Monday, January 11, 2016
I got up this morning to the news that David Bowie had died, and in that instant something indefinable shifted out of place.
Bowie, Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke, was one of the great creative minds of his generation. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that when Bowie was on the rise in the late 60s through the mid-70s, rock music was the most creative, adventurous, and dangerous art form on the planet. Controversial statement, I guess. But I certainly did endless research, playing album after album, day after day, year after year. They were heady days, to say the least, and Bowie was one of the artists fueling the joyride. No question.
Rock stars like Bowie were so central to the lives of many of us when we were growing up that it is a shock when one of them passes. We felt that somehow they were immortal. We were convinced they defied time and all nonsensical earthly restraints. But no. Not so. And it makes us all feel a little older to know this.
Bowie's body of recorded work -- even with the few flat spots in his catalog -- is incredibly impressive. His shows (I caught his Stage tour in November 1978) brought theatricality to rock. And he was a fine actor as well, with several stage and screen credits to his name.
But it is the insoluble essence of what we felt when we watched and listened that makes for the greatest poetry of his story. That stays in your heart and brain till the end.
I will miss David Bowie as much as I miss my youth. After all, they are one in the same.
Sunday, January 3, 2016
Thursday, December 24, 2015
|Pardon our French: You can fool some of the people some of the time...|
It's 3pm, December 24 in Boston, and the temperature is 68 degrees.
Thank jehovah Adolf Trump has told us that climate change is nonsense, otherwise we'd be likely to pay heed to all that science stuff and start to think, "Holy shit it's hot for winter!"
Yet again, heat records are falling like frogs in a biblical plague and, from what I've read, 2015 could well be the hottest year on record. That's becoming a sadly familiar refrain. [I've just taken my shirt off because I'm feeling sticky -- that was December 24, yep yep yep.]
The recent climate summit in Paris (the COP... probably more apt to call it the Cop Out) was a fizzer. Of course, we're told it was historic, because finally a step was taken in the right direction. But it's like leaving your New York apartment, hitting the sidewalk for a brisk walk to San Diego, and saying, "Well, we're on our way!"
The math doesn't add up. A meager goal with no real time frame, that's little more than tossing a bucket of water on a burning house. AND, as we all know, making a commitment and keeping it are two very different things in international affairs.
Here's an article and debate (video) on COP21.
I attended two major climate marches recently. There is passion, and there are numbers. Those are our advantages -- as always. With each passing year people are better educated about the realities of the world we're kicked around in. The times they are a-changin'. But it isn't enough. Unless we commit ourselves to unity, organization, and direct action, all the feel-good marches in the world won't cock-block the rising mercury or eliminate poverty or make the hounds of Wall Street come to heel.
Keep bugging your elected officials. Connect with your neighbors. Make a noise. Sign petitions. Join groups (check out 350.org). And be prepared to take real action, even if it means getting arrested. It's come to that.
It's time to march. Are you with us?
PS: A while back, someone pointed out that my blog has taken a somewhat angrier tone in recent months. So true! As the author Lisa Borden wrote: “If you aren't outraged, then you just aren't paying attention.”
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Halting the Keystone XL Pipeline Disaster was a 2015 Highpoint
10 Good Things About the Not-So-Great Year 2015
By Medea Benjamin
It would certainly be easy to do a piece about 10 horrible events from 2015, from the ongoing war in Syria and the refugee crisis, to the bombings in Beirut, Paris and San Bernardino, to the rise of Donald Trump and Islamophobia. But that wouldn’t be a very inspiring way to bid farewell to this year and usher in a new one. So let’s look at 10 reasons to feel better about 2015.
- Iran nuclear deal: Despite significant political opposition and millions of dollars spent to try to quash the deal, the nuclear agreement with Iran was passed and the possibility of another US military entanglement was narrowly avoided. The powerful lobby AIPAC had its wings clipped, as did Israel’s Bibi Netanyahu (except that the deal unfortunately came with a payoff of even more US tax dollars going to the Israeli military).
- Cuba thaw: It’s official! The US and Cuba now have embassies in each other’s territory for the first time in over half a century. The year has been marked by a UN meeting between Castro and Obama, more travelers to Cuba and more trade between both countries -- but Congress still needs to lift the trade embargo, fully lift the travel ban, and return the Guantanamo naval base to the Cubans!
- Keystone pipeline ain’t happenin’. After years of stellar grassroots activism against the Keystone pipeline (and years of lobbying by the oil companies), President Obama finally took the side of the activists (and the planet) by shutting down the project. And while the Paris climate talks did not result in the dramatic commitments we need to stop global climate chaos, they did raise consciousness and move the global community in the right direction.
- The Black Lives Matter movement gets results. This incredible uprising has forced issues of racial injustice into the national spotlight and created real reforms within communities across the country. The Movement for Black Lives got its momentum in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri and spread throughout the nation. Cops have been convicted, police chiefs have been ousted, citizen review boards have been empowered, confederate flags have come down, buildings named after racists have been renamed, presidential candidates have been forced to talk about race. Kudos to the many young black activists leading the way.
- Canada welcomes refugees. While Donald Trump threatens to ban Muslims from the US, newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showed the rest of the world how a country can open its doors –– and hearts –– to Syrian refugees. Trudeau and other smiling officials welcomed the first batch of Syrian refugees with flowers, toys, clothing, goodwill and the heartfelt declaration, "You are home." “We get to show the world how to open our hearts and welcome in people who are fleeing extraordinarily difficult situations...because we define a Canadian not by a skin color or a language or a religion or a background, but by a shared set of values, aspirations, hopes and dreams,” Trudeau proclaimed.
- Jeremy Corbyn heads UK Labor Party! Running on an anti-war, anti-austerity, and pro-refugee platform, longtime progressive parliamentarian Jeremy Corbyn earned a whopping 59% of his party’s votes. In an interview with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, Corbyn voiced his support for diplomacy and his aversion to airstrikes in the Middle East: “I want a world of peace. I’m not interested in bombs. I’m not interested in wars. I’m interested in peace.” Wouldn’t that be nice to hear from Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi?
- Same-sex marriage was legalized in the US! In a landmark and long-awaited decision, the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage a federal right. On June 26, the LGBTQ community and its allies rejoiced and took the streets to celebrate the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling. While there have been some minor setbacks since then (primarily due to bigots like Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis), there is no turning back now.
- Ten years of BDS wins. The non-violent, non-sectarian, Palestinian-led movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel has seen a decade of victories. Key this year was the decision by the European Union that goods produced on land seized in the 1967 war must be labeled “Made in Settlements” (not “Made in Israel”), which will deprive Israel the corresponding tax benefits. The former Israeli intelligence chief Shabtai Shavit is convinced that BDS has become a “critical” challenge to Israel, while the former prime minister Ehud Barak admits it is reaching a “tipping point.” In a desperate attempt to counter the momentum of BDS, Israeli Embassy officials in DC sent holiday gifts exclusively made in settlements to the White House this year.
- Marijuana becomes mainstream. What a year of momentum to end our country's disastrous war on drugs and mass incarceration. Marijuana is now legal in Colorado, Washington. Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C., California and others will hit the ballot box in 2016 to hopefully push us past the tipping point on marijuana legalization. President Obama, the first president to visit a prison, spoke out forcefully against mass incarceration and for criminal justice reform, and is helping formerly incarcerated people re-enter society by "banning the box" for those applying for federal jobs.
- Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign! The energy that Bernie has mobilized, especially among young progressives, has been phenomenal. While the media is obsessed with Donald Trump, droves of people have been flocking to hear Bernie talk about breaking up big banks, a financial transaction tax to make college education free, single-payer healthcare and other ideas to make our society more just. Wouldn’t it be great if this movement could continue after the race is over?
So while this holiday season the nation is obsessed with the latest Donald Trump insult and the special effects of Star Wars, may we bring in the new year truly striking back at the injustices of the empire. May the force be with the grassroots activists trying to build a more peaceful world.
Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK and the human rights organization Global Exchange.
Saturday, December 12, 2015
|Just another day at the office|
I don't want to spend too much time on this space monkey but we do need to send a message that demagogues are not welcome.
I signed a petition this morning (see below) and added this comment:
"Trump is an ignorant, red neck, greed-monger who has played the bankruptcy system to his advantage and calls himself a success. He talks tough but has never put his own life in danger. He talks in sweeping platitudes but lacks any sense of policy detail or what this country and world need. He is a poorly educated, mean-spirited, bigoted, bully. He is completely racist and sexist and a devout liar. He has no evident redeeming qualities and the sooner he is dispatched to the dustiest corner of oblivion the better off we will all be. A purely reprehensible, hateful human being. Now for his bad points..."
Now it's your turn: GO HERE.
|Let's Wipe Out Trump!|
Enjoy the Day, Do some Good,
Friday, December 11, 2015
In the past week there has been a significant uptick in Russian visitors to this blog.
It's really great when you realize that we are all part of one great human community and, together, one day, we will achieve peace, justice, and equality on this planet.
Привет, мои друзья!
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
|Trump as I see him. "I reckon I'll have me some of them french-fried potatoes."|
I'm loathe to even write the dipshit's name but let's get this over with.
This whole Trump circus/Klan rally/joyride for rednecks has absorbed way too much of our time and attention. The main point has been established: He's a quarterwit hate-monger who cites "facts" he scooped out of his toilet bowel. He is a pathetic clown. But that doesn't mean he isn't causing a great deal of harm. He is.
The last thing we need in this country is more hate and divisiveness. Which is precisely what this bankruptcy-dodger brings to the table. He isn't worth any more time or attention. We get the picture, and the picture sucks.
Which isn't to say he should be completely dismissed as some irrelevant nut. Sadly, some in the mainstream media have it right: This liar and thief has tapped into a vein of anger in America. That's how demagoguery works: Tap into discontent and hate, amplify it, add falsehoods to the mix, and then point the hate at convenient targets -- e.g. Muslims, folks on welfare, people who disagree with you, etc.
To ignore the Trumps of the world is to leave the door to demagoguery and divisiveness open. We don't have to wallow in the freak show, but we need to remain vigilant. We need to show him, and all like him, for the weak and mendacious bastard he is. A paper tiger who talks tough but has never gone to war himself and had to see its horror. In short, Donald Trump is your classic coward. A poster child for the bullies of America.
BUT HERE IS THE LARGER POINT: Once again our political non-system has become a show. All skyrockets and buckets of bullshit. And while we stand by and go "ooh" and "oh no" we are kept from watching everything else that is going on in the world that really matters.
And remember this: Apart from the more outrageous ideas that this buckethead would never (I hope I'm safe in saying "never") get enacted anyway, his policies aren't that far from the rest of the pack. He/they favor the wealthy, won't rein in our global military savagery, won't do anything radically positive to make our economy fairer and stronger, will never put the citizens before greed and ambition, and so on.
One is left to wonder how we get such horrendous self-servers to choose from every four years. But then again, you just have to look at our money-flooded, outrageously undemocratic electoral process and you have your answer. It's a race among whores. The only exception I make to that is Bernie Sanders, whom I believe is an honest man. He's our best option with the system we have.
But in the long run, our only chance for enduring peace, prosperity and, yes, survival, is to change our political, social, and economic systems radically. At that point, not only will we not have to have the Donald Trumps of the world in our field of vision every which way we turn, but such morally bereft bastards will never be able to rise above the level of their own shit-tide again.
Keep fighting! Stay positive!
CLICK HERE to sign a petition calling for the U.S. to stay out of Syria.