Monday, April 19, 2010

White Noise, Red Threats, Blue Monday

Jumbled collages of random frequencies.
No coherency whatsoever. An incomprehensible splatter on an indecipherable medium.
An inharmonious din.
A stench to the ear.
This is not a discourse.
This is not an exchange of ideas.
The methods and devices we use to communicate ideas may have progressed a bit in the last century, yet the ability to jam the signals has also improved exponentially as well.
And as with most everything, it is all a purchasable commodity.
Own the static, and you can control what messages may be heard in the din.
I'm talking about our experience of life in this pre-modern world we exist in, but particularly about it's politics.
Like all social movements great or small through history, the "tea party" is not homogenized.
According to recent polling it has been stated throughout mainstream media that people who identify with the tea party movement are made up of a quite different cloth than the typical images of these public protests with the misspelled signs and blatant racist undertones.
There are the hard-core libertarians, white supremacists and partisan Republicans that are not interested in any type of discourse. But there are also good people, with whom in reality, common ground can be reached. ( If the cognitive dissonance could be ceased).

No I'm not insane, and my views have not changed in the least. Here is why I suggest this is the case. The reasonable people in this movement are largely those who like most of us, have seen their personal economic security laid to waste by the economic meltdown. They are worried about being able to pay their tax bills and the economic future of their children. Like many of us, they are disaffected, feel they are not represented and other than this "tea party" no one has engaged them. The community offers a respite from the isolation and ineffectiveness they are experiencing.
Here is that common ground-

The fork in the road, it's time to turn off the noise and find a way forward for all of us.

The middle class IS overtaxed, they are correct. After the last half century of "tax reform" by both political parties, the middle class pays the same percent of income in taxes today as it did in 1960. The very rich (with incomes over $2 million) pay half as much as they did in 1960 and the very richest 400 households pay two-thirds less. Big corporations like ExxonMobil and General Electric have gamed the system so that they pay zero or little taxes.

We are borrowing recklessly from our children's standard of living. In a complete bastardization of Keynes measured and sound economic philosophy of borrowing to invest in a future that returns that investment with interest and improvements when private interests can't or won't, we squander and loot. And I suggest this as someone who firmly believes in a mixed economy, that some things are best accomplished by private concerns while others are best achieved through collective effort.

Instead of using capital to approach full employment or stimulate domestic production, we have borrowed to give the obscenely rich and global corporations (whose only interest in our country is milking it dry and accessing it's resources and wealth for exploitation) tax breaks and fight two wars.

In the last eight years, we borrowed $700 billion to give tax breaks to people with incomes over $250,000. Remarkably the economic burden is dumped on the people who can least afford to bear it.

The standard of living for the middle class has been under attack for generations. For thirty years real wages have been flat and our economic security has declined significantly. This has been disguised by people working more hours and forced to take on unprecedented amounts of personal debt to maintain the appearance of stability. The economic crisis unmasked how our security was built on a bubble of debt. A job is no longer a source of health insurance or retirement security. You are on your own, go ****yourself.

Wall Street squeezes the middle class at every turn. In addition to the government taxes, corporations are also "taxing" us, with fees, charges and monopoly control over markets. The more power they gain over citizens, the more difficult it becomes to constrain them.

Where The Tea Party Is Wrong

President Obama is not the enemy. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have been hijacked by corporate overlords whose priority is to protect Wall Street financiers and greedy multinational corporations. President Obama is pushing back more than President Bush did, and he had an enormous mess to clean up (he inherited two wars, the Wall Street meltdown and a $10 trillion national debt). If we demand a government that protects Main Street and ordinary people against organized greed, he will respond.

Scapegoating vulnerable people is a dead end. Our economic problems were not caused by immigrants or low-income people. They were not caused by educators or firemen being paid decent wages or having decent health insurance. Wall Street greed in high places is what drove the economy over a cliff. The plan of the powerful elites is to divide and conquer by having us fight among ourselves, with racial divides, hate mongering, and bogus scapegoating. The hate mongering and blaming that is oozing from the TV's and radios is to distract from the real villains. Weak government is not the answer. If we shrink government, who will defend us against Wall Street and the corporate looters? The parts of government that should protect us against Wall Street greed, speculation and the assaults on the middle class have been weakened under both political parties. Sarah Palin and David Koch are no leaders and are using your movement to bilk it for personal gain. ignore the likes of them.

OK Then, What is the answer?

A fair accountable tax system. Wealthy people and corporations must pay their fair share and reduce the bite on middle-class taxpayers. Tax dodges that create one tax system for the privileged and another for everyone else must be eliminated. National debt must be addressed though at the same time investments must be made in our future.

Oversight of Wall Street. The financial sector is incapable of policing itself. We need strong public institutions to oversee the financial markets so that the reckless, unregulated financial activities that wrecked our economy never occur again.

Giant corporations must be reined in. We need a constitutional amendment to limit the power of corporations to dominate political processes including elections, campaigns and lobbying. Without this; democracy and liberty will not prevail. This is the root cause of virtually all social ills. And the true source of everyone's frustration with the political process.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Musical Metaphysics- Ben New's Collapsed Light

Music Reviews - by Art Sabot

At Last! The long anticipated release of Collapsed Light became a reality of sorts in April.
The new CD features 15 songs which offer quite a bit of variety, everything from swampy to cosmic with just about everything in between. The CD opens with a 15/8 Mahavishnu inspired theme called Cactus Juice, that explodes into a southern swing sort of groove which celebrates celebration itself. The second offering is called EVERYBODY NEEDS A LITTLE MAGIC,
it is an ode to Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band.
A heartfelt thanks for Don Van Vliet's uncompromising musical visions. The swamp guitar stylings recreate the mood of the good capt. in the verses, and refer to some of his work lyrically as well.
"Dr. Dark and me" for instance, refers to the song Dr Dark found on Lick My Decals Off.
The magic is of course the Magic Band.
Make a shamanistic gleeful noise! Alchemy! Music!

ALIEN SUN, the next number on the album,
asks the musical question "what if you woke up in an alternate universe"?
One in which you found yourself in a Sergio Leone film shoot
whose location was possibly in an unknown galaxy?
One in which you were the same but everything around you changed?
Tuco: "Hurrah! Hurrah for the Confederacy! HURRAH!
Down with General Grant!
Hurrah for General... What's his name? Lee! LEE! Ha ha.

God is with us because he hates the Yanks too. HURRAH!"
Blondie: [spits]" God is not on our side because he hates idiots also".

The 4th tune, TO GO ON, draws some inspiration, guitar wise, from Pete Townshend's work.
In general, the album is a collection of songs that share two traits,
one is they were done in the same time period
of roughly all of 2009.
The other is a duality of some kind. Quantum Physics and the artistic spirit.
Possessing opposing qualities in some sense.

Light and dark. Yin and Yang, Joy and Melancholia.
Contrast is the 1st law of art as they say. And Ben is an artist who paints with musical colors both subtle and vivid.

MATEWAN is a song dedicated to Coal Miners everywhere, and the tireless efforts of the organizers who fight for fairness. It is simply about one of the seminal conflicts in American labor's struggle against economic tyranny.
Listen for the Appalachian dulcimer!

The musicianship throughout is superb as is the production. The material is artsy without really being noticeably so. If I had to make a reference, I'd say Peter Gabriel meets Depeche Mode with more focus on guitar work than either of them. Overall this is certainly one of the best releases of the year. Highly recommended.

Other standout songs include "The Somnambulist", a funk oriented piece about sleepwalking through life and "Osiris Awakes" which features ancient Egyptian funerary texts as a texture as well as the vocal talents of EVRiM .

Visit The Ben New Files for more information.

Or buy the CD today (you won't regret it!) at CD Baby.

Go to the Ilike site for full listens to over half the songs and grab 3 FREE downloads!

Become a fan on Facebook.
There will be giveaways and exclusive music downloads.

Get Collapsed Light at