Jules’s Jukebox: Musing about Muse & Politics in the Age of Resistance

When the Lollapalooza line-up was released today, I nearly fell out of my seat at the opening day’s line-up: MUSE, Liam Gallagher (Fuck Yeah!), Tritonal… so many I’d love, love, love to see. But tickets sold out before I could act–and I understand why. What a great way to spend a Thursday–and then catch a game at Wrigley on Friday. Talk about a perfect slide into the weekend.

Seeing the line-up took me back about a decade to when I really fell in love with MUSE. So tonight’s twofer (plus an extra for fun) features a couple of classics from Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme, and Dominic Howard.

“Citizen Erased” by MUSE, from the 2001 album Origin of Symmetry.

The first song I heard from this album was Paul Oakenfold’s remix of “New Born” from the soundtrack to the 2001 Hugh Jackman/John Travolta movie Swordfish. The remix prompted me to seek the original version, which led me to this hard-rocking reverb fest.  Finding this album sparked my interest in the trio from Devonshire, England. The song’s lyrics show Bellamy’s struggle with being constantly questioned by those around him. His allusion to Orwell’s 1984, particularly in the title and the lines “Wash me away/ Clean your body of me/ Erase all the memories/ They will only bring us pain,” remind us all that citizens can be erased and that lies can rule supreme, that innocence can be lost to experience only to be erased back to innocence. (Here is a great blog explaining this song much better than I.) The dichotomy and the dissonance in this song are compelling to listen to.

“Map of the Problematique” by MUSE, from the 2006 album Black Holes and Revelations.

This song continues to display the band’s ability to write layered lyrics that can be seen through a variety of critical lenses. While one person may read the lyrics to this song as being about a man’s inability to move on from a failed relationship, another reads a far more political message (which the band is known for) about war and world chaos that causes us to lose ourselves–like The Lost Generation of WW1. In the verse “Life will flash before my eyes/ So scattered almost/ I want to touch the other side/ And no one thinks they are to blame/ Why can’t we see/ That when we bleed we bleed the same” I can read both of the above interpretations. But my surface reading is this: We wreak havoc on each other, accept no responsibility or blame for our abuses of each other. We want to see the other side’s perspective. We want to reach out to the other. But we have so enabled ourselves that we can only see how right we are rather than find our common ground–that we bleed the same regardless of right and wrong.

“Uprising” by MUSE, from the 2009 album The Resistance.

This song has particular meaning for me right now in light of current world politics–the move toward nationalism, isolationism, authoritarianism. Bellamy has long been a critic of collectivism, but it’s interesting that this progressive liberal finds common ground with his more libertarian views–we both want to be free of mind control and manipulation in an information age rife with propaganda and fake news, kleptocratic rulers, and over-reaching, profiteering, capitalist elitists; we both want the world to be free from tyranny. And if any song is an anti-tyranny song, it is this song. This song is an anthem for resisters. The chorus reflects how when we stand together and rise up, we will win against the tyrants. “They will not force us/ They will stop degrading us/ They will not control us/We will be victorious.”

Ok. I’m throwing a Liam Gallagher song in for fun. Just because I love Liam Gallagher and am anxiously awaiting his new album…

“Rockin’ Chair” by Oasis, the B-side of “Roll with It” (“Roll with It” is from the 1995 album What’s the Story, Morning Glory?, but “Rockin’ Chair” did not make the cut for the album); featured on the 1998 album The Masterplan, a compilation of B-sides not featured on albums. “It’s hard enough sitting there/ Rockin’ in your rockin’ chair/ It’s all too much for me to take/ When you’re not there…” I just love LG’s voice. Here’s to hoping he’ll add more U.S. dates besides Lollapalooza in the near future.

The DeVos Way: Choosing Profits Over Children

Our new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is very enthusiastic about virtual charter schools, even though the research shows that students don’t learn much while enrolled in them. Apparently, good works mean less than good profits. In Arizona, a new online high school is returning remarkable profits. Jim Hall, retired educator, started an organization called […]

via Arizona: Online High School,Collects $10 Million Profit in One Year, and DeVos Wants More of Them — Diane Ravitch’s blog

Democratic Women to Wear White to 45’s Joint Speech

Democratic women in the House are planning to wear white during President Donald Trump’s first major Congressional address on Tuesday evening. The heads of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, including Chair Lois Frankel, (D-Fla.), penned a letter to members Monday–asking them to where wear white to honor of the suffragette movement. However, their motive goes…

via Why Democratic Women Are Wearing White to Donald Trump’s Congressional Speech Tonight — Fortune

 

When Not to Work Together 

I didn’t write the message, but it expresses my sentiments pretty well:
This is where I stand. I feel that our 45th President, his Cabinet and administration, and the majority of Republicans in Congress are a real and active threat to me, my way of life, and all the people I love. Some people are saying that we should give Trump a chance, that we should “work together” with him because he won the election and he is “everyone’s president.” I am willing to do all of that if/when his policies seem reasonable. However:

•I will not “work together” to privatize Medicare, cut Social Security and Medicaid.

•I will not “work together” to build a wall.

•I will not “work together” to persecute Muslims.

•I will not “work together” to shut out refugees from other countries.

•I will not “work together” to lower taxes on the 1% and increase taxes on the middle class and poor.

•I will not “work together” to help Trump use the Presidency to line his pockets and those of his family and cronies.

•I will not “work together” to weaken and demolish environmental protection.

.I will not deny Climate Change even as a massive iceberg is melting and breaking as scientists around the world monitor its possible effects.

•I will not “work together” to sell American lands, especially National Parks, to companies which then despoil those lands.

•I will not “work together” to enable the killing of whole species of animals just because they are predators, or inconvenient for a few, or because some people want to get their thrills killing them.

•I will not “work together” to remove civil rights from anyone.

•I will not “work together” to alienate countries that have been our allies for as long as I have been alive.

•I will not “work together” to slash funding for education.

•I will not “work together” to reduce civil discourse to 144-character character assassinations.

•I will not “work together” to take basic assistance from people who are at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.

•I will not “work together” to get rid of common sense regulations on guns.

•I will not “work together” to eliminate the minimum wage.

•I will not “work together” to support so-called “Right To Work” laws, or undermine, weaken or destroy Unions in any way.

•I will not “work together” to suppress scientific research, be it on climate change, fracking, or any other issue where a majority of scientists agree that Trump and his supporters are wrong on the facts.

•I will not “work together” to criminalize abortion or restrict health care for women.

•I will not “work together” to increase the number of nations that have nuclear weapons.

•I will not “work together” to put even more “big money” into politics.

•I will not “work together” to violate the Geneva Convention.

•I will not “work together” to give the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazi Party and white supremacists a seat at the table, or to normalize their hatred.

•I will not “work together” to deny health care to people who need it.

•I will not “work together” to deny medical coverage to people on the basis of a “pre-existing condition.”

•I will not “work together” to increase voter suppression.

•I will not “work together” to normalize tyranny.

I will not “work together” to eliminate or reduce ethical oversight at any level of government.

•I will not “work together” with anyone who is, or admires, tyrants and dictators.

•I will not support anyone that thinks its OK to put a pipeline to transport oil on Sacred Ground for Native Americans. And, it would run under the Missouri River, which provides drinking water for millions of people. An accident waiting to happen.This is my line, and I am drawing it.

•I will stand for honesty, love, respect for all living beings, and for the beating heart that is the center of Life itself.

•I will use my voice and my hands, to reach out to the uninformed, and to anyone who will LISTEN:

That “winning”, “being great again”, “rich” or even “beautiful” is nothing… When others are sacrificed to glorify its existence.

DJT’s Short Reading List: Aliteracy Abounds

President Donald Trump doesn’t read books. At least that’s what everybody says. I don’t trust what everybody says anymore because everybody seems to be wrong all the time. Everybody said that Donald Trump would never be president, but everybody was wrong about that. That’s one thing I’ve learned recently; everybody is an expert, but nobody […]

via Donald Trump’s Reading List — Dysfunctional Literacy

*Jules’s Note: I would not disavow a book because someone I don’t like read it and liked it. As for All Quiet on the Western Front (yes, I just linked the entire text for you to read if you haven’t yet), I teach it every year to sophomores. It is a well-written, even poetic, piece of melancholy that anyone contemplating war (starting one, joining up to fight one, etc.) should read. Regardless of whether President Obama’s lists were pretentious or not, the lists promoted works of literary merit worthy of consideration for anyone’s nightstand–alongside the JK Rowling and Stephen King. I can only hope that DJT does read. Research shows that people who read fiction have more empathy. Now if only our POTUS believed in science, but that if for another post (about my next round of marches and resistance–Earth Day, here we come!).

Jules’s Jukebox: Lady Gaga’s Subtle Protest Rocked Super Bowl LI

Tonight’s jukebox is dedicated to Mama Monster!

Lady Gaga took to heart the fact that she was performing for all of America in her halftime show for Super Bowl LI, but her message of support for immigrants and the LGBTQ community still rang loud and clear.

Her opening with “God Bless America” segueing into Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” spoke to all of us in organized labor, but it also spoke volumes to those who have spent the past week resisting the Muslim Ban. Guthrie’s lyrics highlight that our land and freedom to roam it belongs to all of us–even immigrants and those enslaved by poverty and hunger, not just those who are wealthy or have plenty.

“This Land Is Your Land”
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

Coupling the few lines from Guthrie with her own song, “Born This Way,” added a little gravitas to her set of dance favorites. Singing “Born This Way” in front of VP Mike Pence, a pro-conversion therapy politician, paid direct homage to the LGBTQ community along with the immigrant communities of our nation. (Here’s the official video:)

“Born This Way”
[Intro:]
It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M
Just put your paws up
’cause you were born this way, baby

[Verse:]
My mama told me when I was young
We are all born superstars
She rolled my hair and put my lipstick on
In the glass of her boudoir

“There’s nothing wrong with loving who you are”
She said, “‘Cause he made you perfect, babe”
“So hold your head up girl and you’ll go far,
Listen to me when I say”

[Chorus:]
I’m beautiful in my way
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way
Don’t hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way

[Post-chorus:]
Oh there ain’t no other way
Baby I was born this way
Baby I was born this way
Oh there ain’t no other way
Baby I was born this way
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way

Don’t be a drag ‒ just be a queen [x3]
Don’t be!

[Verse:]
Give yourself prudence
And love your friends
Subway kid, rejoice your truth
In the religion of the insecure
I must be myself, respect my youth

A different lover is not a sin
Believe capital H-I-M (Hey hey hey)
I love my life I love this record and
Mi amore vole fe yah (Love needs faith)

[Repeat chorus + post-chorus]

[Bridge:]
Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you’re broke or evergreen
You’re black, white, beige, chola descent
You’re Lebanese, you’re orient
Whether life’s disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
’cause baby you were born this way

No matter gay, straight, or bi,
Lesbian, transgendered life,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to survive.
No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to be brave.

[Repeat chorus + post-chorus]

[Outro/refrain:]
I was born this way hey!
I was born this way hey!
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way hey!
I was born this way hey!
I was born this way hey!
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way hey!

[Fade away:]
Same DNA, but born this way.
Same DNA, but born this way.

Lady Gaga managed to stage a mainstream, prime-time show for a wide audience while embedding a subtle, but clear message of acceptance in the face politicians who would work to strip rights from Americans. Her entertaining performance will long be remembered for its nonpolitical skin with a political heart.

Here’s her entire Super Bowl LI performance:

Braving the New World of Alternative Facts

In the NY Times Charles Sykes explains how he and others worked hard to ensure that people like Trump (and Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway and many others) can simply repeat outright lies with no real penalty: If President Trump’s first tumultuous weeks have done nothing else, at least they have again made us a […]

via Why Nobody Cares the President Is Lying — Later On

*Jules’s Note: At some point, facts must trump ideology if the U.S. Constitution is to survive this test. These “alternative facts”, propaganda, and ideological echo chambers supported with fake news do nothing but destroy the fabric of our American Dream.

I continue to resist by contacting my elected officials often on a variety of issues. I’m lucky enough to live in an area where my congressman is making nightly news with his anti-Trump resistance messages, but I have plugged all of my elected representatives’ phone numbers, addresses, and emails into my contacts list on my phone. They will continue to hear from me. 

I continue to resist by joining marches on issues of great importance. Two weekends ago I proudly marched in the Women’s March in downtown Las Vegas. Last weekend I joined in an educators press conference to denounce Betsy DeVos’s nomination as Secretary of Education (and I am still urging people to call their senators to vote in opposition to her this next Monday when her nomination will move to the floor of the senate–right now Pence is expected to cast the tie-breaking vote to approve her. We need just one more republican to oppose her nomination!). I’m closely monitoring the situation with the Muslim ban and the detentions at airports (LAX is about 10 miles from my house). I’m looking to participate in the Tax Day and/or Earth Day marches that are currently being planned (Tax Day march is a march to protest that DJT will not release his taxes while the Earth Day march is the Scientists March on Washington to denounce DJT’s anti-science stance and actions). 

A Lie is a Lie is a Lie…Resist DJT’s Alternative Facts

Since his inauguration, Donald Trump has been obsessed with two issues of fact. He asserted repeatedly that the crowd at his swearing-in was larger than the crowd for Obama in 2009, despite the fact that aerial photographs showed this was not true. At one point, he ordered the National Park Service to stop issuing estimates […]

via Trump’s Disregard for Truth “Threatens His Ability to Govern” — Diane Ravitch’s blog

*Jules’s Note: Our standing in the world is sinking every time DJT acts with such callous disregard for all but himself. The POTUS’s inability to admit he had a smaller inaugural crowd than Obama set up one of the most ridiculous exchanges ever between the White House press corps and the White House Press Secretary.  DJT and Sean Spicer tried to sell us their “alternative facts” (thank you, Kellyanne Conway, for the new entry for the Urban Dictionary)  because they know that just putting the lie out into the public, a third will believe the lie, a third will fall victim to the Orwellian propaganda.  Spicer was rightly raked over the coals by journalists and he spent Monday trying to make up for the disastrous weekend conference. But to add insult to injury, DJT’s mendacity doesn’t compare to every act he has taken so far as POTUS. He has done nothing but make me more nervous for the fragility of our democracy as DJT and top Republican lawmakers make grotesque power grabs with little regard for the rule of law, ethics, or basic human dignity. My only solace at this point is how galvanized the Indivisible Resistance groups have become. The actions are growing in strength–let’s keep organizing rather than agonizing.

The Women’s March this past weekend sent a loud and clear message. And our elected leaders need to understand that they ignore that message at their peril–we will primary you regardless of party if you do not represent your people. Even though I’m an Angeleno and would have loved to have joined 750,000 of my fellow citizens in the city’s largest march, I had already made travel plans to Las Vegas. So I enthusiastically joined nearly 5,000 in downtown Las Vegas to march and hear a group of speakers that included Congresswoman Dina Titus telling us to hold her accountable. It was such a reaffirming event that reminded me and my friends that less than a hundred years ago Silent Sentinels were beaten, imprisoned, and force-fed for protesting for the right to vote. It reminded me that I happen to work in an industry that is predominantly women, so teachers’ issues are women’s issues too. It reminded me that women have fought for and even died for me to have the right to vote, to have the right to own my house, to have my own bank account, to make my own choices about my health…and it reinforced to me just how close we are to losing so much of what has been gained in the past century. That is why I marched this past weekend.

I had many of my right wing friends and family ask why we “libtards” couldn’t just suck it up and be gracious losers. And I had to remind them that DJT taking the oval office is one thing, but the immediate work to repeal the ACA, the immediate work to defund women’s reproductive rights by reinstituting Ronald Reagan’s Global Gag Rule, the immediate work to silence federal agencies and blackout transparency, the immediate work to pollute our water and violate Native religious grounds for personal profit, the immediate work to shut down the EPA…the list is growing by the hour how DJT is working against the ability of Americans–particularly women–to have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So I encouraged my friends to look at the perspectives of many who marched and to educate themselves as to what the platform of the Women’s March is.

So in keeping with the Women’s March next steps (10 Actions, 100 Days): Let’s keep fighting the good fight. Tomorrow, the senate will vote on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, the most underqualified person to ever be considered for Secretary of Education. Please call your senators and tell them to vote against her confirmation. Stand with your local students and teachers by wearing red tomorrow and taking just a few moments of action with your phone calls and to post your action on social media with the hashtag #DumpDeVos.

Let’s be Indivisible in the face of the POTUS’s lies. Let’s Resist the platform that hurts our neighbors or ourselves.

Dump DeVos, pt. 2

Mercedes Schneider has inexhaustible patience as a researcher. She tried to locate the “publications” that Betsy DeVos submitted to the Senate committee reviewing her qualifications. Some were letters to the editor. Some were press releases (did she write them?). Some were unavailable. Some were about her. It is not clear whether she or an aide […]

via Mercedes Schneider Searches for Betsy DeVos’s Writings — Diane Ravitch’s blog

*Jules’s Note: The rush to not vet our top leaders who will “lead” departments they are hell-bent on destroying not only smacks of lack of transparency–it smacks of destroying any vestiges of our Founders’ intentions on ethics, rule of law, and governance. Please contact your senators and tell them to oppose this crony who wants to do nothing more than destroy public education.

Dump DeVos!

In March 2015, US secretary of education nominee gave this 30-page speech at the SxSW conference in Texas in 2015. The title of DeVos’ speech is “Competition, Creativity and Choice in the Classroom.” Below are some excerpts: As a kid I grew up middle class, but my father was a great innovator with an entrepreneurial spirit, and […]

via Betsy DeVos: “Government Sucks” and “We Don’t Fire Teachers Enough” — deutsch29

*Jules’s Note: Betsy DeVos has decimated Michigan schools. John Rosales, writing for NEA Today, calls DeVos dangerous for students. His opinion piece highlights her efforts to gut public education funding. Both the NEA and the AFT have “take action” calls out to members to contact their senators to oppose DeVos’s confirmation as SecEd. You don’t have to be a teacher to take that action either–if you care about education for all, providing adequacy and equity in education, then please contact your senator and tell them to oppose DeVos’s confirmation.