The Disgruntled Dylanologist

All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie.

‘Time Passes Slowly’: Dylan, Obama distance themselves from Woodstock

Time passes slowly up here in the mountains,
We sit beside bridges and walk beside fountains,
Catch the wild fishes that float through the stream,
Time passes slowly when you’re lost in a dream.

Over the past few weeks, there have been no shortage of articles written about the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. And certainly one of the most interesting is Jon Pareles’ story that appeared in Sunday’s New York Times two weeks ago.

Ironically, what made the article so striking wasn’t so much what was said about the Woodstock generation of 1969; it’s what wasn’t said about the Obama Nation of 2009. As Pareles observes: “Woodstock was as much an endpoint as a beginning, a holiday of naïveté and dumb luck before the realities of capitalism resumed.”

And while he draw no direct parallels drawn between the 400,000 people who went up the country 40 years ago August 1969, and the two million people who descended on the National Mall this past January, the correlation certainly exists. Just don’t expect the White House to make the connection anytime soon.

For the hundreds of thousands who stormed the gates of Yasgur’s farm, Woodstock was always more than a 3-day music and arts festival. For them, it was a movement that had been growing for the better part of a decade. And by the time they got to Woodstock, they were literally a half a million strong.

But it wasn’t just the artists and attendees who viewed Woodstock through rose-colored glasses. Thanks to the film released by Warner Bros. the following year, that’s the way most of the world saw it, too.

Of course in process of condensing 72 hours into a 4-hour film the studio would release, a lot was left on the cutting room floor. And it’s those forgotten pieces that tell not only the real story of Woodstock, but offer a cautionary tale for the newly anointed president.

So enamored are we with the mythology of Woodstock that we tend to overlook the fact that the promoters of the fabled 3-day festival completely lost control of their creation. The result? The site was declared a national disaster site less than a day into the event. And while Obama had the winds of generational change at his back last November, he, too, has walked smack dab into a national disaster. And just as the concert promoters had to be bailed out by the federal government, the Obama Nation has suffered the same fate to the tune of of a $787 stimulus package intended to assauge the beleaguered economy. The only difference is that while the Woodstock crowd got a free concert, the Wall Street looters who brought this country to its knees are the ones who got a free ride.

And what about the corporate greed? Again, the similarities abound.

In the case of Woodstock, the moment the contact high wore off, the feel-good euphoria sparked in those three days of peace, love and understanding immediately gave way to a perpetual commoditization. Not only the sense of community Woodstock engendered, but an endless quest to commoditize the Woodstock name itself.

Similarly, Barack Obama has suffered the same fate. His name, his likeness, his promise to renew our faith in our government and ourselves has become fodder for a seemingly endless supply of T-shirts, bumper stickers and faux campaign buttons. Said another way, in the months since his election, Barack Obama has become more than a president; he has become a brand. The commoditization of the Obama Nation has begun.

Just as that iconic image of that lone white dove on the guitar neck will always evoke a sense of idyllic idealism, Shepard Fairey’s equally iconic image of Barack Obama will be used for generations to come to evoke a similar sense of sanguine certainty that things will get better.

Much has been made over those who graced the stage at Woodstock. After all, the event wasn’t the only thing mythologized over the last 40 years. Similarly, much has also been made of those who did not grace Woodstock with their presence.

Among the biggest stars not to trek through the mud and the sludge was Bob Dylan. Apparently, Dylan gave some thought to making an appearance (he was living in the neighboring town at the time, after all). But ultimately, Dylan couldn’t seem to get past his animosity toward the fans who had crowded in on his newly adopted domestic lifestyle by constantly dropping by his house at all hours of the night. Of course, the excuse Dylan himself gave was much more pedantic: his son was sick that day.

Whether it was overzealous fans or a child on the mend, in the end Dylan probably made the right decision not to attend Woodstock.

Sure, Woodstock transformed many of the artists who performed into cultural icons. But by 1969, Dylan was already an icon. And besides, part of the reason Dylan retreated to Woodstock in the first place was to shake that ‘voice of a generation’ label the folkies had pinned on him. What could he possibly have gained from being lumped in with 400,000 people whose biggest claim to fame 40 years later is that they managed to make it through three days mired in a cow pasture filled with mud and manure?

And so, as we peer through the purple haze of the past and peel back the layers of the Woodstock legacy, perhaps the real legacy of Woodstock has as much to do with excess as with idealism.

Interesting how history really does tend to repeat itself …

Time passes slowly up here in the daylight,

We stare straight ahead and try so hard to stay right,
Like the red rose of summer that blooms in the day,
Time passes slowly and fades away.


August 23, 2009 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Like A Rolling Stone: Why Obama’s invisible nation leave us feeling so alone

At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used

Go to him now, he calls you, you can’t refuse
When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal.

I wasn’t sure quite what to expect when the words, “Cuban Stimulus Package,” appeared last Friday in my RSS bin.

Considering the disastrous state of the economy both home and abroad, my first instinct was that in addition to bailing out the banking, mortgage and car industries, America was about to bailout a certain decrepit despot with whom we’ve always had a less than amiable relationship. As it turns out, the revolutionary Cuban behind this rather unconventional ‘stimulus package’ is more intent on jump-starting our economy than destroying it.

A firm believer that the current financial mess facing this country isn’t going to be solved by the crooks on Wall Street or their crooked cronies lurking the halls of Congress, serial entrepreneur and two-time billionaire Mark Cuban wants to cut the Washington fat cats out of the process altogether.

Announced on his blog on February 9, 2009, Cuban’s self-styled “stimulus plan” boils down to this. Aspiring entrepreneurs post ideas that fit 13 specific pieces of criteria (breaking even within 60 days, profitability within 90 days, no advertising, etc.). Either Cuban will fund them, or other individuals reading Cuban’s blog will take up the ideas, thereby stimulating the economy.

There is, of course, a catch.

By posting your business plan on Cuban’s blog, you tacitly agree that anyone can comment, criticize and, as Cuban himself acknowledges, “steal the idea and use it elsewhere.”

I’ll be honest. When I first heard about Cuban’s innovative, albeit unorthodox approach to fixing the broken economy, I expected it would be dismissed out of hand.

Boy, was I wrong.

As of last Tuesday, nearly 2,000 people have posted to Cuban’s blog. Sure, some have been dismissive: “We would love to present our business plan to you but not over a public domain.” Some snarky: “If I am going to start something with sweat equity and reach profitability within 60 days why do I need outside money?” But most have been supportive, even encouraging of Cuban’s experiment.

Aspiring entrepreneur Alain Raynaud summed up his support in five, succinct words: “Ask and you shall receive.” I’ll be darned if Alain didn’t post his entire business plan, front to back.

And Alain wasn’t the only one. Nearly three quarters of the people have floated some sort of an idea for Cuban (and the world) to peruse—and potentially pinch.

It’s been over 40 years since Bob Dylan sat down and scribbled those 59 lines on the back of an envelope that today stand the test of time as one of the most searing and unsympathetic indictments of American culture ever written. ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ isn’t just Dylan’s most popular song, it’s also one of his most perplexing— the ultimate ‘finger pointing’ song if ever there were one. But as the old axiom goes: ‘Whenever you point a finger at someone, there’re always three pointing back at you.’

And while the true meaning behind the song is immersed in just enough enigmatic ambiguity to merit countless articles, essays, even entire books to be written about it, after nearly a half century the song still points with laser intensity to the hypocrisy that continues to plague our national consciousness.

The sentiment sweeping the country over the last few months is that we are entering a new chapter in our nation’s history, an ‘Age of Transparency’ it’s been called. And as we make this transition the hope is that this new found openness will transform not only the way we do business in America, but transform America itself.

But there is a problem, and the problem is this. This paradigm shift in politics is not coming from the top down. Rather, it’s coming from the bottom up. Democratic lyricism may have won our hearts in November, but when the most innovative ideas are being generated by a bored billionaire best known to America as a runner-up on “Dancing with the Stars” maybe Republican pragmatism isn’t worth jettisoning just yet.

Yet the soothsayers in Washington tell us that there is no ‘Red States of America,’ there is no ‘Blue States America,’ there is only the ‘United States of America.’

“We’re all in this together,” they say, “and if we fail to pull together as a country, we’re bound to fall.”

But who are they kidding? These are the same people who told us where it’s at for eight years while they took everything from us they could steal.

But perhaps I’m confusing my disgruntled nature with nascent disdain. Maybe America did get it right this past November. Maybe we really have entered a new age of politics. Maybe our best days are ahead of us.

But even if the jugglers and clowns in Washington do decide to stop selling alibis and offer a clear direction for this country will it really solve the larger question that looms: Why in this age of transparency, a time when we’re all supposed to be pulling together do we still feel like we’re on our own?

How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

For more information on Mark Cuban’s ‘open source’ Stimulus Plan, go to blog maverick.

March 2, 2009 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dont Look Back: 2008 in Review

A poetic look back on 2008, set to the tune of Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row”:

They’re printing tickets to the coronation
They’re fitting his thorny crown
The district’s filling up with Democrats
A new sheriff is in town
There goes the Maverick from Arizona
And gal from Wasilla
Couldn’t quite get the votes they needed
Their platform was too vanilla
Eight long years they ran this place
Now it’s time for them to go
As ‘43’ and Laura lament the passing
Of Republican Row

Congress, they make it look so easy
“This won’t hurt a bit,” they smile
As they slip $700 billion in their back pocket
Hank Paulson style
In come the auto makers, they’re whining
“What about our piece of the pie?”
“Talk to 16th and Penn,” the gentleman from Alabama says,
he’s gonna be your guy
And the only sound that’s left
As theyfill their Priuses with dough
Is the sound of Wagoner, Nardelli and Mulally cleaning up
On Republican Row

And the banks are also empty
Lehman, Stearns and AIG can’t console
As America’s fortunes disappear
Down a dark, rat-infested black hole
All except for T. Boone Pickens
And the Oracle of Omaha
Everybody’s future is bleak
No one can believe the gall
And Bernard Madoff, he’s in lockdown
$50 billion and nothing to show
A house of cards has come tumbling down
On Republican Row

Now Hillary, she’s buckin’ for a promotion
The Senate could not hold
Less than eight years in New York
Her true ambition did unfold

To her, New Hampshire seemed quite inviting
She wore her emotions on her sleeve
An act of pure political theater
Even crocodile tears could not deceive
But were it not for her former rival
To whom she does now owe
She’d be serving the rest of her sentence
On Republican Row

OJ, disguised as an All-American
Reclaiming his memories from a fan
Into a Vegas suite he burst
A pistol in his hand
He must have looked rather frightful
Waving his USC letter vest
Then ran off with the Heisman
Clutched tightly against his chest
Got off years ago after killing his wife
It seems you reap what you sow
Thirty-two got 33-to-life
On Republican Row

Spitzer, he keeps all his names
Inside a little black book
But it’s what he said on the phone
That got him cooked
Now the girl, quite a looker
Had the lungs to be a singer
It was the Governor’s tit, however
Got caught in the ringer
For years he blew the whistle on corruption
This time he took the blow
Just another self righteous prick sent packing
To Republican Row

Meanwhile in California
Another sexless battle begins
Gay marriage goes on the ballet
And then abruptly ends
It seems America wasn’t ready for Casanova
To come marching down the aisle
With a partner on his arm
Who can’t produce a child

And the Religious Right is shouting
“It’s not natural, don’t you know”
One Casanova at a time
On Republican Row

And we learn the governor of Illinois
For months has been trying to sell
Obama’s seat in the U.S. Senate
To whomever has the most cash to shell
But despite a jury’s indictment
Blago still refuses to concede
Replacing the people’s trust
With his own gluttonous greed
But soon his house will shatter
When he runs out of stones to throw
His fortunes crashing like everything else
On Republican Row

Praise be to Phelps’ Neptune
A solitary beacon of hope
Brought the whole world together
Eight men out with a single stroke
And another show of mettle
Naked aggression in the Gaza Strip
A millennium of distrust and malice
Of which this latest skirmish is only the tip
In Iraq the war still rages
Would Iran have been the next to go?
You can bet they had it all mapped out
On Republican Row

Yes, America is at a crossroads
(As if you didn’t already know)
But hope and change is coming
Though some would say too slow
But now that the people have finally spoken
And the world has heard their plea
All these people we mentioned
Into exile were forced to flee
Let’s just hope they’ve taken with them
The anguish and the woe
That’s been festering these last eight years
On Republican Row

January 5, 2009 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Barack Obama and Bob Dylan: Citizens of the world

I pity the poor immigrant,

Who wishes he would’ve stayed home,
Who uses all his power to do evil,
But in the end is always left so alone.

Barack Obama has always had his detractors. It is politics, after all. And considering the playing field for the last 18 months has been the presidency, it’s to be expected when people came after him, they came hard.

But unlike Bush, Clinton, or any of the other recent candidates for the highest office in the land, Barack Obama has been held to a different standard. From the beginning, there have been those who maintained something ‘just isn’t American’ about Barack Obama.

But the latest controversy, which suggests Obama may not be a natural born American citizen (and therefore must be prohibited from assuming the office to which he was elected in November), ironically is the most ‘American’ controversy of them all: Build them up so we can tear them back down.

‘Legitimacy’– that’s precisely what’s at the core of this most recent affront on the meteoric ascension of Barack Obama. And the argument goes something like this:

Kenya was still a British colony in 1961
• Obama’s father from Kenya and therefore a British citizen
• British citizenship passed on to his son
• Obama was born with dual citizenship
• Obama is therefore not a naturalized, US citizen

The Obama team maintains the president-elect’s proof of citizenship is right on his birth certificate.

State of birth: Hawai’i.

Furthermore, they contend, Barack’s dual Kenyan citizenship expired when he turned 21. Case closed.

Not so fast. It turns out that the case just may be heading to the Supreme Court. Yet despite the excitement generated over the December 5th announcement that the highest court in the land could take the Obama case, most legal experts expect the Court will take a pass. As a result, what it means to be a “national born citizen of the US” will likely stay ambiguous. The rationale? The Court doesn’t like to step in and override the will of the voters.

It seems the legal experts overlooked a certain case the Supreme Court took in 2000 that very much did override the will of the voters—but that’s another grunt altogether.

The point is this: Fame comes with a price. We raise our idols to the pinnacle of fame, only to rejoice in their demise as they suffer the wounds we inflict upon them. We’ve seen it with Elvis, we’ve seen it with Marilyn, we’ve seen it with Brando. And we’ve seen it with Bob.

Just as with Barack Obama, the ‘legitimacy’ of the Bob Dylan has been called into question ever since a snot-nosed kid by the name of Robert Zimmerman arrived in New York on a cold winter day in February 1961, and began his own lifelong process of reinvention.

Maybe it’s their dubious backgrounds, maybe it’s their enigmatic, shape-shifting personalities, or maybe it’s their meteoric rise from obscurity. But whatever it is, there is definitely something about these men that excites us–and makes us extremely uneasy.

We marvel at the way they shimmer in the spotlight, yet we can’t help but wonder what it is they do when the lights turn off and they retreat to the shadows. They walk among us; yet the world they inhabit is not our own. They may be restless souls, determined and undaunted. But we are the ones left unsure and wary.

And though Dylan and Obama are both cloaked in a shroud of mystery, that cloak is cut from distinctly different cloth, two men tailored for two very different times.

But one thing is for sure. Just as something happened when the man born Robert Allen Zimmerman became ‘Dylan,’ something happened when the man born Barack Hussein Obama became simply ‘Barack’ to millions of Americans. And while Bob Dylan may be in the twilight of his spiritual journey, for Barack Obama the dawn is just now breaking.

In the end, however, the joke is on us. We may have engaged in what is a uniquely American tradition of raising these two men to the highest echelons of fame, but once we put Barack Obama and Bob Dylan on their respective pedestals, they no longer belonged to us. They became citizens of the world…

Whose visions in the final end,

Must shatter like the glass.
I pity the poor immigrant,
When his gladness comes to pass.

December 8, 2008 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , | Leave a comment

Ring Them Bells: Change has come

Ring them bells, ye heathen,

From the city that dreams,
Ring them bells from the sanctuaries,
Cross the valleys and streams.

It’s hard to be disgruntled when everyone around you is so happy. And November 4 was unquestionably a day that brought immense joy to millions of Americas.

Whether you were among the 64,058,826 people who voted for Barack Obama, or one of the 56,500,053 who voted for John McCain, at exactly 11:01 West Coast time the mood of a country changed. For a brief, fleeting moment, we were neither Republicans nor Democrats. Conservative nor Liberal. Right nor Left. Ideology evaporated, labels disappeared, color was washed away.

The whole world was watching. And what they saw was something uniquely American. The singular, defining quality that distinguishes America from every other country in the world: ‘redemption’.

The election of Barack Obama as the first African American president didn’t eradicate the racial injustices embedded in our nation’s DNA some 240 years ago. But it did emancipate us by from the past in some communal, collective way. And African Americans weren’t the only ones who felt the lifting of the shackles. We all felt the weight lift. We all experienced that moment together.

Traditionally, these moments of collective consciousness are reserved to see us through the dark times that have befallen our nation—Dallas, Memphis, New Orleans, 9/11.

This was different. This was a moment in which we were bound together by hope and optimism, rather than brought together by horror and despair.

The closest thing this nation has come to the transformational moment we experienced Tuesday night was the defeat of the Nazis in World World II. But even that wasn’t really the same.

Yes, the chimes of freedom rang around the world, but the freedom America fought for was a deferred freedom. It would take another 60 years, and another generation, before the true tenets of freedom were extended to every American.

The headlines told the tale. And the tale didn’t need elaboration. Like all pivotal moments in history, the story could be reduced to three simple words:

To see over 700 front pages from November 5, 2008, click here.

The elevation of a black man to the presidency in this year, on this date, at this moment in our nation’s history could not have happened at any other time. Barack Obama was simply born at the right time. Born into a broken world desperately in need of being fixed.

For the last eight years, decisive, destructive partisanship has torn at the fabric of this country. On November 3, 2008, we were a nation of broken idols, broken treaties, broken vows, broken laws, broken words that should never have been spoken. On November 4, we were something else.

And while the man charged with picking up those pieces will inevitably be labeled by his detractors as a ‘empty vessel,’ a ‘blank slate,’ a ‘complete unknown,’ perhaps we can take solace in this simple fact: what better place to put all these broken pieces than in a vessel large enough to hold the limitless hope for a future that, for the first time in our nation’s history, truly feels like it can benefit every American.

Oh the lines are long,
And the fighting is strong,
And they’re breaking down the distance,
Between right and wrong.

November 10, 2008 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

November 4, 2008: The whole world is watchin’

Oh the foes will rise,

With the sleep still in their eyes,
And they’ll jerk from their beds and think they’re dreamin’.
But they’ll pinch themselves and squeal,
And know that it’s for real,
The hour when the ship comes in.

In two days, America will pick a new president. The reality, of course, is that the man who will lead us into the new millennium has already been chosen.

Brought out of Africa, blessed in the cornfields of Kansas and baptized in the warm waters of the South Pacific, he came with a simple, prophetic promise: Make right a world that has gone decidedly wrong.

And while there are those who will dismiss this assessment of our next president as nothing more than bombastic hyperbole, there is no denying the fact that the press has anointed Barack Obama a modern-day political messiah— David to the world’s Goliath, the man who will save America, and in doing so, just may save the world.

The time is right for a savior. For the last 40 years, America has been in the wilderness. In March of 1968, Lyndon Johnson, covered in the blood of 50,000 men, was crucified for his trespasses in Vietnam. Twelve years later, a born-again peanut farmer from Georgia turned the other cheek when 52 Americans were taken hostage in Iran. But in ‘doing the right thing’ Jimmy Carter let a ragtag band of religious zealots cast a stone that shattered America’s resolve for years to come. In 1992, America thought they had found a man who could transform a nation that had spent a decade teetering on the precipice of Babylonian excess. But instead of restoring our faith in our better angels, Bill Clinton succumbed to the temptations of the flesh and he, too, was banished.

And then He came.

Little is known of Barack Obama’s early years. Once he answered his calling as a community organizer in his 30th year, however, he quickly began to change people to his way of thinking. His opponents portrayed his philosophies as radical, even dangerous. But he triumphed over his adversaries, and wrote of his trials in a book he titled, Dream from My Father— a memoir that chronicled a father who abandoned him at his time of need, yet someone whom he has always kept close, especially in moments of doubt.

Many are bothered that the pundits are so overwhelming behind Obama. Yet as any student of history knows, there are two sides of history: the right side, and the wrong side. But we are not talking about that pedantic, petty, “you are either with us or against us,” mantra the Bush Administration has perpetrated against the American people for the last eight years. This is different.

For years, we have been like a ship lost at sea as our moral and ethical bearings have given way to greed and gluttony. But the tide is about to turn, and the hour is rapidly approaching. And while the pundits may be on the right side of history, the pundits have gotten it wrong.

Electing Barack Obama as the first African American president isn’t about standing on the ship’s bow and shouting that Pharaoh’s days are numbered. It’s not as black and white as that. There are larger factors at play. And when the history books are written, it will become apparent that the decision to cede the moral direction of a nation to a man about whom little is known but much has been entrusted was never our decision to make in the first place.

What happens in the days that follow is…

Then the sands will roll,
Out a carpet of gold,
And the ship’s wise men,
Will remind you once again,
That the whole wide world is watchin’.

November 3, 2008 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , | Leave a comment

World Gone Wrong: Beyond Bushworld

We live in a political world,
As soon as you’re awake,
You’re trained to take,
What looks like the easy way out.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we live in a political world. The fact that we’re in the final throes of perhaps the most contentious presidential campaign in 40 years is a daily reminder that America is at a crossroads.

Those days are numbered, however. But before we pick a new direction for the country, it only seems fitting to review the signposts of the last eight years.

In order to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been. And for the last eight years, we’ve been in a place called ‘Bushworld’.

Bushworld, a look back:

For a closer look at Bush’s world, click on the map above.

Divisive Politics. Bush has spent more money on focus groups than any other administration in U.S. history. In Bushworld, we don’t need to see or feel. Instead, we have polls and pundits to tell us what’s real.

Privacy. Bush has signed more laws and executive orders amending the Constitution than any other president. As a result, wiretaps, surveillance, and undisclosed data mining are now a daily ritual. In Bushworld, we may live in a time where men commit crimes, yet thanks to a barrage of Bush lawyers the real criminal’s face remain hidden.

Eradication of Human Rights. Bush is the first president to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from both the elections monitoring board and human rights commission. In Bushworld, we throw the wisdom of the world’s nations in jail, and let those whose patriotism we question rot in a Cuban cell.

Destruction of Economic Markets. Bush’s economic advisers smugly presided over the highest number of bank failures and home foreclosures ever. In Bushworld, money doesn’t talk, it swears. And by doing nothing as the economic markets collapsed, Bush told the American middle class to go screw themselves.

Invasion of Sovereign Countries. Bush has dissolved more international treaties than any president in U.S. history, ensuring American is able to travel anywhere we want. In the months leading up to the removal of Saddam Hussein, Bush claimed that everything that was his was ours. In Bushworld, however, you run the risk you might hang yourself there if you bring enough rope.

Squandered Political Capital. In the aftermath of 9/11, Bush turned a nation in mourning into the most resented country in the world. In Bushworld, it makes more sense to close an open door than to have a world where peace is welcome.

For the last eight years, America has witnessed the systematic dismantling of our venerated 200-year old political system by George Bush’s brand of ‘come hell or high-water’ politics.

And while Bush’s critics have done their best to tag the pugnacious Texan as nothing more than a highly functioning moron, Dubya is hardly some run of a mill Tweedle Dum to America’s Tweedle Dee.

The Grim reality is that he’s actually a lot closer to Humpty Dumpty. Sadly, however, it’s America that’s taken the tumble.

The biggest challenge facing the man who steps into the Oval Office on January 20, 2009, won’t be whether he has the resolve to put American back together again. It will be the frightening realization that while Bush and his fawning, sycophantic advisers were trying to create a world in their image, they may have pocketed a few key pieces when they realized their idyllic worldview wasn’t coming together quite the way they had planned.

There’s no question we live in a world gone wrong. But just because things are wrong now doesn’t mean they can’t be put right in the future.

Let’s just hope the next president can reassemble a foreign policy that has been spread too thin, a financial system that’s been stretched too far, and a domestic agenda that has shortchanged freedom in the name of ‘liberty.’

Of course, that’s assuming the next president can actually find all the pieces. We all know what happens when the vandals get hold of the handle…

We live in a political world,
Where courage is a thing of the past,
Houses are haunted,
Children unwanted,
The next day could be your last.

October 26, 2008 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You don’t need a Weatherman to know which way the election blows

Johnny’s in the basement,
Mixing up the medicine,
I’m on the pavement,
Thinking about the government

Back in the 1960s, domestic terrorists knew their place. They lived underground. They kept out of sight. And when they did come up for air, you knew about it.

Today it seems domestic terrorists not only walk among us, they actually breathe the same air we do. Well, maybe not all of us. But they certainly breathe the same air as Barack Obama.

So what does the tempestuous, stormy past of a 1960s Weatherman by the name of William Charles Ayers have to do with Barack Obama, who was all of eight years old when Ayers was tapping phones, blowing up buildings and generally trying to bring down the American government?

This, my friends, is just the question the McCain campaign would like you to consider. But whatever you do don’t look to John McCain for the answer. The last thing McCain and his minions want to do is tell you what to think about Bill Ayers’ relationship with Barack Obama. They want you to use your imagination. And they want you to imagine the worst.

According to the McCain campaign, Obama wasn’t just friends with Bill Ayers, Ayers was actually a mentor—someone who helped to mold and shape Obama when he was a young, up and coming Chicago politician.

They had coffee together back in 1995 when Obama was first running for office, for Pete’s sake. And we all know what those ‘60s radicals were putting in their drinks back then, don’t we? Hell, for all we know, Ayers could have programmed Barack to be the next Manchurian Candidate.

And while McCain keeps pitching his stories to the ink well, he’s been very careful not to call Obama a terrorist. No question, McCain’s trying to keep a clean nose on this one, letting a group called American Issues Project do his bidding.

But McCain isn’t the only one walking on tiptoes. Barack Obama’s jumped down a few manholes himself over the last few years when the issue of his relationship with Bill Ayers has come up.

In his 2004 race for the Senate when the Obama-Ayers relationship first was made an issue, Obama avoided a potential political scandal by claiming the Republicans where just doing it again by looking for a new friend, a man in a trench coat to whom they could tie the electorate’s über paranoia.

In February of 2008, the ‘Ayers issue’ arose again during the Democratic primary. And again, Obama failed to personally repudiate the charges. Instead, he ducked down the alleyway, leaving it up to his spokesman, Bill Burton, to issue the following statement: “Any attempt to connect Obama with events of almost forty years ago is ridiculous.”

So why has that soot the McCain campaign has been shoving in the face of Obama stuck this time? Because it turns out that Bill Ayers and Barack Obama do have something in common.

In a September 2001 interview with the New York Times, Bill Ayers was asked about his past ‘civil disobediences,’ to which he replied, “I don’t regret setting bombs…I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Similarly, it wasn’t until last Wednesday’s debate with McCain that Barack Obama finally acknowledged Ayers’ actions in the 1960s and early 1970s were unconscionable. Yet in typical Obama double-speak, he stopped short of extending that condemnation to Ayers himself.

America is a forbearing nation. We tend to forgive one another for our past indiscretions. But in order to receive your ‘get out of jail’ card, you have to admit to the indiscretion in the first place.

The real issue at the heart of the current Ayers-Obama controversy isn’t whether or not Ayers’ actions in the ‘60s and early ‘70s were “unconscionable.” What Ayers did 40 years ago is beyond unconscionable. It’s irreprehensible. And it isn’t that Barack Obama has shown himself to be just as unrepentant as the man with whom he has allowed himself to be linked, either. The real issue is that neither man will admit an error in judgment.

When given the chance to come clean in 2001, Ayers should have said he was wrong to put innocent American lives at stake to advance his own personal, vindictive political beliefs. And when asked about his relationship with Ayers in 2004, Barack Obama should have said he respects Ayers for his convictions, but abhors the tactics he used to try to achieve them.

What American wants is for these men to come clean. To date, neither has come close. And until they do, this political shit storm isn’t going to blow over anytime soon. Which is exactly what John McCain was counting on the moment he dosed the American public with the story in the first place…

Better stay away from those,
That carry around a fire hose,
You don’t need a weather man,
To know which way the wind blows

October 20, 2008 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

America in Peril: Someone said Dignity was the first to leave

Chilly wind sharp as a razor blade,

House on fire, debts unpaid,
Gonna stand at the window, gonna ask the maid,
Have you seen dignity?

America is angry. And frankly, we have every right to be.

Over the last eight years, we’ve been buttered up, talked down to, led down the primrose path. And in the process, we’ve been robbed blind.

It would be one thing if we’d been cornered in a dark alley, held at gunpoint and told to hand over everything in our pockets. But that’s not the way the deal’s gone down. It happened in broad daylight, right in the middle of the street.

Instead of having a gun shoved in our ribcage, we’ve had a knife slowly slipped into our back. And we could have only been so lucky as to have been asked to empty our pockets. After all, I don’t know how many Americans carry their entire life savings in their pant pockets. But that’s what the boys on Wall Street walked away with last week.

Estimates vary (after all the estimates are being provided by the guys who stuck it to us in the first place), but one thing’s for sure. Our pockets are empty. And so are our bank accounts. Which means mortgages can’t be paid, car loans can’t be paid, school loans can’t be paid. And just try to turn to your 401K plan for relief. Wall Street’s scorched earth policy burned all that up, too.

The irony, of course, is that while money may be the symptom, the real sickness is the disease of conceit. Sure Lehman is out of business; AIG is $85 billion in the hole; Wachovia is awash in a sea of debt. But the real crime here is that the people running these companies just walked away. The soul of a nation under the knife, and the bankers and politicians are the only ones who got a cut.

We’ve always been told that America is built on a single unifying principle: Hard work pays off. Looks like the old adage may not be true. Certainly not today. Truth be told, many of us are wondering if it was ever true.

According to a recent CNN Money poll, nearly six out of ten Americans believe our country is heading for another economic depression. Quite a frightening turn in public opinion from the halcyon days of just a year ago when the financial markets were at a generational high.

American is angry. But this isn’t some conspiratorial destruction of the American Dream. It’s much scarier than that. This is the real thing. After years of steady moral, ethical and financial decline, we are no longer just a distraught nation. We are a nation in peril.

In the last eight years, the fabric of this country has been torn to shreds. We are fighting an unpopular war abroad while we ship American jobs to China and India. At home, we cannot educate our youth, we cannot take care of our elderly, and animosity toward America has reached an all-time high.

“But don’t worry,” they tell us. “Be patient. Everything will be okay.” Sure, America will come back. We always do.

But who the hell are they kidding? It ain’t ever going to come back all the way. Not until we restore the thing that our leaders really robbed us of in the first place…

Lookin’ east, Lookin’ west,
See people curse, see people blessed
Asking everybody like a man possessed
Have you seen dignity?

October 12, 2008 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment