Voter suppression laws are meant to "kick the Democrats in the butt.” revealed Don Yelton, precinct chair in the Buncombe County, North Carolina Republican Party last week on the Daily Show, “if it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that wants the government to give them everything, so be it.”
Just trying to read between the lines, but it seems to me like if you are a minority, the Republican Party really rather you didn’t vote. Not so much because of the color of your skin. It’s more because statistically, you’re likely to vote for a Democrat.
Under the guise of "voter fraud," a problem that was never proven to exist, Republican operatives have done everything they can to restrict those who might vote against them. Less than two hours after the conservative Supreme Court struck down the voting rights act of 1965, allowing certain southern states with a history of discrimination to once again create barriers for racial minority voters, Texas led the rush to take advantage of their new found freedom by limiting the acceptable forms of identification, ending opportunities for student voting and reducing hours for early voting. Many Republican-led states have followed suit.
It is sad that after many years of sacrifice and progress, we, as a country are in some ways regressing back to the dark days in our history of racial discrimination. As an artist dedicated to creating works that challenge people to think more deeply about sociopolitical issues, I was inspired to paint "Voter Fraud." I hope this piece can in some small way inspire positive change. There must be vigilance in overcoming the hurdles that would restrict the basic rights so many have sacrificed so much to attain. Don’t get mad, get a photo ID and vote out those who would try to take away those rights.
In this day and age of self- aggrandizing pop stars, It is hard for today's generation to imagine that there ever existed a selfless singer of song who's only concern was the causes he sang about and not his celebrity.
Well there was, and still exists a man of such integrity. Our last living American folk hero, Pete Seeger. A champion of the disenfranchised since the 1940's, Pete has been railing against war, pollution, racism, greed, and social injustice for eight decades. He bravely risked a 10 year prison sentence for defying Senator Joe McCarthy's witch hunt in the 50's and popularized the civil rights anthem and "We Shall Overcome" for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's historic march in the 60's. His anti-war song "Knee Deep in the Big Muddy" became a force in ending the Vietnam War. He founded the Clearwater organization which continues to clean up the Hudson River. Ninety four and still fighting the good fight, he recently performed at the farm aide concert, leading Willie Nelson, Dave Mathews, Neil Young in song against fracking.
It's because he sings for things like justice and the environment and not for record sales that he is so admired. Besides being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and winning a Grammy at 90, he has been bestowed with the National Medal of Arts and a Kennedy Center Honor. He was chosen to sing at President Obama's historic first inauguration.Bruce Springsteen devoted an entire album of Pete's songs. As an artist who's known for creating work that challenges people to think more deeply about many of the same issues Pete sings about, he is certainly an inspiration to me personally. That's why I recently took time off from my sociopolitical paintings to create the portrait of Pete titled "Beacon Of Hope" that hangs at the Towne Crier Cafe in Pete's (and my) hometown of Beacon, NY, where the locals cherish their own national treasure.
There is currently a greatly deserved petition to nominate him for the Nobel Prize.
Somehow I don't think Kanye West will ever get nominated for a Nobel Prize, unless he nominates himself. What makes Pete so special is that he doesn't really care about all these honors, he only cares about the making the world a fairer place for generations and trying to preserve it for future ones.
It's been over 6 months since the Newtown massacre and we’ve done absolutely nothing to prevent the next one. Shame on the gun and ammo manufactures. Shame on the NRA, and shame on our elected leaders who take their money. It saddens me that we live in a society that accepts a government that protects the profits of a few over the lives of many innocent citizens. The fact that the NRA was able to buy enough senators to usurp the will of 90% of the American people when it came to expanded background checks means that we’ve lost our democracy as well as innocent lives.
I’m an artist not a blogger, so I made my point and vented my frustrations in my paintings. I hope they get shared enough to embarrass our elected leaders into finally doing the right thing. If we are vigilant enough, perhaps the next six months will be more fruitful than the last.
Since the recent AP scandal, there has been a lot of talk about the importance of the press to be able to keep our government in check. Sure, the talk has been coming from the press themselves who don't like the fact that the Obama administration got a hold of the AP's phone records even if it was presumably for national security reasons. They are crying foul, saying that inhibits the freedom of the press to be the public's watchdog.
The problem is that the press have become big money making entities owned by or financed by advertising money from large corporations. Many of these corporations are far more powerful than our government and so we need an objective watchdog from them. But sadly, no dog (watch or not) will bite the hand that feeds them. Take for example the recent "March Against Monsanto." Over 200 million people in over 400 countries marched against the agricultural giant who has monopolized our food supply and convinced our government to exempt them from litigation should anyone be harmed from the genetically modified food products. Haven't heard about it? Most people haven't because the press ignored it almost completely with nary a news broadcast about it to be found. Then there's "Citizen Koch", a documentary about money in politics which was initially supposed to air as part of the PBS "Independent Lens" series. The film focuses on secret political spending by high-profile billionaires, like the Koch brothers, and how they are able to influence the political system through their concentrated wealth. However, the funding for "Citizen Koch" was removed in fear of offending billionaire David Koch, who has given $23 million to public television.
The censored or lack of coverage about important information is about as bad as all the disinformation you get in it's place from the ideologically driven press acting as a propaganda tool of the two political parties. So it's Press For Sale, be it to a large corporation or political party, you are getting information sanctioned by the highest bidder. Our only defense is to stay objective and always consider who's paying the source.
The bottom line is that the NRA is in business to protect gun and ammo manufacturing profits, not your rights. They exist to block any and all laws that might decrease sales, no matter what the cost. Otherwise, they would support laws that keep our children safe without affecting the average gun owner, like background checks and banning assault weapons. As a matter of fact they successfully lobbied congress to let the ban on assault weapons expire, the very kind that were used in Newtown. They also lobbied congress to make sure that federal medical research agencies are forbidden by law to finance studies that aim to reduce the harm from guns and made sure that federal agencies are forbidden to fund studies about the relative dangers & advantages of gun ownership.
They are consistently trying to shift the blame and conversation. For example, their friends at iowntheworld.com defaced my painting "Brought To You By The NRA" in photoshop to include a dead fetus and changed the blocks to spell NRAL, the pro-choice organization. It was just another obviously desperate and despicable attempt to change the subject.
Last year Americans accounted for nearly 90% of children killed by guns among the wealthiest nations. But the gun and ammo industry had record-breaking profits and that's what really matters to the NRA. The NRA has no interest in our children’s safety, but our government should. Congress should be protecting our children, not the gun lobby’s bottom line. Too many have already died.
Contact your representative and ask … How Many More?