i am spartacus

Me, too.

There aren’t many things at this point that will drag me out of my Schiavo-like aversion to blogging about political stuff, lately. But on this one, I want to stand up and be counted.

Love ya, Sis.

Hey, look… the missus is famous…

Tomorrow night is the opening of Lisa’s theater company’s first play. You can read all about it here.

Cesnik now is putting her own distinctive stamp on the city’s cultural scene, having founded the Rose of Athens Theatre, which will make its debut with “The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged)” in early December at Jittery Joe’s Coffee Roasting Company on East Broad Street.

The play – written by members of the New York-based Reduced Shakespeare Company – is a fast-paced musically tinted comic overview of the old and new testaments in around two hours. “The Bible” features only three actors: Cesnik, Lisa Mende and Sean Arington.

It’s going to be great. Go read the whole article!

25 years later

As Christy at Firedoglake has noted, it has been 25 years since the discovery of AIDS.

She chose to honor the occasion with a loving remembrance of an old friend who was killed by the disease.

The President chose to honor the occasion by beating the drum for more exclusion of gay men and women from full American citizenship.

I would like to create a small memorial here, if anyone else is inclined to join me, by mentioning the names of a friends who have passed. If you have lost a friend to AIDS related illness, mention his or her name in the comments, and please pass it on.

Phillip Joseph Pamlieri, died of AIDS-related illness in 1985.

It’s our country, by the way. And we want it back.

I was riding to work this morning and ruminating on the whole National Anthem in Spanish thing… and what a joke that was.

Eventually, my thoughts turned to the video ‘Nightline’ got of all those fucking Capitol Hill blowhards who didn’t know the words at all.

And then I wondered, “Do I know all the words?”

So, here I was, in my car, driving to work, singing the National Anthem, y’know, just to see if I remembered all the words. (And I did.)

But the oddest thing happened… I got kind of choked up. Big, hardbitten and cynical lefty that I am, I couldn’t get through the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ without getting a lump in my throat.

And that, naturally, made me kind of reflective. It was a couple of decades ago that I first heard Jimi Hendrix play the National Anthem in the documentary about Woodstock. I was pretty high, and just post-military school (and other parental attempts to make me a respectable citizen), and I thought, “That’s pretty cool…” but it wasn’t earth-shattering. Not to seventeen-year-old me. Cool, but in that context, it was kind of no-big-deal.

Well, fast-forward to a country mired down in an unpopular war, a power-hungry right wing president, and an entrenched Archie-Bunker-ocracy that would like us to know on no uncertain terms that we can “Love it or Leave it.” I imagine all of the turmoil and the lies and brutality that led Jimi up to that moment and it kind of sets me back a step.

When I put Jimi’s Star Spangled Banner in that perspective, it takes on a whole new meaning. Also, I remember Dick Cavett talking to Jimi on his show some weeks later:

Cavett: Y’know, there were some who were offended by your, uh, the performance of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ at Woodstock. What do you think of that? Did you know that?
Hendrix: Really? (pause) I thought it was beautiful. I’m an American so I played it. They used to make me sing it in school, so it was a flashback.

I can imagine exactly the sort of country club fascist who was screaming for Jimi’s head after that performance. Can’t you see Kate O’Bierne flapping her jowls on Sean Hannity’s show talking about Hendrix’s LACK OF RESPECT! and his IRREVERENCE FOR EVERYTHING WE HOLD SACRED!…? Can’t you hear Rush Limbaugh blustering and struggling MIGHTILY not to say the word “NIGGER!” as he described the scene to his slavering pack of white men who wouldn’t have been caught dead at Max Yasgur’s farm? (Except, actually, if they had to go score a little something for their “back pain.”) Would there be a National Day of Prayer for Jimi’s immortal soul? Would Richard Cohen write a column saying “Jimi Hendrix… y’know, I love the guy, but that version of the Star Spangled Banner was just… over the line…”?

It was Jimi’s country, too. It’s my country. It’s Fixer’s country, and Jane Hamsher’s country and Amanda Marcotte’s country. It’s my twin brother’s country and Shakespeare’s Sister’s country and Pam Spaulding’s country and Michael Bérubé’s country. And let me assure you of one thing: We’ll fight for it.

Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the National Anthem.

Really, nothing is sacred to these people. Nothing.

Glenn Greenwald calls them the “Authoritarian Cultists,” and that works for me.

I have been fulminating over this since Coretta Scott King’s funeral, and it’s finally boiled over as They plot to pulverize the 4th Amendment. These reactionaries have no respect for history, and they feel fairly certain that they can spin any sort of half-truth or bald-faced lie in the interest of advancing their agenda.

Let’s begin with the slander of the memory of FDR. Does anyone else recall the (now mercifully dead) movement to take FDR off of the dime and replace him with Iran-Contra Ronnie? FDR pulled the United States out of the Depression and helped to win the war against fascism. For this alone, he should be included in the pantheon of great American Presidents, along with Lincoln and Jefferson. The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Work Projects Administration were brilliant and innovative programs to aid the poor and bring the nation up from it knees as it struggled out from under the mess that Herbert Hoover (the first “CEO President”) had gotten us into.

FDR managed to do all of this while battling the crippling effects of childhood polio. He also founded the March of Dimes in 1938. (which is why he’s on the dime. duh.) True American Hero, right?

Not so fast. Jonah Goldberg, on FDR and Social Security:

I have some advice for the real small-c conservatives and reactionaries in the debate over Social Security reform: Franklin Roosevelt is dead. Get over it. It seems every time I turn on the TV or the radio, I hear some opponent of reform whining that we’re tinkering with FDR’s “legacy.” Who gives a rat’s patoot?

Of course, liberal mythology about the New Deal legend is, uh, legendary. Still, it’s worth noting that the New Deal surely prolonged the Depression and did far less for poverty than the textbooks claim. The first point is not even particularly controversial. The second is debatable. But what isn’t in dispute among scholars is that it was World War II, not the New Deal, that served to pull America out of its economic doldrums.

Glaring historical inaccuracies aside, that’s some prime wingnut dung flinging, isn’t it?

See, no reputation is unbesmirchable in the Authoritarian Cultists’ pursuit of whatever flim-flam they’re trying to pull on the public.

Let’s move forward to Biscuit, Skeeter and Possum at the Powerline Blog. I believe it was Possum, maybe Skeeter who said this:

We have touched on Jimmy Carter’s political failings, but we have barely begun to exhaust the subject. He was certainly the worst president of the twentieth century. He vies with James Buchanan for the title of worst president in American history.

Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1978, anyone? Hello? I mean, it’s no seven pound bass, I grant you, but it’s a little something to put on the mantle.

These are just a couple of examples, but they bring me to the historical revisionism that I find most troubling, which is the sullying of the Civil Rights Movement.

You will of course recall what Ben Domenech said about Coretta Scott King. Do I have to repeat it? Here, see for yourself.


OK, look. The American Civil Rights Movement is one of the greatest struggles for justice the world has ever known, and it is revered around the world as such. You don’t just toss off 400 years of oppression and inequality overnight, and established society threw everything it had against the people who were brave enough to struggle for what was right. Police dogs, firehoses, “nigger-killin'” lawmen… And yet, humble, brave people struggled to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, into a whirling rain of billyclubs and fists, clouds of tear gas and packs of police dogs, knowing that if they were crippled or even killed by the police, no judge would convict their assailants. No jury would ever see that justice was done.

And yet they came anyway, with nothing more than their faith in God and belief in Justice to protect them.

But Ben Domenech thinks Martin Luther King, Jr. was a communist.

And Jonah Goldberg would like you to know the following:

Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Eli Wiesel, Captain Jean Luc Picard, as well as countless politicians have said something to the effect of “we are only as free as the least free among us.”

It sounds nice, of course. Unfortunately, it’s also a crock, factually, logically, and morally.

First, facts and logic: Remember how we all agreed at the beginning of this column that there’s undoubtedly an innocent person in prison right now? Well, he’s not free. Are you only as free as him?

I believe that they are as blind to history as they are because, frankly, one can only assume from that bit of exposition that they are TOO STUPID TO COMPREHEND IT.

Which explains a lot, really. A lot.

YAWNNnnnnnnnn….. streeeeetch…. WTF????

Woke up this morning, made a little coffee, poured a big bowl of Mrs. Dog’s homemade granola and logged onto the internet and HOLY COW….

I usually get about, oh, 200 hits a day around here. Apparently, I crossed that mark at about 15 minutes past midnight today.

I got linked by TBogg sometime yesterday, and Here they come!

First time visitors: Howdy folks, I am gonna put on some pants real quick. Still a little early for hors d’oeuvres, but there’s coffee on.

Interestingly, TBogg’s entry is his confession that he never finished college. My regular readers know that I am a HUGE TBogg fan, so much that he was one of the first people I sent a copy of the new Music Hates You record. His entry says, among other things,

I still wish that I had not been such a young fool and that I had done the work and finished my formal education, but there are some days when I read what passes for intellgent discourse from the overly educated on the internets and I am reminded of the words of Randy Newman who once wrote:

College men from LSU.
Went in dumb.
Come out dumb too.

…and I feel a little bit better about the choices that I made.

I would like to address this directly to Mr. Bogg-

Brother, if I end up doing half as well as you have (let’s see- you’re self-employed, right? You live in the city with the most perfect weather in the country, you’re married to “the radiant and bodaciously tata’d mrs tbogg” and father to the most famous youth soccer player in California) (c’mon, EVERYBODY knows Casey), then, y’know, I am going to count myself very, very, very lucky. And, in addition to having an advanced degree, which I have NEVER used to get a job, I am about to head out to work at my second job, and it’s Saturday. I am thinking you’re visiting the Missus and having Seis de Mayo huevos rancheros and thinking about putting an afternoon nap on your Things To Do list.

I mean, if an advanced degree blinds you to the fact that this paragraph sentence fragment

“hermeneutics, intentionalism, and historiographical theory—which invested heavily in analyses of linguistic assumptions, particularly how they are formed, the impact they have on identity formation”

doesn’t mean anything… I’ll take the huevos rancheros.

If you need me on May 1st-

Don’t call my office.

Pro-immigration activists say a national boycott and marches planned for May 1 will flood U.S. streets with millions of Latinos to demand amnesty for illegal immigrants and shake the ground under Congress as it debates reform.

Such a massive turnout could make for the largest protests since the civil rights era of the 1960s, though not all Latinos — nor their leaders — were comfortable with such militancy, fearing a backlash in Middle America.

“There will be 2 to 3 million people hitting the streets in Los Angeles alone. We’re going to close down Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Tucson, Phoenix, Fresno,” said Jorge Rodriguez, a union official who helped organize earlier rallies credited with rattling Congress as it debates the issue.

It’s not just ‘Day Without a Mexican’ Day, it’s a Solidarity Day, too. You’re either for working people or you’re against us, even if you are a working person.

Who’s with me?

There’s so much history and so little time to learn it

I just learned about this guy today, and he died two days ago.

The Rev. William Sloane Coffin Jr., a civil rights and antiwar campaigner who sought to inspire and encourage an idealistic and rebellious generation of college students in the 1960’s from his position as chaplain of Yale University, then reveled in the role of lightning rod thrust upon him by officials and conservatives who thought him and his style of dissent dangerous, died yesterday at his home in Strafford, Vt. He was 81.

Dr. Coffin, a believer in the power of civil disobedience to bring social and political change, was arrested as a Freedom Rider early in the 1960’s and was an early admirer of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

An ordained Presbyterian minister, he embraced a philosophy that put social activism at the heart of his clerical duties. In the late 1970’s, when he became senior minister of Riverside Church in New York — an institution long known for its social agenda — he used his ministry to draw attention to the plight of the poor, to question American political and military power, to encourage interfaith understanding, and to campaign for nuclear disarmament. Courage, he preached over the years, was the first virtue, because “it makes all other virtues possible.”

But it was as the outspoken chaplain at Yale in the tumultuous years when the Vietnam War was escalating that Dr. Coffin’s name became known across America. While he questioned the wisdom of the war almost from the start, he came only slowly to a decision to apply to this cause the same tactics of civil disobedience he had already engaged in on behalf of the struggle for integration in the South.

Yet when he did, the spectacle he created — the chaplain of an Ivy League university counseling students that they were right to resist the draft, and accepting their draft cards to be turned in to the Justice Department — so infuriated the Johnson administration that Attorney General Ramsey Clark, himself a prominent liberal, sought to imprison him.

Heroes are hard to come by when one is a cynic. I wish I had known about Dr. Coffin sooner.