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The above link had a really great video where Bernie Sanders does a great job of stating the facts on climate change, especially when standing up to Jim Inhofe who is a shill for the fossil fuel industry.
I am in the process of moving the hosting site for windupwire.com. I am in a sort of netherworld where both the old and new site are working, though neither at full capacity. In the meantime go to http://www.windupwire.com for all new posts. Eventually, hopefully in no less then a week, all the kinks will be worked out. In the meantime, I want to thank all of you for coming here. Your readership is greatly appreciated.
I have been trying to avoid the early election shenanigans. The mutant right is constantly making headlines with total insanity. I don’t mean to infer that to condemn anyone that is a Republican. I am simply referring to the freak pack that seems in control of the national party at this point. (Scott Walker being one of the many in this realm.) I am someone that believes in voting. I don’t think voting is enough if you really care about what is going on. However, I don’t think disengaging from the political realm due to dissatisfaction is an option. I am not a big fan of the Clintons and would rather see someone like Bernie Sanders capture the nomination. Bill, in his term, was actually a rather right leaning corporatist Democrat that did many things that I believe harmed this country. (NAFTA, Telecommunications Act of 1996, and so on.) However, if you can’t see that there is a difference between Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz, or Hillary Clinton and Scott Walker, than I don’t know what to tell you. (Those that believe that all politicians are the same only need to look at recent headlines having to do with Iran and then imagine what those headlines would look like if “Bomb,bomb,bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” John McCain had won in 2008.) But what I think is important is that it is okay to disengage until it matters. I don’t need to be paying attention to the right wing horse race, as I will certainly not be voting for anyone that wins that. I can’t help, in trying to keep up with the news, catching a headline or two. I mean I try to pay attention enough that if I am having a conversation with someone, I can refute whatever insane argument someone might be making on whatever policy issue, but having a deep emotional investment in who is ahead is only going to destroy my health, make me angry, and burn me out on this whole circus before there is really anything I can do about it. The news is really good at destroying one’s soul, only to have you speaking gibberish by the time it comes down to canvas for an issue or candidate you believe in. Also, please keep in mind that I am talking about ignoring the election and not what is going on in general. It is important, extremely important, that a citizen of a democracy stays informed. But at this point in the election cycle it is much more important to pay attention to what is going on, rather than who is saying what, if you get my drift. So try to keep abreast of current issues, but whenever a circus animal like Donald Trump gets paraded out on TV, instead of turning your mind into rat soup, exercise one of the very few freedoms you have and turn the damned thing off.
As someone that travels a lot I was interested to read the above list. The two cities that surprised me the most on this list, as I have been to both, are Tulsa, for being as conservative as it is, and Washington D.C, for being listed as more liberal than a place like Seattle. Although Oklahoma is no doubt conservative, Tulsa is the one place I have been to in that state that feels like it bucks that trend. Also having witnessed the cultures of both D.C. and Seattle, I was surprised, as the above article suggested, that D.C. was listed higher as Seattle. The above link provides a link, the list, and pictures over at Forbes. The Economist is actually who devised the list and their research is here.
Anyone that has been reading along has seen me mention the latest Public Enemy album, Man Plans God Laughs. As a lover of albums, I not only like to hear records in full, but when an artist comes out with a new record that I love, I like to hear it in the context of their career. Often records speak to each other, especially when artist are creating records that have concepts and aren’t just collections of songs. So as well as checking out Public Enemy’s catalog, I have been reading different interviews with Chuck D, unofficial leader of and main rapper in Public Enemy. Chuck D is always interesting. In the above interview there is a segment where the interviewer and Chuck D it is mention how Bill Clinton deregulated radio with his 1996 Telecommunications act. This is not the focus of the interview, but it is an interesting snippet. From the interview:
DX: I wanna go back to one additional thing Too Short said. After he put Barry Weiss on blast he went on to say that he believes there was a meeting of the minds amongst the major labels to shut down conscious Hip Hop. Do you believe such a collusion happened, or was it more likely that Bill Clinton’s Telecommunications Act of 1996, that consolidated radio ownership, was the real nail in the coffin to message-driven music?
Chuck D: Yeah, the latter was the real nail in the coffin – not so much to message-driven music but to local music being able to have a chance to independently breathe. The consolidation of radio stations was like the worst thing ever done to music.
As someone that works in the music industry, I have long known that the consolidation of radio stations by big corporations, Clear Channel (Now known as, I’m not kidding, iHeartMedia.) in particular, has been horrible for the music industry. There was less artistic diversity than ever before. One only has to look at the aftermath of 9/11 to understand what can happen. After 9/11 Clear Channel (iHeartMedia), the largest owner of radio stations in America banned songs that were deemed “sensitive” to listeners. One of these songs happened to be John Lennon’s Imagine. This ban was eventually lifted, but one can see this kind of thing happening on a lesser scale all of the time.
So why is this interesting, even if you are someone like me that never listens to the radio? First you can see how big money can stifle culture. Art is how ideas can be spread in a way that is accessible, in a way that is entertaining and easy to understand. Less competition, created by one corporation owning a large percentage of the market, means there is less reason for alternative programming. Even if a corporation isn’t trying to purposely stop a certain message from getting out, there is less reason to play something new or cutting edge, even if it has a certain following. Luckily, we now have internet radio and satellite radio, which have helped bring diversity into the market, but a large group of people still listen to regular radio. What gets played on traditional radio still has an advantage. Art is extremely important as a form for political discussion, as it connects emotionally. One only has to look at the 60’s counterculture to understand how art and particularly music can affect people from a political perspective.
There are many reasons that music doesn’t have the political power that it once did, reasons that have to do with technology, culture, education, and economics. However, I think the above Act is something that greatly contributed.
Also, I find it interesting that it was Clinton that signed the above Act into law. I have always known that Clinton was a corporate Democrat, but being that I was 18 at the time and not fully formed politically, I never put it together that he was the one that oversaw that law being put into place. As someone that would consider themselves as being on the left, I think it is extremely important that we condemn those on our side that do not act in the public interest, especially if we are going to be believed when we make political accusations of those that do not in anyway share our values. Even if I view Hillary Clinton as the far lesser of two evils, when compared to the pack of mutants running for the Republican nomination, we must make sure that she does not repeat the sins of her husband if she were to gain the nomination. (Who really was far more conservative than most people remember.) I am hoping that Bernie Sanders wins the nomination, but I have no doubt that I would vote for Clinton over anyone declared for the right at the current moment.
So I think it is important to see how big money can corrupt culture, as a concrete example. It is important to acknowledge how art influences our culture. Remember, the whole reason that I am writing about this subject is because I was reading an interview with a musician. I also think it is important, for those interested in politics, to stay vigilant especially when someone on “one’s side” is in political power, as it is much easier to be lulled into complacency.
It’s late on a Saturday and already I feel that I am rambling a bit in this post, but there is just one other thing I want to mention. (But believe me, I actually feel that this is just the tip of the iceberg in talking about the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the deregulation of media in general.)
Just as a playful what if, I want you to imagine a world where subversive art and other media voices did not face so many restrictions in communicating on mass. If more voices were heard, would tragedies such as the Iraq War have been averted or at least not carried out with such zeal? (Not only did Clinton help to deregulate the media, but Ronald Reagan also contributed greatly to media deregulation.)
A story featured both at Politico and Huffington Post making the case for Barack Obama as a transformative president. The last few months have been an extremely interesting to say the least. Cuba, Iran, marriage equality, healthcare victory in the Supreme Court, and commuting the sentences of non-violent offenders, are just a few of the things I think will be looked fondly upon. I am highly skeptical of his trade deal. I also have always been critical of other aspects of his foreign policy since the beginning, especially what this country has done with drones in recent history. I think he could have done more on Climate Change early on, though I think he has done what is possible this term, especially considering the Congress he is dealing with. However, although I think one can be both pleased with and critical of something at the same time, I think the good outweighs the bad when it is all stacked together at this point, especially considering where we were when we started.
Music can be political without being expressly political. Sometimes the sheer vitality of it can be a force for change. It can shake you, wake you up, make you want to do something different than you were doing before you heard it. This has definitely been true, from even the earliest moments, of rock n roll. Once rock n roll was unleashed it couldn’t help but have an affect on race relations, sexual mores, youth culture, and so on, just because of where it came from and the sheer energy involved, even before it dealt with any of those things in an explicit way.
I’ve mentioned lately that I have been diving into the punk, post-punk, and hardcore bands of the 80’s Washington D.C. scene. Rites of Spring, which featured members that went on to join Fugazi, among other bands, were different from many of the acts of even that time period. Their songs were more melodic and their lyrics were more personal in nature, despite channeling the energy of punk and hardcore. Their lyrics also have a more poetic and interpretive nature than many of their peers. Although I grew up listening to all of the Ian MacKaye bands, MacKaye is a founder of Dischord Records and also went on to be a member of Fugazi, I had never heard Rites of Spring until recently. But listening to their music, one can’t help but feel that something is going on. It possesses a feeling of dissatisfaction, but not of hopelessness. It sounds like people striving to reach someplace new. It is full of passion and self-discovery. Singer and guitar player Guy Picciotto sounds fully committed. Even if none of these things translate into any particular political cause, this is the sound of people becoming engaged with the world. And engagement is the most important ingredient in any kind of social change.
The ESPN series 30 For 30, available on Netflix, is really great. I think today I saw one of the best, if not the best. It was called Ghosts of Ole Miss and it covered the undefeated Ole Miss football team of 1962. More importantly, it also covered the bravery of James Meredith and the riots that ensued because of him being the first black student admitted to the University of Mississippi.
However, if this was just a documentary about history, I don’t think I would be writing about it. (Even though it is a completely enthralling piece of filmmaking that covers a time period that many Americans would like to forget.) For anyone that doesn’t understand the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag, or thinks that controversy is much to do over nothing, I think this is something you must watch. The film is also great at providing the missing link between the Civil War and modern day problems dealing with race. I also don’t think race is the only modern political situation this film is relevant to. At a time when we are seeing local and state politicians try to stand up to the federal government on the issue of gay marriage, one can’t help but see their historical counterparts in this film.
There is also a positive element to this film. Even though the film does not make the claim that all race issues are gone are settled in Mississippi, as they clearly aren’t there or anywhere else, the film does acknowledge that great strides have been made. As dark as the history showcased in this film is, there is hope that, over time, people can change.
One of my favorite writers in recent years has been David Mitchell, who can seemingly do anything or go anywhere. In some of his novels, epics like Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks, he can use many voices, cover different time periods, and make each seem authentic. Not only is he able to do this, but he is able to connect all of those voices to form a compelling overreaching narrative. Meanwhile, in something like Black Swan Green, he is able to use a much smaller canvas, in this case a British school kid in the 80’s, and make it just as compelling. One of the true originals of our time. The link is a short piece accompanied by a longer video interview.