Pete Seeger, as almost every reader of these pages will know, passed away at the age of 94 on Jan. 27, 2014. Pete was a great folksinger, explorer of US music, and song writer. In his younger days he was also a great banjo picker, and learned how to play the 12-string guitar (a difficult instrument in its own right) from the legendary Afro-American blues singer Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Leadbelly. He worked with one of the founding US folklorists, Alan Lomax, as well as his with his father, Charles Seeger and his step-mother, Ruth Crawford Seeger (mother of Pete’s step-sister, the folk singer Peggy Seeger). And of course he was a close colleague of the iconic Woody Guthrie.
After 94 years, on January 27, 2014, the world lost Pete Seeger. The world is the lesser for that loss. The accolades for this giant of folk songs and herald of all causes just, are pouring in from around the world. He is celebrated for regularly showing up at mass protests, for singing songs so transcendent (This Land is Your Land; We Shall Overcome; Where Have All the Flowers Gone) they are sung in many foreign languages all over the earth and for his mentoring and motivating of millions of people and children.
Pete Seeger overcame most of his doubters and adversaries. On his famous five string banjo, he inscribed the slogan, “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.”
Image by Photo by Brendan Hoffman by Public Citizen via Flickr
Big money and big media have coupled to create a ‘Disney World’ of democracy in which TV shows, televised debates, even news coverage is being dumbed down, resulting in a public less informed than it should be, says Marty Kaplan, director of USC’s Norman Lear Center and an entertainment industry veteran. Bill Moyers talks with Kaplan about how taking news out of the journalism box and placing it in the entertainment box is hurting democracy and allowing special interest groups to manipulate the system.
In The New York Times “Sunday Review” of Sept. 25, 2011, Michael Kazin, a co-editor of Dissent magazine, published an article entitled “Whatever Happened to the American Left?” It is drawn from a new book of his entitled American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation. In the article (full disclosure: I have not read the book, only the review that appeared in The Times Sunday Book Review on Sept. 18) Mr. Kazin attributed the aforementioned decline to a number of factors. Continue reading →
Numerous public figures and organizations — from leftists and liberals in Israel and the US, to centrist journalists and mainstream Jewish Diaspora organizations — have sharply condemned the Israeli Knesset’s January 5th decision, passed by a lopsided 47-16 margin of lawmakers, to investigate the funding sources of Israeli leftist organizations. Many of the following commentaries (links below) discuss the bill’s alarming ramifications for Israeli democracy, even if the planned parliamentary committee never actually conducts the threatened “investigation.” Some see this as a disgraceful Israeli equivalent to the infamous anti-communist investigations of the US House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s and its proceedings against political activists in the 1960s.
Made by Encyclopedia Britannica Films in 1946. Not so far away as it seems. There are plenty of people who are very inclined towards submission to authoritarian ideas. If you want to know more go here to learn about it.
On Tuesday, June 29, Naomi Klein made a surprise appearance at Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QUAIA)’s Pride in Our Politics Cabaret. Making the links between the police repression of protest over the G20 and the slanderous attacks that groups such as QUAIA have experienced, Klein explained: “There has been a very powerful attack on freedom of expression in this country. A McCarthyite campaign against people who fall outside of the Harper government’s version of what we should be saying or doing.”
The quality of this video is not great – but the audio is worth a listen.
This is the sixth installment of a project that is likely to extend over a two-year-period from January, 2010. It is the serialization of a book entitled The 15% Solution: A Political History of American Fascism, 2001-2022. Under the pseudonym Jonathan Westminster, it is purportedly published in the year 2048 on the 25th Anniversary of the Restoration of Constitutional Democracy in the Re-United States. It was actually published in 1996 by the Thomas Jefferson Press, located in Port Jefferson, NY. The copyright is held by the Press. Herein you will find Chapter 5.
Note that in it, a firmly right-wing court decides that the Executive and Legislative branches, with their control firmly in the hands of the successor to the old Republican Party with no indication that that state of affairs will ever change, decides to remove themselves from any review of the actions of the other two branches.