Monday, February 28, 2011

Let same-sex marriages continue during the Prop 8 appeals process -

The L.A. Times, one of California's major papers, called for equal rights for gay men & lesbians now. Here's the editorial.

Proposition 8: Let same-sex marriages continue during the appeals process -

GOP Attacks Women : Weiner Responds | Video Cafe

GOP Attacks Women : Weiner Responds | Video Cafe

"Freewheelin" Suze Rotolo, 1943-2011

In the '60s in the Village in and around the Limelight (which was then a bar on 7th Ave. just below West 4th St.) I knew a young woman named Carla Rotolo. But you know her younger sister, Suze, better - especially if you are a Bob Dylan fan. Suze was the young woman in the iconoic photo taken in February 1963 by Don Hunstein on Jones Street. a one block side street connecting West 4th and Bleeker, which became the cover of Freewheein Bob Dylan. Suze Rotolo died last weekend at 67.

Suze and Carla - who were Red Diaper Babies - befriended Dylan when he first arrived in New York. Suze was Dylan's girlfriend from 1961 to 1964 and he wrote several of his early love songs to her, Don't Think Twice, It's Alright; Tomorrow is a Long Time; and Boots of Spanish Leather. While they were together Suze (and Carla) influenced his move to the Left. They had a bad breakup, caused partly by his burgeoning relationship with Joan Baez and Suzi's unhappiness with being as she put it "the sixth string on his guitar." It was their breakup which caused him to write, Ballad in Plain D, which he later said he was sorry he wrote. But then we all say things we wish we could take back. We usually can't.

According to Wikipedia,
Rotolo was associated with civil rights work and protests against the travel ban against Cuba. She worked for a time for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). She traveled to Cuba in June 1964, with a group, at a time when it was unlawful for Americans to do so. She was quoted as saying, in regards to opponents of Fidel Castro that, 'These gusanos [worms] are not suppressed. There can be open criticism of the regime. As long as they keep it to talk they are tolerated, as long as there is no sabotage.'
In 2008, she wrote an autobiogaphy - after refusing to discuss Dylan for many years - A Freewheelin'Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties.

Suzi was a painter, teacher and a book illustrator, according to Rolling Stone.

Suze Rotolo died in the arms of her husband Italian film editor Enzo Bartoccioli whom she met on a trip to Italy in 1962. They had a son named Luca.

In Don't think Twice, It's Alright, Dylan wrote:
I once loved a woman, a child I'm told/I gave her my heart, but she wanted my soul.

A tea party for the ages

In a new book, Out of Our Heads: Rock 'n' Roll Before the Drugs Wore Off, George Case begins with the "infamous tea party" at the Hotel Delmonico in 1964 when Bob Dylan introduced The Beatles to "the wonders of weed."

Now that's my kind of tea party. And one that I would surmise some current Tea Partyers might do well to try.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Feb. 28th, 12:30pm protest Trader Joe's, 2075 Broadway (72nd St. & Broadway)

Monday, Feb. 28th -- 12:30-2:30pm
Trader Joe's -- 2075 Broadway (72nd St. & Broadway)

Join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) on the beginning of their "Do The Right Thing Tour" in demanding supermarket retailers get on board with the Campaign for Fair Food and sign an agreement with the CIW to pay farmworkers a fair wage and end modern day slavery in the fields of Florida!!

Monday, Feb. 28th -- 12:30-2:30pm
Trader Joe's -- 2075 Broadway (72nd St. & Broadway)

Stand with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to demand Trader Joe's join Whole Foods and the many others (Subway, Taco Bell, Sodexo, etc.) who've signed with the CIW. Tell Joe, slavery is not sustainable!

For those of you that want to know more about the campaign, read the letter below from Nely & Silvia, members of the CIW, and check out this 1 minute video

Message to the Fair Food Movement
February 1, 2011

Dear compañeras and compañeros, friends, allies, and Fair Food activists across the country —

When our struggle for dignity and respect began in the streets of Immokalee fifteen years ago, we knew it would take a long and arduous journey to realize our dreams. The mentality that reigned for so long in the agricultural industry — typified by one grower who dismissed six of our compañeros on a 30-day hunger strike by scoffing “the tractor doesn't tell the farmer how to run his farm” — seemed as solid and unmovable as a great stone wall.

But today, that wall is tumbling down.

Today, as a result of our Campaign for Fair Food, there are amazing changes underway in Immokalee. We say our because this movement belongs to all of us: farmworkers and students, consumers and organizers, fighters and dreamers.

But our journey is far from complete.

As farmworkers, as members of the CIW, and as mothers who want to leave a better world for our children, we make this appeal today on the verge of one of our most important mobilizations ever to all of our allies to do whatever it takes to join us for the upcoming “Do the Right Thing” actions in Boston and Tampa.

As we work tirelessly in Immokalee on the implementation of the Fair Food Code of Conduct for which we have fought all these years, we ask that you too organize in your community — talk to your friends, hand out flyers, organize fundraisers, coordinate caravans — join us in Boston and Tampa.

We invite you to walk with us as we demand Ahold and Publix join with the CIW and with the Florida tomato industry to ensure human rights and dignity for the men and women whose backbreaking labor makes it possible for these stores to line their shelves with fresh produce and to make record-breaking profits year after year.

The transformation underway in our community has brought us stories of a new climate of respect in the fields; of parents telling us what it's like to walk their own children to school for the first time ever. These and many other changes that were unimaginable just a few months ago are starting to take root today.

But Ahold and Publix continue to stand in the way of more humane conditions in the fields by refusing to participate – instead callously dismissing the abuses we have faced in the fields and refusing to join nine other corporations in paying their fair share and conditioning their tomato purchases on the Fair Food Code of Conduct. Ahold and Publix threaten to blunt and undermine the progress we're making toward the end, finally, of the Harvest of Shame.

If you support the Campaign for Fair Food, if you support our dreams of a better world, you must join us and tell Ahold and Publix it's time to "Do the Right Thing!"

-Nely and Silvia
Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Check out Community/Farmworker Alliance news and events!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Toy Story 3: a review

Well, just under the wire for tomorrow night's Oscars we saw "Toy Story 3." That's what movies should be. It's moving, funny & good triumphs over evil. We sure need more of that.

Rarely do sequels equal the original, but this one does. No one who has been a kid could not love this film about the tribulation of toys. I'll bet you never expected to see (& hear) a Spanish speaking Buzz Lightyear. I could go on, but here's the bottom line, if it weren't for "Winter's Bone" I'd pick it as the best movie of the year. Once upon a time Peter, Paul & Mary sang "Puff The Magic Dragon," with all due respect to Randy Newman, Puff is the essence of "Toy Story 3"
A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, jackie paper came no more
Well, Andy came once more and the toys found a new home. It's about growing up. Growing up may be overrated but it does happen. Tell me which other movie this year has that reach. If you've ever been a kid & had toys you loved, this movie is about the toys not about us. Well, as Ann reminds me it's really about us. Watch it. I promise you'll love it.

Will banksters get away with it? - Opinion by Danny Schechter

Will banksters get away with it? - Opinion by Danny Schechter from Al Jazeera English

It seems to me that, although calling for the prosecution of Wall Street criminals is a very good organizing tactic, believing that the corporate oligarchy is going to allow itself to be punished for stealing billions (maybe trillions) from the people is to assume that capitalism is a sane & principled system (LOL). Its only raison d' etre after all is to make this theft possible.

Quote of the week

In a column in the NYT Business Section today (Saturday) in which Joe Nocera ("Talking Business") explains why none of the Wall Street bigwigs will likely be prosecuted for any of their misdeeds causing the latest capitalist crisis. Focussing mostly on Angelo Mozilo, co-founder & for nearly 40 years head of Countrywide Financial until its "astonishing fall," Nocera quotes from a "lengthy interview with Mr. Mozillo conducted by investigators working for the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission"
[Mozilo's] voice rising passionately, he said finally, 'Countrywide was one of the greatest companies in the history of this country.'

Which is a final reason Mr. Mozilo would have been difficult to prosecute. Delusion is an ironclad defense

Friday, February 25, 2011

Movie Award Weekend: Oscars, Independent Spirit Awards, Razzies

Well, this is Oscar weekend (tonight, 8 PM) but there are two other movie awards being handed out this weekend: The Independent Spirit Awards (Sat. 10PM IFC) & The Razzies.

I think the most important piece of information about the past year is that (according to Box Office Mojo)
2010 closed as the second highest-grossing year of all time, but it still couldn't shake an air of disappointment. Not only did 2010 end with a whimper, estimated attendance was the lowest in 15 years.
I know that sounds like a contradiction but higher prices = higher grosses, not greater attendance. Higher grosses are a result primarily of the 3D rip-off, which it seems has had its 15 minutes and a general increase in prices.

We'll come back to 3D films. Well, how about now: There's a special Razzie Award this year. "The Worst Eye-Gouging Mis-Use of 3D." The nominees are Cats & Dogs #2: Revenge of Kitty Galore; Clash of the Titans, The Last Airbinder, Nutcracker 3D, Saw 3D (AKA Saw VII). In other words, slap 3D on a film (especially for kids) and make more money. I think that scam has run its coarse.
The winner of the Razzie: "The Last Airbinder"

Since we are talking about the Razzies (which were given out yesterday (Saturday), let's stick with them. They're the most fun anyway:
Worst Picture of the Year: "The Last Airbinder"
Worst Performance by an Actress: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrell, Kristen Davis & Cynthia Nixon in "Sex & the City 2"
Worst Performance by an Actor: Ashton Kutcher in "Killers" & "Valentine's Day"
Worst Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Jessice Alba in "The Killer Inside Me,'" "Little Fockers," "Machete," & "Valentine's Day"
Worst Performance by an Actor in a supporting Role: Jackson Rathbone in "The Last Airbinder" & "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse"
Worst Screen Couple/Ensemble: The Entire Cast of "Sex & the City 2"
Worst Prequal, Remake, Rip-off or Sequal: I'll bet you can guess: "Sex & the City 2"

Yesterday Afternoon, on the beach in Malibu, the Independent Spirit Awards were handed out. found these awards very disappointing. First of all "Inside Job," which most people I know & respect have lauded, wasn't even nominated. From there on out who cares who wins, if the best isn't nominated. "Inside Job" is nominated for an Oscar tonight.

My other bitch about the spirit awards is about The Best Actress & Best film. Natalie Portman & " Black Swan." Whatever you may think about Portman's performance or "The Black Swan" as a film, they should not have been nominated for the Independent Spirit Awards. "Black Swan" was produced & released by 20th Century Fox. That is the opposite of an independent film. The very definition of independent film is one that is not produced & released by a major studio. So I'm still rooting for "Winter's Bone."

The Oscars are on now & I'll say what I think about them later. Go "Winter's Bone" & Jennifer Lawrence.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How about "Mubarak" Walker

Guest Monica Crowley told Fox "America Alive" host Megyn Kelly that Obama's decision not to defend the Constitutionality of the "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) as akin to a “dictatorship” calling the president “Mubarak Obama.” ( “To me, it’ s a form of dictatorship, That’s Mubarak Obama. You cannot just pick and choose which law you will enforce when you are president of the United States or the Attorney General.”)

Crowley took great exception to the Justice Department’s decision, calling it “beyond belief” before passionately stating that its the president’s responsibility to enforce the law that is on the books, not, in her words “to decide ‘well I don’t like that law so I’m not going to enforce it.’” Crowley then claimed that this was a “form of dictatorship” before referencing the president as “Mubarak Obama.”

There are a number of things one might say about this typical Crowley nonsense. First of all, the President took an oath to defend the Constitution, not acts of Congress. I would challenge Ms. Crowley to point to one complaint she made against George W. Bush's challenges to 232 statutes through signing statements. I'll bet she never questioned one of them.

I also wonder what she thinks about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's comments. For example, "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has laid down an ultimatum to the 14 state Senate Democrats who've gone AWOL to stop Walker's union-busting budget from going forward: come home, vote on a budget or I'll start laying off state workers. Like, next week," according to TPMDC He also has said he believes the Wisconsin protesters are from out-of-state. And now we know from the prank phone call that Walker was talking about bringing thugs into attack the potesters.

Perhaps we should be talking about "Mubarak" Walker.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A political bait & switch or I have a bridge to sell you

What's happening in the U.S. today is beyond belief. It's the greatest political bait & switch operation I've ever seen.

As we all know, the latest capitalist crisis was brought about by the banksters on Wall Street. It was brought about by their greed & incompetence. So when the roof fell in, what did they do? They sent one of their key hitmen, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs. Henry Paulson. who Time Magazine described as the "face [of] this financial debacle," to Washington. And what did he do? This paragon of the free market said to Bush & Chaney, "we screwed up, save us we're too big too fail." At that moment, if they had any integrity, W & Cheney would have said, "sorry Henry, you screwed up, it's time to pay." But, of course, as we know they didn't. They went along with this absurd violation of anything a free market could possibly mean. They gave trillions of our dollars to these thieves. Why did they do this? Well, they looked at each other - W & Dick - and said "If we give this money to the bankers on Wall Street, what will they do with it?" They knew that a substantial portion of the money would be funneled through the Wall Street banks to the Republican Party. So, in fact, the trillions given to Wall Street in the aftermath of the latest capitalist debacle was actually a laundering operation of our money, through the treasury department, to Wall Street, (with a substantial payoff to them) and into the Republican Party coffers. Just in case this might cause any judicial questions, the puppet Supreme Court made the infamous "Citizens United" decision, which made corporations the equivalent of individuals & therefore entitled to free speech protection. What's quite amazing is that when Obama (a Democrat) became president he didn't say, "enough is enough, no more funds for the Republican Party." But in what may be the biggest political gaffe of all time he went along with the Republican give away to Wall Street. If Obama loses in 2012, it will be to a large extent his own fault. He gave the banksters the money to defeat him.

With all this in the background. prepare for the greatest feat of political prestidigitation ever attempted. Josef Goebels would be impressed, no Mexican drug cartel could pull it off, it would be beyond even the imagination of any real gangster organization. The same Republican Party which engineered the hold up of the U.S. Treasury, has made the public employees and their unions the villains of the piece. So the Republicans in power gave our money to the too big to fail banksters, they, in turn, gave a substantial portion of it back to the Republican Party (laundered through the Chamber of Commerce). Now when it's time to pay the piper, the Republicans (Scott Walker liar-in-chief) are trying to stigmatize public employees and, in the process, destroy the unions (a key source of funds for the Democrats). In other words, it's the public employee unions who caused the latest capitalist crisis. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The war against unions in Wisconsin

Nothing is inevitable. Only very rarely do we not have choices. When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker claims he has no choice in his efforts to overcome the state budget shortfall other than to eliminate state workers rights to collective bargaining he is lying. As Rick Ungar writes in Forbes:
The bill introduced in the Wisconsin state legislature that would strip state employee unions of their collective bargaining rights, require members to vote to organize every year, allow members to avoid paying dues and put pay raises to a public vote, represents the opening salvo of the final battle in the war against unions in America (continued below)

If you still have any doubts about what's happening in Wisconsin, in another piece Ungar writes (2/18/11):
This afternoon, Marty Beil, executive director of the Wisconsin Public Workers Union, sent a message to the Governor’s office agreeing to the cuts to pension & welfare benefits sought by Walker in his bill. The governor’s response was “nothing doing.” He wants the whole kit and kaboodle – the end of the collective bargaining rights of the public unions.
Of course, this is nothing new. The corporate oligarchy in the U.S. has used its bought & paid for politicians to try to smash unions virtually from their inception as guilds. This came to fruition for the oligarchy with the passage in 1947 of the Taft-Hartley Act. Ungar shows clearly how the nefarious Koch brothers are directly behind the anti-union developments in Wisconsin. And as we well know, where there's Koch there's fire.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Republican responses to Obama budget

Well I guess the GOP memo went out this morning. Here are some prominent Republicans responding to Obama's budget. I always admire right-wing original thinking

House Budget chair Paul Ryan:
"In this critical test of leadership, the President has failed to tackle the urgent fiscal and economic threats before us."

Republican Study Committee chair Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): "The President failed a crucial test of leadership by ignoring the need for reforms that will preserve Medicare and Social Security for future generations."

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn): "The president has missed an opportunity to show real leadership on the number one issue threatening our country's future. Getting spending under control and reducing our deficit will be difficult without presidential leadership."

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): "President Obama's timid budget proposal represents a missed opportunity to lead."

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Pitchers & catchers

Whateever is going on in the world, there are some things that are important. The news tonight reported: 13 days until pitcher & catchers. There's something pure about the beginning of a new baseball season.

"The Social Network:" A review

"The Social Network," which I have referred to as the Facebook movie, is the ultimate capitalist movie. It seems to be primarily about a bunch of white men fighting over who's going to profit from the creation of Facebook, a means of connecting people with each other, first at Harvard and then the world. This story seems to mirror the tale of Bill Gates and the founding of Microsoft. Although Facebook may have originally been intended by its creators as a way of getting laid, ultimately as everything in capitalism it becomes a fight over who's going to profit. From the film, it's quite hard to tell the difference between these guys, who seem to spend most of their time in court. And it's also hard to tell why we should care.

Aaron Sorkin, who created one of my all-time favorite TV series, West Wing, adapted the screenplay from Ben Mizrach's The Accidental Billionaires. It's a perfectly serviceable if unexciting script. The acting is pleasant, but I don't think anyone from The Social Network will take home one of the upcoming Oscars. Speaking of Oscar, it's interesting that The Social Network won many of the critics awards but seems to be fading fast in the Oscar race to its main competitor The King's Speech.

It might have been interesting to learn more about these characters outside of their connection to Facebook, but then from what we do see, it might not.