If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?


If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on now
‘Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see.

But if I stayed here with you, girl,
Things just couldn’t be the same.
‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now,
And this bird you can not change, oh, oh, oh, oh.

– Written by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant (1974), recorded by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Full lyrics here.

For many of us (I’m certain) the listen-by date on this song expired in the early 1980s. Then it became a mocking joke that at any performer’s concert a wise guy would yell out “Play Freebird!” But the theme I was thinking about was the differences in attitudes between twenty-somethings in the late sixties and seventies and today and it came to mind as representative of a sense of freedom and self-determination that was big in music in those olden times. I listened to the song several times and in several versions and damn if it didn’t make me feel great. If you aren’t moderately head-banging the guitar solo then check your pulse because it might be bad news.

The song was kicking around for a while before it took shape because Ronnie Van Zant was troubled by the 6 chords that made up each verse (G-D-Em-F-C-D). Then inspiration came from an argument between Collins and a girlfriend where she asked him, “If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?” Or at least, that’s the story that gets repeated. The other story is that a roadie was working for them for a year named Billy Powell. They did a gig at a school and a piano was sitting on the back of the stage. Powell played an intro he had developed for Freebird and the shocked band hired him as keyboardist right there. An early recording from Muscle Shoals sessions (see video below) includes the piano intro, but the Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd version used an organ.

The producer for the album is listed as Roosevelt Gook. The producer’s real name is Alan Peter Kuperschmidt but everyone knew him as Al. Al Kooper. Kooper has played on hundreds of records, including ones by The Rolling Stones, B. B. King, The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Alice Cooper, and Cream. He was a founder of Blood, Sweat and Tears (leaving after their first album) and recorded the boomer lost classic album Bloomfield-Kooper-Stills Super Session. On that album, Kooper played piano, organ, ondioline (a keyboard instrument), and 6 and 12-string guitars AND sang. Digressing, the Super Session project was intended to be completed in 2 studio days. On the first day Kooper, Bloomfield (of the Electric Flag), and the other session players recorded instrumental jams. But Bloomfield didn’t show up for the second day in the studio and couldn’t be found. Kooper called Stephen Stills, who was in the deteriorating Buffalo Springfield, and asked him to sit in. The second half of the album is Kooper, Stills and the session players without Bloomfield. To digress one more degree, Al Kooper was a teenage studio guitarist and an early job was playing behind a group from New Jersey called the Royal Teens on a 1957 song Short Shorts (“Who loves short shorts… We love short shorts.”) That song was written by Royal Teen Bob Gaudio, who later played behind the Four Seasons and wrote many of their biggest hits.

Southern rock was big on promoting a sense of freedom from the everyday things that tied people down like relationships (gulp) and employment. The Marshall Tucker Band in “Heard it in a Love Song” wrote:

I ain’t never been with a woman long enough, for my boots to get old.
We’ve been together so long now they both need resoled.
If I ever settle down you’d be my kind
and it’s a good time for me to head on down the line.

The Allman Brother’s Band in “Ramblin’ Man” wrote:

Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man,
Tryin’ to make a livin’ and doin’ the best I can.
And when it’s time for leavin’,
I hope you’ll understand,
That I was born a ramblin’ man.

Now, admittedly those are all Southern Rock songs about not being tied down by relationships but I’d argue that these are expressions of a “freedom to act” that are embedded in the rock staple of the love song. The contrast is to the modern world where youngsters are consumed by their college choices before they graduate elementary school and unquestioningly become cogs in the wheels of the machines that feed economic inequality in the United States.

This train of thinking started with two events. The first was an interview I did at work for a position where the business-like young lady made a comment about Social Security not being there for her generation. I’ve heard this from others, mostly millennials. The second was the way that the “youth” demographic showed up to elect Barack Obama but then failed to support the party that would have supported his vision for change, especially in the 2014 midterm elections. Voters ages 18-29 made up 13% of the national electorate in 2014 compared to 19% in 2012, and tended to be more Republican. So it leads me to think that the past couple of decades have somehow forged a generation more likely to feel crushed by the powers that be instead of being willing to confront those powers and fight for change.

John Mayer puts a fine point on this in the song, Waiting for the World to Change.

Now if we had the power,
To bring our neighbors home from war,
They would have never missed a Christmas,
No more ribbons on their door.

And when you trust your television,
What you get is what you got,
Cause when they own the information, oh,
They can bend it all they want.

Lorde writes in Tennis Court,

It’s a new art form showing people how little we care (yeah)
We’re so happy, even when we’re smilin’ out of fear.

Et cetera. So I would tell that interviewee that you don’t have to wait for them to give you your Social Security dollars, it’s part of the fabric of our society and if they try to take it from you then fight for all you are worth. Clean house of the venal bums who engineer tax breaks for billionaires while denying an increase in the minimum wage. Or as FDR said in a 1938 Fireside Chat, “Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company’s undistributed reserves, tell you – using his stockholders’ money to pay the postage for his personal opinions — tell you that a wage of $11.00 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry.”

Don’t jump on the bandwagon with “my vote doesn’t matter.” Is it so hard to understanding that every vote on the losing side of an election matters as a counterbalance to assumptions about mandates, as solidarity, and as a virtual fuel that encourages and sustains those fighting for change?

My generation was lucky. We had protest songs, we had Gil Scott-Heron.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
About a white tornado, white lightning, or white people
You will not have to worry about a dove in your bedroom
The tiger in your tank or the giant in your toilet bowl
The revolution will not go better with Coke
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised
Will not be televised, will not be televised
The revolution will be no re-run brothers
The revolution will be live

Fly high freebird yeah!

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Nothing to say but what a day.

Good Morning. Good Morning.

Nothing to say, but what a day
How’s your boy been?

Nothing to do, it’s up to you
I’ve got nothing to say
But it’s O.K.

Good morning, good morning, good morning-a

Written by Lennon-McCartney
From The Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band” 1967

The song was actually written by John Lennon and inspired by a post-touring lull in suburban London with his wife, Cynthia. At this time, son Julian would have been nearly 4 years old. From all accounts, life with John was not a walk in the park. Like many artists, the gap between the person and the art is wide. We end up enriched by the song and its place in our memories regardless of what John was doing as a husband, father, and bandmate.

For a simple set of lyrics, attributed to inspiration from a Kellogg’s TV commercial, the song was made complex and interesting in the studio. It opens with a rooster crowing, and ends with birds, a cat, a dog, a cow, a horse, a sheep, a lion, an elephant, and then the sounds of a fox hunt. A chicken clucking as the song fades out is replaced by the guitar opening of the reprise of the song Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band near the close of the album. The final song is A Day in the Life.

A horn group called Sounds Incorporated play throughout with the sound of the horns made “weird” by the engineers to suit Lennon’s tastes. The song has 7 sections with time signature and beat changes.

Most of the song is 12 or 16 syllable lines evoking a frame of mind, like:

Going to work
Don’t want to go
Feeling lowdown


Heading for home
You start to roam
Then you’re in town

Beatles last public performance.


I’ve taken a break from the Lefty Boomer blog for a while due to T&E shortages. (time and effort) The recent mid-term elections have provoked me sufficiently to return to the fray. I’m opting to not began a long rant on the successes of conservative propaganda and the real dangers of oligarchy in the U.S. But I have a couple of points that may help with context:

Who came out to vote?

Fewer than 37% of eligible voters case their votes in the 2014 midterm elections. This is 4 points down from the 2010 elections. White males and older voters came out disproportionately, and they are both categories that skew Republican (63% Republican to 35% Democrat for white males generally,  56-43% Republican for seniors).

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wrote in a statement, “We should not be satisfied with a ‘democracy’ in which more than 60 percent of our people don’t vote and some 80 percent of young people and low-income Americans fail to vote.”

While unmarried women skew Democratic 61% to 27% that margin is slimmer than it has been in the past. It may be that these voters are above the fray of FoxNews vs. working America and simply see that the economy is not moving fast enough under Democrat’s control. Similarly, voters under age 30 skew Democratic, by 13% but their share of the electorate was down from 19% in 2012 to 13% in 2014.

Historical trend?

Our last four full two-term presidents, Eisenhower to George W. Bush, have concluded their final two years in office without the support of either house of Congress. What is being portrayed as unprecedented and historical is in fact both precedented and non-historical!

Ballot Initiatives Favored Liberal Points of View

Binding initiatives raised the minimum wage in 4 states. Alaskans voted to raise the state’s minimum wage from its current $7.75 to $8.75 in 2015 and $9.75 in 2016, and index it to inflation.  Returns indicate the measure was supported by more than 68 percent of voters.  In Arkansas, 65 percent of voters approved a ballot measure to raise the state’s minimum wage to $7.50 in 2015, $8.00 in 2016 and $8.50 in 2017.  Nebraskans passed a measure raising the state’s minimum wage to $8.00 in 2015 and to $9.00 in 2016, with 59 percent of voters approving. In South Dakota, 54.9 percent of voters approved a state minimum wage increase to $8.50 per hour, effective January 1, 2015, and index future increases to account for inflation.

Non-binding resolutions in Illinois and Wisconsin also favored raising minimum wage to $10 and $10.10 respectively, in spite of both state’s Republican governor wins.

Republican policy is against a hike in the Federal minimum wage, and Mr. McConnell, our future Senate Majority Leader, has voted against raising the minimum wage 16 times, and has never crafted a jobs bill despite 30 years in Washington.

On the cannabis votes, 3 of the 4 state initiatives to allow recreational use of marijuana passed. Illinois’s non-binding measure regarding the coverage of contraception passed. Stricter gun laws were passed in Washington state. Massachusetts’ measure to require one sick day for each 30 days worked also passed.

It’s difficult to imagine how these outcomes can coexist with the Republican victories except as a marker that the leadership and the populace are out of step with each other. Maybe I’m overly hopeful, but as these synchronization problems play out we may find that the pendulum of political thought is ready to swing back to the left.

Unions – Mixed messages

The longtime meme regarding unions are that we needed them in the bygone days but today, there is little need for them. But the fall of unions correlates to the rise of income going to the top 10% as this video shows.

The Economic Policy Institute writes that “By most estimates, declining unionization accounted for about a third of the increase in inequality in the 1980s and 1990s.”

Why bring it up now? Because for the first time, the Teamsters were able to get a vote for  unionization at one of its locations: FedEx Freight’s East Philadelphia terminal in Croydon, Pennsylvania. Workers in a New Jersey location voted the union down earlier in 2014 but the victory in PA suggests that all workers for FedEx will be seeing some benefits as the company will move to block further encroachment by the Teamsters.

Pew Research Center research found that about half (51%) of Americans said they had favorable opinions of labor unions, versus 42% who said they had unfavorable opinions about them. That was the highest favorability rating since 2007, though still below the 63% who said they were favorably disposed toward unions in 2001. In a separate 2012 survey, 64% of Americans agreed that unions were necessary to protect working people. So the attitudes toward unions are just not as clear as traditional media would have us believe.

Unions also suffered a defeat at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee despite Volkswagen’s tacit approval and Germany’s success working with unions. From http://www.remappingdebate.org/, “In 2010, over 5.5 million cars were produced in Germany, twice the 2.7 million built in the United States. Average compensation (a figure including wages and employer-paid benefits) for autoworkers in Germany was 48.97 Euros per hour ($67.14 US), while compensation for auto work in the United States averaged $33.77 per hour, or about half as much as in Germany, all according to 2007 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For Germany-based auto producers, the U.S. is a low-wage country.”

Bruce Rauner, governor-elect of Illinois, offered “right to work” zone as part of his campaign platform. Right to work is, of course, the right to work for less! So anti-union policy (enforced and reinforced by a public relations onslaught regarding global competition) actually promotes the race to the bottom, not the race to the top as Germany’s policies promote.

Union successes are rarely offered as news, like when the Teamsters won bargaining rights for 7600 workers at Continental Airlines and it only rated a small non-bylined story in the Business Section of the New York Times while being ignored by other national media. Yet, if we want to reverse the trend of wealth gravitating to the top, unions may be the fastest and easier route there.



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And into this life we’re born… baby sometimes we don’t know why

In this edition: Playing musical metaphors with Van Morrison, walking on the bright side, America swings like a pendulum do, Tea Party Troubles, “The future is here. It’s just not widely distributed yet.” — William Gibson

The Bright Side of the Road

Lyrics excerpt:

Little darlin’, come with me
Won’t you help me share my load
From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road

And into this life we’re born
Baby, sometimes, sometimes we don’t know why
And time seems to go by so fast
In the twinkling of an eye

Let’s enjoy it while we can
Won’t you help me share my love
From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road

– Written by Van Morrison (1979)

More of the lyrics: Van Morrison – Bright Side Of The Road Lyrics | MetroLyrics

“Bright Side of the Road” is a song written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter-troubadour Van Morrison and included on his 1979 album Into the Music. It was also one of the outtakes that made up the 1998 compilation album, The Philosopher’s Stone.

Autobiographical note: I have a fondness for the album The Philosopher’s Stone because it was the a gift from my son and possibly the first time that he thought of giving a gift that was special to me (a Van Morrison fan) and reasonably meaningless to him (probably into Ska music or Metallica at that time). The self-awareness of going outside yourself to please another person is an interesting thing to reflect on, especially in the gift-giving season we’ve just gone through, and some people never learn the art of it.

City-dwellers and commuters understand the concept of the bright side of the road (and the dark side) as we are offered the choice almost daily. The tall buildings leave one side shaded and other side lit. The preferred side probably changes with the temperature but nothing that I can think of beats the ability to be warmed by the sun after a long Chicago winter. Now that the solstice is behind us we can start thinking ahead to the Spring once more (and that’s the only way northern weather can be tolerated!)

But of course, the meaning is in the metaphor. We are often presented with difficulty in life. Where our focus goes determines the way that every day looks and feels to us. Morrison writes, “Won’t you help me share my load, From the dark end of the street, To the bright side of the road.” We don’t have to do it alone. Sometimes we are alone, and the rain just won’t stop falling (another metaphor, of course). The answer for the person on the dark side is probably to reach out to someone to share that load. The rest of us have to be available to listen, sympathize, and help where we can putting blame and regret aside. And as Bob Marley reminded us in “So Much Things to Say”, “when the rain fall, it don’t fall on one man’s housetop,” so we know that one day it might be us walking on that dark, dark side and needing a friend.

But I digress…

Morrison was born Belfast in 1945 and grew up in a musical home. His mother sang at social gatherings, and his father collected classic blues and jazz records. He learned guitar, saxophone, and harmonica while in school, and was playing with blues, jazz, and rock bands by his mid-teens. At 15, he quit school, joined an R&B outfit called the Monarchs, and toured Europe with them as saxophonist. Before he was even 20 he’d started an R&B club at a Belfast hotel and played there in the house band, which became the group Them. Them recorded two songs in 1964, one a local hit and one a U.K. hit “Baby, Please Don’t Go” by Mississippi Delta Blues guitarist and songwriter Big Joe Williams. It would take too much time and space to delve deeply into Van Morrison’s biographical journey, but two things further the thoughts here.

Morrison always fought back against classification as an artist and as a person. While many songs speak of spiritual discovery he will not speak much about it. The common theme seems to be forms of mysticism (the direct experience of the divine or transcendent through prayer or meditation). Around the time “The Bright Side of the Road” was written it seems like the basis was Christian Mysticism and this leads to a third interpretation of the song as the choice we make about spiritual “light” in our lives.

Morrison left Ireland in the early days of “The Troubles,” the name given to 3 decades of violence in Northern Ireland that took place from the late sixties to the end of the nineties. In 1921, Northern Ireland was partitioned from the Republic of Ireland, and many in Northern Ireland were strongly loyal to Great Britain. So while the bulk of Ireland is what we consider to be traditionally Irish, Northern Ireland is a mix of cultures from England and Ireland. The conflict was (and to some degree is) between Protestant supporters of Great Britain and a Catholic minority. Beyond religion, the issue is steeped in ethnic and class issues. Morrison was born into a Protestant family and his mother explored the Jehovah’s Witness faith at one point. Part of his prickly nature (and rejection of traditional religion) may well be based on his experiences in the Nationalist/Loyalist divisions of Northern Ireland.


For me, and hopefully for the reader, thinking about the culture and politics of the sixties is a way to maintain perspective and to avoid falling into the trap of thinking that the dark side of the street (characterized in this day by real ignorance and hatred of all things Obama) is the way the future plays out. We can easily forget that public opinion is like a pendulum. The swing to the Left that started with Kennedy and lasted 20+ years until Reagan begat the counter swing to the right that now seems to be hitting its peak. (The current degree of ultra-conservatism might be unrivaled in terms of scope. The nearest thing I’ve run across was the race-based conservatism of Southern Democrats as noted in the last piece I wrote. Like the civil rights-opposing Southern Democrats of the past, the worst excesses of the anti-Obama era are Southern and at least partially racist.) Even the long rule of Republicans during the early 1900’s featured some pretty progressive thought including high taxation of the wealthy and tariffs on imports. And Reagan and the conservatives of the time would be characterized as liberal or RINO by today’s GOP extremists.

That the duration of the Reagan conservative period is extended may be due to three aspects. First, flat or declining wages and wealth, amplified by the Great Recession, steals power from the economic majority by shifting the balance toward employers and away from employees. Second, the system has energy being added by the push of conservative money from financial firms, energy companies, and individual billionaire would-be oligarchs.  Finally, that same conservative money supports our entire elections system giving corporations the ability to purchase policy by manipulating support of candidates and by providing the actual legislation through ALEC.

At the heart of the current American power imbalance is the fact that people like the Kochs and Waltons are greedier than the Tolkien dwarves. They can’t do with too much, they need to have way too much. Unless you are quite the pessimist, you believe that the majority of people are fair. You understand that we are all in it together. But in every way the greediest among us overplay their hand and gleefully and publicly poop on the concept of fairness. They work to convince people that climate change is a just theory and that renewable energy is not practical but people are figuring out that we’re living in a period of change and the likely culprit is CO2 from our carbon emissions. They work to keep payrolls down (and profits and dividends up) by attacking collective bargaining and efforts to raise the minimum wage, but then they lose out when the consumer can no longer buy their products. They create and elevate Tea Party candidates to lower their taxes and increase corporate welfare, but then the public sees that the Congress is dysfunctional and that the 113th Congress has been the least productive in post-war history, with the House and Senate passing only 57 substantive bills in the Congress’ first session. In this period, the second lowest productivity was 88 bills in 1995. (That makes sense because that was the year that Newt Gingrich’s “Republican Revolution” beta-tested minority rule in the U.S.) In the end, the brand called “Republican” gets smeared, and the brain-damaged zealots unforgivably given access to power are out there describing anyone to the left of Mussolini as Socialist–including Paul Ryan and the Pope.

There’s no reason to believe that we are stupid as a people (regardless of what some in Great Britain or elsewhere might think). There is reason to believe we live in a crazy time of misaligned values. Whether we end up as a divided country facing our own “Troubles” or not is, sadly, a real possibility. I personally believe that the extremes of the pendulum are where the undeniable excess takes place and that this excess is enough to shock the nation back into a realignment of values. Today we face the excesses of Americans blindly believing in jingoism and nostalgia for a simpler world, or those who willfully disregard the founding, enlightenment ideals of the rejection of aristocracy and state-sponsored religion. 30 years ago we faced the excess of liberal social values (yes Virginia, you can have too much “anything goes”) that led to Reagan’s “annointing” as President and the parade of conservative Republican and Democratic presidents that followed.

Is it possible that the relaxation or decriminalization of pot and the widespread acceptance of marriage for same-sex partners represent the first signs of spring in the conservative winter?


Some chuckling will be found here: https://soundcloud.com/rockymountainmike

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Speak out against the madness, speak your mind if you dare

In this issue: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Taylor, cantankerous but lovable David Crosby, I get to work Castrati into a post, RFK, Jacksonian Democrats begat Southern Democrats who begat today’s GOP with imaginary companion book: The Zealot’s Guide to Misunderstanding History.

Long Time Gone

Lyrics excerpt:

Turn, turn any corner
Hear what the people say
There’s somethin’ goin’ on around here
That surely, surely won’t stand the light of day

Speak out, speak out against the madness
Speak your mind if you dare
Don’t, no don’t try to get yourself elected
And if you do, you better cut your hair

It’s been a long time comin’
It’s goin’ to be a long time gone
But you know that the darkest hour
Is always just before the dawn.

–Written by David Crosby, Performed by Crosby, Stills & Nash — Stephen Stills; David Crosby; Graham Nash; Dallas Taylor (drums)

Complete Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

1969’s Crosby, Stills & Nash album features the 3 denim-drenched band-mates sitting on a dilapidated couch in front of a simple home, Stills with guitar in hand. The album was the band’s debut and a breakthrough effort in rock and roll history. The first aspect of the breakthrough was the concept of the supergroup. David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash were from successful bands (Blind Faith was formed in England a little after CS&N–arguably a more super supergroup). The second aspect of breakthrough was how it changed the concept of what a rock album could be. For the most part, rock had been focused on blues-based electric guitar or light-hearted, catchy, vocal-harmony-focused bands from across the pond. The album, Crosby, Stills & Nash, was folk-rock but with jazz, Latin, Eastern, American and English traditional folk, and even classical influence–all played with alternate guitar tunings and unique harmonies where each voice had the same dynamics (i.e. loud if loud, soft if soft). The songs feel more about texture than structure expanding the 4/4 beat and verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure of rock. It spawned two hits immediately, “Marrakesh Express” (by Nash) and “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” (by Stills).

The singing is mostly in high harmonies that led some critics to mention the term castrati in describing the album. Nash’s voice is described as a high tenor, while Stills and Crosby sang a stretched baritone. The harmony is called parallel fifths where the parts aren’t an octave apart but are 5 half-tones apart. G’s are sung with C’s for example. I had no idea before doing my research here of the musical theory around fifths. Interestingly, this work was started by Pythagoras around 2,500 years ago. Pythagoras is known for being a philosopher, mathematician, and founder of a religion. We sometimes lose track of the idea that we haven’t evolved much as a species in 2,500 years so his big brain would be comparable or superior to the big brains of today–even though he never played an MP3 or checked out twerking.

An anecdote about the iconic album cover. When they took the photo they hadn’t settled on a name yet. They are seated as Nash, Stills, and Crosby. The house was an abandoned home they’d run across in West Hollywood. After deciding on the name, just days later, they thought it would make sense to re-shoot in the correct name order. Oops. The house had been demolished.

Crosby had been in the Byrds, but was let go in late 1967 because of his personal use of the stage for political diatribes and general cantankerousness. Stills had been with the group Buffalo Springfield but it was dissolving due to internal differences, the repeated drug arrests of bassist Bruce Palmer, and probably the fact that although they were wildly popular at L.A. clubs they couldn’t come up with a hit to follow “For What It’s Worth.” Stephen Stills met Crosby at a party at the home of Cass Elliot (of The Mamas and the Papas) in California in March 1968, and the two started jamming. They were soon joined by Graham Nash, who had left his commercially successful group The Hollies due to their unwillingness to stray from formula and evolve musically. For example, the song “Marrakesh Express” was written while in The Hollies but rejected by the group as being not commercial enough.

David Crosby has said that “Long Time Gone” was a response to the assassination of Robert Kennedy. The song has an unmistakable blues feel even though it avoids the blues structure. Crosby evidently felt that Kennedy had been an authentic person as a politician, not straying from ideals, not courting those in power, and not selling out to the interests that kept America divided by race, support for Vietnam, and then as now by wealth inequality. The song has bitterness (“speak out against the madness… You got to speak your mind if you dare.”) and the thoughts are incomplete (if it wasn’t common knowledge, the tie to the Kennedy assassination couldn’t be discerned in the song). It toys with defeat (“It’s been a long time coming. It’s going to be a long time gone”) but ends on hope (“But you know that the darkest hour, is always just before the dawn.”)

Did you know? Robert “Bobby” Kennedy’s death has elements of cover up and parallels to the JFK shooting. Was Sirhan Sirhan the only shooter? Evidence seems to contradict this. There’s a conspiracy theory bonanza at this site.

“Long Time Gone” opens the Woodstock film as the concert setup is happening. That band had only recently formed. Later, at the start of their set, Stephen Stills remarks: “This is the second time we’ve ever played in front of people, man. We’re scared shitless.” Another interesting note, I haven’t heard the why of it, but the last few seconds dissolve into a short section of cacophony as if the musicians were rehearsing and just abandoned the song. The song just falls apart, and the question is whether that’s symbolic or not.


Sometimes when I follow what’s happening in this country I’m scared shitless as well AND I wonder if things are falling apart.

I listen to radio program on Saturdays called Back on the Beat hosted by Dick Kay. Kay is an ex-newsman and staunch Democrat. A caller put forth the idea that Democrats were racists because the Democrats were the party of the antebellum South. Like many right-wingers (and, I guess, some left-wingers) it shows the zealot’s interest in seizing on information that supports their point of view instead of understanding things in proper historical and nuanced perspective.

The slave-owning South was indeed ruled by Southern Democrats. Unlike the earlier Jeffersonian Democrats, the Jacksonian Democrats believed in a federal government of limited powers (but with a strong President and weak Congress). Jackson said that he would guard against “all encroachments upon the legitimate sphere of State sovereignty.” Andrew Jackson was president from 1829 to 1837. The party he led believed in leaving the issue of slavery off the political table.

Lincoln was a Republican. So the Civil War cemented the South’s identity with the Democratic party until just around 1964 when Democrat Lyndon Johnson supported and signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After signing the bill he famously said “We have lost the South for a generation.” And sure enough the mid-1960s saw the movement of the South from being largely Democratic to being largely Republican as they are today (2 generations and no end in sight). This was probably the concurrence of three elements. First, the sun belt was opening up for cranky, retiring Northerners who were older and more fiscally conservative. Second, the Bible belt was finding its voice as the self-designated national bulwark against the perceived immorality of liberals (a role they still want to play). And finally, the vestiges of the Old South, where people of color would be subservient enough to make even the poorest white feel superior, was resisting the movement into the new age of racial equality (and again, this is a role some still want to play).

So historically the Democrats of the South were “different” then today’s Democrats. Although they had some progressive ideas they believed in laissez-faire economics (hands off like some GOP and Libertarians), they supported states rights over federal power (now a Southern Republican ideal), and they supported the idea of manifest destiny (that the U.S. was destined to take over the continent due to their inherent superiority). That last point is found today in the right-wing concept of American Exceptionalism. This ideal is widely passed out in baloney fests by GOP pols who take any suggestions that the U.S. needs improvement as unpatriotic. (I still chuckle over the GOP “debates” of 2011/2012 where the candidates competed to see who was wrapped the tightest in the American Flag and would eliminate the highest number of federal agencies when they could remember the agency’s names.) While we often think that the South’s politics are strictly based on race and Confederacy revival sentiment, they’ve been steeped in 185 years of Jacksonian Democracy.

Returning to the caller to Back on the Beat, he didn’t understand that the Southern Democrats did not have the same ideals as the Northern Democrats (the way the Blue Dogs vote as if they were Republicans today). The Southern Democrats even did their best to block the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when 18 southern Democratic Senators and one Republican Senator led by Richard Russell (D-GA) launched a filibuster to prevent its passage. Russell said at the time: “We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our (Southern) states.” They obviously are not the same kind of Democrats that elected Barack Obama in November, 2008 and 2012.


I ran across this investment-focused interview with David Crosby–someone who screwed up and lost around $25 million (and possibly a liver) to lifestyle issues. It made me smile and stimulated warmth for the man. View it here.

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Feed the world

Wishing everyone the best in the Holiday Season. While 1984’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” certainly strikes a strange chord asking if starving Ethiopian children knew it was Christmas, Geldorf and company’s hearts were in the right place, sending millions of pounds (£ not lb.) to aid the stricken country.


As the year winds down, many are like me in that they take stock of their year and even of their lives.

For example, I wonder why people lose any roundness in their asses as they age. What evolutionary imperative was there to tie flat butts to age? It can’t be related to natural selection because this occurs after the typical child creating period. I’m stumped, although some would say it’s Sarcopenia.

As a boomer I also wonder why it would take a staff of 4 working full-time to keep my ears and nose free of stray hair. Shouldn’t I just be losing hair? Is that too personal?

I think of the Outkast song “Happy Valentine’s Day” with Andre 3000 singing:

Happy Valentine’s Day
Every day the 14th!
Now I know your hearts have grown cold
And that bothers me
Now I understand ’cause I use to be a bad boy in my day
I know you’re trying to protect your lil’ feelings
but you can’t run away

Ya’ won’t believe in me, but you would fancy..
(Hey! Don’t you supposed to be some kind of player or something?)

And I think, hey, every day is NOT Valentine’s Day (hell no) and was I supposed to be some kind of player or something?

I think about groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) whose response to losing mainstream sponsors through public pressure is to double down on their willingness to work to provide happy endings to predatory greed-heads, most recently trying to push legislation to tax those who have solar power and sell it back to utilities. They portray them not as entrepreneurial individualists but as “free loaders.” Are the American people really so brain-dead that they cannot see the corruption and immorality of this kind of group? (Just can’t leave politics out of a post.)

I think about T, as in Low-T not Mr. T, and wonder if after a lifetime of surrendering your own self-interests to the interest of bosses and significant others that it isn’t shocking to find that one is able to produce any T at all? Is man the only animal that gets fat and compliant by self-castrating? Do you wish you’d skipped this paragraph?

I think about the many, many bloggers (and essayists) with small audiences like myself who write because they can, they want to, and they get satisfaction. As the New Testament (should have) said, “Bless the unread for they will be comforted.”

I think about those I have lost that have left me as the oldest generation in my family. I miss them at the holidays, I see the road that leads me to them, and I acknowledge the slow inevitability of the course of a life, hoping mine will be viewed as well-lived in the end.

Lastly, I think about forcing myself to look at each day and minute as a gift and remembering that the complex texture of life doesn’t detract from my happiness nearly as much as it adds to my interest and participation.

Best wishes to all,


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Now I feel light years away from the West side of Chicago

In this edition: Beware, The Ides of March and Progressive Talk Radio bids L.A. Goodbye. Bashir bashes and MSNBC backlashes. Berwyn!?!? The slow, loud fall of talk radio’s biggest d-bag.

L.A. Goodbye

Sunset strip and a field trip
Over to your hide away
Sunset Princess beckons and
We love the night away
Now I feel light years away
From the west side of Chicago

And as I board my plane
Something inside my brain
Hates to wave L.A. Goodbye

Written by Jim Peterik, recorded by The Ides of March (1971)

Read full lyrics here.

I recently wrote about the meteoric rise from local heroes to national TV for Paul Revere and The Raiders (and how the entertainment industry turned them from hopeful musicians to clowning TV “characters“). I also wrote about how The Box Tops were messed with and lost control of all their music and even their name. The Ides of March seem to be a different story–a garage band that was able to stay in control of their careers after having an early hit, “Vehicle.” True, they broke up and had a 17 year hiatus as songwriter and singer Jim Peterik went his own way, but they reunited and still play their hearts out with their unique blend of harmonies, horns, and soulfulness.

It all started in Berwyn, a suburb west of Chicago’s downtown. Berwyn is working class with a heritage of thrifty Bohemians and Chicago-style bungalows. Berwyn’s main drag, Cermak Road, earned the nickname “The Bohemian Wall Street” due to the large number of savings and loans located there. In true rags-to-riches style the Ides went from their parents’ basements in the mid-60s to local club success to a national hit that gave them a chance to open for Joplin, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead, and other powerhouse groups of the time.

Berwyn_car_spindle_20070707Many in Chicago fondly (and many not so fondly) remember a Berwyn public art piece called The Spindle. The Spindle was a sculpture created in 1989 by artist Dustin Shuler consisting of a 50 foot spike with eight cars impaled on it. The piece stood in a shopping center on Cermak Road and was demolished in 2008 when a drug store chain decided they would better use the space and the city could not find the $300,000 it would have taken to move it. I think that sounds a little steep for the task, but I’ll leave the accusation of corruption to the dozens of others that make it!

Peterik also had a big hit with the band Survivor in “Eye of the Tiger.” He’s 63 and still rockin’ it, as a quick search on YouTube will show you.

Now if you weren’t 63 and rockin’ it, and you were trying to take over a country with your ideas, wouldn’t it make sense to silence the voices that oppose you in order to reduce the amount of education disseminated in other views? If you are a totalitarian government, you take over the media and make it “state-run” and censor the content. If you are running the show outside of official rule you can still take over the media and censor the content. And you would call yourself Clear Channel Communications.

In 2008, Clear Channel Communications was taken private in a leveraged buyout engineered by Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital and Thomas H Lee Partners, another Republican-loving private equity firm. Thanks to FCC deregulation, Clear Channel owns over 1,000 radio stations. Most of the nation’s 58 strongest, 50,000-watt AM radio stations are either owned or programmed by Clear Channel and the content they provide is the far-right rantings of Limbaugh and ilk.

In something that clearly should be considered for anti-trust actions, the company owns both the stations and a talent syndication company called Premiere Radio Networks. Premiere syndicates Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Dr. Laura and others. They saturate markets with these shows and in small markets, provides shows like Limbaugh’s at no cost to the local station. The station benefits by not having to purchase or produce content in that slot, and the syndicate has committed to national ads that they play during the program.

Clear Channel does have progressive radio offerings, but they tend to be on lower wattage “sticks.” Wherever Clear Channel owns a big AM radio station and other smaller ones, it always puts Premiere’s Hannity, Rush, et al on its biggest signal. This puts liberal stations at a big disadvantage in virtually all large markets — where the real radio money is. It should be noted that in recent months Clear Channel has been relegating Limbaugh’s show to some of their lower wattage stations. The consumer outcry over the Sandra Fluke comments proved too much for the public and advertisers and his advertising base has dropped precipitously.

As of this week, it’s L.A. goodbye for Clear Channel owned progressive talk station KTLK at 1150am. In January it will be flipped to a far right-wing station format featuring hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and renamed “The Patriot.” L.A. will have multiple right-wing talk format stations, several owned by the same corporation.

Clear Channel is making similar changes in San Francisco, where Limbaugh will leave its KKSF-AM (910), and move to KNEW-AM (960) (in a downsizing move), and KNEW is being retooled for conservative audiences. The changes are set to take effect for the first broadcast of 2014. So well ahead of the 2014 elections, L.A. and San Francisco are both losing their progressive talk stations. It’s difficult to imagine that the makeup of these cities drives the format change–they are two very liberal locales. So we are only left with the idea that voices are being silenced. Other blue cities have lost their lefty talk shows, including Seattle, Portland Oregon, and Detroit though in those cases the stations had low ratings.


Martin Bashir resigned from MSNBC after going too far dissing Sarah Palin. His utter contempt for her was evident and most would admit he went too far. But it was quite a Palin-stomping and in its own way, fun for lefties.

LB_RuleMaybe Martin Bashir’s rant is enough of a high note to end on, but I feel I should amplify. We are, regrettably, unable to cheer up by making a new Spindle featuring the sweaty carcass of a certain talk radio host and his co-conspirators. However, we may take some solace in knowing that Clear Channel Communications operated at a $424 million loss in 2012 (and around $200 million loss in 2011). Certainly some of this is related to the industry–consumers no longer have to sit in their cars to hear the opinions of blowhards–they can use smart phones or their work computers. But some of it must be related to the unwanted purging of advertising dollars Rush brought upon himself with his hubris in attacking a college-age woman in truly depraved fashion. Limbaugh’s attack on Sandra Fluke was the “Ewww Ick” moment of the century to date. I’m not sure how much money Clear Channel will be willing to lose. Maybe in the living rooms of Bain or Lee Partners partners they can just take a couple hundred mil out of a humidor or something and give it to a footman or butler to bank.

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Mold a new reality, closer to the heart.

In this edition: Rush in retrospect, Wal-Mart and McDonald’s on public assistance, the turning points in the journey to oligarch rule, Hobby Lobby says “corporations are people, my friend,” and have religious freedom.

Closer to the Heart

And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones who start
To mold a new reality
Closer to the Heart

Written by Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Elwood Peart, Peter Talbot
Recorded by Rush, 1977

Read more lyrics: Rush – Closer To The Heart Lyrics | MetroLyrics

In “Closer to the Heart,” Rush offers just four stanzas to make their point. The “men who hold high places,” the “blacksmith and the artist,” and the “philosophers and ploughmen” must each work to create this new reality. Then the artist can captain the metaphoric ship to the chart that the everyman creates as the society moves closer to the heart, and by inference, away from the selfish and material in life.

Rush was never a favorite band of mine (sorry guys) because at this point in time I was getting into the British New Wave and the dramatic renderings of the prog-rock groups clashed with the back-to-basics sound of Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, and a little later Joe Jackson, The Pretenders, Blondie and the Talking Heads. I’m not alone in this, check this article on why Rush is the most hated rock band (including their lack of appeal to female fans, characterized as a “low clitoris count” at concerts). However, in retrospect the band gains appeal for me. The power trio lineup, the intelligent lyrics, and the theme of the plight of the individual against the pressures of conformity have all fermented well in the barrels of time. Now that I’m not hearing “Tom Sawyer” every 15 minutes I can settle back to enjoy them once in a while. Add in Neil Peart’s lyrics involving humanism, the journey of understanding the nature of life, and the metaphysical elements and I’m right there!

The themes Rush developed more than 30 years ago were in response to a world just revealing itself. They could not have envisioned that 6 members of a certain family would have an amount of wealth equal to 40% of the rest of the American population and that the corporation that provides such wealth–the largest employer in the U.S.–would offer its employees tips on subsidized healthcare and housing paid for by taxpayers. (Wal-Mart in case you didn’t pick up on it.) Check out this video of another large (700,000 U.S. employees) low-wage employer’s internal site advising employees to stretch food budgets by breaking food into smaller pieces and selling gifts on eBay for extra cash.

In the last post I wrote on the topic of lost American ideals. Americans seem less inclined to care about the environment, the growing problems wrought by income inequality, and the loss of privacy we face. It is as if we are a defeated people willing to accept numerous indignities as long as we can keep our lives rolling along with moderate success. I think it’s clear how we got here and I think it’s clear how we regain our strength.

These are the “turning points” in my take on things:

1981 – Ronald Reagan convinces everyone “government is the problem.” Before that people operated under the assumption that it was just bloated and corrupt. Reagan Democrats and old farts of all stripes believed his earnest demeanor was authentic and turned against government. The wealthy would-be kings and corporate America seized on the opportunity to start fighting unions, privatizing whatever they could get their hands on, gambling with workers savings and livelihoods, reviving the greed that 65 years earlier had filled factories with child workers and 120 years earlier filled fields with slaves, cutting away at the safety net for the poor, and taking a lot of momentum out of upward mobility.

1994 — Following mid-term elections, Newt Gingrich became the first Republican Speaker of the House in 40 years. Gingrich and Dick Armey wrote, and heavily publicized, a “Contract with America” offering many proposals that became law under Democratic President Bill Clinton and a template for today’s GOP Representatives. Gingrich, as Speaker, piloted the House to two government shutdowns (5 full days and 21 full days) and was successful in impeaching Clinton in the House, although it was overturned in the Senate. Under the leadership of Gingrich and the principles of the Contract with America, Capital Gains taxes were reduced, welfare was reduced and even eliminated for mothers 18 years old and younger, prisons were funded as sentences became harsher, payments for UN peacekeeping operations were cut, tort reform benefiting corporations in product liability suits was instituted, and citizen’s protections against illegal search and seizure were weakened. Conflict between the parties on Budget talks was nothing new, animosity toward a president of the opposing party was not new, but Gingrich’s disdain for compromise and disregard for the essential role of Congress, purely on ideological grounds, was new, ugly, and precedent-setting (and is currently being repeated).

1996 — FoxNews channel launches. Funded by Rupert Murdoch and run by Roger Ailes, a Republican political strategist, the channel promotes extreme conservative thought to the point of skewering mainstream Republicans like Gov. Chris Christie and promoting the wildest extremes of the GOP (e.g. Ann Coulter). Using tools such as repetition and framing, combined with titillating graphics and bootylicious contributors, the channel successfully functions as the propaganda arm of the Republican Party. Of course, this was all it was intended to be: an outlet of extreme conservative viewpoints that went well beyond what an already corporatist press was willing to promote. Entire media organizations developed just to identify and document their misrepresentations of Democratic policy and politicians. How did the channel get to the point of being available to 85% of cable and satellite customers? Rupert’s wealth allowed the station to pay cable systems on a per subscriber basis (rather than the opposite) to give the station an audience it would otherwise not have developed so quickly.

2001 – The September 11th attacks leave Americans shaken. Acts of terror, particularly against the World Trade Center, provoked urges for retribution, misdirected hostilities to immigrants in the U.S. and Muslim people everywhere, created strong feelings of jingoism (the feelings and beliefs of people who think that their country is always right and who are in favor of aggressive acts against other countries). We’ve now endured years of war at a great human cost (for all parties) and a great financial cost. We’ve built massive government entities in Homeland Security and the NSA. We have less privacy and less liberty than we did just 12 years ago and it wasn’t taken from us, it was given away. For many, the world was turned upside down and confidence in our safety and security was threatened. Then (in 2003) the Bush administration capitalized on this insecurity–even fearfulness–with the political decision to waste blood and treasure in Iraq in order to secure access to Saddam’s oil fields. Lawmakers understood this to be some sort of retaliation and most went along with the program. Every death in Iraq and Afghanistan produced dozens of enemies of the U.S. And gas prices still went up.

2007 – The Great Recession begins the nation’s descent into the deepest and longest Recession since the Great Depression. Unaddressed real estate bubbles and unregulated risky banking investment combined to bring the economy to the verge of collapse with millions losing their jobs. GW Bush had hoped that he could get out of town before the poop hit the spinning blades but he was splattered enough to initiate a bank bailout of epic proportions and hand his successor an economy hemorrhaging jobs at previously unseen rates (2.6 million jobs were lost in 2008 and by 2010 the total reached 8.8 million jobs lost from the pre-recession peak). If you didn’t lose your job you still felt the insecurity of the economy keenly. After 30 years of stagnant wage growth for most Americans, and an employer’s market for jobs, we quickly learned the advantage of putting up and shutting up.

2010 – FoxNews and conservative talk radio misrepresent the Affordable Care Act and other policies of centrist, corporation-friendly president Barack Obama to the point that a subset of Americans become activated to oppose his policies under the umbrella of the Tea Party. Billions are spent by Rupert Murdoch and David and Charles Koch to organize and promote Tea Party activism and Tea Party candidates. Dick Armey was pegged to run FreedomWorks, launched with $12 million from the Koch’s, to organize Tea Party branches and create the rallies that the press so adored prior to the 2010 midterms. FreedomWorks paid a million to Glenn Beck for his ongoing endorsements, and an undisclosed amount to Rush Limbaugh for the same. Many middle class people were easily led by these professional talkers to direct their anger against government, Obama, or liberals instead of to the group most responsible for their problems: the powerful multinational CEOs and the super-rich who were busy moving the workers share of income into the pockets of CEOs and dividend checks of investors.

Wolves at the door.

Step by step, those who are too greedy and selfish to understand the concept of acting for the greater good, (the enlightened self-interest that de Touqueville found in America in the 1830s), have shaped the country to our detriment (and their benefit). We are rudderless in many ways because we have surrendered national values.

Can we ask the questions that matter? What happens to the unskilled or lower skilled workers when the factories close? Should we retrain them, can we retrain them? What happens to the children of poor parents who have no early childhood support (educational, ethical, nutritional, emotional)? Can we expect them to find the way out of poverty? Is it good for the economy to see dividends going up while real wages are going down? Should the gap between CEO wages and average workers salaries be widening or closing? What happens when the seas rise, the desert overtakes productive land, and we find ourselves rebuilding again and again after violent storms? What happens when the temperature’s slow rise changes regional ecology, or deadens the oceans, or makes the air unbreathable? Should we sit and watch nature die because we didn’t want to put a price on carbon emissions?


I think I could have added Citizens United to the list above, but I had the sense that it was only extending the problem of “bought” politicians, not the primary cause of it. Last week the Supreme Court agreed to take up Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and many see this as part 2 of Citizens United. In that case, the Supreme Court said that corporations were people and money was speech, and therefore corporations could not be limited in political donations under free speech principles. The Hobby Lobby case, rather innocuous when viewed as the fight of a corporation against mandates to provide coverage of contraceptives, extends Citizens United to say that corporations have religious freedom as well. The owners of Hobby Lobby use the protections afforded by incorporating, but then balk at the responsibility to follow federal law with the premise that the corporation should be afforded freedom of religion protection under the Constitution. Not only that, but the exception is not based on religious beliefs generally, but their own zealot belief that Plan B One-Step prevents fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb and is tantamount to an abortion. In the fashion of zealots, they misunderstand the functions of this pill as it does nothing to stop a fertilized egg from implanting. If Hobby Lobby was pacifist and wanted to avoid paying the share of taxes that finance the war in Afghanistan, how would that go over?


Well, I just remembered the promise (to myself) to end on a relatively positive note. So here I go. The good news, on a topic where good news has been hard to find, is on Obamacare. According to the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, the growth in health care spending (since Obamacare was passed in 2010) has slowed to the lowest rate on record for any three-year period since 1965. “If half the recent slowdown in spending can be sustained,” the report says, “health care spending a decade from now will be about $1,400 per person lower than if growth returned to its 2000-2007 trend.” Additionally, health care price inflation is at its lowest rate in 50 years.

The ACA also had many measures to curb spending on Medicare (which is 16% of the federal budget). Benefits were not reduced (they improved in fact) but spending was reduced through various measures to tighten up payments and experiment with alternatives to the pay-for-procedure model that creates incentives for healthcare organizations to perform more procedures and tests to make more money.

Projections suggest we will save $147 billion on Medicare and Medicaid over the next 6 years. These changes will reduce the deficit by more than $100 billion from 2013 to 2022.

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Every road is a lonely street, I cry like a baby.

In this edition: Blue-eyed soul. Black hearts. Tracking the descent of American ideals. Best politicians money can buy. To-do list: avoid copyright infringement and finish on a positive note.

Cry Like a Baby

As I look back on a love so sweet
I cry like a baby
Every road is a lonely street
I cry like a baby

1968 —  Written by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, and performed by The Box Tops

 Cry Like A Baby Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Memphis producer/songwriter Dan Penn contacted Spooner Oldham to write a song that would follow-up The Box Top’s success with “The Letter.” Oldham was a session organist and songwriter. Sitting in a diner, frustrated by a lack of ideas, Oldham told Penn that he could “cry like a baby” and Penn got inspired. The first verse came together as they walked to the studio, and the duo birthed a demo that night. The next day Box Tops’ singer Alex Chilton heard the demo and smiled. It soon reached #2 on the charts.

The Box Tops were a “blue-eyed soul” group from Memphis. A white group with a black sound. Singer/guitarist Chilton was just 17 in 1968. Like many young bands of the time they were mistreated by managers and road promoters and this led to their disbanding in 1970. The management company continued to release material recorded by the band, and when that ran out they created a new studio band to record using the name Box Tops. In their quest for fame and fortune, the band had ceded all control to the management and record companies. Their dream was derailed by the greed of the people they felt were going to help them.

And in case you were wondering, the strangely buzzing plucked string sound is from a sitar.

Several things came up in the past week or so that has me ready to cry like a baby. Healthcare.gov’s issues are touted by everyone (Left and Right) as “Obama’s Katrina.” The only truth in the analogy is that it is very effective in reinforcing the perception that government can’t get things right–a great boost to people who want to make government small enough to drown in the tub (see Grover Norquist). SNAP benefits (food stamps) were cut in November and nobody seems to care that benefits are reduced for 22 million children and 9 million people who are elderly or disabled. The super-typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippine province of Leyte. As many as 10,000 may be dead and over 600,000 people have been displaced. At the same time, the Warsaw Climate Change Conference is barely reported. Thirty members of Greenpeace are being held in a Russian jail because they climbed an offshore drilling rig in the arctic with banners and ropes. The Executive Branch and State Department remain silent on the topic (and this reeks of cowardice). The troubling thing is that the issue of the worsening climate doesn’t make a blip on the mental radar screens of a seemingly hypnotized American people who can’t seem to get it into their heads that 150 years of dumping CO2 into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels has consequences. Media has something to do with this as instead of paying people for investigation the news is simply reported as “this side says this and that side says that” and false equivalency abounds.

Those skeptical of climate change believe that there is no problem–it’s just natural cycles or manipulation by those that would benefit from a carbon market. What they don’t realize is that the energy companies employ between 3 and 8 lobbyists per member of Congress. The oil and gas industry spends $150 million per year lobbying politicians. They have spent $260 million in campaign contributions since 2000. While 75% of that goes to Republicans the industry was also a huge contributor to the Obama campaigns. By purchasing these politicians they may well be exchanging their profits today for a livable world tomorrow. What do the oil and gas companies get for their money? Freedom from pesky regulation, $4 billion in annual tax breaks, and continued profits–about a trillion dollars over the past decade for the top companies. And they don’t even thank us while they pick our pockets. (Perhaps a sexually oriented metaphor would be more appropriate?) The tens of millions the American Petroleum Institute spends on PR provides quite a return. It makes you wonder if the truly soulless can enjoy their ill-gotten gains? Of course they can. Lie about climate science by day, count your 30 pieces of silver at night.

While the Right likes to claim that the Koch Brothers are simply baseless scapegoats of the Left (they know that Al Gore and George Soros are the REAL threats LOL) yet we find Koch Industries at the top of the lobbying lists. The Kochs spent $122 million of their oil billions on Americans for Prosperity, a tax-exempt conservative political organization JUST IN 2012. They are focused on funding more local races to put Tea Party conservatives in charge of towns and counties across the country. Their money is important to Republicans generally–they either receive it or a candidate “primaries them” bankrolled by these anti-democratic maniacs. Their money funds much anti-Obamacare advertising through support of extreme right-wing groups.

I would say that 40 years ago most Americans understood that we needed to control the pollution of air, food, and water. Now, we’ve somehow been led to the place where we will no longer fight for controls against these terrible attacks on the environment. We not only lay down for polluters but we mindlessly believe that globalization is necessary, Medicare and Social Security are unsustainable for the U.S., the military can do no wrong, and that we can trust the efforts of private sector corporations over public sector civil servants.

How did we get here? I believe that it started out with Ronald Reagan duping socially conservative Democrats and business owning Republicans into trusting his ideology that what was good for business was good for everyone. Before that, Americans had more skepticism about where to place their trust. They understood that labor and management had a pact that neither would be sacrificed for the benefit of the other. Moreover, they understood (as Henry Ford did when he doubled the wages of his employees in 1918) that the success of the worker was a way to maintain the economic ecosystem. Communities need the consumption and civic participation of workers as much as the oceans need plankton.  Companies need a stable motivated workforce or they squander energy on training and recruitment. Post-Reagan we raced to the place where in the name of globalism we have sent tens of millions of jobs overseas. Since labor is a market, we now have more workers than jobs to employ them (and few opportunities for low-skilled workers) and the result is that pay is flat or declining. High supply means low prices.

Low wages results in an elevated demand for cheap goods. Like from Wal-Mart. Except that Wal-Mart finds its low prices by forcing companies with American factories (like Rubbermaid, Levis, and Master Lock) to close their U.S. facilities and send those jobs to Asia to provide items for cheaper than the price we would be willing to pay for them. So the whole thing is a vicious, community-destroying cycle. But if you keep the masses occupied worrying that they might slip into poverty then they are unwilling to risk anything that threatens their shitty jobs and 2% raises. A debased and defeated work force is the easiest to take advantage of.

So depressing. Let’s get over it together. Have you seen this quote?

“Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.”

Hear more below.

From a Bill Moyer’s interview of Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo , “If there’s injustice in the world, those of us that have the ability to witness it and to record it, document it and tell the world what is happening have a moral responsibility to do that. Then, of course, it’s left up to those that are receiving that knowledge to make the moral choice about whether they want to stand up against the injustice or observe it.”


Knowing that such sentiments exist and that they have meaning to a large number of people is a comforting thing. Like tomato soup in Chicago in November.

More on the steps that led us into this descent next post. I will now be quoting only a verse of the songs that launch my blog posts. I wanted to collect a few things together (e-book style) and then I realized that in order to fit a fair use standard for copyrights I would have to restrict the lyrics to the relevant part. Luckily other sites have no qualms and I will link to their content as I did above.

Take care and do right.


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No matter what you do, you’ll never run away from you

In this edition: Get your kicks while losing your pride, a snapshot of success and dysfunction. Sticking to the wrong principles. The TP rejoices, “we stopped Obamacare!”(and then they woke up). War, huh, what is it good for and how GWB lucked out by failing to do a thing to prevent the Great Recession.


Girl, you thought you found the answer on that magic carpet ride last night
But when you wake up in the mornin’ the world still gets you uptight
Well, there’s nothin’ that you ain’t tried, to fill the emptiness inside
But when you come back down, girl, still ain’t feelin’ right

(And don’t it seem like)
Kicks just keep gettin’ harder to find
And all your kicks ain’t bringin’ you peace of mind
Before you find out it’s too late, girl
You better get straight

Well you think you’re gonna find yourself a little piece of paradise
But it ain’t happened yet, so girl, you better think twice
Don’t you see no matter what you do, you’ll never run away from you
And if you keep on runnin’
You’ll have to pay the price

[repeat chorus]


No, you don’t need kicks
To help you face the world each day
That road goes nowhere
I’m gonna help you find yourself another way

(And don’t it seem like)
Kicks just keep gettin’ harder to find
(Oh, you don’t need kicks, girl)
And all your kicks ain’t bringin’ you peace of mind
(You just need help, girl)
Before you find out it’s too late, girl
You better get straight

–Written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, recorded by Paul Revere & the Raiders (1966)

Learning more about this song was like peeling back the layers of an onion. Who knew? (Does anybody know where “who knew” and “ya think” originated? Two phrases used… excessively, that are now somehow central to American speech.) I digress.

We can start with producer Terry Melcher asking the songwriting duo of Mann and Weil  for a song like The Animals “We Got to Get Out of this Place.”  They came up with “Kicks,” and the inspiration was a friend who needed help with drugs (probably fellow song-writer and Carole King’s husband at the time, Gerry Goffin). Mann and Weil had written the song for The Animals, but lead singer Eric Burdon rejected it. Melcher brought it to Paul Revere & the Raiders.

Terry Melcher’s story: Melcher was the son of singer-actress Doris Day and trombonist Al Jorden. Day was planning to leave the abusive, violent Jorden when she found herself pregnant. Outraged,  Jorden demanded that Day get an abortion. Instead, she gave birth to son Terrance Jorden and filed for divorce. After the divorce, with maternal instincts more suited to Hollywood than Cincinnati, Day left the boy with her mother in Ohio, and went back to touring with big band leader Les Brown. Birth daddy Al Jorden visited his son infrequently and had little presence in his life. After divorcing her second husband, saxophonist George Weidler, Day married Martin Melcher, who would become her manager and produce many of her films. Melcher adopted Terry, giving the child his surname. Happy ending? Well… after Martin Melcher’s death in 1968, Day discovered that he and a partner had mismanaged or embezzled $20 million of her money. And that was ALL her money. According to an inflation calculator (inquiring minds wanted to know) that would be the same as around $135 million in 2013 dollars.

Terry Melcher recorded and wrote music himself, but ended up working for Capital Records. He produced the Byrds albums, Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn!Turn!Turn! He worked with groups like The Mamas and the Papas and Paul Revere & the Raiders. He was also friends with the Beach Boys and even sang backup on their album Pet Sounds.

Beach Boy Dennis Wilson introduced Melcher to Charles Manson (to myself: WHAT?!?!?). The Beach Boys had recorded a Manson written song calling it “Never Learn Not To Love” (a double negative but better than Manson’s title “Cease to Exist”) with credits going to Dennis Wilson. Melcher wanted to do a movie about Manson and the hippie commune thing he had going, but later distanced himself after seeing some Manson craziness. Melcher had been living with girlfriend Candace Bergen in the same house on Cielo Drive that was later leased to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate, and became the site of the Manson Family murders of Sharon Tate (8 months pregnant), coffee heiress Abigail Folger, hairdresser Jay Sebring, writer Wojciech Frykowski, and Steven Parent.

Melcher went on to produce music, television, and the Monterey Pop Festival. He cowrote the song “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys. Melcher passed on in 2004.

Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s story: In the early Sixties, Mann and Weil settled into their writing partnership and married life. They worked in the Brill Building at Aldon Music alongside Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector. They were craftsmen songwriters, sitting in a cubicle with a piano and working all day to come up with lyrics and melodies. These writers would create songs that were offered to the bands and singers of the day. Some might go to Elvis, The Monkees, Aretha Franklin, The Drifters, or the Byrds, or in the case of “Kicks” to Paul Revere’s band through producer Terry Melcher. Mann and Weil wrote “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” with Phil Spector and “On Broadway” recorded by The Drifters with Leiber and Stoller.

Paul Revere’s Story: The band Paul Revere and the Raiders has substantial U.S. mainstream success in the second half of the 1960s and early 1970s. The early incarnation was a Boise, Idaho band having regional success. They fell under the guidance of Melcher, moving to L.A. in 1965.  Like many bands of the era, they copied the sounds and mod styles of British Invasion bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Dave Clark Five, and The Animals while adding a little American R&B feel.

The band appeared regularly on national television and especially on Dick Clark’s Where the Action Is, Happening ’68, and It’s Happening, the latter two of which were co-hosted by Revere and singer Mark Lindsay. Boomer’s found them on TV when they returned home from school, playing some songs with comedic interludes. Playing on Revere’s name, the group wore American Revolutionary War soldier uniforms, and performed slapstick comedy and synchronized dance steps while Mark Lindsay, cute and pony-tailed, lip-synced their music. The very thing that made them popular, their goofy wholesomeness, was the most detrimental thing they could choose to make a long-lasting mark in the world of Rock.

The Raiders were endorsed by the company Vox  (Revere used their Vox Continental combo organ, while bassist Phil “Fang” Volk was seen on television playing a Phantom IV bass —with “FANG” in masking tape letters on the back.

Imagine you are a music loving rock and roller and you get your Big Chance. But instead of living your dream–writing and performing music–you sell yourself out to image makers and profit takers. You clown for adolescents, lip-sync the songs, and don’t even get to play the instruments on your own albums. Instead of developing a unique sound you co-opt other people’s inventions. A manager tells you what songs you will play from the song factory. Instead of being an artist, you are scripted entertainer. I really don’t have a clue what all that meant to Paul Revere or Mark Lindsay but I know how I would feel. It had to be like heaven appeared to be within reach but with one step you’d know the clouds were cotton batting and the harps were made of tinfoil, cardboard tubes, and loosely tied string.

Looking back, I would have thought that the druggies didn’t really need to get off “kicks” until a decade later when Quaaludes and Coke were taking their toll. Still, Mann and Weill ran in circles where a stern anti-drug warning was required and Melcher was no innocent. The band’s lineup became fluid as the Raiders chafed against the manufactured media image that lavished juvenile attention on Lindsay while ignoring the music. To the band, I’d guess sounding more like The Animals and less like Herman’s Hermits would have been a welcome relief if they’d had a chance to be true to themselves.

Paul Revere has kept a Raiders band together with an evolving lineup since those early days. He recently admitted to an undisclosed health problem that prompted him to report that he got his “butt kicked but good.”


Over the days that I spent on this post, the debt crisis in Washington DC was forestalled. The Republican Party is taking a beating in the press and polls. If you asked the core Tea Party Congresspeople about why they took the full faith and credit of the United States hostage they would maintain that it was because, unlike Paul Revere & the Raiders, they had to stick to their principles. They ran against Obamacare (or at least what FoxNews and conservative talk radio was telling fact-starved voters Obamacare was) and they dreamed that this was a battle they could win. They needed a little perspective. They are politicians, Obama is a politician. They should be able to put themselves in his shoes. Would he sign a bill that repealed The Affordable Care Act? That is the president’s landmark legislation. His place in the history books. He ran for reelection on it, with an opponent running on repeal, and he won by 5 million votes!

Grumpy realist Senator John McCain  (R-Ariz.) wondered what they were thinking. “We started this on a fool’s errand, convincing so many millions of Americans and our supporters that we could defund Obamacare. [That] obviously wouldn’t happen until we had 67 Republican senators to override a presidential veto.”

michael-dukakis-tankSo, they actually moved themselves away from hopes of getting 67 Republican senators anytime in the near future. And they’ll have to pick a stronger candidate than Gov. Mitt Romney to put one of their’s in the White House in 2016 (that is unless Hillary doesn’t run and the Democratic party pick is a misfire along the lines of Kerry or Dukakis–perfectly fine gentlemen but not strong candidates for the highest office in the land).

Someone who has something to say about economic matters is Jim Hines, Democratic Congressman from Connecticut. As he has put it so eloquently, “People need to understand that: It’s their 401Ks, their IRAs, interest rates which they pay on their mortgages or their credit card bills, all of that depends on the assumption that the United States Treasury is risk-free. If the Republican majority in Congress forces a default, all of the sudden, it’s not risk-free anymore.”

A recent Gallup poll reported:  “With the Republican-controlled House of Representatives engaged in a tense, government-shuttering budgetary standoff against a Democratic president and Senate, the Republican Party is now viewed favorably by 28% of Americans, down from 38% in September. This is the lowest favorable rating measured for either party since Gallup began asking this question in 1992.”


I saw this sign in a “quaint shopping village” in my area. Back in the days when people weren’t getting squeezed by the migration of wealth to top managers and investors, they would get plenty of folks walking around buying crafty doo-dads or dusty silk floral arrangements. Today, stores are closing and the average visitor keeps his or her wallet firmly enpocketed.

customers wantedLB_RuleI sometimes debate some right-wing maniacs in my suburban newspaper online comments section. Their belief, and probably many people’s belief, is that the bombing of Baghdad was done with surgical precision and low collateral loss of life. Well, when the media is casually regurgitating the public relations output of the state such misunderstandings can easily be made. Every bombing target had some amount of civilian loss of life, and 20 targets were identified as high collateral damage bombings and undertaken anyway. 10,000 of the bombs dropped by American and British planes were not precision guided at all. Recently, Wikileaks documents wrote of the deaths of 66,000 Iraqi civilian deaths that hadn’t been publicly disclosed previously. A new investigation into Iraq deaths over the last 10 years puts the total figure at nearly 500,000–2/3 from violence and 1/3 from breakdowns in health services and other factors.

The Iraqi loss of life, along with the loss of their health and economic opportunity, did not win us an ally in the region–just the opposite. Have you been paying attention to the DU (depleted uranium) issue in Iraq? Worse than Syria’s chemical weapons, the U.S. and allies used DU weapons that resulted in Fallujah experiencing higher rates of cancer, leukemia, and infant mortality than Hiroshima and Nagasaki did in 1945. Learn more here.

The Great Recession seems to have one positive effect for George W. Bush. It put Americans into such a state of worry and financial concern that they didn’t have energy to evaluate the effects of the Iraq War and place blame where it should be placed, on the heads of Bush and Cheney who squandered American taxpayer’s hard-earned money in an illegal and immoral war that benefited only international oil companies, Cheney’s Halliburton buds, and munitions manufacturers.

We could put this all behind us, but then we’d never learn the lessons we need to learn.

1. War is brutal and inhumane, and unfitting for civilized nations unless under direct attack.

2. Those in the war business, like those that knowingly produce products that poison us, give us cancer, or give others the power of life and death over us, are sociopaths who put the acquisition of wealth over human life–even the lives of children and babies.

3. When terrible things happen, like 9/11 in our collective lives or tragedy in our personal lives, our decision-making abilities can be weakened by emotional confusion, and we’re best off taking things a day at a time and acting in manners that leave us no regrets.

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We looked backward and said goodbye

In this edition: Long time since I posted. Blue O (with an umlaut) yster Cult. Losing a friend. The mystery that lies beyond.  The conservatives I get and the ones who run (ruin) our government.

(Don’t Fear) The Reaper

All our times have come
Here but now they’re gone
Seasons don’t fear the reaper
Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain
We can be like they are.

Come on baby… Don’t fear the Reaper
Baby take my hand… Don’t fear the Reaper
We’ll be able to fly… Don’t fear the Reaper
Baby I’m your man…

Valentine is done
Here but now they’re gone
Romeo and Juliet
Are together in eternity…
Romeo and Juliet

40,000 men and women everyday… Like Romeo and Juliet
40,000 men and women everyday… Redefine happiness
Another 40,000 coming everyday…We can be like they are

Come on baby… Don’t fear the Reaper
Baby take my hand… Don’t fear the Reaper
We’ll be able to fly… Don’t fear the Reaper
Baby I’m your man…

Love of two is one
Here but now they’re gone
Came the last night of sadness
And it was clear we couldn’t go on
The door was open and the wind appeared
The candles blew and then disappeared
The curtains flew and then he appeared
Saying don’t be afraid

Come on baby… And we had no fear
And she ran to him… Then they started to fly
We looked backward and said goodbye
We had become like they are
She had taken his hand
We had become like they are

Come on baby…don’t fear the reaper

–Written by Buck Dharma, Recorded by Blue Öyster Cult (1976)

Perhaps strangely, I have a playlist called Death Songs. “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” is one of them. My favorite is Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You into the Dark.” I love its simplicity, the wordplay, and writer/singer Ben Gibbard’s phrasing. The chorus is:

If Heaven and Hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the No’s on their vacancy signs
If there’s no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I’ll follow you into the dark

However, as the Death Cab for Cutie song is from 2006 it doesn’t fit my self-imposed restriction of songs that boomers knew ages ago (when we were all so sad about the recent deaths of the dinosaurs). Both songs come from the same impulse. A 29-year old imagines loss from death and explores the feelings in song lyrics. Buck Dharma (stage name of Donald Roeser) was musing on the possible impact of his death and played off the theme of eternal love. Gibbard’s message is exactly in parallel to that.

Many have thought “(Don’t fear) the Reaper” song was pro-suicide but the writer has denied that vehemently. It’s more about accepting the inevitability of death, not romanticizing it. Dharma explained, “I felt that I had just achieved some kind of resonance with the psychology of people when I came up with that, I was actually kind of appalled when I first realized that some people were seeing it as an advertisement for suicide or something that was not my intention at all. It is, like, not to be afraid of it (as opposed to actively bring it about). It’s basically a love song where the love transcends the actual physical existence of the partners.”

Blue Öyster Cult was kind of a Long Island response to Black Sabbath. (Buck Dharma being Tony Iommi with fingers intact.) The name is from a poem written by their manager, Sandy Pearlman, with umlaut added to invoke a Wagnerian vibe. This was picked up by later metal groups. They were an early adopter of a band logo, in BOC’s case a hook and cross symbol. Their sound was catchy riffs, slicing metal solos, but gentle-sounding lyrics. In case you are wondering, “40,000 men and women everyday” is the number of people who die that Dharma pulled out of the air. The real number is closer to 150,000.

The song also features a cowbell. In the song, it’s a discreet addition to the beat. The cowbell was immortalized in a skit featuring Christopher Walken on Saturday Night Live. You can watch it here. And you should know, Bruce Dickenson did not produce the song.

Searching around, I also found the following item of interest. Blond twins, with harps, and some kind of green screen background thing happening.


Soul-searching on the topic of dying is not uncommon. Many have beliefs. My own father, with cancer overtaking his body, and who never stepped foot in a church except for weddings and funerals, spoke of meeting up with my mother on the other side. Others are equally convinced of the nothingness that follows. I take a middle ground approach. The principle concept is Mystery. We do not know, cannot know, what happens next. It can be nothing, it can be heaven- or hell-like, or it can be a return to the source with or without our individual personality intact.

I heard the American spiritual leader Ram Dass speaks of his friend, a channeled entity named Emmanuel. Ram Dass : “I once said to him, ‘Emmanuel, I often deal with the fear of death in this culture. What should I tell people about dying?’ And Emmanuel said, ‘Tell them it’s absolutely SAFE!’ He said, ‘It’s like taking off a tight shoe.'” These are comforting thoughts. Too comforting for me to put too much belief in. And besides, CHANNELED FRIEND???

So this I know. It’s a mystery. At worst, my death means I will not have a care in the world. At best, I will be bathed in peace and love and free from the worries of the material world. It is not me who will suffer from death, it will be those who knew me, loved me, or just tolerated me affectionately. And my death is certain to cause them to consider their own mortality.



One reason I’m thinking about death and death songs is that I lost a friend in September. Mark Mistrata died of a heart attack at the age of 55. He was a man’s man, competent in most things. He kept his politics mostly to himself, but Mark was an “O’Reilly conservative”. For example, he might have been against the Medicaid expansion in the ACA not because he didn’t want people to get healthcare, but because his common sense told him that if you give people something for free then they don’t try to change their lives to get it themselves. Foodstamps might be a similar proposition. If you make life too easy then there is no incentive to do the hard work that it takes to turn a nothing life into a productive one.

I won’t argue the opposing side here. (It wouldn’t feel right.) But I wish that the conservatives in the House of Representatives would take a similar tack. Instead of lying about the Affordable Care Act and the terrible disaster they claim it is, they should deal honestly with the issues at hand. Insurers were overpaying their CEOs from the profits gained by cherry-picking and lemon-dropping (using pre-existing conditions and outrageous pricing to avoid insuring actual sick people) while consolidating into single vendor territories where there’d be little competition to keep pricing down.  Instead of talking about death panels for Medicare enrollees, they should talk about how 10,000 people each day are turning 65 and will be doing so through 2030 at which point 18% of Americans will be on Medicare. And today people live longer spending extraordinary amounts of money in their final days. What is the answer to that? I can think of a number of answers including some that are not even part of today’s model. Killing the people off is not one of those options. (After all, I will someday be one of them.)

Instead of talking about Obama as the “foodstamp president” they should address what would enhance the economy in the U.S. and what moves people into economic circumstances where food assistance is needed. But they really can’t do that because they believe ideologically that what’s good for business is good for the U.S. If business has outsourced jobs it’s the inevitability of globalism. But the truth is that government is there for the people first. Government of the corporations, for the corporations is another form, not Democracy. Yes, talkin’ about f-a-s-c-i-s-m: strong leaders, suppression of dissent,  protection of business and elites, and preservation of class systems. Fascism in Europe arose out of fear of the rising power of the working class and it seems like many are ready to follow these themes today without understanding the history of this failed system. Pretend patriots and pretend moralists, they pick and choose which parts of the Constitution and the Bible they will champion. The real patriotism we need in America is economic patriotism.

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address seems apropos in the sense of being a memorial and a call to live to humanistic ideals.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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