Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Message from Fidel Castro [February 18th, 2008]

Comandante Fidel Castro issued a statement today, resigning himself from office, yet retaining his revolutionary force and "reflections." He posted his message on Cuba's leading newspaper, Granma, today. Here is the article from the website, translated in English:

Dear compatriots:

Last Friday, February 15, I promised you that in my next reflection I would deal with an issue of interest to many compatriots. Thus, this now is rather a message.

Fidel Castro RuzThe moment has come to nominate and elect the State Council, its President, its Vice-Presidents and Secretary.

For many years I have occupied the honorable position of President. On February 15, 1976 the Socialist Constitution was approved with the free, direct and secret vote of over 95% of the people with the right to cast a vote. The first National Assembly was established on December 2nd that same year; this elected the State Council and its presidency. Before that, I had been a Prime Minister for almost 18 years. I always had the necessary prerogatives to carry forward the revolutionary work with the support of the overwhelming majority of the people.

There were those overseas who, aware of my critical health condition, thought that my provisional resignation, on July 31, 2006, to the position of President of the State Council, which I left to First Vice-President Raul Castro Ruz, was final. But Raul, who is also minister of the Armed Forces on account of his own personal merits, and the other comrades of the Party and State leadership were unwilling to consider me out of public life despite my unstable health condition.

It was an uncomfortable situation for me vis-à-vis an adversary which had done everything possible to get rid of me, and I felt reluctant to comply.

Later, in my necessary retreat, I was able to recover the full command of my mind as well as the possibility for much reading and meditation. I had enough physical strength to write for many hours, which I shared with the corresponding rehabilitation and recovery programs. Basic common sense indicated that such activity was within my reach. On the other hand, when referring to my health I was extremely careful to avoid raising expectations since I felt that an adverse ending would bring traumatic news to our people in the midst of the battle. Thus, my first duty was to prepare our people both politically and psychologically for my absence after so many years of struggle. I kept saying that my recovery "was not without risks."

My wishes have always been to discharge my duties to my last breath. That’s all I can offer.

To my dearest compatriots, who have recently honored me so much by electing me a member of the Parliament where so many agreements should be adopted of utmost importance to the destiny of our Revolution, I am saying that I will neither aspire to nor accept, I repeat, I will neither aspire to nor accept the positions of President of the State Council and Commander in Chief.

In short letters addressed to Randy Alonso, Director of the Round Table National TV Program, --letters which at my request were made public-- I discreetly introduced elements of this message I am writing today, when not even the addressee of such letters was aware of my intention. I trusted Randy, whom I knew very well from his days as a student of Journalism. In those days I met almost on a weekly basis with the main representatives of the University students from the provinces at the library of the large house in Kohly where they lived. Today, the entire country is an immense University.

Following are some paragraphs chosen from the letter addressed to Randy on December 17, 2007:

"I strongly believe that the answers to the current problems facing Cuban society, which has, as an average, a twelfth grade of education, almost a million university graduates, and a real possibility for all its citizens to become educated without their being in any way discriminated against, require more variables for each concrete problem than those contained in a chess game. We cannot ignore one single detail; this is not an easy path to take, if the intelligence of a human being in a revolutionary society is to prevail over instinct.

"My elemental duty is not to cling to positions, much less to stand in the way of younger persons, but rather to contribute my own experience and ideas whose modest value comes from the exceptional era that I had the privilege of living in.

"Like Niemeyer, I believe that one has to be consistent right up to the end."

Letter from January 8, 2008:

"…I am a firm supporter of the united vote (a principle that preserves the unknown merits), which allowed us to avoid the tendency to copy what came to us from countries of the former socialist bloc, including the portrait of the one candidate, as singular as his solidarity towards Cuba. I deeply respect that first attempt at building socialism, thanks to which we were able to continue along the path we had chosen."

And I reiterated in that letter that "…I never forget that ‘all of the world’s glory fits in a kernel of corn."

Therefore, it would be a betrayal to my conscience to accept a responsibility requiring more mobility and dedication than I am physically able to offer. This I say devoid of all drama.

Fortunately, our Revolution can still count on cadres from the old guard and others who were very young in the early stages of the process. Some were very young, almost children, when they joined the fight on the mountains and later they have given glory to the country with their heroic performance and their internationalist missions. They have the authority and the experience to guarantee the replacement. There is also the intermediate generation which learned together with us the basics of the complex and almost unattainable art of organizing and leading a revolution.

The path will always be difficult and require from everyone’s intelligent effort. I distrust the seemingly easy path of apologetics or its antithesis the self-flagellation. We should always be prepared for the worst variable. The principle of being as prudent in success as steady in adversity cannot be forgotten. The adversary to be defeated is extremely strong; however, we have been able to keep it at bay for half a century.

This is not my farewell to you. My only wish is to fight as a soldier in the battle of ideas. I shall continue to write under the heading of ‘Reflections by comrade Fidel.’ It will be just another weapon you can count on. Perhaps my voice will be heard. I shall be careful.


Fidel Castro Ruz

February 18, 2008

5:30 p.m.




Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Art of Flip-Flopping

Flip-flopping! We've heard all about it in the political world. It's a humorous word, a fun title to throw around. "Such and such is a flip-flopper." "Oh, he flip-flopped on such and such issue." In an era where politicians are more meticulous than ever to say the right thing, or better yet, not say the wrong thing, charges of flip-flopping arise both left and right. John Kerry was criticized as a flip-flopper back in the 2004 elections for his position(s) on the war in Iraq (or Afghanistan? Sorry... I get 'em mixed up sometimes...)

But I've noticed something particularly prevalent or noteworthy in the way in which Democrats and Republicans have flip-flopped. Let's take two textbook flip-floppers from both sides of the political spectrum. On the left, we've got war veteran John Kerry. On the right, we've got Olympics-saver (shudder) and apparent business mastermind (though he blew millions on his futile campaign) Mitt Romney, a.k.a. "Mittens" (© Rachel Maddow). As we're told, John Kerry flip-flopped on the war, arguably our generation's most trying and important decision. First completely for it, Kerry's support for the war began to dwindle, paralleling the sentiments felt by much of the American public. He soon took a stance against the war, blaming president bush (that's right, I don't capitalize his name) for deceiving the people of this country into a war that should have never been authorized in the first place. Kerry made a strategic mistake and was visibly sorry for his blunder. By most accounts, it was this apparent sign of weakness which led the country to once again support the man - who brought us into this senseless war in the first place - to a second term in the White House! What a shame! I've been grieving ever since...

On the other corner of the ring, we've got a guy like Mitt Romney who has flip-flopped on nearly every possible issue: from abortion and gay rights, to stem cell research and gun laws. You name it, Mitt Romney has disclosed varying opinions and beliefs on nearly every topic that's up for debate. What I've drawn from this is a distinct difference between the way(s) in which Democrats and Republicans flip-flop. While Kerry flipped on a strategic issue (the pressing urgency of the war), Mitt flipped on moral issues. (For more Romney flip-flops, check out RomneyFacts.com)

Examine the following scenario to understand where I'm coming from here: Suppose I were to tell you that such-and-such attacked our country and we were going to respond. You would probably support that, right? Pretty straightforward. Now what if I were to tell you (after some time, of course) that in fact the information I once disclosed to you was proven to be false. You would rethink the war strategy and further examine the reason(s) for initially preparing an attack on a country which now, with proper evidence, has been wiped clean of being the original "culprit." Inevitably, this would mean that you'd be backing down from your original position on the conflict. Pretty simple and straightforward, right? Not every one has the foresight to be able to determine from the get-go that the planning of the war was faulty and that there in fact was no need to initiate what would later on be seen as a violation of everything that this country stands for. Only few individuals and great leaders such as Barack Obama possess this powerful quality (one of the several reasons why I support him for his 2008 run for the White House).

Now in this demonstration, picture yourself being either pro or anti-gay rights, pro or anti-gun rights, whatever. Pick any social/moral issues you'd like and make a decision. Now imagine holding the opposing sides of all of those arguments. Pretty difficult, right? I mean, to me, it's a bit of a big deal if you can flip-flop on a moral issue over night, just like that. To me, it's resembles proof and a sign of a flimsy and unstructured moral compass: a recipe for disaster. But as we've seen, this is exactly what the Republicans are able to do with ease. For a Democrat, holding true to one's moral and ethical virtues is just that: a virtuous quality and an emblem of patriotism. To Republicans, morality has been proven to be purely debatable, interchangeable, and over all simply up in the air. Republican embarrassments like Mark Foley and Larry Craig are proof of the moral hypocrisy/ies which continue to spring forth from the GOP. These are the same people who praise Jesus with the same tongues used to bash gays or other victims of GOP mayhem. What would Jesus think of all of this? I posit that Jesus would show utmost love and outreach for our gay brothers and sisters rather than shunning them, and even worse: vilifying them! What would Jesus think about torture? What would Jesus think about the innocent Iraqi civilians who are raped and murdered daily in this global farce for "Democracy in the Middle East." The question is inevitable: What Would Jesus Do? Personally, I think he'd get down on his knees and weep for humanity.

This country's right-wing political ideology is possessed by the stranglehold of the religious right, many of whom are Evangelical Christians. These people preach the words of Jesus, yet apparently rarely seem to understand the great Jewish carpenter's basic principles. Jesus' Sermon of the Mount says: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Have Republicans EVER followed this advice? Perhaps. Perhaps only in the competitive and grueling dog-eat-dog world of business. I digress.

The point I'm trying to make is that I've noticed the ease by which Republicans are able to completely flip on moral issues. I write this post only hours after John McCain flipped on one of the issues which I originally applauded him for. As Crooks & Liars recently pointed out/featured, John McCain, the poised candidate for the Republicans in November, is pandering to his base by falling back on all his previous opposition to torture. You know, this is the guy who was himself tortured during the war which proclaimed him a POW and national hero. Differing himself from other Republicans, here was a man who not only stood up for his moral belief that torture was not something America should subject itself to doing. Here was a man who actually EXPERIENCED torture for five years as a prisoner of war. Of all the topics which he could have possibly flip-flopped on, torture sure as hell shouldn't have been one of them. But the Republicans never cease to amaze us, huh? Torture, the brutish violation and abomination of human rights. Torture, which McCain was subjected to for five years of his life. Such a pressing and dire issue like torture is somehow STILL a position which can easily be thrown around.

Simply amazing... Am I the only one who sees it like this? I hope not. Kerry flip-flopped on the strategies and logistics of a war which was initiated by an administration which has lied to us for years. Republicans like Romney and McCain on the other hand, take folks like Kerry to task, yet feel free to jump all over the place over moral issues. If you ask me, that's completely illogical and doesn't add/stand up to a sliver of normalcy. When will they learn?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Tupac Shakur: 'Words of Wisdom'

One of my favorite poems by Tupac Shakur. It's a song with two verses and plenty of great political adlibs. Here are just the verses:

This is for the masses, the lower classes
Ones you left out
Jobs were givin', better livin'
But we were kept out
Made to feel inferior, but we're superior
Break the chains in our brains that made us fear yah
Pledge allegiance to a flag that neglects us
Honor a man that refuse to respect us
'Emancipation Proclamation'? Please!
Nigga just said that to save the nation
These are lies that we all accepted
Say no to drugs but the government's keep it
Runnin' through our community, killing the unity
The war on drugs is a war on you and me
And yet they say this is the Home of the Free
You ask me? It's all about hypocrisy
The constitution? Yo, it don't apply to me
And Lady Liberty? Stupid bitch lied to me
This made me stronger, no one's gonna like what I'm bumpin'
But it's wrong to keep someone from learning something
So get up, it's time to start nation building
I'm fed up, we gotta start teaching children
That they can be all that they wanna to be
There's much more to life than just poverty

Amerikkka, Amerikkka, Ameri K K Ka

Words of Wisdom
Based upon the strength of a nation
Conquer the enemy armed with education
Protect yourself, reach for what you wanna do
Know thy self, teach by what we've been through
Armed with the knowledge of the place we've been
No one will ever oppress this race again
No Malcolm X in my history text, why is that?
'Cause he tried to educate and liberate all Blacks
Why is Martin Luther King in my book each week?
He told Blacks if they get smacked, turn the other cheek
I don't get it, so many questions run through my mind
I get sweated, they act like asking questions' a crime
But forget it, 'cause one day I'm gonna prove them wrong
Now every brother had to smother on the welfare line
The American Dream, though it seems like it's attainable
They're pulling your sleeve, don't believe, 'cause it'll strangle yah
Pulling the life of your brain, I can't explain
Beg as you can obtain from which you came
You swear to your mother that you're living in equality
Forgetting your brother that's living her apology
Thought they had us beat when they took our kids
But the battle ain't over till the Black man sings
Words of Wisdom
The battle ain't over till the Black man sings
Words of Wisdom

...Amerikkka's Nightmare...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Robert Wexler Confronts Condi Rice

As reported on Crooks & Liars (gotta love 'em), Florida Rep. Robert Wexler took Condoleezza Rice (a.k.a. A Bitch Supreme a.k.a. Auntie Tom) to task for the Bush administration's bullshit that led us to war. He grilled her...

Meanwhile, Roger Clemens and steroids gets more media coverage...

America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?

Herbie Hancock on Tavis Smiley [February 13, 2008]

MP3 @ PBS.org

'Jaweh and Allah Battle' by Allen Ginsberg

Another great Ginsberg poem:
Jaweh with Atom Bomb
Allah cuts throat of Infidels
Jaweh’s armies beat down neighbouring tribes
Will Red Sea waters close & drown th’armies of Allah?

Israel’s tribes worshipping the Golden Calf
Moses broke the Tablets of Law.

Zalmon Schacter Lubovitcher Rebbe what you say
Stone Commandments broken on the ground
Sufi Sam whaddya say
Shall Prophet’s companions dance circled
round Synagogue while Jews doven bearded electric?

Both Gods Terrible! Awful Jaweh Allah!
Both hook-nosed-gods, circumcised.
Jaweh Allah which unreal?
Which stronger Illusion?
Which stronger Army?
Which gives most frightening command?
What God maintain egohood in Eden? Which be Nameless?
Which enter Abyss of Light?
Worlds of Gods, jealous Warriors, Humans, Animals & Flowers,
Hungry Ghosts, even Hell Beings all die,
Snake cock and pig eat each other’s tails and perish
All Jews all Moslems’ll die All Israelis all Arabs
Cairo’s angry millions Jerusalem’s multitudes
suffer Death’s dream Armies in battle!
Yea let Tribes wander to tin camps at cold Europe’s walls?
Yea let the Million sit in the desert shantytowns with tin cups?
I’m a Jew cries Allah! Buddha circumcised!
Snake sneaking an apple to Eden -
Alien, Wanderer, Caller of the Great Call!
What Prophet born on this ground
bound me Eternal to Palestine
circled by Armies tanks, droning bomber motors,
radar electronic computers?
What Mind directed Stern Gang Irgun Al Fatah
Black September?
Meyer Lanksy? Nixon Shah? Gangster? Premier? King?
one-eyed General Dayan?
Golda Meir and Kissinger bound me with Arms?
Buchenwald sent me here! Vietnam sent me here!
Mylai sent me here!
Lidice sent me here!
My mother sent me here!
circumcised, my father had a coffee shop in Jerusalem
One day the soldiers came and told me to walk down road
my hands up
walk away leave my house business forever!
The Israelis sent me here!
Solomon’s Temple the Pyramids & Sphinx sent me here!
Abraham will take me to his bosom!
Mohammed will guide me to Paradise!
Christ sent me here to be crucified!
Buddha will wipe out and destroy the world.
The New York Times and Cairo Editorialist Heykal sent me here!
Commentary and Palestine Review sent me here!
The International Zionist Conspiracy sent me here!
Syrian Politicians sent me here! Heroic Pan-Arab
Nationalists sent me here!
They’re sending Armies to my side -
The Americans & Russians are sending bombing planes tanks
Chinese Egyptians Syrians help me battle for my righteous
house my Soul’s dirt Spirit’s Nation body’s
boundaries & Self’s territory my
Zionist homeland my Palestine inheritance
The Capitalist Communist & Third World Peoples’
Republics Dictatorships Police States Socialisms and Democracies
are all sending Deadly Weapons to our aid!
We shall triumph over the Enemy!
Maintain our Separate Identity! Proud
History evermore!
Defend our own bodies here this Holy Land! This hill
Golgotha never forget, never relinquish
inhabit thru Eternity
under Allah Christ Yaweh forever one God
Shema Yisroel Adonoi Eluhenu Adonoi Echad!
La ilah illa’ Allah hu!


Genesis / 'America' by Allen Ginsberg

While I currently run a popular hip hop blog, I feel like I need something fresh. Something to supplement (or complement?) my other site. It's finally time to begin this more personal, politically-driven blog. Thankfully the name wasn't taken. I've been planning on doing something like this for a long time. In fact, back in 2006 I began a blog like this but failed miserably. Now that I've gained experience with using Blogger and feel comfortable with writing as a hobby, the time has come for 'Quite Serious.' For those that don't know, the title of this blog originates from a poem by Allen Ginsberg (see header ;-P). The line is taken from a particularly powerful poem called 'America', one of my all-time favorites. The poem itself is both wild and wise, featuring plenty of humor and honesty. But what grabs the reader (me, at least) are the lines near the end, which are bolded below. They grab you; more than this, they scream at you. America! This is quite serious! Indeed, I believe that while Allen was commenting on life until his passing, he was also visualizing the intellectual and rational descent of America and Americans. The notion of an "American Dream" is truer now more than ever - not that opportunities are as plentiful as they once were, but rather that we are all slumbering in la-la land. We've gotta wake up; we must 'Howl' and scream and shout for what we believe in. I'm "getting right down to the job." This blog is a labor of love above all, and I hope that all who pass through can gain something positive from it. We live in this great age where blogs have become so influential; it'd be a crime NOT to voice our opinion. So that's exactly what I'll do. I may not always be right, and my thoughts may not even always be coherent. But at least you'll know that I'm serious.

Now without further ado, acquaintance yourself with this great piece of American art, Allen Ginsberg's 'America'. Read it with an open mind and an open heart:

America I've given you all and now I'm nothing.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.
I can't stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb
I don't feel good don't bother me.
I won't write my poem till I'm in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I'm sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don't think he'll come back it's sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I'm trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I'm doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
I haven't read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I'm not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there's going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
My psychoanalyst thinks I'm perfectly right.
I won't say the Lord's Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven't told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over
from Russia.

I'm addressing you.
Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time Magazine?
I'm obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It's always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie
producers are serious. Everybody's serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.

Asia is rising against me.
I haven't got a chinaman's chance.
I'd better consider my national resources.
My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals
an unpublishable private literature that goes 1400 miles and hour and
twentyfivethousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underpriviliged who live in
my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns.
I have abolished the whorehouses of France, Tangiers is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I'm a Catholic.

America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?
I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his
automobiles more so they're all different sexes
America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe
America free Tom Mooney
America save the Spanish Loyalists
America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die
America I am the Scottsboro boys.
America when I was seven momma took me to Communist Cell meetings they
sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the
speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the
workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party
was in 1935 Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother
Bloor made me cry I once saw Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have
been a spy.
America you don're really want to go to war.
America it's them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.
The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia's power mad. She wants to take
our cars from out our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Reader's Digest. her wants our
auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy running our fillingstations.
That no good. Ugh. Him makes Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers.
Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?

I'd better get right down to the job.
It's true I don't want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts
factories, I'm nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.