Showing posts with label Friday Features. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Friday Features. Show all posts

Friday, November 13, 2015

Storms Never Last

For your Friday music fix, something a little bit different: the country crossover duet of Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter (Miriam Eddy):

Storms Never Last

Storms never last do they, baby
Bad times all pass with the winds
Your hand in mine steals the thunder
You make the sun want to shine

Oh, I followed you down so many roads, baby
I picked wild flowers and sung you soft sad songs
And every road we took, God knows, our search was for the truth
And the storm brewin' now won't be the last

Storms never last do they, baby
Bad times all pass with the winds
Your hand in mine steals the thunder
You make the sun want to shine

Storms never last do they, baby
Bad times all pass with the winds
Your hand in mine steals the thunder
You make the sun want to shine

Storms never last do they, baby.

 - Miriam Eddy (Jessi Colter)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sweet Summer!

At 5:04 GMT (12:04 CST),  our planet arrived at that point in its elliptical journey around the sun when our north pole is tilted as closely as it ever tilts - about 23.5 degrees - toward our life-sustaining star.  It is officially summertime!

The northern solstice (or June solstice) occurs on either the 20, 21 or 22 of June. It marks the peak of the lengthening hours of daylight that began with the March equinox. On this date, northerners will experience the greatest number of hours and minutes of daylight in all of 2013. For those in the southern hemisphere, the opposite is true - their day will be the shortest of the year. 

I was going to post a poem about midsummer night full of fairies and magic, or about flowers and breezes and the smell of freshly mowed grass. But this poem pushed its way to the front of the line: I think in its own way, this poem communicates a warmer, more human affirmation of life than more conventional metaphors of growing things and magic.

Summer Solstice, New York City
by Sharon Olds

By the end of the longest day of the year he could not stand it,
he went up the iron stairs through the roof of the building
and over the soft, tarry surface
to the edge, put one leg over the complex green tin cornice
and said if they came a step closer that was it.
Then the huge machinery of the earth began to work for his life,
the cops came in their suits blue-grey as the sky on a cloudy evening,
and one put on a bullet-proof vest, a
black shell around his own life,
life of his children's father, in case
the man was armed, and one, slung with a
rope like the sign of his bounden duty,
came up out of a hole in the top of the neighboring building
like the gold hole they say is in the top of the head,
and began to lurk toward the man who wanted to die.
The tallest cop approached him directly,
softly, slowly, talking to him, talking, talking,
while the man's leg hung over the lip of the next world
and the crowd gathered in the street, silent, and the
hairy net with its implacable grid was
unfolded near the curb and spread out and
stretched as the sheet is prepared to receive a birth.
Then they all came a little closer
where he squatted next to his death, his shirt
glowing its milky glow like something
growing in a dish at night in the dark in a lab and then
everything stopped
as his body jerked and he
stepped down from the parapet and went toward them
and they closed on him, I thought they were going to
beat him up, as a mother whose child has been
lost will scream at the child when its found, they
took him by the arms and held him up and
leaned him against the wall of the chimney and the
tall cop lit a cigarette
in his own mouth, and gave it to him, and
then they all lit cigarettes, and the
red, glowing ends burned like the
tiny campfires we lit at night
back at the beginning of the world.

For your musical inspiration on the brightest day of the year, here is Julia Fischer accompanied by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields playing Vivaldi's Summer from his violin concerto The Four Seasons. The performance was recorded at the National Botanical Garden in Wales.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tough Week For Mitt (That's "Lord Romney" To You)

Confused, perplexed and coldly furious: Mitt feels entitled to win, dammit!

The infamous $50,000 a plate dinner video (47% video turning point?) has been discussed a lot this week - and I hope people will continue to discuss it. The usual tendency for the media to move on after important revelations have been discussed for a day or two must be resisted because this is a story of ongoing relevance. The video and Republican reactions to it (44% of Republicans polled by Gallup said the "47%" remarks made them more likely to vote for Romney) was a glimpse into the raw, unvarnished truth about the attitude and motivations of not only Mitt Romney but also of his supporters.

"And to think I spent 30 years building that before
I got laid off four years ago." (Jeff Parker)
There really is a class war going on in the United States. It is a war being waged by the wealthiest 1% - individual citizens and "corporate citizens" - on the middle class and the poor. In this war, the most privileged and powerful class has mobilized every weapon in its impressive arsenal against the millions of Americans whose labour produced the very wealth the elite now crows they "built" the old-fashioned way.  Millions of middle class and poor working Americans are beginning to wake up to the fact that the system is rigged against them: that Reaganomics ushered in thirty years of so-called "business-friendly" government which has been nothing short of catastrophic for the American working class. The awakening giant that is the American workforce is the nightmare that haunts the 1%.

A mobilized majority of working Americans who understand that they have been had, and who can still vote (hopefully) for real change which will benefit them and millions of their fellow Americans poses a real threat to the corporate elite's control over the wealth of the nation. Romney understands this and his powerful backers expect him to reverse the tide and subjugate the masses to the service of the wealthy once and for all.

But perhaps the most sickening revelation from Romney's remarks was what it revealed about who the candidate really is, and what kind of people his candidacy is meant to represent. One of the most pernicious effects of the widening gulf between rich and poor in the United States is the revival of the old European aristocratic notion that those who are poor and struggling are in that position because of their own inherent moral failings (laziness, stupidity, weak character, perhaps even genetic inferiority) - the corollary to which is that those who are rich and successful are in that position because of their inherent moral superiority (industriousness, intelligence, integrity and perhaps even genetic superiority). Those people are where they are because they are simply lesser people; they choose to be in that position (welfare queens, freeloaders, moochers). The contemporary buzzword for this self-serving attitude is "meritocracy" - and it allows no room for consideration of the fact that few people start out on a level playing field.

Cartoon by John Branch
The barely leashed disdain for those less fortunate than himself is at the core of all of Mitt Romney's actions. He will not discuss his various "plans" to restore America to prosperity because he does not think he ought to have to explain himself to anyone, least of all to those people. He is outraged that he has been asked to show his tax returns because he believes that he is above other people and should not be subjected to the same scrutiny that other candidates willingly undergo. How dare those people try to treat him like just any ordinary American. He is not an ordinary American, by god, he is an American aristocrat! He literally believes that he should be given the trust, the admiration and the votes of the people because in his own mind, he is entitled to these things.

The lesson we should take away from every contemptible revelation about the true character of Mitt Romney this week is this:  here is a man who really believes that the Presidency of the United States is his own personal entitlement.

A roundup of the week's best coverage:

SECRET VIDEO: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What he REALLY Thinks About Obama Voters, Mother Jones, September 17, 2012.

Here was Romney raw and unplugged—sort of unscripted. With this crowd of fellow millionaires, he apparently felt free to utter what he really believes and would never dare say out in the open. He displayed a high degree of disgust for nearly half of his fellow citizens, lumping all Obama voters into a mass of shiftless moochers who don't contribute much, if anything, to society, and he indicated that he viewed the election as a battle between strivers (such as himself and the donors before him) and parasitic free-riders who lack character, fortitude, and initiative. 

Yet Romney explained to his patrons that he could not speak such harsh words about Obama in public, lest he insult those independent voters who sided with Obama in 2008 and whom he desperately needs in this election. These were sentiments not to be shared with the voters; it was inside information, available only to the select few who had paid for the privilege of experiencing the real Romney.
(David Corn)

Mitt Romney and Taxes: Two Kinds of Two-Step, M.S., The Economist, September 18, 2012.

So, back off, Moochers.
Here's the thing: the effects of income tax in discouraging work are far stronger at the low end of the income spectrum than at the high end. The logic behind the flat personal exemptions in the tax code, and behind the earned-income tax credit, is that you end up with huge numbers of otherwise-dependent poor people entering the labour force and working productively if you tip the scales in their benefit. That's why the Clinton administration expanded the EITC, and it's been very successful. 

But the genius of the "they-don't-pay-income-taxes" complaint is that it takes the tax cuts that were implemented in order to get poor people off of welfare and encourage them to work, and uses them to accuse poor people of being shiftless and dependent on government. This creates a sort of permanent resentment machine, a renewable fuel source for class warfare of the rich against the poor.

And so we switch smoothly from one tax two-step to another. Do-si-do your partner and sashay down. (M.S.)

Does Romney Dislike America?  E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post, September 19, 2012.

Oh, EJ! Romney only dislikes the America where
all citizens expect a fair shot at success in life;
Mitt Romney loves the America that provided
the tax breaks, resources and cheap labour
that made him and his elite class rich and powerful.
You know, America the Republicans intend to
take back.
The most incisive reaction to Mitt Romney’s disparaging comments about 47 percent of us came from a conservative friend who e-mailed: “If I were you, I’d wonder why Romney hates America so much.”

A bit strong, perhaps. But the more you think about what Romney said, the more you wonder how he really feels about the country he wants to lead. 

What kind of nation are we if nearly half of us are lazy, self-indulgent moochers who will never be persuaded to mend our ways? “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” Romney said, thus writing off a huge share of our citizenry. (E.J.Dionne Jr.)

Mitt's Snake-Bit Season, Gail Collins, New York Times, September 20, 2012.

You may be wondering whatever became of Ryan, who was such a big sensation when Romney first picked him as a running mate. Since Tampa, he seems to have fallen off the face of the earth, resurfacing every now and then to put up another ad for re-election to his House seat in Wisconsin.

It’s not all that unusual for a vice-presidential candidate to go low-profile. And it is totally not true that Mitt Romney strapped Paul Ryan to the top of a car and drove him to Canada. Stop spreading rumors! (Gail Collins)

 Mitt earned everything he has the old-fashioned way:
by being born into wealth and privilege just like
 princes and nobles did before the American notions
of equality, liberty and the idea of 
a social contract
 changed the world. 
It Takes One To Know One, Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, September 20, 2012.

Another illustration of radicalizing self-delusion comes when the son of a governor and corporate chief executive says that “everything that Ann and I have, we earned the old-fashioned way, and that’s by hard work.”

Romney has proved himself right: We manifestly do have a problem with people who see themselves as victims even as they benefit from loopholes in the tax code.

One is running for president. (Nicholas Kristof)

I Know Why The Caged Bird Shrieks, Charles M. Blow, New York Times, September 20, 2012.

“When people show you who they are believe them; the first time.”

That comes from the inimitable Maya Angelou (via the equally inimitable Oprah). And I agree.

So I’m inclined to take Mitt Romney at his word when he disparages nearly half the country to a roomful of wealthy donors on a secretly recorded tape.
(Charles Blow)

Disdain For Workers, Paul Krugman, New York Times, September 21, 2012.

What about those who came here not to found businesses,
but simply to make an honest living?
Not worth mentioning. (Paul Krugman)
But here’s the question: Should we imagine that Mr. Romney and his party would think better of the 47 percent on learning that the great majority of them actually are or were hard workers, who very much have taken personal responsibility for their lives? And the answer is no. 

For the fact is that the modern Republican Party just doesn’t have much respect for people who work for other people, no matter how faithfully and well they do their jobs. All the party’s affection is reserved for “job creators,” a k a employers and investors. Leading figures in the party find it hard even to pretend to have any regard for ordinary working families — who, it goes without saying, make up the vast majority of Americans... 

...In the past, however, even Republican politicians who privately shared the elite’s contempt for the masses knew enough to keep it to themselves and managed to fake some appreciation for ordinary workers. At this point, however, the party’s contempt for the working class is apparently too complete, too pervasive to hide. (Paul Krugman)

Obama's Battleground Edge Grows, Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Brooke Brower, NBC, September 21, 2012.

In NBC's first battleground map since the conventions and a slew of new state polling, President Obama has expanded his electoral-vote lead over Mitt Romney -- but only slightly. There are now 243 electoral votes in Obama’s column and 191 in Romney’s, with 104 in the Toss-up category; 270 are needed to win the presidency. 

Obama's Convention Bounce May Not Be Receding, NYT FiveThirtyEight blog, Nate Silver, September 21, 2012.
Highly recommended blog!

Note: FiveThirtyEight blog is highly recommended for ongoing and thorough poll analysis. 

In the 10 states that have generally been ranked the highest on our tipping-point list — Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Michigan — there have been 21 such polls since the Democratic convention ended. Mr. Obama has led in all 21 of these surveys — and usually by clear margins. On average, he has held a six-point lead in these surveys, and he has had close to 50 percent of the vote in them. (Nate Silver)

Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital, Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, August  29, 2012.

(Excellent investigative article providing more background into the mind of Mitt Romney and the wealthy elites who are backing him)

The incredible untold story of the 2012 election so far is that Romney's run has been a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy, which he's somehow managed to keep hidden, even with thousands of cameras following his every move. And the drama of this rhetorical high-wire act was ratcheted up even further when Romney chose his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin – like himself, a self-righteously anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who'd be honored to tell Oliver Twist there's no more soup left. By selecting Ryan, Romney, the hard-charging, chameleonic champion of a disgraced-yet-defiant Wall Street, officially succeeded in moving the battle lines in the 2012 presidential race. (Matt Taibbi)

Got that, America?