Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Now there's a Graphic Truth!

My "Gas Prices" Cafepress offering.

I bet you could get TV if you were wearing this someplace newsworthy. Available on cool shirts and posters sized to make an impression. The smaller ones are shipped flat, shrinkwrapped to cardboard - so all you need is duck tape and a stick!

In other news, I have three stories on the spike and I'm so sick of politics I can't even think of it. It's an artistic sort of day and I'm indulging my right brain.

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Originally uploaded by Bob King.

I'm particularly proud of this bit of work. You can get a better look at it on flickr. What do you think of it?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Tell it like the Rustman

Speaking truth to power ain't gonna win any popularity contests with those who want to be powerful.

I don't see that as a bad thing. I want leaders who reluctantly accept power in order to do what they see to be their duty, as requested and required of them by the electorate.

But the electorate must do this - if they delegate their job to power brokers and special interest groups; those who bother to show up with their divisive issues and their contempt for the "silent majority,"

We will continue to be ruled by those who have no reason to fear an accounting, much less require it of us unless we take our power back unto ourselves.

Protest. Criticism. Discussion. We must debate among ourselves about real issues and real needs; the roots of our problems and the fountains of our civilization. It is a discipline that has been sadly neglected since the late seventies, and almost entirely died out in the years since 9/11.

As a result, the people in power grow complacent, grow arrogant and start believing their own propaganda, eventually flying up their own backsides into a dream-world of self-delusion.

Of course I'm speaking of the Republican Revolution that shocked the hell out of the Democrats, and rid the Capital of a bunch of corrupt sonsabitches much like the current crop.

Who were there, and yet did not pay attention, because the people that put them there - that would be US - did not do their job of reminding them that they got the ticket to power based on the promise to be different. They promised to be transparent. They swore an oath be honest. They claimed to be honorable, decent and compassionate. And when it first became evident that they had, well, lied – we let it pass.

Power corrupts - when it can be presumed upon. We have donated our power foolishly, failing to remember that we can and should attach strings, and each of us should jerk those strings hard and often.

Like Neil.

So get off your collective assets and do something. As Randi Rhodes has said - if you don't do anything else, at least wear a t-shirt. (Neil - where's your t-shirt links?)

I'm not talking left or right here - that's a stupid, false and irrelevant distinction. You want cynicism? Here's MY cynicism; Clinton won twice because he was a better Republican candidate than George Bush the First or Bob Dole.

Clinton kept the important Republican promises. It's beyond me why lefties love him, as much as it's beyond me why Conservatives sing the praises of Bush II.

I swear to goddess, how easily people are fooled by the simple choice of team jersies.

You need to start insisting on an end to "realpolitik," the idea that it's ok to kill people to "send a message." If that's wrong in South-central LA when a Crip or a Blood authorizes a driveby, why do we see a flyby cruise missiling as being "Presidential?"

I'm a Libertarian - and a bloody-minded second-amendment thumping beweaponed and security-minded Lib with a hard core of rational paranoia.

But I believe in the non-initiation of force, so that when I do use force, there will be no question and no hesitation; I will not need to fabricate a pretext - any more than the average Iraqi taking pot-shots of opportunity needs a pretext or an ideological excuse.

They don't NEED Al-Queda to tell them what needs doing. They don't need Osama Bin-Ladin or Iranian cheerleaders. They will be glad for the help, of course, just as George Washington was glad for the help of the French Fleet that bottled up Cornwallis's army of occupation.

But we would have got 'er done. As they will - and no thanks to us, we who allowed this idiotic bait and switch to go unquestioned; we who put this IDIOT in power, you who voted for him in the primaries, we who held our noses and thought him a marginally better choice than Gore, who spoke aloud of doing all the vile and intrusive constitutional trespasses Bush did in secret.

We need leaders who honestly reflect the common values and sprit of the American people, not the fringe values, the partisan issues; we don't need or want ideologues. We want a representative government that is actually representative of OUR values.

Our common belief that "America is Great because she is Good."

Our common belief is that when a neighbor needs our help, we help them. We don't quibble over pennies or ask for promissory notes.

Our common belief is that people, on the whole, are decent folk until they prove otherwise.

Our common belief is that religion - like investments, sex and politics - is a private matter, to be indulged with some discretion with consenting adults.

Our common belief that speech is free only if we are willing to be accountable to those we may offend by it, and if the only rational response is a sock in the jaw, we should not whine about the bruises.

We have, collectively, failed to live up to those beliefs. We have failed ourselves, but we have failed our nation, our principles and even our leaders.

It is no great thing to favor a weak man with power simply because he is "electable."

IT is no great thing to favor a good, but weak man who will be ruined by the load.

It is no great thing to support a man with no principles simply because his lack makes him a more "effective campaigner."

We have allowed mediocrities, the least of several evils, the wafflers, the compromisers, the spineless and the "adaptable" to become the definition of “Politician.” Are they to blame for assuming that we expect more of them than they actually are? Is it difficult to understand why people who deserve our support prefer not to seek office?

When was the last time you voted for a candidate of principle? Indeed, when was the last time you demanded to have a choice between two or more principled candidates?

When was the last time you decided to punish someone you supported for lying to you?

I haven't. Oh, I’ve complained. I’ve whined. But when it got to be actual work… I ran out of outrage. I've been shrugging this off for thirty odd years. For most of my adult life, I've been ignoring the problem.

No more.

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Niel Young speaks Truth with Power Chords

The album as blogpost:

A lot of folks are talking about Steven Colbert and Neil Young, almost interchangably, for their brutal truthtelling.

War of Distortion:
Mr. Young goes to Washington.
by Jonathan Valania

When Stephen Colbert hosted the White House
Correspondents' Association dinner-the annual D.C.
puppet show where reporters play patty-cake with the
prez-he rode the Trojan Horse of truthiness right up to
the president's table and unleashed its hidden
contents: a disinfecting dose of reality-based reality,
thinly coated with irony for easier digestion, though
impossible to swallow for those weaned on Fox News
comfort food.

Speaking truth to power at point-blank range, Colbert's
barbs essentially added up to: The emperor has no
clothes, and all of you, the fourth estate, have become
nothing more than royal dressers. No wonder Colbert's
performance was greeted with pin-drop silence and was
muzzled in the coverage of the event: It's a sad day
for the republic when the job of truth-telling falls to
the clowns.

Increasingly, rock music is stepping into the breach,
bridging the yawning chasm between what's real and
what's permitted. There was a time when I would've
thought the protest song had outlived its usefulness.
Turns out no generation gets the protest songs it
wants-it gets the protest songs it needs. What's that,
you say? Preaching to the choir? Well look around, son-
there ain't no choir.

Don Quixote: Gordon LightfootWhen I think of speaking truth to power, or anti-war songs, I think of The Patriot's Dream by Gordon Lightfoot.

Lyrics courtesy

The songs of the wars are as old as the hills
They cling like the rust on the cold steel that kills
They tell of the boys who went down to the tracks
In a patriotic manner with the cold steel on their backs

The patriot's dream is as old as the sky
It lives in the lust of a cold callous lie
Let's drink to the men who got caught by the chill
Of the patriotic fever and the cold steel that kills

The train pulled away on that glorious night
The drummer got drunk and the bugler got tight
While the boys in the back sang a song of good cheer
While riding off to glory in the spring of their years

The patriot's dream still lives on today
It makes mothers weep and it makes lovers pray
Let's drink to the men who got caught by the chill
Of the patriotic fever and the cold steel that kills
The first two verses deal with the loss, the agony and the forlorn hope of those who hear their fathers and fiancee's are missing in action, all asking "why."And then, Gordie turns with merciless precision to the author of the war to answer that question in the words of power.
Well there was an old man sitting in his mansion on the hill
And he thought of his good fortune and the time he'd yet to kill
Well he called to his wife one day, "Come sit with me awhile"
Then turning toward the sunset, he smiled a wicked smile
"Well I'd like to say I'm sorry for the sinful deeds I've done
But let me first remind you, I'm a patriotic son"
They tried to do their duty and it took 'em straight to hell
They might be in some prison, I hope they're treated well

I don't recall there being more than the one anti-war song on the album; - it's been a long long time since I've listened to it. But it's an amazing disk, and you rally need to have a copy, if only to rip copies of this song and force them upon everyone you know. Hey, and buy new; Gordie's been having health problems, he could use the money.

Other artists have made statements; Pink, with Dear Mister President and Eminem with Mosh.

But to the best of my knowledge, Niel Young has done an entirely new thing, releasing an entire album on the web as a blogpost, and selling it in direct partnership with his listeners.

So buy with that link, and use the amazon link to review it.

And it is good. It is very, very good.

"We are the silent majority now, and we haven't done a damn thing," Young told The New York Times recently. "We've stood by and watched this happen. But there's more of us than there is of them, and we have to do something. When people start talking and see they can get away with it, it's going to happen everywhere. It's going to be a landslide, it's going to be a tidal wave. This is just the tip of it."
Listen to Niel Young's truthtelling album, "Living With War."

Sometimes you can make a difference by just cranking the tunes.

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