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?
If Todd Akin’s asinine comment about rape moved people as high up on the GOP totem poll as Karl Rove and Mitt Romney to call on him to step down from the Republican ticket in the Missouri Senate race, then why aren’t the GOP bigwigs (and the media and frankly every single woman in the entire US of A) calling for Paul Ryan’s head over his EQUALLY offensive, head-shaking, gob-smackingly stupid comment that RAPE is but a “method of conception”???
There could be no greater testament to the utter abdication of responsibility by what passes for a “news” media in America in 2012 than that, despite the grotesquerie of this cavalierly callous comment, chances are better than good that this is the first you’re hearing of it.
Here, watch it—and try to figure out why this has gotten NO MAINSTREAM MEDIA play (not even here at the Huffington Post) despite it being, to my mind, a far more offensive remark than Todd Akin’s imbecilic blurt of last weekend. What, are we tired of stupid remarks about rape now, so Ryan gets a free pass?
Given the demands for Akin’s resignation from a mere Senate race when his musings on “legitimate rape” were publicized, what do you imagine the reaction would be if people were as familiar with VP wannabe Ryan’s stunning statement? Might there be a cacophony of outrage? Might there be calls for his resignation from the ticket? Might there be a focus on how fundamentally oblivious these people who would make our laws are to not just women’s but humans’ rights and dignity? Sure, there might, but then of course people would have to have heard about it.
According to the man who would be the proverbial heartbeat away from the White House, and who in any event would—given Romney’s utter hollowness—have an inordinate influence on the judicial appointments that will determine how much freedom our children get to live under, RAPE = “METHOD OF CONCEPTION.” And yet, unless you’re a frequenter of one of a dozen or so lefty blogs—or my friend on Facebook—you probably knew nothing about it.
I truly despair for the country my 14-year-old daughter is inheriting. That a remark this intensely revealing of the danger posed by this ticket can go basically unreported is as nauseating to me as the quote itself.
Two members of the Pussy Riot feminist art collective have fled from Russia to avoid prosecution for the same protest against Vladimir Putin that landed three of their fellow band mates two-year prison sentences. This according to the AP report and the Pussy Riot Twitter feed:
Five members of the feminist group took part in a provocative performance inside Moscow’s main cathedral in February to protest the Russian leader’s rule and his cozy relationship with the Orthodox Church. The women wore their trademark garishly colored balaclavas, which made it difficult for police to identify them, and only three were arrested.
After a controversial trial that highlighted Putin’s crackdown on dissent since he began a third presidential term in May, the three band members were convicted of hooliganism and sentenced to two years in prison on Aug. 17. Days later, Moscow police said they were searching for the other band members, an apparent warning to the group to stop its anti-Putin protests.
Even as the judge was reading the verdict in a Moscow courtroom, one of the band members who had escaped arrest played Pussy Riot’s latest song, “Putin sets the fires of revolutions,” from the balcony of an apartment building across the street.
Pussy Riot tweeted on Sunday that the two activists had fled Russia and are “recruiting foreign feminists to prepare new protest actions.” No mention was made of where they went.
Can’t say I blame them for wanting to keep mum on that count!
An essay appeared in The Moscow Times today arguing that the political art/punk pranksters have roots to earlier counterculture movements and strains of Russian political dissent going back to the 19th Century. Peter Rutland writes:
Much more interesting than the band’s antics in the cathedral, however, were the closing statements that the three defendants delivered to the court, which New Yorker editor-in-chief David Remnick described as “a kind of instant classic in the anthology of dissidence.” Each woman took a different theme. Yekaterina Samutsevich dissected the unhealthy fusion of church and state. Maria Alyokhina talked about the deficiencies of the country’s education system and the suppression of the individual. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova offered a critique of the “autocratic political system” in general and the conduct of their prosecution in particular.
The statements portray a society that is passive and disoriented in the face of an all-powerful ruling bureaucracy. Their critique is spiritual rather than material, and they are not particularly interested in leveling accusations of corruption, which have been the central theme of the mainstream opposition.
Many Russian observers have been dismissive of Pussy Riot, characterizing their provocative actions, including previous performances of a sexual nature, as infantile and offensive — and unpopular with the public at large. But it is not at all clear whether Pussy Riot expects or even desires a groundswell of public support. They do not aspire to be leaders of a revolutionary movement, either Orange or Leninist.
Rather, their appeal for truth and freedom puts them squarely in the tradition of the 19th-century Russian intelligentsia. Tolokonnikova directly referred to the group’s punk antics as equivalent to the truth-telling “holy fools” of centuries past and embraced the idea that their prison sentence proves the virtue of their cause.
Pussy Riot adopted the tactics of protest from the Situationists of 1960s France, the punk rockers of 1970s Britain and the feminist Riot Grrrls in the United States in the 1990s. The idea of donning masks comes from the movie “V for Vendetta,” which was popularized by the Occupy movement.
But the strategy of Pussy Riot has a deeper foundation. Their moral critique of authority and appeal to a higher truth is rooted in pre-revolutionary Russia, a tradition that fitfully resurfaced during the Soviet years. They cite 19th-century literary critic Vissarion Belinsky and Fyodor Dostoevsky, but not Voltaire, John Stuart Mill or other representatives of the Western liberal tradition.
The assertion of an individual’s right to exist — what Alyohkhina refers to as “inner freedom” — is not a problem for young people living in the West and has not been for a century or more. Whatever the shibboleths that are evoked by today’s Western radicals — such as capitalism, neoliberalism, Empire and racism — they are phenomena quite different from the challenge posed by the authoritarian Russian state.
There are at least twelve other members of the Pussy Riot collective who still remain in Russia.