As if it wasn’t already patently obvious to everyone paying even the slightest bit of attention, last night at the Republican National Convention, 82-year-old actor Clint Eastwood took to the stage and showed America and the rest of the world what the Republican Party is REALLY all about: Senile old white gits yelling crazy, incoherent shit.
Last night, without much effort, Eastwood’s loopy “skit” turned the house full of extremely Caucasian Republican convention goers “every which way but loose.” The rest of the country was just deeply embarrassed for the octogenarian Hollywood legend. The RNC apparently wanted Clint there as the embodiment of modern Republicanism, a stand-in for Ronald Reagan, if you will. Eastwood inadvertently delivered in spades, coming off like a sad, old, spaced cowboy, giving the, uh… strong impression, that the GOP is full of crazy elderly folks suffering from senile dementia.
At least they were happy to loudly cheer one on. As Michael Moore wrote at The Daily Beast this morning:
Speaking to Invisible Obama last night, in a performance that seemed to have been written by Timothy Leary and performed by Cheech & Chong, Clint Eastwood was able to drive home to tens of millions of viewers the central message of this year’s Republican National Convention: “We Are Delusional and Detached from Reality. Vote for Us!”
With his cringe-worthy word salad performance on the same level as Sarah Palin’s, someone close to Clint Eastwood should have said “NO” and said it firmly and hung up the phone when the RNC came a callin’. Looking at the evidence of last night’s pathetic televised fiasco—and his loathsome wife and spoiled daughter’s execrable E! network reality show, Mrs. Eastwood & Company—Clint seems to be going the route of Charlton Heston, a once legendary Hollywood star, who now comes off like a cranky, punch-drunk fighter who has taken far too many blows to his noggin.
I’m sure Clint being offered the presidency of the NRA isn’t far behind!
The best part? How NO ONE is talking about Mitt Romney today. They’re all talking about how crazy old Clint Eastwood went on national tee-vee last night and shit in his diaper!
NPR political correspondent Mara Liasson put it succinctly when she described the cut-aways to Ann Romney during Eastwood’s skit as like watching “the mother of the bride listening to a drunken wedding toast.”
The Clint Eastwood memes are proliferating like Tribbles today. You’ve already seen the “Eastwooding” meme, here are a few more:
The Daily Show‘s Samantha Bee mined comedy gold yesterday at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida by asking attendees about “individual liberty” and what it means to them and to Mitt Romney.
On the second night of the Republican Convention, Vice Presidential hopeful Paul Ryan stepped up to the podium as Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” played in the background and a crowd of pale-skinned squares, who wouldn’t know the difference between Thin Lizzy and a highball glass of Gin Fizz, roared with lemming-like approval.
Is the anti-drug, devout Catholic and ultra-conservative Ryan aware that Thin Lizzy’s frontman Phil Lynott, who described himself as a “black Paddy bastard,” was an alcoholic and heroin addict who died as a result of his booze and drug excesses?
If Lynott were alive today, I wonder what he would think of the irony of the uber-uptight and desperately unhip Ryan glomming onto the legacy of one of rock’s epic bad boys? Probably wouldn’t give two shits about the image thing but might have a big problem with his song being used to rally the right-wing masses.
And you gotta question what Ryan and his fellow Republican asswipes were thinking when they chose to use “The Boys Are Back In Town” as Ryan’s intro in the first place. Did they even bother to listen to the fucking lyrics of the song? They were the truest words spoken all night.
Guess who just got back today?
Them wild-eyed boys that had been away
Haven’t changed, haven’t much to say
But man, I still think them cats are crazy
Paul Ryan may try to come off as some kind of rock and roll candidate, but the dude is to rock and roll what white wine is to whiskey.
By the way, I’m pretty sure the RNC version of the “The Boys Are Back In town” was performed by the wretched G.E. Smith Band, who are serving as the Republican’s house band this year. You may remember Smith as the leering neanderthal guitarist who had a gig on Saturday Night Live for a few years and was briefly a sideman to Bob Dylan. Lately, when he’s not electrifying crowds of mouthbreathing conventioneers, he gigs with the utterly irrelevant Hot Tuna on the jamband circuit.
I really hope to fuck that this is true! Via Raw Story:
A revised Republican National Committee schedule released Monday showed a mystery “To Be Announced” speaker would take the stage just before Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and nominee Mitt Romney on Thursday night. Even the Romney campaign said that they didn’t know who it would be.
During a Wednesday report, Fox News anchor Trace Gallagher speculated on some of the possibilities. They included Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, actor Clint Eastwood and NFL quarterback Tim Tebow.
But Gallagher also threw out the name of the former president as potential speaker.
“Maybe a hologram of… Ronald Reagan,” he predicted. “They could do it now with technology. And the word is, maybe they just put Ronald Reagan up on the screen using a little bit of media magic to have Ronald Reagan endorse [Mitt Romney].”
“Is that actually a theory that’s out there?” host Megyn Kelly wondered.
“Yes!” Gallagher replied. “That’s a total theory. They could do it.”
You have to love it if someone at the RNC was inspired by the hologram Tupac at the Coachella Festival to reanimate the Gipper. Life in the 21st century sure is great ain’t it? Guy DeBord would puke in his mouth to see such a spectacle, but I still hope this will come to pass. If Reagan fails to materialize like a demon onstage in Tampa tomorrow night, I shall be bitterly disappointed!
(Another theory is that the mystery speaker is Clint Eastwood. Have you seen the reality show Mrs. Eastwood & Company on the E! network with his awful wife and spoiled brat daughter? Tell me that he’s not going senile. He’d have to be!)
There’s much to ponder in Washington Post opinion writer Harold Meyerson’s piece in yesterday’s paper, “In modern GOP, the old South returns,” but the take-away for me was his brittle characterization of the Republican philosophy as “We’re old, we’re white and we want our country back.”
The Republican ticket may hail from Massachusetts and Wisconsin, but Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan head the most Southernized major U.S. political party since Jefferson Davis’s day. In its hostility toward minorities, exploitation of racism, antipathy toward government and suspicion of science, today’s Republican Party represents the worst traditions of the South’s dankest backwaters.
No other party in U.S. history has done such a 180. Founded as the party of the anti-slavery North and committed to deep governmental involvement in spurring the economy (land-grant colleges, the Homestead Act, the transcontinental railway), today’s GOP is the negation of Abraham Lincoln’s Republicans. It is almost entirely white — 92 percent, compared with just 58 percent of Democrats. It is disproportionately Southern — 49 percent of Republicans live in the South vs. 39 percent of Democrats.
The beliefs of the white South dominate Republican thinking. As the white share of the U.S. population shrinks and the Latino share rises, Republicans have passed draconian anti-immigrant laws and opposed legislation enabling immigrants brought here as children to gain legal status. They also exploit racist resentments in a way not seen since the Willie Horton spot of 1988. Consider the Romney campaign’s ads falsely attacking President Obama for gutting welfare reform. “Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job,” proclaims one such commercial. “They just send you a welfare check.” Obama’s plan, as several media fact-checking monitors have noted, does nothing of the sort. The spot clearly seeks to resurrect the kind of resentment of African Americans that the GOP exploited back in the days when welfare was a major program. The Romney campaign has evidently concluded, since virtually its entire pool of potential voters is white, that it must rouse the sometime voters among them with such expedients — which explains why it is running more of these ads than any others.
To that Meyerson is eager to add, there is a strong tradition of straight-up Southern-fried idiocy (which has nothing to do with racism) that the GOP establishment cynically embraces, religion and her superstitious handmaiden, scary, “burn the witch”-style anti-intellectualism:
In the anti-government column, the Ryan budget, which House Republicans enthusiastically adopted, would cut taxes disproportionately on the wealthy and halve the share of spending on every domestic, non-entitlement program. It would decimate education, transportation and funding for college students and scientific research. It would bring the nation down to the developmental level of the anti-tax, anti-public-investment Southern states of yore.
The ghosts of Dixie — of the Scopes Trial and the underfunding of public education — also pop up in Republicans’ willful resistance to science and, more broadly, simple empiricism. Global warming? Evolution? Homosexuality’s causation? How babies get made? Find a robust scientific conclusion and you can find a significant number of Republicans — adducing pseudo-science and faith — who oppose it.
Patti Smith’s pussy has been rioting for 4 decades now and this clip from 1978 is a reminder of just much of a rock warrior she was and has always been.
This all-too-brief clip is from a 1978 PBS television fundraiser, The Night Of The Empty Chairs, organized by Leonard Bernstein in support of Amnesty International and in protest of political oppression across the globe.
Patti began her performance by reading a poetic declaration from Czech band Plastic People Of The Universe, who had for many years experienced unrelenting oppression in their homeland.
In the sixties there was a piece called HUNDRED PER CENT that the Plastic People of the Universe writ. After a decade of harassment, censorship, mace, lice - they were arrested in the Spring of 1977. All their work - the technology of their work - everything built on blood and sweat, was confiscated, which brought another blow in the face, which mouths the tongue of love. Rock ‘n’ roll: the universal language of freedom.
In the harsh light of recent events involving Pussy Riot, these words have never seemed more timely or more true.
A HUNDRED PER CENT - REVISITED
They’re afraid of the old for their memory.
They’re afraid of the young for their ideas - ideals.
They’re afraid of funerals - of flowers - of workers -
of churches - of party members - of good times.
They’re afraid of art - they’re afraid of art.
They’re afraid of language - communication.
They’re afraid of theater.
They’re afraid of film - of Pasolini - of God/dard.
of painters - of musicians - of stones and sculptors.
They’re afraid of radio stations.
They’re afraid of technology, free float form of
information. Paris Match - Telex - Guttenburg - Xerox
- IBM - wave lengths.
They’re afraid of telephones.
They’re afraid to let the people in.
They’re afraid to let the people out.
They’re afraid of the left.
They’re afraid of the right.
They’re afraid of the sudden departure of Soviet
troops - of change in Moscow - of facing the strange -
of spies - of counterspies.
They’re afraid of their own police.
They’re afraid of guitar players.
They’re afraid of athletes - of Olympics - of the
Olympic spirit - of saints - of the innocence of
They’re afraid of political prisoners.
They’re afraid of prisoners families - of conscience -
They’re afraid of the future.
They’re afraid of tomorrow’s morning.
They’re afraid of tomorrow’s evening.
They’re afraid of tomorrow.
They’re afraid of the future.
They’re afraid of stratocasters - of telecasters.
They’re afraid of rock ‘n’ roll.
What does he mean, even rock bands? Even rock bands?
Rock bands more than anybody else suffer from
They’re afraid of rock ‘n’ roll - of telecasters - of
stratocasters - of old age - in the streets - behind
the locked doors.
They’re afraid of what they’ve written - of what
they’ve said - of fire - of water - of wind - of slow
- of snow - of love - excretion.
They’re afraid of noise - of peace - of silence - of
grief - of joy - of language - of laughter - of
pornography - of honest and upright - they’re uptight.
They’re afraid of lone and learn and learned people.
They’re afraid of human rights and Karl Marx and raw
They’re afraid of socialism.
They’re afraid of rock ‘n’ roll.
They’re afraid of rock ‘n’ roll.
They’re afraid of rock ‘n’ roll.
They’re afraid of rock ‘n’ roll.
AND WHY THE HELL ARE WE AFRAID OF THEM?
Patti Smith Group guitarist Ivan Kral, who is Czech, provides some vocal back-up.
This story broke on the WWVA AM radio station in my own hometown of Wheeling, WV. I’ve got no doubt that many, probably most, of these miners will be voting for Mitt Romney, anyway, but this is still fucking shameful, isn’t it?
A group of coal miners in Ohio feel they would have been fired if they did not attend an Aug. 14 event with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and contribute to his campaign — and to make matters worse, they lost of day of pay for their trouble.
In phone calls and emails to WWVA radio host David Blomquist, employees at the Century Mine in Ohio said they feared retaliation if they did not attend the Romney event.
“Yes, we were in fact told that the Romney event was mandatory and would be without pay, that the hours spent there would need to be made up my non-salaried employees outside of regular working hours, with the only other option being to take a pay cut for the equivalent time,” the employees told Blomquist. “Yes, letters have gone around with lists of names of employees who have not attended or donated to political events.”
“I realize that many people in this area and elsewhere would love to have my job or my benefits,” one worker explained. “And our bosses do not hesitate in reminding us of this. However, I can not agree with these callers and my supervisors, who are saying that just because you have a good job, that you should have to work any day for free on almost no notice without your consent.”
“We do not appreciate being intimidated into exchanging our time for nothing. I heard one of your callers saying that Murray employees are well aware of what they are getting into upon hire, or that they are informed that a percentage of their income will go to political donations. I can not speak for that caller, but this is news for me. We merely find out how things work by experience.”
Murray Energy Chief Financial Officer Rob Moore told Blomquist that the charges were untrue.
“There were no workers that were forced to attend the event,” Moore said. “We had managers that communicated to our work force that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend the event. We had a pre-registration list. And employees were asked to put their names on a pre-registration list because they could not get into the event unless they were pre-registered and had a name tag to enter the premises.”
“What about not getting paid for an eight-hour day?” Blomquist wondered. “If the mine was shut down for the visit, I understand, but wouldn’t it be fair — let’s use the word ‘fair’ — to still pay these individuals for that day? I mean, it wasn’t their fault they weren’t working.”
“Our management people wanted to attend the event and we could not have people underground during Romney’s visit,” Moore insisted.
“But why not still pay then their wage for that day?” Blomquist pressed.
“By federal election law, we could not pay people to attend the event,” Moore replied. “And we did not want anyone to come back and see where anyone had been paid for that day.”
“I’m not saying pay then to attend the event, I’m saying, ‘Hey look, we have to close down the mine, if you want to attend this event, that’s fine, but you’re still going to get a day’s pay for the work that you would have done,’” Blomquist pointed out. “Why not do that?”
“As a private employer, it was our decision and we made the decision not to pay the people,” the Murray chief financial officer said.
The Center for Responsive Politics show that Murray Energy has contributed nearly one million dollars to Republican candidates in the past two years. I wonder where all that filthy lucre came from? Actually I don’t, it’s pretty damned obvious where it came from.
Saturday I received an email fundraising letter from former and hopefully future member of Congress, Alan Grayson of Florida. As readers of this blog know, I absolutely despise Republicans and about the best I can say about the Democrats is that I don’t hate them—I have almost no feelings about them whatsoever, although I always vote a straight Democratic ticket. But Alan Grayson is different and I like and admire him very much. He’s pretty much only slightly more of a Democrat than Vermont’s Bernie Sanders is (Sanders is an Independent/Socialist), and this is probably why I like him so much. Grayson’s about as far to the left as you can get and still be considered a Democrat.
In any case, in this weekend’s fundraising letter, reproduced here in full, Grayson tells the story of the “Battle of Blair Mountain,” the largest armed confrontation in the US since the Civil War. I was astonished to read about this. For one, I’d never even heard of it. Two, this happened in West Virginia, the state where I was born and raised. Every 8th grader—at least when I was in school, but I would imagine that this would still be the case—has to take a full year of “West Virginia History.” How was something like this basically erased from the history books, even on a local level like that?
What we are taught is “American history” is BUNK when things like the Battle of Blair Mountain are left out!
This weekend marks the anniversary of the most brutal confrontation in the history of the American labor movement, the Battle of Blair Mountain. For one week during 1921, armed, striking coal miners battled scabs, a private militia, police officers and the US Army. 100 people died, 1,000 were arrested, and one million shots were fired. It was the largest armed rebellion in America since the Civil War.
This is how it happened. In the Twenties, West Virginia coal miners lived in “company towns.” The mining companies owned all the property. They literally ran union organizers out of town - or killed them.
In 1912, in a strike at Paint Creek, the mining company forced the striking miners and their families out of their homes, to live in tents. Then they sent armed goons into that tent city, and opened fire on men, women and children there with a machine gun.
By 1920, the United Mine Workers had organized the northern mines in West Virginia, but they were barred from the southern mines. When southern miners tried to join the union, they were fired and evicted. To show who was boss, one mining company tried to place machine guns on the roofs of buildings in town.
In Matewan, when the coal company goons came to town to take it upon themselves to enforce eviction notices, the mayor and the sheriff asked them to leave. The goons refused. Incredibly, the goons tried to arrest the sheriff, Sheriff Hatfield. Shots were fired, and the mayor and nine others were killed. But the company goons had to flee.
The government sided with the coal companies, and put Sheriff Hatfield on trial for murder. The jury acquitted him. Then they put the sheriff on trial for supposedly dynamiting a non-union mine. As the sheriff walked up the courthouse steps to stand trial again, unarmed, company goons shot him in cold blood. In front of his wife.
This led to open confrontations between miners on one hand, and police and company goons on the other. 13,000 armed miners assembled, and marched on the southern mines in Logan and Mingo Counties. They confronted a private militia of 2,000, hired by the coal companies.
President Harding was informed. He threatened to send in troops and even bombers to break the union. Many miners turned back, but then company goons started killing unarmed union men, and some armed miners pushed on. The militia attacked armed miners, and the coal companies hired airplanes to drop bombs on them. The US Army Air Force, as it was known then, observed the miners’ positions from overhead, and passed that information on to the coal companies.
The miners actually broke through the militia’s defensive perimeter, but after five days, the US Army intervened, and the miners stood down. By that time, 100 people were dead. Almost a thousand miners then were indicted for murder and treason. No one on the side of the coal companies was ever held accountable.
The Battle of Blair Mountain showed that the miners could not defeat the coal companies and the government in battle. But then something interesting happened: the miners defeated the coal companies and the government at the ballot box. In 1925, convicted miners were paroled. In 1932, Democrats won both the State House and the White House. In 1935, President Roosevelt signed the National Labor Relations Act. Eleven years after the Battle of Blair Mountain, the United Mine Workers organized the southern coal fields in West Virginia.
The Battle of Blair Mountain did not have a happy ending for Sheriff Hatfield, or his wife, or the 100 men, women and children who died, or the hundreds who were injured, or the thousands who lost their jobs. But it did have a happy ending for the right to organize, and the middle class, and America.
Now let me ask you one thing: had you ever heard of this landmark event in American history, the Battle of Blair Mountain, before you read this? And if not, then why not? Think about that.
Makes you wonder what would Christian “historian” David Barton and the “Tea party patriot” set make of this? How would they even get their heads around it?