A Simple Song of Freedom – Bobby Darin’s Most Endearing Legacy

Bobby Darin is more known for songs like “Beyond the Sea” which was the title of the movie starring Kevin Spacey as Darin, “Mack the Knife” and “Splish Splash.” The latter song actually was out of character from most of his songs as he was more of a Frank Sinatra ballad type singer. Yet, to me the song that resonates over time is the one he wrote later in his career and sang during the Vietnam War and Civil Rights push in the 1960’s, “A Simple Song of Freedom.” Here are the lyrics.
Come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung before
Let it fill the air, tell the people everywhere
We, the people here, don’t want a war
Hey there, Mister Black Man, can you hear me?
I don’t want your diamonds or your game
I just want to be someone known to you as me
And I will bet my life you want the same
So come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung before
Let it fill the air, tell the people everywhere
We, the people here, don’t want a war
Seven hundred million are you listening?
Most of what you read is made of lies
But speaking one to one, ain’t it everybody’s sun
To wake to in the morning when we rise?
So come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung, before
Let it fill the air, tell the people everywhere
We, the people here don’t want a war
Brother Solzhenitsyn are you busy?
If not won’t you drop this friend a line?
Tell me if the man who is plowing up your land
Has got the war machine upon his mind
Come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung before
Let it fill the air, tell the people everywhere
We, the people here don’t want a war
Now no doubt some folks enjoy doin’ battle
Like presidents, prime ministers and kings
So let us build them shelves
Where they can fight among themselves
And leave the people be who like to sing
Come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung before
Let it fill the air, tell the people everywhere
We, the people here don’t want a war
I say, let it fill the air, tell the people everywhere
We, the people here don’t want a war

Freedom
Freedom
Freedom

To me, this song has two meanings. One is we are all the same and wake up under the same sun. The other is war is about leaders talking and sending young men off to die. I like the line about building shelves for the leaders to fight upon and leave us alone. As we scroll forward to 2014, things do not change.

We, the people, see leaders talk about everything but what is important. Around the world, we see religion often used as a weapon to divide and rule. We see poverty, because of war and corruption where leaders make themselves rich and others suffer. We see women treated as possessions far too many times. We will not gain a wider peace until women are treated better and, at least closer to equals, if not equal around the globe. Call out injustices when you see it. That is our only hope.

Please join with me to listen to a version of Darin’s simple song of freedom.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=bobby+darin+simple+song+of+freedom+lyrics&FORM=VIRE6#view=detail&mid=FAC643BD4D82B22509B8FAC643BD4D82B22509B8

 

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Playing both ends against the middle

This has always been a problem, but with the vast sums of money that it takes for a US politician to get elected, large industry groups end up supporting both sides and play the ends against the middle. When you tack on the monied lobbyist influence and reasonable, even handed legislation does not stand a chance. The end result is we are closer to oligarchy in this country approaching the days of the Robber Barons, which Teddy Roosevelt adamantly fought. Roosevelt was against corporate funding whatsoever, but now with recent court decisions, companies are given freedoms to control elections and elected officials.

If you look at the largest and most influential industry in America, the fossil fuel industry, it is easy to see why we still debate over man’s influence over climate change and that fracking should be viewed as perfectly safe because the pretty and earnest spokeswoman tells it is so on the excellently crafted commercial. I have said this before, but they are not my words – the fossil fuel industry pretty much owns the Republican Party in the United States. Oh, I am sure we could argue degrees of influence, but there should be little debate that the fossil fuel industry can get the attention of the GOP.

The sad part of the equation is they also fund Democrats, as well. While they would prefer the Republicans to win, because of the canned legislation ready to be enacted for their betterment through organizations like ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, if the Democrats win, they have that base covered. Coupling that with a heavy lobbying effort and these legislators don’t stand a chance. While the President has espoused moving the ball forward on addressing climate change and has done some good things, we have been fracking like there is no tomorrow, which is an intended pun.

In fact, with Republicans in Congress bashing the EPA efforts, someone high up in the Administration has on more than one occasion asked the EPA to cool their jets. This is one reason EPA Director Lisa Jackson resigned in December 2012 shortly after a report on fracking water poisoning in Pennsylvania was released that was watered down in the headlines. Since no one reads anything any more, people went with the headlines which were less forthcoming about the problematic results. I guess she was hoping someone would have her back in this hard fight. I am likely over-simplifying the reasons, but she was a frustrated camper when she left.

I could have easily picked on another industry group, such as the NRA. There is a reason that goes beyond Republican obstinance that works against getting some legitimate and wanted legislation done. But, the key takeaway is funders can play both ends against the middle in a fight no one knows is going on outside of government halls. In the case of the fossil fuel industry with connections and money, they are a formidable power to reckon with. So, this more than anything is why the EPA is a target. They stand in the way of the industry making decisions where the environmental impact is not highlighted as much as it needs to be. Other environmental groups have had to become more active to lend their voice to the understaffed and under supported EPA. If you hear “we should do away with the EPA” at a cocktail party, you should ask the person, “do you really mean that?”

So, the heavy lifting is going to fall on us citizens. We have to be better informed. We have to ask more questions about why people are advocating something that does not feel right. We cannot rely on party politics to dictate what we do. We need to get our information from reputable and multiple sources. There are too many so-called news sources and pundits that are giving out misinformation and disinformation, or at best spin-doctored news. If you are watching a news source that mentions Benghazi more than half a dozen times, you are not watching a reputable news source.

Let’s keep these folks honest. We have our work cut out for us.

Also, please check out my friend Hugh Curtler’s post on “Corporate Persons” from this morning. http://hughcurtler.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/corporate-persons/

Leaning in – a few additional thoughts

My friend Emily January, who blogs at The Bookshelf of Emily J, recently reviewed the book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg. Emily does her normal wonderful job of summarizing her thoughts on the book and offering her opinion. Since she attracts a great audience, she elicits a number of thoughtful comments. Rather than repeat her write-up, I encourage you to check it out by hitting the enclosed link at the end of this post.

I shared with Emily I would read the book and share my thoughts. Emily and others have felt the book is a great conversation starter, but were looking for something more in-depth. They also felt the book is geared toward women who have choices and not necessarily for those who cannot afford to lean in at their jobs or they will be fired. I had heard the latter concerns as well. Hear are my few thoughts.

I agree the book is not in-depth, but I do find it of value in pushing women (and men) to advocate for themselves. I like Sandberg’s using examples where she encourages women to sit at the table when they gravitated toward the side chairs in a conference room. I like that she seeks her partner out to do more, as raising a family and working in a stressful, travel filled job is hard. I like that she speaks of career progression as more of a jungle gym of moves rather than a ladder upward. I like that she acknowledges that it is OK to move after giving a job a fair chance and benefitting from the experience.

And, I like her noting that you have to disconnect from work, otherwise you will burn out and be less effective. The quote from Colin Powell on this is priceless where he notes there are times when the job can be very time consuming, but there are times when it is not. When it is not, use that time to go be with your family. Don’t feel like you have to be present at work after hours when it is not needed.

However, I do agree that book is written more for women (and men) who have choices and a better education. Also, for people with jobs that can be done from home on occasion, it is a better guidebook. For those women who work tirelessly in jobs they are not fond of, or in jobs where you could be fired if you don’t show up or are routinely late, it is less applicable. I do think there are takeaways for those women and men, but these folks need to be more mindful of when they choose to lean-in.

I think it is a good read for women and men. It will definitely start the conversation. Now, link up with Emily’s post and offer comments. I would appreciate any thoughts here as well.

http://thebookshelfofemilyj.com/2014/05/07/women-at-work-leaning-in/

Pope Francis – Blessed are the peacemakers

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”  is an important lesson from Matthew 5:9 for all of us. Since today is Memorial Day in the United States where we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives in the line of duty for their country, I wanted to honor them, by honoring the peacemakers. The peacemakers save countless lives of those in service and civilians who find themselves in harms’ way. Pope Francis is on such a mission as of this writing.

Pope Francis is on a quest to the Middle East and has been an ambassador for peace. He goes without shield to visit leaders, people and places that have been at odds with each other. He does not condemn, but by example and by where he visits, sends a statement of let’s break down barriers to talking and interactively working together. He has invited leaders of Palestine and Israel to the Vatican to meet with him. Each has accepted the invitation. He went to the wall in Bethlehem that separates people and prayed. He visits with people and talks with them, openly and honestly. He disarms them with his congenial spirit and persona.

The pope has a mission that we need to help those in need and living in poverty. Poverty comes from the absence of opportunity. Opportunity is often squelched by war, which does not permit commerce to occur. Opportunity is lost by the absence of free trade between people of all types. Opportunity is lost by those who steer dollars into the mechanics of war or into their own pocket. If we can begin by treating each other better, by conversing and then trading commerce with each other, then some of these barriers will come down.

And, that will help us in our quest to memorialize fewer soldiers (and civilians) who may die in the future. Bless you, Pope Francis.

 

 

 

Deny, Discredit, Disinform, Diffuse and Defray

The five D’s. As a now 55-year-old man, I have witnessed over time the aggressively managed handling of criticism whether it is in politics or in big business. In my view, the defense could be summed up in the following order – Deny, Discredit, Disinform, Diffuse and Defray – where you keep drawing lines in the sand as you retreat. With each D and line drawn, you want to see if that will stave off the criticism.

The fossil fuel and petro-chemical industries have been deploying these tactics for decades, as what they do for a living is not easy and has a history of impacting the health and welfare of humans and the environment. When you add money on top of these approaches, it takes an Erin Brockovich to make any headway against them. Yet, what people fail to realize is these five D’s are an aggressive risk management strategy.

But, the approach is definitely not limited to big business. Vladimir Putin is probably the best games player around. He knows your weaknesses and hot buttons, so he has and continues to use these approaches. In the US, politicians value and pay dearly for spin doctors like Karl Rove, who in essence are paid liars. Their job is perfume any pig that comes their client’s way. However, most politicians who have won more than one election become increasingly artful in these defense tactics – Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, Obama and the Bushes – all could be considered good at these approaches. With Nixon, the lies caught up with him as he taped himself. He only resigned once the courts ordered him to release the tapes that showed he was not only paranoid, but ran a burglary and disinformation ring out of the White House.

First, when criticism is made against what you do or have done, you deny it aggressively. That is absolutely not true will be words usually spoken. Note, with false claims, denial does not mean the accuser is correct as that is part of the defense strategy under discredit. Putin claims that Ukraine is fascist, but you really cannot call Ukraine fascist if they are trying to have democratic elections. The toxic fracking slickwater is not getting into people’s water supply, is a good example of denial. The NSA is not spying on Americans is another one.

Second, when the denial ceases to work, the discredit strategy begins. Sometimes, the discrediting comes with the denial. The Putin example is a good one. The global warming is a hoax is a prime example, where the fossil fuel industry through its public relations engine wanted to paint Al Gore and all of his imperfections as the reason why global warming was not happening. He lives in large mansion and is using this as a publicity stunt. Name calling or branding people comes part and parcel. Using terms like Hitler, Apartheid or Stalin to paint something you dislike is a common tactic. I have often been called an Environmentalist, which I am, but the term is used to smear me because it is meant to construe that I do not care about jobs. The fact that there are tens of thousands of jobs in solar energy in my own state and they are growing in number, seems to get overlooked as unimportant.

Third, if denials and discrediting don’t work, disinform. This probably frustrates me most, as it is a very common tactic on partisan news shows, to spin the truth, overlook the issues or just lie. I tell people often and write on this blog and emails for people to stop watching Fox news and its counterpart, MSNBC. Your are better off watching no news as the spins can be so severe that you are not informed –  you have been propagandized. The real truths include: Global warming is not a hoax. Fracking is not perfectly safe. Creationism is not science. Voter fraud is virtually non-existent. Business is not inherently bad, but needs governance. Protecting our environment costs us less in the long run. While there are a few abusers, people on food stamps are not gaming the system.

Fourth, if we are still in trouble, the next line in the sand is to diffuse. This is a measured  mea culpa which allows some concessions, but does so on your terms. You have already thought through beforehand what would be an acceptable position to come to, when the avalanche of truth gets too big. You have done some internal investigations and found there is some truth in what we are being accused of, so we will fix it. You are right, climate change is real, so we are going to focus on natural gas, as it burns cleaner than coal. The data breach is bigger than we first imagined, so we are doing the following. We are only getting Metadata and not listening to your phone calls and reading your emails.

Fifth, if this fails, then we need to defray. We need to settle claims as quickly and expeditiously as possible. We must avoid class action suits. We need to divide and conquer. Pay people a pretty penny, but limit the number of pennies and limit the number of hands. No one goes to jail. We just pay out of expenses what we have already accrued when the problem first reared its head. Or, let’s recall every car that has any minor defect now. This will be far cheaper than the potential lawsuit.

The five D’s. Next time criticism is flying toward someone or some entity, watch how the issue is handled. Usually, the higher the revenue stream potential, the more aggressive the defense. The truth is usually further away from the speaker with the most to gain financially. Not always, but often enough.

 

 

 

Brian’s Song – the first movie where men could watch and cry

The other day I came across an old movie called “Brian’s Song” that I had not seen in a great while. Rarely, was a made for TV movie from that era (1971) met with such accolades, attributable to its compelling story. Spoiler alert – It was also the first movie where men who watched were allowed to cry. The story is about the friendship between two football players, Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers, who both joined the Chicago Bears professional football at the same time. In the movie, James Caan plays Piccolo, while Billy Dee Williams plays Sayers.

They both were star college running backs and competed for the same position on the team. Sayers would go onto be one of the most gifted players in the NFL, whose career would be cut short by injuries. Piccolo knew he had his work cut out for him, but he also saw a key part of his work to push Sayers to make him better. These rivals, from different races and backgrounds, would room together and become the kind of friends we all would hope to have. They worked and played together. They teased each other and played practical jokes on each other.

Piccolo would tell Sayers the coach had a deaf ear on one side, so it was important to be on his good ear side, which was all untrue. When Sayers kept hopping around to stay on the good side, the coach said “Sayers, what are you doing?” Sayers would return the favor by slipping mashed potatoes into Piccolo’s chair while he was required to sing his college fight song. The humor is as much a part of the relationship as the competition and kinship.They both made the team and the coach changed Piccolo’s position, so both could start together in the backfield.

The reason for the story goes beyond the friendship, though, as Piccolo started losing weight and kept running out of steam. It turned out he had cancer. He would go on to battle it courageously, but would eventually lose the fight. Sayers, would be by his side and spoke on his behalf at the behest of Piccolo’s wife. The story received additional notoriety when Sayers was given an award for coming back “courageously” from an injury. During his acceptance speech, Sayers said the award belongs to Brian Piccolo, who showed him what courage was all about. He would go onto say, “I love Brian Piccolo.”

Even knowing the ending does not detract from the powerful story. It is not unlike the movie “La Bamba” where you know Ritchie Valens will go down in the plane. The movie is still excellent. It is also leveraged tremendously by a very poignant piano theme song, that gives me chills every time I hear it.

If you have never seen the movie, please check it out. If you have, I would love to hear your thoughts and reflections. Below is a link to various clips.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=brian’s+song&qpvt=brian%27s+song&FORM=VDRE

 

 

Tuesday’s gone with the wind – a few odds and ends for this Tuesday

As a tribute to the great southern rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, I will use a chorus line of one of my favorite songs of theirs, to highlight a few odds and ends this Tuesday – “Tuesday’s Gone.” If you don’t know the song, give it a listen. You may also like “Call Me the Breeze” and “Simple Man” as well by the band. But, before Tuesday’s gone with the wind, here you go.

Economic recovery continues, but the recovery is continually challenged by people not spending. Wal-Mart announced a 5th consecutive quarter of negative same store results, year over year. They cite dampened wages as the culprit. When you have a heavy sales economy, people need to make a decent wage rate or they do what every else does, spend less. In this ongoing debate about minimum wage increase, this is a key outcome by not getting more money into people’s hands. By the way, you can trace the desperate nature of the retailer, car dealer or college, etc  in direct proportion to their eagerness to sell you something. I have had “final offers” made to me over and over again – but you said it was final three times ago.

Moral Monday’s in North Carolina have started up again, but the issues remain the same. They did help get more notice on the poor teacher pay plight which came to a head last year by limits and changes made by our conservative General Assembly. They have promised to do something this session and they need to or opportunity will be lost. The other issues remain – expand Medicaid to those in need, repeal the voter restrictive Voter ID Law which has been ruled unconstitutional in four other states and is on trial right now here, eliminate the severity of the unemployment benefit cuts which are highly punitive, and avoid fracking in our state. I attended my second Moral Monday yesterday and witnessed a diverse group of a couple of thousands people including doctors, teachers, professors, ministers and students. Their voice needs to be heard and heeded.

Failing to remember history, even recent history, can blind your reasoning, especially when people are adamantly against something they were for a few years ago. Former Senator Jim DeMint is adamantly against Obamacare, which is strange because it was patterned after Romneycare which he strongly advocated in writing, TV appearances and campaign speeches for Romney, as something we should do for the whole country. He particularly liked the mandate, as it shows personal responsibility, which he hates today. Newt Gingrich went on TV with Nancy Pelosi to show a united front that global warming was real and man-influenced and we need to do something about it. Newt noted he was wrong before to say it was a hoax. This change was in 2006. Then he ran for President in 2012 and he said he was wrong to say he was wrong. In this cases, two wrongs do not make a right. The make a wrong a wrong.

Finally, our friend Karl Rove won’t stop making a scandal out of nothing. This time Hillary Clinton is the target. Instead, why don’t we talk about a real scandal and ask Rove why his subordinate Scooter Libby went to jail. The greater question is why did not Rove who admitted later that he knew the same information that Libby did. Libby outed a CIA operative (Valerie Plame) in the press to discredit her husband who was a former Middle East ambassador that took issue with the Bush White House misusing his information inappropriately as evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction as a reason to invade Iraq. The ambassador’s report said for the trail he looked into, there was no evidence, yet the White House said he did find something. Please feel free to Google various combinations of Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and Valerie Plame. My problem with this, is over 4,000 US soldiers (and countless civilians) died because of making up the WMD reason on false or unverified intelligence. That is a scandal.

Speaking of trails, happy trails to you on this Tuesday. Have a great week. I would love to hear your feedback.