Monday, April 14, 2008
Whatever Happened To Protest Music?
"You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you sit back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud"
"Masters of War," ---Bob Dylan, 1963
"We can dance, we can dance, we can dance, we can dance tonight
Come on just move your body
Come on just move your body"
"Not Leaving Without You," ---Paris Hilton, 2006
By MARC MCDONALD
Back in the 1960s, even the biggest-selling music artists routinely released songs that protested the Vietnam War and demanded change. From John Lennon ("Give Peace A Chance") to the Rolling Stones ("Street Fighting Man") to Bob Dylan ("Masters of War") the pop charts were full of protest songs.
Today, we're living in an era that is like the 1960s in many ways. The nation's social fabric has been torn asunder. An unpopular war based on lies rages on. And the occupant in the White House is a crook who makes even Richard Nixon look like a good president. In short, America is going down the toilet.
But unlike the 1960s, if you listen to today's music, you'd be unaware that there was any problem at all with today's America. The top pop stars of today have little to say about anything. Outside of some of the socially conscious hip-hop artists, today's music stars are content to peddle the most bland, innocuous lyrics imaginable. Mostly, the songs are about sex, sex, and more sex. If there's any message at all, it's: "Be apathetic. Don't use your brain. Be a good little consumer."
The shame of it all is that there's probably never been an era in American history that cried out more for protest songs.
Today, America is saddled with an unbelievably corrupt occupant in the White House. George W. Bush is guilty of a long list of serious crimes, from embracing torture as official state policy to illegal wiretaps to lying America into a $3 trillion fiasco of a war.
What's worse is that our nation's mainstream media has failed in its responsibility to inform the American people about Bush's crimes. Indeed, "journalists" like the Judith Miller of The New York Times actually worked hand-in-hand with the White House, to sell Bush's war to the American people.
Given this sad state of affairs, one might think that at least some of today's pop stars would be inclined to speak out about the ongoing crisis in America. The crimes of Bush and Cheney could easily be the inspiration for hundreds of protest songs.
But sadly, this isn't the case. Today's pampered pop and rock stars are quite content to sit in their mansions and count their cash and refuse to speak out on the issues of the day, much less write songs about them.
And as a result, our radio stations and pop charts today are full of the most sugary, banal, shallow dross imaginable. In fact, there's probably never been an era in U.S. musical history where popular music was as sanitized and apolitical as it is today.
True, there is the occasional exception (like when the Dixie Chicks dared to speak up against Bush). As a result, their career took a hit when Clear Channel yanked the group's songs from its radio stations. The band even received death threats from the NeoCon Bush supporters.
Most other top artists, though, have failed to follow the Dixie Chicks' lead and speak out. It's clear that they are cowards who are afraid any sort of risks of damaging their commercial prospects. (Of course, it's also possible that they simply don't give a sh*t about what's going on in America). I'm not sure which is worse: apathy, or cowardice---but today's pop stars are similar to the mainstream media in that they lack a spine and they're only concerned about making as much money as possible.
Ironically, despite the blatant commercialism of today's pop scene, music sales continue to plunge in the U.S. The big record labels bitch and moan endlessly about this. They point the finger of blame at file-sharing services. The latter, no doubt, have some of the blame---but I believe the main culprit is that today's music just plain sucks.
The best pop/rock music has always been risk-taking, rebellious, bold and creative. That's the polar opposite of today's sad line-up of Britney, Paris Hilton, Justin Timberlake and their endless clones.
Meanwhile, here's a salute to some of the best protest music of yesteryear:
- "Ohio," ---Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, 1970.
- "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag," ---Country Joe & the Fish, 1967.
- "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," ---Gil Scott-Heron, 1970.
- "Power To The People," ---John Lennon, 1971.
- "The Call Up," ---by The Clash, 1980.
- "For What It's Worth," ----Buffalo Springfield, 1967.
- "Shipbuilding," ---Elvis Costello, 1982.
- "Between the Wars," ---Billy Bragg, 1985.
- "Talkin' World War III Blues," ---Bob Dylan, 1963.
- "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy," ---Pete Seeger, 1967.
- "Get Up, Stand Up," ---Bob Marley, 1973.
Monday, August 06, 2007
The Real Reason The Wingnuts Hate YearlyKos
Once upon a time, it was easy to be a GOP propagandist.
Up until the mid-1990s, Republicans could spew out lies all day long and rarely had to worry about any watchdogs holding them accountable. Oh sure, there were a few obscure leftist print publications here and there, but they had tiny circulations and were often difficult to come by.
Back then, the GOP propagandists certainly didn't have to worry about the corporate mainstream media keeping them honest. Indeed, the likes of CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and even The New York Times were quite happy to carry the GOP's water.
With the dawn of the Web, it began to dawn on the GOP propagandists that they were no longer able to spew out lies without being challenged.
Suddenly, anyone could set up a Web site for relatively little cost and effort and instantly have a potential worldwide audience.
GOP propagandists like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly soon discovered, to their horror, that they could no longer peddle their daily lies and bullshit and have no one to challenge them.
This, I believe, is the real reason that the likes of O'Reilly and Limbaugh have been attacking sites like Daily Kos and events like the latter's YearlyKos convention. And despite O'Reilly's boasts of success in countering Daily Kos, it's obvious that he is scared shitless these days (as evidenced by his hysterical, over-the-top denunciations of the site).
O'Reilly and Limbaugh and their ilk have found that everything they say these days is going to be picked apart, analyzed and fact-checked by the progressive Web. As a result, the GOP serial liars have been exposed for the frauds that they really are.
Watchdog sites like Media Matters terrify the GOP propagandists. The latter have discovered that once they tell a lie, it is promptly dissected and debunked and then lives forever on the Web---only a mouse click away for any truth seeker.
The old GOP propagandists' old tricks no longer work in cyberspace. No longer can GOP liars like Dick Cheney fall back on their usual tactics (like claiming they were misquoted). On today's Web, your words live forever in easy-to-access audio and video files that let people hear your actual quotes first-hand.
The dawn of the Web gave the ordinary people a voice that, for the first time in history, could potentially rival the traditional corporate media. Indeed, Daily Kos, with its millions of visitors, does rival the likes of Fox News in audience size. And YearlyKos sums up everything that the GOP/Fox News/Wingnut crowd hates about today's new era of media democracy.
However, the Web hasn't yet succeeded in ending ignorance in America. For every Daily Kos or BuzzFlash, there are wingnut sites that still spew out White House propaganda and talking points on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the Web can transmit lies and ignorance just as quickly as it sends out the truth.
But on the whole, the Web has been a boon for those of us who've long been disappointed in the failure of the corporate MSM to bring the truth to the people. As long as the progressive Web is around, the GOP propagandists will no longer have a stranglehold on the nation's political discourse, as they did as recently as the mid-1990s.
Which bring me to a final point: how long can this golden age last? I've never been one for conspiracy theories. But I just can't believe that the nation's ruling elite are going to allow this state of affairs to continue forever.
People like George W. Bush and his billionaire allies have utter contempt for democracy and a truly free exchange of ideas. No doubt, at some point, they will attempt to crack down on the progressive Web. I suspect they'll even give this crackdown a friendly-sounding, market-tested Orwellian name like "The Internet Freedom Act."
But until that day comes, let's enjoy the likes of Daily Kos, Progressive Daily Beacon, BuzzFlash, Crooks and Liars, OpEdNews.com and the rest of the progressive Web, which have ushered in a Golden Era of truth in America.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Wingnuts Denounce "Tin-Foil Hat" Liberals While Embracing Paranoid Conspiracy Theories
Browse any right-wing blog or listen to wingnut radio these days and you're confronted by a steady stream of angry voices denouncing "tin-foil hat" liberals and their "conspiracy theories."
The wingnuts are convinced that we liberal "conspiracy buffs" believe in some far-out things.
According to the wingnuts, we believe that Bush lied America into war. And we believe that the 2000 and 2004 elections weren't honest. And we suspect that maybe the White House puts the interests of Halliburton over the American people.
Pretty wacky stuff, huh?
The only problem is that a majority of the American people have similar questions these days. Which I guess means that America has become a land of tin-foil hat wearers.
However, there's a rich irony with the wingnuts denouncing conspiracy theories. After all, these people wrote the book on conspiracies. You won't find a more paranoid group of people in the nation.
The fact is, wingnuts believe that just about everything is part of a conspiracy these days.
Global warming is a liberal conspiracy. The media is a part of a liberal conspiracy. Iraq War opponents are part of a liberal conspiracy. Anyone who questions Bush is conspiring to harm America. And polling companies that show that Bush has a low approval rating are part of a liberal conspiracy.
According to the wingnuts, even the U.S. Navy was part of a liberal conspiracy, when it awarded John Kerry military honors that he didn't really deserve.
And the latest liberal conspiracy, according to the wingnuts, is that we're secretly working to shut down their beloved Rush Limbaugh, and the rest of wingnut radio.
This paranoid behavior on the part of the wingnuts is nothing new. In fact, it reached a fever pitch during the Clinton administration. Back then, talk radio and the wingnuts were constantly embracing every wacky anti-Clinton conspiracy that came down the pike.
According to them, Clinton conspired to "murder" Vince Foster. Clinton also murdered Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, who died in a "mysterious" plane crash. As Arkansas governor, he conspired to murder dozens of people who "knew too much." And when he wasn't busy murdering people, he was raping women left and right.
I rarely can bring myself to admit that the wingnuts do something better than the Dems. But in this case, I'll make an exception. Liberals' "conspiracy" theories are definitely no match for the wacky conspiracy theories on the Right.
And when the wingnuts aren't accusing us of far-out conspiracy theories, they're accusing of something called "Bush Derangement Syndrome."
Apparently, it seems, we hate Bush for no particular reason. And our hatred is therefore irrational. To dare suggest that maybe Bush had something to do with the fiasco in Iraq, we're guilty of a serious case of Bush Derangement Syndrome.
Here, again, though, the Left simply can't compare to the wingnuts, when it comes to unhinged hatred.
After all, even the fiercest progressive critics of Bush are no match for the foaming-at-the-mouth, mad-dog crazy Clinton haters of the 1990s. We're seeing a revival of these nutcases today, as they prepare to go after Hillary Clinton.
There's a big difference between the Left's hatred of Bush and the Right's hatred of Clinton, though.
We progressives hate Bush for lying America into an illegal, reckless, immoral war that has seriously damaged America's standing in the world.
By contrast, the wingnuts hated Clinton for: what, exactly? Lying about a blow job?
I mean, even the fiercest of Clinton's critics have now quietly tip-toed away from the wild charges they made against Clinton in the '90s.
Are there still wingnuts out there who really believe Clinton murdered Vince Foster? If so, they're strangely quiet about it, these days. After all, immediately after the Clinton era ended, I didn't hear another word about that crazy conspiracy from the wingnuts.
But I get the feeling that, even after the Bush era ends, there will still be many progressives who'll continue to seek answers and justice for the White House's very real crimes in the nightmarish years since 2000.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Joe Klein, Who Claimed Liberals "Hate America," Now Slams Progressives' "Bile"
Time magazine blogger Joe Klein is upset with the way the progressive blogosphere is treating him these days. In his latest piece, "Beware the Bloggers' Bile," Klein expresses bafflement that he's been criticized by liberal bloggers recently.
Klein writes that much of the progressive blogosphere these days is "is being drowned out by a fierce, bullying, often witless tone of intolerance."
Klein expresses dismay at his critics and tries to play up his supposedly liberal credentials. He writes that he's being unfairly targeted. As far as he's concerned, "the left-liberals in the blogosphere are merely aping the odious, disdainful—and politically successful—tone that right-wing radio talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh pioneered."
Wow, that's a pretty heavy charge.
There's only one problem that the supposedly reasonable and "unfairly" criticized Klein fails to point out.
The fact is, Klein himself has been guilty of the most vicious, Rush Limbaugh-like attacks on liberals in recent years.
Here's an example (as reported last year by Media Matters). On April 11, 2006, Klein declared that Democrats wouldn't find success among voters "if their message is that they hate America -- which is what has been the message of the liberal wing of the party for the past 20 years."
Let me see if I understand this correctly: Klein claims liberals "hate" America. And then he turns around and claims that the progressive blogs are guilty of "intolerance" and Rush Limbaugh-like tactics because they dared to criticize him.
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