Friday, May 28, 2010

It's Gonna Take A Miracle

by Dick Mac

Every singer/ songwriter, that is every performer who writes songs, as opposed to those artists who fall under the new-fangled genre of singer/songwriter, seems to make a cover album. And it's often a revealing, amusing, and impressive project.

The Bluebelles were a girl-group of soul singers comprised of Patti Labelle, Sarah Dash, Nona Hendryx, and Cindy Birdsong. They're biggest hit was "I Sold My Heart To The Junkman"; and when Birdsong left in 1967 to replace Flo Ballard in The Supremes, The Bluebelles struggled to find their niche in the world of pop music.

In 1970, during her supporting tour for the "Christmas And The Beads Of Sweat" album, Laura Nyro performed soul standards "Spanish Harlem" and others. It was during that tour that she decided to do an album of soul covers.

Having met Patti Labelle during the tour, and hiring Labelle as part of her entourage, Nyro asked her Labelle to sing backing vocals for the project. Labelle contacted former Bluebelles Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx, and the three formed the singing group that became Labelle.

The newly formed singing group was so integral to the creation of the record that Nyro actually gave them credit on the release, which was titled "Gonna Take A Miracle," Laura Nyro and Labelle. Sure, Labelle's name was smaller than Nyro, but having their name on the cover gave the group a credibility that most back-up singers cannot even imagine.

The band and the singers spent a week at Sigma Sound Studio, in Philadelphia, home of the Philly soul sound, and created one of the most wonderful soul records ever recorded.

Covering songs by Holland-Dozier-Holland, Smokey Robinson, Curtis Mayfield, Jerry Lieber, Phil Spector, and singing some of the biggest hits of the 1960s, Nyro and Labelle transformed these compositions into their own.

If you have never heard "Gonna Take A Miracle," I recommend you get it today and spend all of Memorial Day Weekend listening to it over and over again. It is brilliant and sublime.

Here is a recording of the cover song, which was originally sung by The Royalettes, in 1965:

Gonna Take a Miracle

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Stoned Soul Picnic" 5th Dimension, Swing Out Sister

by Dick Mac

I can still see the 45rpm single spinning on my record player as my scratchy copy of The 5th Dimension singing "Stoned Soul Picnic" would blare from the tinny little speakers that provided me the music of my life.

I knew nothing about Laura Nyro's "Eli and the Thirteenth Confession" album. Even though I had some LPs in my collection, singles made-up the bulk of my music listening.

The 5th Dimension version of "Stone Soul Picnic" was a hit. It reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and they could be seen on on television vatiety shows almost every week performing their version of Nyro's great song.

I didn't even know that Swing Out Sister had recorded it, and the second video below is a video montage of their studio version.

I hope you enjoy this song as much as I do.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Stoney End" by Barbra Streisand

by Dick Mac

Laura Nyro's songs were filled with soul and blues and rhythm. Columbia records could never find a way to market this little white girl with the big Philly Soul sound.

I loved this song by Barbra Streisand years before I knew it was a Laura Nyro song.

The song had been previously released (and charted) by actress Peggy Lipton, of Mod Squad fame, a few years before she married Quincy Jones.

It was Streisand, though, who had the most success with the song, hitting #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

This is a recording of the song over a montage, it is not a live performance.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Wedding Bell Blues" by The 5th Dimension

by Dick Mac

Laura Nyro was one of the best songwriters of the 1960s.

Her songs were made hits by The 5th Dimension, Barbra Streisand, and others.

Nyro rarely released a single, and recordings of her singing some of her biggest hits were hard to find until late in her career.

In this video, The 5th Dimension sing Wedding Bell Blues.


Monday, May 24, 2010


by Dick Mac

I feel lost.

If teabaggers and their leaders like Rand Paul get their way, we will roll-back the clocks to an earlier time in American commerce and culture.

I've been thinking about the teabagger notion that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which, for better or worse, spawned affirmative action) should apply only to the federal government and not to private industry.

What this means is that teabaggers think that only the Feds should be required to hire black people, and that private industry could remain all white (and Asian, of course).

They argue that this is not the case, that the marketplace will somehow magically eradicate racism; but, people who use their brains for more than analyzing television shows, and their knees for more than kneeling at the shrine of Reagan's genitalia, know that the marketplace is unable to control or regulate anything.

Teabaggers also believe in small government (whatever that is), which means that at the same time they think that American Blacks should only be protected in the workplace controlled by the Feds (that is, government employment), they are saying that the Federal government should be eliminated, effectively eliminating employment opportunities for Black Americans.

So, in this magic free-market world where racism is suddenly eradicated through the good-will and spiritual magnanimity of capitalism, where private industry is not required to employee anybody except Whites (and Asians), and the Federal government employs only elected officials and a military, where exactly are American Blacks supposed to earn a living?

The military?

Wow! Sounds like the draft-era practices of a racist military during the Vietnam War, where a greater percentage of American Blacks served on the front lines than did other Americans.

Shall all our elected officials be Black?

Let's take the Civil Rights Act to an absurd level (to match the absurdity of teabagging analyses) and say that all elected officials in the Federal government must be Black!

This way, every White district would need to ensure that one Black American lived there, so they'd have someone to elect. And it would be best if there were more than one Black American to run for public office, so each district would probably have to ensure that a handful of Black families lived in their districts.

But in Reagan's America we are eliminating the government, so I imagine we will reduce the number of seats in Congress and the Senate to say, 50 Representatives and 50 Senators. Because government is bad, and it should be small. So we will have one hundred jobs for Black Americans. Give each of them a staff of ten and we are up to eleven hundred Black Americans employed through the advances of the Civil Rights Act.

If the protections of the Civil Rights Act are not supposed to apply to private industry, and the government is not supposed to hire people, where will the rest of all the Black Americans work?

Why do teabaggers and Rand Paul hate America so much?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Could Vito Fossella Come Back On The Scene?

by Dick Mac

I hope so!

Vito J. Fossella, Staten Island's Family Values politician thinks a lot of family values. He values families so much that he has two of them - at the same time! Now that's a real Family Values guy if there ever was one.

Fosella is one in a long line of so-called conservatives who align themselves with the Republican Party. They wear the mantles of family, abstinence, child-birth, God, heterosexuality, and patriotism, all the while violating every tenet of that which they purport to support.

Oddly, Americans who call themselves conservatives continually vote for them. So-called conservatives, many of whom are now tea-bagging there way through life whining about paying their fair share of the cost of civilization, who object to gay marriage, reproductive health, workers' rights, and the funding of society, vote for guys like this.

The Staten Island GOP chairman, John Friscia, wants Fosella to run for his old seat. (See, SI GOP Chairman Friscia: Fossella's "The Guy".)

Fosella would be a perfect Republican in Congress because he represents so much about so-called conservative values: he's a convicted drunk-driver, he hates a huge swath of American taxpayers, he has fathered a child with a mistress and maintains two families; but he's missing the most important characteristic of an American conservative: he hasn't been caught performing, or offering to perform, oral sex on a man.

Still, I don't think this should prevent him from being a conservative in Congress. Fosella still has plenty of time to brush-up on his fellatio and find a public toilet or a male prostitute website where he can practice America's unique brand of conservatism.

I've written about Vito Fossella in the past; and I am hoping to write about him some more.

Please, Mr. Friscia, keep Fosella in the news. He's a good-looking piece of Italian trade and it would be amusing to watch him move deeper into the world of American down-low, male-on-male oral sex, er, I mean American conservatism.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Should Private Industry Be Exempt From The Civil Rights Act?

by Dick Mac

I say no, of course; but many who worship at the crotch of capital, like it was Ronald Reagan's genitals, think that private industry should not be held to the same standard as our government.

Rand Paul, newly nominated Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show last night and I had the good fortune to be watching.

Paul has attracted attention because of his lack of clarity on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He'll tell you up and down, inside and out, that he abhors discrimination and racism. And he is believable. But, then he says that the laws that protect Americans from discrimination on the basis of race should only be applied to the federal government, not to private industry.

So, the host asked him point-blank if Woolworth's should have been allowed to keep their lunch counter segregated (that is for whites only).

For those of you unfamiliar with the history of the civil rights movement of the mid-20th Century, Woolworth's lunch counters became a focal-point of the struggle against segregation; and many people were beaten or arrested for being black at the lunch counter or aiding and abetting blacks who attempted to be served at the lunch counter.

It's a particularly ugly chapter in America's more recent history.

Now, conservatism has changed in the past thirty years, and even more rapidly in the past 18 months, so I don't know what the "conservative" position is anymore. I know that even the most heinous right-wingers of our times have expressed unwavering support for the Civil Rights Act, even politicians who are known racists see the benefits of that Act of Congress. It created a huge new market. Blacks would become consumers and that was good for industry.

Since the teabagger movement, though, "conservatism" has become something I can't quite wrap my mind around. (They are NOT racists, just ask them!) It's just not clear yet, what brand of conservatism teabaggers support. It's probably not conservatism at all.

Rand Paul is a teabagger, and he is unable to offer a clear answer to the question: "Should Woolworths have been allowed to keep their lunch counter segregated?"!

It's a pretty easy question. There isn't any hidden subtext. Either the federal government should enforce the notion that discrimination against American taxpayers on the basis of race is wrong; or the federal government should not be allowed to enforce the notion that discrimination against American taxpayers on the basis of race is wrong. There really isn't any in-between.

This clip is 20 minutes long, and I think it is worth the watch:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

So, which is it?

Should Woolworths have been allowed to remain segregated or not?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

This Man Is Not A Democrat - Never Was

by Dick Mac

So I am happy that he lost the Democratic primary for a U.S. Senate seat from Pennsylvania.

His defection from the GOP to the Democrats was amusing, but unconvincing. He's a typical American "conservative": he's in it for himself, he doesn't care about anyone but himself, and no amount of draping himself in the flag and/or patriotism makes him anything more than a post-Reagan, embarrassing American who will say anything to get what he wants.

Specter's opponent is riding the wave of anti-incumbency sweeping the nation.

I am not a fan of anti-incumbency movements, but I am happy that Specter has lost his seat.

See ya later, alligator!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Is Richard Blumenthal Soon To Be A Former Candidate For U.S. Senate From Connecticut

by Dick Mac

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, wants to replace Christopher Dodd in the U.S. Senate. Blumenthal is a Democrat, and Dodd is a Democrat.

With a long history in government and no serious blemishes against him, Blumenthal seemed like a sure bet for the Democratic nomination.

At a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut rose and spoke of an earlier time in his life.

"We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam," Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. "And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support." Candidate’s Words on Vietnam Service Differ From History

The veteran-card is beginning to wear thin for me, especially when militarism is generally the purview of Republican fat-cat chicken-hawks who never served a moment in military service to the nation they purport to love.

Blumenthal, it seems, is no different.

He never served in Vietnam.

Usually we wait for the Republicans to smear a Democratic veteran's military service, and it severely impacts the results of a political contest.

Blumenthal did the work for them this time.

Good luck, Mr. Blumenthal, in whatever career awaits you.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Deepwater Horizon Report from 60 Minutes

Drilling apologists will tell you there is no proof this turtle dies from the oil Dick Mac

On Sundays I don't generally watch shows like 60 minutes, and last night was no exception. The thought of sitting in front of my television and watching the same commercials repeated over and over again gives me vertigo and agita.

I am, however, following progress on the oil-spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

You know the one: BP was trying to pumping crude oil out of the sea bed from a drilling platform that exploded and now millions of gallons of oil are pumping out of the earth and into the Gulf of Mexico. It is projected that this will be the worst spill in history.

The following 15-minute video is worth the time.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Friday, May 14, 2010

Exactly How Poor Are You?

by Dick Mac

We're not doing so badly in America, and our federal tax rate is the lowest it's been in sixty years.

We remain, as individuals, some of the richest people in the world.

I am a middle-class earner in a major metropolitan area and my wife is a stay-at-home mom. According to the Global Rich List I am the 22,142,234 richest person in the world! Not bad in a list of 6,697,254,041 humans. It puts me in the top 0.36% richest people in the world! That's one-third of one-percent, not thirty-six percent.

I pay taxes, but not that much. Most Americans don't pay that much in taxes, and I challenge anyone I know to show me that they pay too much in taxes.

Those of us earning $49,000 or more are in the top 1% of the world's richest people. I think that includes pretty much all the teabaggers and most of the liberals.

We're doing OK and we don't pay that much in taxes.

Americans have spent three decades suffering a deregulated marketplace that we were promised would bring those at the bottom untold opportunity, and great wealth to all working Americans.

That hasn't come true of course, and because we're not supposed to blame industry and capitalism for anything (including their crimes), people have to blame the government. Well, I love my government, even when it's controlled by idiots, and I love my country, and I am sick and tired of teabaggers denigrating my nation and its leaders.

Our government, from Roosevelt to Obama, in spite of the best efforts of industry to the contrary, has done a remarkable job making Americans incredibly wealthy.

Those teabaggers who want the government to cut stuff, should be standing up and saying: "cut my benefits, cut the things that I get." Then when we're finished cutting your stuff, we'll talk about cutting stuff for the less fortunate!

So, have a cup of tea and enjoy the benefits of being in a free society. We are the richest people in the world, so quit you're whining.

How Rich Are You?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Love Me or Leave Me and The Eagle & Me (1965)

by Dick Mac

The camera loved Lena Horne, and she loved it right back.

Television was kind to Horne and she was happy to oblige the chivalry.

Here she sings two songs from Broadway shows.

Love Me Or Leave Me was written by Donaldson & Khan in 1928 and it originally appeared in the musical "Whoopee!" It was recorded by many others besides Horne, including Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Sammy Davis, Jr., Perry Como, and Miles Davis.

The Eagle & Me was written by Harburg/Arlen for the show "Bloomer Girl."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lena Horne and Muppets Sing The Alphabet

by Dick Mac

Since the early 1970s, famous singers from every genre and generation have joined the cast of Sesame Street to perform.

The late great Lena Horne was no exception. During Season 5, on Episode 177, Horne happily made her appearance. The video is wonderful in its simplicity. Horne is beautiful and enthusiastic, and The Muppets are, well, The Muppets!

Not every singer and performer can work with puppets, and many famous entertainers have avoided an appearance on Sesame Street because they feared the challenge (never work with kids or animals, as the old saying goes).

Lena Horne could perform anywhere under any circumstances and picked her spots wisely!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Stormy Weather (1943)

by Dick Mac

Lena Horne sang the song "Stormy Weather" in the 1943 film of the same name.

Written by Arlen & Koehler in 1933, Stormy Weather was originally recorded by Ethel Waters, and then by Frances Langford that same year.

Horne first recorded it in 1941, and then recorded the version below in 1943.

The song has been covered by many singers, including Frank Sinatra, Ringo Starr, Joni Mitchell, and The Muppets.


Stormy Weather (song)

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Day The Music Died

by Dick Mac

I listen to the NPR "Marketplace Report" every morning, and when they get to their market report, they play a introductory song. When the European and Asian markets are doing well, the song is "We're In The Money," when those markets are mixed, the song is "It Do't Mean A Thing (If You Ain't Got That Swing)," and when those markets are doing poorly, the song is "Stormy Weather." It's a clever and entertaining branding device.

When I lived in San Francisco in the late 1970s (or was that the mid-1970s?), a guy I dated turned me onto the LP record "Watch What Happens," by Lena Horne and Gabor Szabo; and the record has been in my collection since.

Horne's rendition of the title track is (IMNSHO) the finest recording of the classic. The record also includes songs penned by Lennon-McCartney, Bacharach-David, George Harrison, and others.

Lena Horne died last night. She was 92. See her Wikipedia entry here: Lena Horne

Horne was vocal about and active in the movement to end racial discrimination in the United States, as described in this entry from Wikipedia:

Horne was long involved with the Civil Rights movement. In 1941, she sang at Cafe Society and worked with Paul Robeson, a singer who also combated American racial discrimination. During World War II, when entertaining the troops for the USO, she refused to perform "for segregated audiences or for groups in which German POWs were seated in front of African American servicemen", according to her Kennedy Center biography. Since the US Army refused to allow integrated audiences, she wound up putting on a show for a mixed audience of black US soldiers and white German POWs. She was at an NAACP rally with Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi the weekend before Evers was assassinated. She also met President John F. Kennedy at the White House two days before he was assassinated. She was at the March on Washington and spoke and performed on behalf of the NAACP, SNCC and the National Council of Negro Women. She also worked with Eleanor Roosevelt to pass anti-lynching laws. She was a member of the prominent organization, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

Horne was not without her critics, and throughout my life I heard conflicting tales of her being "too white" and "not black enough" and an "Uncle Tom" and "not active enough in the struggle" and many other accusations based on her race. Those criticisms seemed so dramatic then, and seem so petty now.

Horne is survived by her daughter Gail and her granddaughter Jenny Lumet, and was predeceased by her son Edwin.

Today is a another day the music died.

Friday, May 07, 2010

A Lesson For Americans from The British

by Dick Mac

I have become an advocate of third (and fourth and fifth) political parties.

Although I disagree with almost everything represented by teabaggers, especially the social contract that underlies their so-called tax revolt, it has been my sincerest hope that an actual Tea Party was formed. It has not.

People who believe the things espoused by teabaggers will never be represented by Republicans. In reality, though, teabaggers are just GOP activists and community organizers whipping white people into a frenzy about things they don't even understand (taxes, government and immigration, to start, reproductive rights, health care and civil rights, as well).

As long as teabaggers align themselves with Republicans, I will speak-out against their fraud. Until they form a real political party that has a real platform and candidates on the ballot, they have no credibility.

Yesterday was election day in Great Britain. Over 20% of Brits have voted for an alternative party: Liberal Democrats. This remarkable feat has set-up a situation where the right-leaning Conservatives and the left-leaning Liberal Democrats Party could theoretically form a coalition to wrest control from the Labour Party. Alternatively, the Lib Dems could align themselves with Labour and basically squeeze the Tories.

This is democracy at its most exciting!

Great Britain might need another election in six-months if a government cannot be formed; but this shake-up is the sort of thing that we can only fantasize in the United States.

Not only have 54 Lib Dems been elected, but 27 representatives have been elected from other parties: See, National Results.

Imagine if we had viable alternative parties in the United States! A Tea Party could elect their own and align themselves with Democrats when those policies suited them, and then with Republicans when those policies suited them. Teabaggers do tell me that they are neither Democrats nor Republicans, that they cross the entire spectrum, after all.

In reality, teabaggers appears to be uniformly encamped with the GOP, which completely diminishes any of their economic arguments, because it is Republicans that have created the inequity teabaggers claim to hate. They just don't want homosexuals to marry, or single parents to get financial assistance, or brown immigrants to get citizenship. They really aren't interested in reigning in spending that the GOP supports. They have no credibility (except with Fox News who created them in the first place).

We have credible options in the United States.

I now support the Green Party, because the GOP has never represented anything I cared about, and the Democrats have just become GOP-lite flailing around in some alleged moderation and getting little done.

I send five bucks a month to the Green Party to support their mission. I know it doesn't sound like much; but, it's what I can realistically afford. If a thousand people do this, it would be five thousand dollars a month into the Green coffers.

This does not necessarily mean that I will vote Green; but, I did in the last midterm elections in 2006. I voted the entire Green ticket during that election. I might do it again.

More important than my vote, though, is my support.

I challenge everyone to start supporting third parties. If you want to support the Greens, go here: Green Party of the United States donation page.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

No Tea Party In The Heartland!

by Dick Mac

I have figured-out the difference between a Tea Party and teabaggers.

If you really want to have a Tea Party, like the 18th Century event in Boston, you have to work for real change. An actual political party needs to be formed for the 'movement' to have any credibility.

If you're just angry about the immigrants and taxes, but you continue to vote Republican or Democrat, you're a teabagger. That is, you are taking action, but it's just your mouth moving a lot to make someone else feel good.

I see no movement that plans to create a new political party; therefore these people are teabaggers, not tea party patriots.

Current-day public teabaggers insist they want change. They seem to want our nation to return to the mid-18th century socio-political structure created by the American revolutionaries. This would, indeed, be a change.

Michael Steele would not only be a mouthpiece for Roger Ailes, he would actually be owned outright by Roger Ailes or another wealthy white man. Not a white woman, though; women wouldn't have any rights. They certainly wouldn't be allowed to vote, and if they tried to speak out in public they would likely be jailed, and possibly tarred and feathered (if their fathers, bothers, or husbands actually let them out of the house). No working person would own a home, because there would be no robust credit system that provides tax-free jumbo loans to middle-class people. There would be a minute middle-class. There would be no suburbs because the government certainly would not have subsidized the subdivisions that allowed the suburbs to grow; so the white immigrants of the 19th Century would have to live in the cities with the brown immigrants of the 20th Century.

So, although teabaggers say they want to return America to some kind of Constitutional nirvana, they really do not want that. I suspect they do not want a brown president and it really just comes down to that. The change they want is a change of the president whose death they advocate.

The season has started for teabaggers to be heard somewhere besides Fox News. Now is the time for them to vote the courage of their convictions (of they actually have any convictions, which I question).

A few states held Republican primaries this week. North Carolina, Ohio, and Indiana voters went to the polls to let their anger be heard, and to bring change to Washington. There were candidates endorsed by teabagger groups running against mainstream Republicans.

I expected that this would be the beginning of the change the teabaggers say they want. What happened? All of the mainstream Republican insiders won their primaries. Hands-down. It wasn't even really close.

Teabaggers aren't really interested in changing the elected officials who represent their interests (Republicans), they are only interested in changing the elected officials that represent those with whom they disagree.

And that is the theme that runs through the teabagger gatherings. Eliminate government for the other people, and strengthen the government for them.

It might work, but I will continue to call them the hypocrites that they are.

Unharnessed anger: Incumbents win in NC, OH, IN

Taking Care Of The Homosexuals

Homophobic Criminal and Republican Candidate For Senate, Ron Kirklandby Dick Mac

I know homosexuals are targeted for harassment and assault by bigots, and I know they are often battered after assaults take place. I know that most people think it's OK to abuse homosexuals, treat them as second-class citizens, and deny them their civil rights.

I know these things are true and I have spent my life fighting against these things.

Last week, two so-called "conservatives" running in the Tennessee Republican primary for nomination to the Senate race, both said that homosexuals were "taken care of" in the military. I suspect they mean that violence was perpetrated upon their fellow soldiers who were, or were suspected of being, homosexual.

I don't think I have heard a more immoral statement in this election cycle. Here are two men who were paid to defend the taxpayers and then used their positions of power to hurt American citizens.

I think the military has an obligation to learn from these men exactly what they meant by their remarks.

I think that a discharged member of the military can have his discharge changed if it comes to light that he broke the law during his enlistment. Assaulting and/or battering a fellow soldier is grounds for a dishonorable discharge.

If these men participated in, or covered-up, the beatings of homosexuals in the military, they should be brought to court martial and dishonorably discharged from the military.

Kirkland, a Vietnam veteran, said of his time in the military: "I can tell you if there were any homosexuals in that group, they were taken care of in ways I can't describe to you."

Smith, who served in the first Iraqi war, added: "I definitely wouldn't want to share a shower with a homosexual. We took care of that kind of stuff, just like (Kirkland) said."

The Tennessee Republican Party had no comment about the candidates statements when contacted by The Associated Press on Friday.

TN Congressional candidates: Gays were 'taken care of' when they were in military

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Military Cannot Do The Job Of Law Enforcement

by Dick Mac

When law enforcement agencies are allowed to do their jobs, they often succeed.

We've seen over the past few years that attempts by criminals to wreck havoc and terror on the citizenry can be avoided when the investigation is left to law enforcement.

Terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States have been thwarted and/or quickly resolved because the military has been kept out of the way.

In the years immediately following the crimes of September 11, 2001, the United States president funnelled huge amounts of money to military contractors and created a new huge government agency to protect Americans. Both of these tactics have been a failure and massive waste of money. Still, the FBI and local law enforcement agencies have done what they do best: investigate crime and enforce the law.

Forty years ago today, elected officials decided to use the military, instead of local law enforcement agencies, to police a demonstration by college students protesting the war in Vietnam, generally, and the invasion of Cambodia, specifically.

From coast-to-coast, American citizens had been expressing dismay with the war, and as American casualties increased, the protests became larger.

I lived a block from Boston State Teachers College, and students there held a number of demonstrations against the war over the years, and the police successfully managed the protests. Even when students took-over the administration building, the police managed to maintain order and bring the protest to a peaceful end.

Police coast-to-coast managed anti-war demonstrations. There was the occasional flare-up, and there were times when police and/or demonstrators got out-of-hand. Crimes were committed, riots were provoked, but generally, anti-war demonstrations were protected events that ended peacefully.

That is what the police are supposed to do: maintain order.

This is not the role of the military. Nowhere in history or in the world is the day-to-day maintenance of order the job of the military. A nations that uses its military to maintain day-to-day order is generally not a free state, is often called a fascist state, and usually does not enjoy any law and order.

Up until this day (May 4, 1970) forty years ago, there was a real split between pro-war and anti-war that seemed almost equally divided.

On May 1, 1970, students at Kent State University held a demonstration to protest the invasion of Cambodia during lunch. Another demonstration was planned for May 4th.

The military proceeded to the campus to prevent the demonstration from happening.

As the protest was broken-up and the protesters dispersed, tensions continued to rise. The National Guard made a series of maneuvers and as the event became violent, things went poorly.

What transpired is still debated. One thing that is not debated is the deaths of four students, some of whom were passersby, not demonstrators.

The National Guard say a sniper opened fire on them. I don't know anybody who ever believed that. I don't remember that statement having any credibility in the national discourse that followed. Even one of my uncles who was totally pro-war expressed anger and outrage about the event, generally blaming the protesters, but dismissing the notion that a sniper shot on the military.

After the incident, the nation's attitude became increasingly anti-war. People who had been supporters of the war and critics of the demonstrators were disgusted by the site of American soldiers opening fire on American students.

The shootings at Kent State were one of those events that changed the world.

When law enforcement agencies are left to do the work of law enforcement, we stand a better chance of justice and liberty being maintained. When we try to perform law enforcement tasks with the military, things always go poorly.

Kent State shootings at Wikipedia

Monday, May 03, 2010


by Dick Mac

As the fortieth anniversary of the killings at Kent State approaches, I post this footage of an older and chubbier Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young performing their song "Ohio."

I am not a fan of CSNY, but this song holds a place in the history of popular music that cannot be diminished or ignored.

This concert was held March 30, 2000, at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

It will be interesting to see how Fox News re-writes this dark moment in American history.