Sunday, November 19, 2006



Although Rickie Lee Jones has earned lots of gold and platinum awards for her music and graced the covers of countless magazines, many political activists know her, or have recently become reacquainted with her, because of the song she did with Tom Maxwell and Ken Mosher, "Have You Had Enough?", used in the campaigns that helped elect a diverse array of progressive candidates, from congressmen and women-elect Jerry McNerney (CA-11), John Hall (NY-19), Chris Carney (PA-10), Patrick Murphy (PA-08), Chris Murphy (CT-05), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY-20), Joe Sestak (PA-07), to local candidates like Scott Randolph in Orlando, Florida.

Today Rickie Lee talks about a post-"Ugly Man" America and wishes everyone a happy and well-deserved Thanksgiving:

What a great month this has been, for those of us who fought so hard to overturn this government, it must be a sweet time indeed.  I am thinking of Howie Klein, who networked everyone he knew or heard of to participate in articles, recordings, protests, performances, speeches... as well as KPFK DJ Michael Slate, who hounded me to be here in anti-Bush demonstrations for the past four years.

I must confess that for my part I had lost faith, become politically agnostic as Lee Cantelon put it,  and withdrew. I saw my democratic representatives move so far right in their ambiguous campaigns that I could no longer keep my balance in the middle. Suddenly, standing tough, I was part of the new radical left, which was not radical at all. I was not part of any clandestine thought of overtaking the government and feeding it to communists, socialists, or anarchists of any sort. I was part of the radical thought that wanted to protect the money elderly people had paid all their lives for their own old age, to keep all children in preschools and in grade schools and middle schools that provided at least the same curriculum we had enjoyed-- music, art, PE-- in class sizes manageable and safe,   in schools no food company could invade, nor political or religious institution could influence. I hoped to see a trend toward inclusive, common sense ideology and away from religious dogma of the sort manufactured in tent revival meetings and Southern Baptist armories, where the Christian soldiers doctrine makes them the sole bearers of the light of god, and all others must fall in their path,  never mind that obscure part of the bible that says God is a loving God, or the theme that suggest Christians might be a people who follow the tenants of forgiveness which would lead to an assumption of humility, tolerance, and good manners. Instead these people are best characterized as ignorant, intolerant and very scary. 

We can never forget who they are, and how they can suddenly rise and take from us a political institution we fight hard to keep, both spiritually and intellectually, and take for granted, by our collective apathy. They took the country away for a very, very scary eight years. The president installed himself, a war was created, oil fields installed, bad people dominated our good idea. Now that our own officials are in, let us be sure we drive them hard before us, to do what we sent them there to do: to restore and retain the America we have enjoyed since the revolution of the 1960's.   

President Clinton, for all his personal faults, was a golden boy of that kind of thought, and I for one was proud that no matter how many campaigns of maligning against him the people stood fast and kept him in office-- all those people that we, from the left and the once middle, thought were too uninformed to know better. They do know better. Remember folks, they did not vote for Bush any more than we did. He was selected and inserted. 

I wanted to tell you that, for my part, I have met the best of my country as we bobbled in a sea of fascist propaganda. I would send out a gurgling cry 'anyone remember how it was last year' and far in the distance "hey, who are these assholes who have stolen our country??"    

"That's how I feel," and I knew that this is how revolutions are grown, from the ground up. You cannot ever squash out peoples' memory. You can send out all the propaganda in the world and rewrite it so it looks a different way, discredit, rewire. But people know what they experienced. We knew the values and freedoms we grew up with had been absconded, and we sensed the pure evil that seemed to loom behind this impostor. I had spent my life maintaining the mantra 'music and politics are not my bag, baby.'  But suddenly they were. I wondered how my heroes could remain so subtle, so silent. Truly. Springsteen? Neil Young? Where the heck were they all in 2002, 2003? 

When I first performed "Ugly Man" in 2002, I was booed simultaneously to being applauded-- and this concert was in the heart of the left, San Francisco. "Hey people," I chided, "free speech...  remember?" But there was an audible gasp as they realized I was talking about GW Bush. To me, it was a pivotal moment. No one was speaking out. They were getting fired, they were being ostracized. It was a bad, bad time in our social history. "Revolution, everywhere that you're not looking... revolution." I was defying the government with that line. Don't think I wasn't a little bit nervous; I was. Hard to imagine now. 

But imagine it. They are still poised to take folks away, under the Patriot Act, for anti-American activity. It is a law. They can use it as they like. They did do a lot of damage, and it needs to be undone.

Now that we have the House and Senate, and the freedoms we love are again employed (I noticed the UCLA students were in the street last week demonstrating) we must be sure to stoke and protect the machine that provides these freedoms.  We must protect the democratic candidates that love to see the freedoms of the constitution employed by the people, and work to protect the social atmosphere that allows them to exist.

We must drive these newly elected officials back toward the left and restore the middle of the road to its' rightfully place-- the middle of the road-- and out of the margins that it was driven into when the media voices, controlled by the right, used the word 'left ' like McCarthy once used the word 'communist.' We must not let the dust settle to the right. When humanity allows it's compass to be pounded into pretending north is not north, fascism is not fascism but patriotism, we lose our direction for future generations. Let us endeavor to restore our country to its pre-Bush common sense, at least, and move quickly to pass legislation to protect the rights of the those things that have been trampled by the big business policies of this administration. Our grandchildren, our grandparents, our grand ideas. I am so proud. I just can't believe it. Congratulations to everyone who worked and read and spoke out loud-- this is a good month, and it's worth celebrating this Thanksgiving. 

rickie lee jones
and the

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At 3:13 PM, Blogger Jimmy the Saint said...

Springsteen never stayed silent. Were you at Shea Stadium in 2003? Did you see the his comments on the Al Gore speech back then? Or his support of the Dixie Chicks?

At 7:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, as another radical leftie, I am a married woman with kids and grand kids.

Radical, maybe, but for the constitution and real freedom, you bet.

At 8:03 PM, Blogger Darren said...

How sad that those who defend the Constitution are labelled as radical by those who trample it under their Draconian boots.
I will be thankful this Thursday that radicals will longer be called such.

At 10:50 PM, Blogger Timcanhear said...

Thanks to you and your work as well. Thanks to the Dixie Chicks.
Deep gratitude to any media who weren't afraid to expose the truth, especially to Keith Oberman and Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert.
Hold feet to the fire! We've got a mess ahead. Brace yourselves.
We'll need more truth seekers to speak up. No flowers for this one. Fight like there's no tomorrow.


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