‘The Cool, Cool River’

Moves like a fist through traffic
Anger and no one can heal it
Shoves a little bump into the momentum
It’s just a little lump
But you feel it
In the creases and the shadows
With a rattling deep emotion
The cool, cool river
Sweeps the wild, white ocean

Yes boss, the government handshake
Yes boss, the crusher of language
Yes boss, Mr. Stillwater
The face at the edge of the banquet
The cool, the cool river
The cool, the cool river

I believe in the future
I may live in my car
My radio tuned to
The voice of a star
Song dogs barking at the break of dawn
Lightning pushes the edge of a thunderstorm
And these old hopes and fears
Still at my side Continue reading “‘The Cool, Cool River’”

Michelle Obama Rocks the House

September 4, 2012
Charlotte, NC–Transcript of first lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, as prepared for delivery:

Thank you so much, Elaine…we are so grateful for your family’s service and sacrifice…and we will always have your back.

Over the past few years as First Lady, I have had the extraordinary privilege of traveling all across this country.

And everywhere I’ve gone, in the people I’ve met, and the stories I’ve heard, I have seen the very best of the American spirit.

I have seen it in the incredible kindness and warmth that people have shown me and my family, especially our girls.

I’ve seen it in teachers in a near-bankrupt school district who vowed to keep teaching without pay.

I’ve seen it in people who become heroes at a moment’s notice, diving into harm’s way to save others…flying across the country to put out a fire…driving for hours to bail out a flooded town.

And I’ve seen it in our men and women in uniform and our proud military families…in wounded warriors who tell me they’re not just going to walk again, they’re going to run, and they’re going to run marathons…in the young man blinded by a bomb in Afghanistan who said, simply, “…I’d give my eyes 100 times again to have the chance to do what I have done and what I can still do.”

Continue reading “Michelle Obama Rocks the House”

Aspiration

Wyclef Jean–“If I Was President

Election time is coming

If I was president,
I’d get elected on Friday, assasinated on Saturday,
and buried on Sunday.

If I was president…
If I was president

An old man told me, instead of spending billions on the war,
we can use some of that money, in the ghetto.
I know some so poor,when it rains that when they shower,
screaming “fight the power”.
That’s when the vulture devoured

[chorus]
If I was president,
I’d get elected on Friday, assasinated on Saturday,
and buried on Sunday.

If I was president…
If I was president…
If I was president…
If I was president

But the radio won’t play this.
They call it rebel music.
How can you refuse it, children of moses?

[chorus]
If I was president,
I’d get elected on Friday, assasinated on Saturday,
and buried on Sunday.

If I was president…
If i was president

Tell the children the truth, the truth.
Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America.
Tell them the truth.
The truth
YEAH! Tell them about Marcus Garvey.
The the children the truth YEAH! The truth.
Tell them about Martin Luther King.
Tell them the truth.
The Truth.
Tell them about JFK

If I was President
[chorus]
If I was president,
I’d get elected on Friday, assasinated on Saturday,
and buried on Sunday.

If I was president…
If I was president

DE KLERK—WHITE HOPE

By MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writer | Sunday, April 3, 1994

The scenes are stunning: blacks lustily cheering apartheid scion Frederik Willem de Klerk as he campaigns for re-election to the presidency of South Africa.

The happy candidate obliges by donning Zulu tribal hats, carrying spears and cowhide shields.

“I’m white,” he told one black audience, “but my heart pumps the same red blood as the red blood in the heart of every South African.”

De Klerk, 58, was born into a staunchly political Afrikaner family in the Transvaal. As his great-grandfather and his father, he represented the province in parliament. So, the deeply religious father of three caught most people by surprise when he began dismantling apartheid.

Continue reading “DE KLERK—WHITE HOPE”

Authenticity

The Fakers
The Fakers

John Edwards had the right message both times when he ran for the presidency. The problem was that he himself seemed fake. The harder he sold himself, the less I was willing to buy.

One of the things he sold hardest was this idea that he had a wholesome family. And when it turned that his loathsome wife was sick, they pushed that too as reason to vote for him for president. It turned out that the biggest betrayal of all and, perhaps, the reason Edwards appeared so fake, was that it was all a lie.

Edwards had left his wife in mind and spirit and could not wait for her to die so he could be with his true love.

John Edwards did not even think this transgression was enough to keep him from running for president. He showed in New Orleans with his fake jeans, fake pompadour, fake teeth, fake smile and asked that we make him president because only he cared about black people, only he cared about poor people, oh, The Two Americas, he prattled on.

And Elizabeth Edwards was a handmaiden to all this deception.

I don’t wish ill on anyone. But I want Elizabeth Edwards to shut up. I want John Edwards to shut up. Please don’t prosecute him for his deceptions and chicanery with campaign cash to hide his affair. I want all these people to crawl into a cave and never be heard from ever again.

UPDATE: Kathleen Parker makes the case against the Edwards more intelligently than I tried to above.

A shameful passage

The United States Supreme Court illegitimately installed George W. Bush as president of the United States after the 2000 elections. Boy George was going to while away his time in office, rewarding friends in politics and the oil and defense industries with rich contracts.

That was why Dick Cheney held those meetings with energy interests behind closed doors. It was as evil a cabal as you could get. They were corrupt and lazy, to boot.

Then, history intervened.

Whatever you believed about the origins and the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States, the events propelled our nation on a path that altered the course of our history. Every step along the way, when our nation’s leaders had opportunities to chose paths that would strengthen or imperil our nation, they chose wrong.

They chose torture, rather than follow the rule of law. They belittled and denigrated international laws and institutions, rather than harness the goodwill of the community of nations.

The new administration, a legitimately elected president, Barack Obama, bearing a mandate from the people of this country, has begun trying to repair the damage wrought by the last administration. They won’t always make the right decisions. Their steps might be, at times, unsure. But they have one thing George W. Bush never had. Legitimacy.

UPDATE: A special prosecutor should decide the fates of John Yoo, Jay C. Bybee and other memo writers. They should suffer the consequences for violations of international laws that their memos aided and abetted.

All lower level soldiers punished for following orders should have their punishment reduced (because we now know they did not torture on a whim but were, in fact, following orders).

Gen. Geoffrey Miller should be tried for War Crimes.

A Truth & Reconciliation Commission (senior members of the judiciary and the U.S. Congress; governed by strictures of Congressional testimony) should get sworn testimonies of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, George “Slam Dunk” Tenet, and Colin Powell. Their testimonies will be immunized if they tell the truth. Liars should be prosecuted for the wholesale violations of international laws (conventions against torture and the Geneva conventions) that occurred.

All will be consigned to history’s judgment.

Men’s laws for women’s bodies

Zina Saunders did this piece to accompany an article in The Nation magazine. Ordinarily, it would carry her byline but I do not want attribute to her my own thoughts on this issue. My thoughts, such as they are, are unformed and unsophisticated, incoherent even. Try this:

Isn’t it time we men stop manifesting our anxieties about our mothers’, daughters’, wives’, and sisters’ sexuality by passing laws to govern what they can and cannot do with their own bodies, their own lives?

I don’t have an answer. I just know that man’s laws and decrees, especially when they try to govern what women do with their bodies, wreck lives instead.

Freyne exits stage right

Peter Freyne, R.I.P

I am not familiar with Seven Days, the publication that Peter Freyne last worked for, but I don’t believe that’s the paper he worked for when I toiled as a general assignment reporter at the Burlington Free Press from 1988 to 1990. I was always wary of him but, since I did not delve too much into political coverage, he never trained his sight on me. A Vermont friend sent me a message on Facebook that Peter had died. The message included the bit below:

Peter Freyne never missed a deadline in the 13 years he worked for Seven Days. He delivered his political column, “Inside Track,” every Tuesday by 4 p.m. and was never subtle about it. Shortly after emailing his article, Freyne would show up at the office to answer questions, argue, check last-minute facts and, depending on his mood, terrorize our staff. His column was the last thing we squeezed into the paper before sending it to press.

So it’s ironic – not to mention premature and terribly sad – that Peter Freyne left this Earth early on a Wednesday. After battling cancer, seizures and a strep infection that spread to his brain, he died peacefully at Fletcher Allen Health Care at 12:26 a.m. today – six hours after our weekly deadline. Did he have a hand in the timing of his final departure, knowing the news would break just after the paper went to bed? We wouldn’t put it past him to go out with a poke.

Freyne, 59, came out of the bar-stool school of journalism, along with his hero, Chicago newspapermen Mike Royko. He never went to school to learn to be a political columnist, but brought his considerable and diverse life experiences to a fun and informative “Inside Track” that originated in the Vanguard Press, Burlington’s original alt weekly, in the late ’80s. Freyne was the rare reporter who could skewer a politician in print and have a drink with him two days later. Many of his “victims” became his sources – and in some cases, friends.

Freyne gave up drinking and smoking. And Vermont journalism has been a lot less lively since he retired last June. Here’s a video that Eva Sollberger made of Freyne right after that, when Seven Days readers once again named him the state’s “Best Print Journalist” in our annual Daysies survey.

His passing marks the end of an era. He may have planned that, too. Please direct press inquiries to Seven Days Co-editor Pamela Polston.

Presumption

I have no problem whatsoever with Caroline Kennedy being named to the United States Senate seat from New York that Hillary Clinton will be vacating if she is confirmed as the new Secretary of State. In fact, I could offer a couple of powerful argument why Ms. Kennedy should be named (and I will later in this post) but an artist friend, Zina Saunders, sent me this piece that I could not resist posting:

Her Highn… I Mean, Senator Caroline Kennedy (by Zina Saunders, December 26th, 2008)

There’s been a lot of talk lately about Caroline Kennedy’s quest for the Senate seat being left vacant by Hillary Clinton. Questions have been raised about Kennedy’s qualifications and experience and financial entanglements …to read more, go here and here.

Caroline Kennedy’s bid is audacious, sure, and carries a certain presumptuousness that I think Ms. Saunders sought to puncture in this art. I love the piece. It is great, especially her depiction of the putative kingmakers, the Rev. Al and Uncle Moneybags. But her audacity is precisely the reason why I think Ms.Kennedy should be named to this seat. She has the stature to be presumptuous, to expect that the seat would be handed to her.

Yes, some of the people handling Ms. Kennedy’s bid have made missteps, including the efforts to strong-arm some political leaders to jump on-board. They need to show some class. But I blame New York Gov. David Paterson for most of the backlash that is beginning to build against Ms. Kennedy. The governor is outspoken and plainspoken and, often, that is part of his charm. Not in this case. Paterson has appeared, at times, petulant.  with reporters when discussing Ms. Kennedy’s bid. He needs to show some class.

Any of New York’s political class who gets the nod, Andrew Cuomo included, would come into the role with a tremendous status gap that the 51-year-old daughter of a martyred president of the United States has never known since the day she was born and would never suffer from as long as she lives.

Who could better serve the interest of New Yorkers? A woman who comes the closest to being America’s royalty, or some sweaty New York politician? Yeah, Chuck Schumer is great and Al D’Amato was, whatever, but it should not be that hard. I can understand wanting to puncture the kind of presumptuousness that attend to people like Caroline Kennedy, certainly. It can be unbecoming.

But Ms. Kennedy brings to her bid a record of public service equal to, if not better than, that of many who have sought the office.

When our carpet-bagging First Lady, Hillary Clinton, first sought the office, was she really that much more qualified than Caroline Kennedy is now? No. I believe New Yorkers start out way ahead with Caroline as their United States senator.

Illinois Gov. arrested in corruption crime spree

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested Tuesday by FBI agents for what U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald called a “staggering” level of corruption involving pay-to-play politics in Illinois’ top office.

The predawn rousting of Gov. Rod Blagojevich from his Ravenswood Manor home Tuesday marked a stunning climax to a tale of alleged public corruption unmatched in Illinois’ storied history of elected scoundrels and thrust the state into an unprecedented political crisis.

* Editorial: Gov. Blagojevich, resign

* Blagojevich: Obama Senate seat “a [effing] valuable thing”

FULL COVERAGE IN THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE Illinoisans awoke to news that their governor had been arrested, handcuffed and hauled before a federal magistrate on sweeping charges he conspired to sell his office many times over–including putting a price on the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

Continue . . .

City for $ale*

Alvaro Diaz-Rubio
I am a big fan of Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice. The past week ended without me hearing much about his piece exposing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the seamy dealings he pulled to get the city’s money and political class to knuckle under and allow him to run for a third term as mayor.

This is the opening paragraph of The Transformation of Mike Bloomberg:
Mike Bloomberg is the best mayor—in fact, the best state or city chief executive—I’ve covered in 31 years at the Voice. He’s also the worst.
The piece then went on to describe how Bloomberg’s money and power has corrupted every institution and seeped into every fabric of city life, to the point where no one, hoping some of his largess would come their way, would dare oppose him on anything. This is how Barrett closed:
I remember in the early Bloomberg days—seizing any opportunity to observe, with pleasure—that his money had bought us a leader that was finally free of the circle of donors, lobbyists, and powerbrokers that consumed earlier mayors and confounded the public good.

His message, and it once was true, was that he owed nothing to anybody. He began parceling himself out in the 2005 campaign, when he did five contracts with unions that endorsed him and spent more of our money to re-elect himself than his own. And since his re-election was never in doubt, he dipped into his money and ours, it turned out, for vanity: It merely increased his margin of victory. Imagine how many own a piece of him now.

If you believe it’s worth all of this to get a savvy hand at the tiller in turbulent times, think back to what the Times wrote in 2001 when they endorsed his opponent: “Even within the annals of businessmen-candidates, he is ill-matched to the job he covets. His company has no stockholders and no unions. It is a brand-new business, its corporate culture and decision-making structure devised to suit his character. . . . Many of Mr. Bloomberg’s greatest talents would turn out to be utterly beside the point.” When the bursting collective bargaining, pension, and debt costs of the recent Bloomberg boom years are considered, the Times of old might have had a point. As it also had as recently as June 9, when it warned against a term-limits gambit and urged Bloomberg to seek another office: “We are wary of changing the rules just to suit the ambition of a particular politician.”

Bloomberg is so set on writing his own story that he decided to produce a memoir, set for release just as he left City Hall. He asked Margaret Carlson, who is on Bloomberg L.P.’s payroll, to collaborate on it. But he recently put it off, the Times said, because he was worried about its “boastful tone” possibly turning off voters. The book might have had other, related problems: A tell-all is fine for someone walking away from the game, but not for someone about to begin a new campaign. The claimed successes might have been an irresistible target for reporters, and the petty side of Mike may have led him to dish on people he now needs to seduce one more time. Obviously, most candidates would think that a bestseller in a campaign year, with a 300,000 initial printing, would be an asset. But not Mike, who isn’t ready yet to buy his own history. He’s determined, regardless of the moral costs, to make history instead.

Barrett’s piece is a cautionary tale. It says that whatever good Bloomberg may have meant the city, his money and power has become too corrupting, that the good citizens of Gotham would do well turn their back on their putative savior from financial doom.