to and waited to hear what he was going to say next. He was that relevant and eloquent and personal. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised“, “Home Is Where the Hatred Is” and “Message to the Messengers” are arguably some of the greatest political and social commentary put to music ever. And, his contribution to “Let Me See Your ID” on the anti-apartheid album Sun City still stands out as one of the great raps during that time.
Then he disappeared into the hole that is Rikers Island for drug possession. But, all things come around and now he’s back. A must read interview with Gil Scott-Heron in Salon is here, and he’s released a new album. Gil manages to reach into the depths once again. Here’s the video for “Me and the Devil“.Read More
Much Too Young To Die
Death is a paradox. It’s a primal force so powerful and frightening that we really don’t talk about it very much. It’s too painful. It’s dark and dour, yet at the same time, it has a way of reminding us – sometimes in brutal and sometimes in amazingly subtle ways – not only of the fragility of life, but of its beauty and simplicity. It’s a cliche of course, but that doesn’t make it untrue. Death is the mythological door to other worlds, simultaneously beautiful and ugly, fraught with fear and imbued with wonder all at the same time. And, sometimes it can precipitate a profound moment of change.
For me, this transformation occurred in the early 90s when I lost a friend to trajic circumstances and within a few months found myself working side by side with Johnny Depp, who coincidentally, had also lost someone close to him.
On October 31, 1994 at around 1AM Depp’s friend and fellow actor and musician River Pheonix died of a speedball (heroin mixed with cocaine) overdose on the sidewalk outside of the Viper Room, the club that Depp owned until a few years ago. At the time of Pheonix’s death, Depp was on stage at the club, performing with his band. River Pheonix’s last moments alive were inside the club, listening to Depp’s band, and doing drugs in the bathroom. A few months later, in January, a friend and co-worker of mine named Chance Helburn died in his apartment from an overdose of drugs. Also a speedball. Both deaths were a shock to the system. One day you were talking to them on the phone, the next, they were gone.
River was only 23. Chance was only 25. Both were talented and loved with bright futures and lives ahead of them, and their deaths were the opening scene of what was to be one of the most clarifying experiences of my life. I suspect that Depp would say the same thing.
So, it’s with more than a hint of irony that I find the recent reports of Johnny Depp’s death amusing because Depp had long ago moved away from such a path. It wasn’t his destiny. With luck and work, I’m pretty sure that Johnny Depp is a man who will more than likely die of old age surrounded by family. I can’t be entirely certain of it, but I’d bet the farm on it. Why? Well, because I was there when he was at the crossroads, when he saw his choices laid out before him, and he had begun to change as I was also changing. He’d lost something, a part of his life, a friend, and it shook him to his bones. I went through a similar expereince but fortunately for me, the eyes of the worlds press were not staring, watching and waiting.
Thus, it was in the summer of 1995 that I found myself at the New York City Bellevue Morgue standing next to Johnny Depp as we both got an up close look at the harsh, pungent, unapologetic, unflinching finality of death.
Next: Up Jump the Devil
Is health care a right or a privilege? Here’s the answer:
May 12, 2009
Dear Mr. President,
I wanted to write a few final words to you to express my gratitude for your repeated personal kindnesses to me — and one last time, to salute your leadership in giving our country back its future and its truth.
On a personal level, you and Michelle reached out to Vicki, to our family and me in so many different ways. You helped to make these difficult months a happy time in my life.
You also made it a time of hope for me and for our country.
When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society. For me, this cause stretched across decades; it has been disappointed, but never finally defeated. It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of victory sustained me — and the work of achieving it summoned my energy and determination.
There will be struggles — there always have been — and they are already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat — that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.
And so because of your vision and resolve, I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family’s health will never again depend on the amount of a family’s wealth. And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will — yes, we will — fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege.
In closing, let me say again how proud I was to be part of your campaign — and proud as well to play a part in the early months of a new era of high purpose and achievement. I entered public life with a young President who inspired a generation and the world. It gives me great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another generation and once more on America’s behalf inspires the entire world.
So, I wrote this to thank you one last time as a friend — and to stand with you one last time for change and the America we can become.
At the Denver Convention where you were nominated, I said the dream lives on.
And I finished this letter with unshakable faith that the dream will be fulfilled for this generation, and preserved and enlarged for generations to come.
With deep respect and abiding affection,
YouTube vid of Bob Dylan’s banned satirical song about paranoid right wing racists written in 1963 as a response to the popularity of the John Birch Society. It was dropped from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan due to political concerns and remained unreleased until the Bootleg disc in the mid 90’s.
Could have been written today. Scary.
Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues
Well, I was feelin’ sad and feelin’ blue,
I didn’t know what in the world I was gonna do,
Them Communists they wus comin’ around,
They wus in the air,
They wus on the ground.
They wouldn’t gimme no peace. . .
So I run down most hurriedly
And joined up with the John Birch Society,
I got me a secret membership card
And started off a-walkin’ down the road.
Yee-hoo, I’m a real John Bircher now!
Look out you Commies!
Now we all agree with Hitlers’ views,
Although he killed six million Jews.
It don’t matter too much that he was a Fascist,
At least you can’t say he was a Communist!
That’s to say like if you got a cold you take a shot of malaria.
Well, I wus lookin’ everywhere for them gol-darned Reds.
I got up in the mornin’ ‘n’ looked under my bed,
Looked in the sink, behind the door,
Looked in the glove compartment of my car.
Couldn’t find ’em . . .
I wus lookin’ high an’ low for them Reds everywhere,
I wus lookin’ in the sink an’ underneath the chair.
I looked way up my chimney hole,
I even looked deep inside my toilet bowl.
They got away . . .
Well, I wus sittin’ home alone an’ started to sweat,
Figured they wus in my T.V. set.
Peeked behind the picture frame,
Got a shock from my feet, hittin’ right up in the brain.
Them Reds caused it!
I know they did . . . them hard-core ones.
Well, I quit my job so I could work alone,
Then I changed my name to Sherlock Holmes.
Followed some clues from my detective bag
And discovered they wus red stripes on the American flag!
That ol’ Betty Ross . . .
Well, I investigated all the books in the library,
Ninety percent of ’em gotta be burned away.
I investigated all the people that I knowed,
Ninety-eight percent of them gotta go.
The other two percent are fellow Birchers . . . just like me.
Now Eisenhower, he’s a Russian spy,
Lincoln, Jefferson and that Roosevelt guy.
To my knowledge there’s just one man
That’s really a true American: George Lincoln Rockwell.
I know for a fact he hates Commies cus he picketed the movie Exodus.
Well, I fin’ly started thinkin’ straight
When I run outa things to investigate.
Couldn’t imagine doin’ anything else,
So now I’m sittin’ home investigatin’ myself!
Hope I don’t find out anything . . . hmm, great God!
If you haven’t watched Bill Moyers on Real Time with Bil Maher, it’s worth watching. The point that conservatives are simply employing a scorched earth campaign to insure that Obama fails is important, and has to be confronted. And, he covers corporatism as well.Read More
Not a mob obviously. The term has been tossed around in some cases, accurate in others. It’s like dealing with a bunch of hecklers. And, Al Franken does well. People do want to know the facts. But, it’s so heated out there, as you can see, it’s not easy. There’s a lot of work to be done.Read More
Links of the day:
- Who is paying for the Iraqis to have universal single payer health care? You are.
- Glenn Beck Watch: ‘Is Obama The Anti-Christ?’ – An oldie but goodie. Glenn Beck wondering aloud if Obama is the Prince of Darkness come to end the world. Fear of a black planet at play.
- Johann Hari: Republicans, religion and the triumph of unreason – “The election of Obama – a black man with an anti-conservative message – as a successor to George W. Bush has scrambled the core American right’s view of their country. In their gut, they saw the US as a white-skinned, right-wing nation forever shaped like Sarah Palin.” Read the entire thing…
A few links worth reading:
- Five Symptoms of Republican Schizophrenia – Lots of illogical minds out there… that’s what happens when hate dominates….
- Revealing Hate: Inside White Supremacist World – Much of the current political atmosphere in the USA can be traced to the increase in hate based thought…. It’s more common than you think….
- Health Care Reform: Sorting Facts From Fiction…. – Good facts versus fiction… much needed in these times…
- Why the deficit hysteria? I only wish we’d borrow more… – Robert Reich’s interesting take on the deficit…
A few links worth sharing….
- Truly Free Film: Plea To The New Generation: Embrace Transmedia Storytelling! – Ted Hope links to a great article on the future of film making. The world is changing, the mediascape is changing to be sure, but there are opportunities. It makes me smile knowing kindred spirits are out there!
- Nice article on Yoko Ono, review of her upcoming album…
From Glenn Greenwald – It’s time to embrace American royalty:
…all of the above-listed people are examples of America’s Great Meritocracy, having achieved what they have solely on the basis of their talent, skill and hard work — The American Way. By contrast, Sonia Sotomayor — who grew up in a Puerto Rican family in Bronx housing projects; whose father had a third-grade education, did not speak English and died when she was 9; whose mother worked as a telephone operator and a nurse; and who then became valedictorian of her high school, summa cum laude at Princeton, a graduate of Yale Law School, and ultimately a Supreme Court Justice — is someone who had a whole litany of unfair advantages handed to her and is the poster child for un-American, merit-less advancement.
From Motorman Mark – Why Middle America Must Be Crushed:
There are a large number of US citizens, traditionally referred to as “Middle Americans,” who are engaged in small, private industry-jobs that have an uncertain future and that live and die on the prospects of a marketplace that is unhindered by taxes and government regulation. Even if they live in a rental unit, they live in communities dominated by the concerns of low-income home owners-people who do not know how to get along with more than $500 a month spent on housing costs-to whom the yearly property tax bill is a very big deal. They can’t spend too much breath decrying the expense of the local school system, or the roads, or the courts and emergency services-each of which provides them an obvious benefit. So what do they get mad at?? “Government.” Whatever that means.
A pattern emerges. We worship an ideal which most of us will never attain and deny what we truly are in order to insure at least the fantasy that we are part of the aristocracy. An aristocracy that devours us as we cheer it on in the hope that they will let us in the door.
It’s a perspective that is enforced and propagated by advertising and marketing as well.
Something better lay ahead to be sure… Break free.Read More
When we think of racism our minds generally conjure up stark and frightening images – Klu Klux Klan rallies, burning crosses, and the like – but in reality, the bulk of racist activity is very short term, and deceptively simple in how it works.
Racist actions are embedded into our cultural behavior and often occur pretty much unremarked upon every single day. A reality that most white people have no clue about, and most people of color quietly endure day in and day out. People of color are simply treated differently than white people, especially by authority figures such as police officers and security.
It’s no secret. Although the fact of its existence is denied by those practicing the racial based actions.
The following video shows how it works, and captures the exact moment a person of color is treated differently for the same offense as a white person.
A black woman is at a health care town hall and is asked to show a Rosa Parks poster by a reporter. A white man walks over to her and tears up the poster. The woman responds with anger and shock and the security men escort her out. Meanwhile, how do you think whites are treated? It presents an interesting problem.
So, why treat whites with kid gloves while you quickly escort a black woman out when the offense is the same? And, aren’t we really talking about a free speech issue here? Yes, of course we are… But, skin color affects the results.
In the end, it’s clearly eliminationism – treating one group as inferior to another.
And, that IS truly Un-American.
Meanwhile, people are carrying guns to Obama events. And, these are the ones doing it in the open. How many do you think are showing up with concealed weapons? If a Liberal showed up at a Bush event strapping a handgun to his thigh, the outcry would have been deafening. That person would be in jail.
But, the extremist right has got everyone so afraid of everything that no one wants to do anything.
We’ve become a country ruled by the mob and the threat of violence.Read More
Weekend reading list….
- Matthew Yglesias » Bias, Racism, Being a Jerk, and Abuse of Power – Good insights…
- Peter Daou: White Cop, Black Professor, Bi-Racial President: An Explosive Media Combination Even more good insights…
- You Hate Journalism? It WAS the Hiring Practice…Stupid. – Good article on how bad media became bad…
- Feeling the Wrath of Bill O’Reilly’s Army – A bit o’ the fascist tactics of Falafel Bill.
The “birther” movement is an extreme right wing disinformation campaign that proffers the idea that President Obama is not a US citizen, and was born abroad in Kenya. Here’s the rub: there are no actual facts to support this claim, rather the disinfo subsists on a form of cognitive dissonance – denial – and is propped up by a series of logical fallacies, from burden of proof to sweeping generalizations to just plain old bullshit.
It’s eliminationism in its purest form: marginalize your opponent to the point that they are a non-citizen, illegitimate, then cut off the discussion by dismissing any introduced facts as untrue. (Or made up, imagined, crazy, over sensitive, etc.)
For example, when the State of Hawaii confirmed that Obana’s birth certificate was indeed real and official, the birther movement simply denied it to be true and then went one better and denied that the birth certificate has yet to be provided as proof! Brilliant in a way. But, also, the very definition of a lie. Here’s the simple true logic: denying a fact (or its existence) does not create a new fact. (IE: Denying Obama’s birth papers are real does not mean he is not a real citizen.) That’s just crazy.
As an emerging issue it’s a double edge sword and difficult to discuss since it’s clearly a disinformation campaign with one aim: to stoke the racial hatred and undermine Obama’s legitimacy as President. And, its proponents love nothing more than to keep the hate fires burning.
Yet, in reality, Obama’s citizenship is a non-issue, it’s been proven beyond a doubt according to standards that have been suitable for every US President who has been elected prior. (But of course, to the racist, those standards are not good enough for a black person, let alone a black person named Barack Hussein Obama.)
FactCheck does a superb analysis of the “scandal” and analysis of the original certificate. The allegations are so completely incorrect and fabricated that it deserves nothing more than ridicule. The problem is that it’s wrapped in hate and irrationality, thus, there’s simply no middle ground from which to establish a coherent debate. Any introduction of fact is dismissed outright. That’s why hate based tactics are so difficult to fight against. Those who wage this type of tactic, (and those who believe it) simply deny the facts, deny the existence of the hate and the racism. It’s a figment of the imagination. Those looney Liberals!
There will always be those who want to believe what they believe, damn the facts. And, that is how “conspiracies” live and breath. That is how hatred and racism gain a foothold. If they don’t really exist, then why are they a problem? Neat, right?
In the past few days the birther movement has slithered into new territory. It is now being disseminated by traditional outlets on TV and radio – Lou Dobbs of CNN and Rush Limbaugh have both lent their “support” – and that means it should be dealt with properly. No longer simply a fringe issue spun in dark dank dive bars, afluent suburb BBQ’s and hidden corners of the internet by nut job conspiracy theorists, it’s now being lent “credibility”. While it’s true that neither Dobbs nor Limbuagh are known for their objectivity or adherence to the facts, and they both clearly suffer from a deeply rooted hate based approach in their worldview and broadcasts, the fact remains that their broadcasts are swallowed whole as the gospel truth by millions. Sad, but true.
Interestingly, the birther movement can be traced back to the Obama campaign itself during the 2008 election. It’s a public relations effort gone bad. Apparently, a decision was made, in the spirit of transparency to release Obama’s birth certificate. Historically, presidential candidates have not released such information. Rather, it was presented during qualification of the candidate, but not made public. So, by releasing the birth certificate the Obama campaign opened a Pandora’s Box. Once it was made public, it meant it was open to intense scrutiny – most of it incorrect – that would be passed around the internet as fact and eventually make it’s way to less discerning minds, like Dobbs and Limbuagh, and those who listen to them.
At it’s root the birther movement is racism. It’s meant to create the impression that Obama is illegitimate, lower than a US citizen, not one of us. It’s meant to stoke the fires of suspicion and hatred towards immigrants and people of color. It’s not unlike the “Obama is a Muslim” meme. Same thing.
So, next time someone says to you that Obama’s opponents are not racist, cite the birther movement. Cite the Obama is a Muslim meme. And, if that doesn’t get their attention, show them this picture. (scroll down)
If they still don’t get it, call it as you see it.
The only way we will defeat racism is to make it unacceptable. And, those who make excuses for it are just as unacceptable as those who are openly racist.Read More
A lot of extreme right wing blogs are at Red Alert in reaction to the health care debate. Fear is the only challenge they can offer to pretty much every issue on the boards. It’s a psyche loop they can’t remove themselves from… and it’s sad to watch. Just click on some of the reaction links at Memeorandum. Fear fear fear. Disinformation. Pathetic. The party of “No” is morphing into the party of “Oh no!!!!!!”
And, the Daily Show weighs in. (via Lean Left)
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Drag Me to Health – Universal Health Care|