My latest work for Chamber Orchestra will be premiered by the Ukiah Symphony Orchestra on March 24, 2019 from 2:00-4:00 pm at the First Presbyterian Church of Ukiah, 514 W. Church Street, Ukiah CA 95482.
This 20-minute piece, entitled "Rose's Paintings", is a four movement work inspired by the paintings of Rose Xylona Ayala. You can go to my youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAc4H-TDlUq2u7o606T6KnQ?view_as=subscriber to listen to the pieces. Just look for videos titled "Comets" "Stairway to Heaven", "Room With a Door", and "Rose".
Please make plans to attend this fundraiser for the symphony. Other local composers to be featured are Jeff Ives, Joseph Nemeth, and Bill Taylor.
DONATION - $30
SENIORS - $25
Click the poster below for details
This represents a critical point in the story of humanity... a morality play writ large. When faced with the mother of existential crises, human nature reveals itself. Some instinctively avert their eyes and drive full speed backwards off a cliff. Others see the threat clearly, take its measure, and true to the nobility inherent in humanity, rise to the challenge with bold, creative resolve. The Green New Deal is not a new initiative. It has needed new faces and new energy to propel it beyond the old, corrupt guard that would stand in its way.
Welcome to the State of the Union. Welcome to the new world. I know it is shocking to witness a Congress that intends to both lead and legislate. I know those shiny new, not all white faces, that now populate the House are a fundamental threat to the powerful elite represented by the Senate. I understand that their ideas about fairness, equality, compassion, eliminating poverty, caring for people with medical needs, engaging the rest of the world in an effort to avert our extinction, and education for all is more important to them than purchasing a few more new aircraft carriers or squadrons of half billion dollar airplanes. If you have a problem with this approach to government, then get over it or get used to it.
Here's the greatest shock of all, if you can bear to read it: this world belongs to the youth, who will inhabit it among the filth and chaos we older people have left it in. They will do what they can to fix our world, and they will die trying. They will call for radical change in every sector of our human activity because radical change is what is necessary for their survival. That means a world government will be formed, the needs of our planet will supersede all other considerations, what we now think of as individualistic rights to consume and plunder will be eliminated, spirituality will be expressed differently, religion will be radically altered, the immorality of the super rich owning more than they need will be corrected, wealth will be redistributed, and the quality of life will not be measured in GDP.
It you have a problem with this view of the world to come, then you will suffer in the future. Your SUV will be crushed, along with your ego. If you are okay with this future, vote it into existence. Encourage the rebirth of true democracy in America. Call it whatever you like... socialism, globalism, elimination of racism, elimination of capitalism... even the destruction of "isms". However you feel, it's on the way. There is not a damned thing you can do to stop it. Embrace the change or step off the planet.
Click on the picture to link to the Huffington Post article or click here.
• GOP Congressman Spent His Week Harassing Muslim Colleague on Twitter
• Police Sergeant to Precinct: If a Homeless Person is Black, Just Shoot Them
• 2 Years Later, Trump’s Muslim Ban is Still Keeping Families Apart
• Ocasio-Cortez Flooded With Bigoted Calls
• Virginia House Democrats Call for Gov. Ralph Northam’s Resignation (for black face photo)
• The Covington Teens’ Racist “Tomahawk Chop” Is The Product Of Native Mascotry
• Don Lemon Shreds Ralph Northam’s Disgusting Racism: ‘It Deeply Hurt’ Me
• RNC Gets Roasted Over “Tone Deaf” Black History Month Tweet
These headlines say a lot about our nation. We need to pay attention to the issues of race and bigotry that are becoming more - not less - prevalent as we struggle with white supremacy, white fragility, and white rage. We fought a civil war over these issues once before but we have never overcome them. Our government has never apologized for its role in the practices of genocide and slavery upon which our nation was built. Racist language is still present in the DNA of our Constitution, and has not been expunged or repudiated.
I believe the United States needs to institute a national “Truth and Reconciliation” commission based on the South African model that addressed their apartheid era. God knows we could use such a process to help our nation transition from our myth of a white european ethos of the past to a superior one based on vibrant ethnic and racial diversity for the future.
Instead of a long analysis of the memo, I wish to offer some observations about the use of it by Republicans and how it, like so many other actions of this administration, damages our institutions. First of all, I agree with what Matthew Waxman, a Columbia University professor of law and former Bush administration official, wrote in an email, “Having decided to cherry-pick, the Nunes team picked a bunch of the wrong cherries for its own narrative.”. It does not take much thought to come to a conclusion that many of the points made in the memo actually undercut the Republican member’s own arguments against the Mueller investigation. As Paul Calian, CNN Legal Analyst, writes of the memo, “If there is anything shocking in the Nunes memo, it can be found in its faulty reasoning, writing and sourcing.”
The memo is a political document... nothing more... and a lot less. As in a court case, this document is not intended to prove innocence, but to cast doubt.
The way this memo was released is highly unusual. Of course, memos by House and Senate committees have been issued in the past. However, if there is no bipartisan accord, there is always a “rebuttal” document issued on behalf of the minority position. This was not done in this case. When House Intelligence Committee Republicans voted last Monday to release their document, they voted against a series of motions by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), intended to ensure that the minority's rebuttal would be released, as well.
It is important to understand who the head of the House Intelligence Committee is, and what his role has been as a key obfuscater in defense of our embattled president. The 44 year old Devon Nunes, who served on the Trump transition team, was the first leading House Republican to deny that the intelligence community had evidence of contact between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. Nunes also rejected calls that he request President Trump's tax returns. At the request of a White House communications aide, Nunes spoke to a Wall Street Journal reporter to challenge a story about the Trump campaign's connections to Russia. When Trump's national security adviser Michael T. Flynn resigned after it was revealed that he had misled the Trump administration about his communication with Russian officials, Nunes said he would not seek to investigate Flynn's ties to Russia. In early 2017, he was criticized for bias in a congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.
On March 22, 2017, during the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, Nunes held a press conference to announce that he had received information that communications of members of Trump's transition team had been "incidentally collected" by the intelligence community. Nunes was widely criticized for sharing this information with the media and the president before briefing his colleagues on the committee. In late March 2017, Nunes canceled a public hearing in which former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former National Security Agency Director James Clapper, and former CIA Director John Brennan were to testify. Democrats criticized Nunes' decision and said that he was trying to protect the White House from damaging revelations.
On April 6, 2017, Nunes temporarily stepped aside from leading the Russia investigation while being investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics because he falsely claimed that the Obama administration wiretapped then candidate Trump.
Skip ahead a busy eight months for Devin Nunes. The memo released by the House Intelligence Committee, under his authorship is yet another example of the insidious and cynical nature of the Trump administration. It is also another example of how Trump corrupts American governmental institutions. When asked on February 2, 2018 if he has confidence in Rod Rosenstein, who now oversees the Mueller investigation, Trump relied “You figure that one out.”
You don’t have to be a political genius to understand what will happen next. In his own words, Trump declared by Tweet on Saturday morning, February 3, 2018,
“This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe. But the Russian
Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there
was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year
of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead).
This is an American disgrace!”.
The next act in this fourth grade level, ham fisted political spectacle we are witnessing will be Trump’s use of the Nunes memo to justify his firing of Rosenstein.
Welcome to the era of the “Big Lie”. The cast of characters lined up in the Trump administration is like watching an episode of the Keystone Cops. This entire situation is tragically funny, but it also ominously portends a constitutional crisis like we have never faced in our nation. We are witnessing a president, and his confederates, who will do anything to remain in power... for the sheer sake of it. They seem to be not above any action to subvert our cherished institutions, twist fact, distort the truth, and deceive the American public, whom they certainly don’t give a damn about. The “American disgrace”, Mr. President, is you!
I don’t believe that most people know Trump personally trademarked the phrase “Make America Great Again” in 2012. His campaign then filed for the rights to the slogan in 2015 when he launched his presidential bid. My knowledge of that fact must have prompted the dream I had last night:
In my dream I woke up one morning with an intense desire to own t-shirts and hats that read “Make America Kind Again” and “Make America Respected Again”. I got up and made coffee, but there must have been a little too much caffeine in my espresso. I started writing a huge list of other words to place in between “America” and “Again”. Words like smart, compassionate, loving, Trumpless, work, loved, brilliant, artistic, educated, factual, honest... and so on.
I got on line and ordered both t-shirts and baseball caps that read many “different” slogans based on Trump’s slogan, in every color except red. Then I posted on Facebook the name of the company I used and suggested that everyone start ordering their own versions of the slogan to be displayed against every color except red. On the day I received the package of t-shirts and hats, an email arrived from the Snickle & Burke Law firm in New York warning me to cease and desist my illegal trademark violation of Donald Trump’s slogan. I wrote back that I was exercising my first amendment rights, that what I did is protected speech because it is satire, and since I did not sell any merchandise or profit from its sale - they could stuff themselves. I spent that evening going around to my friends houses and giving away my t-shirts and hats. They loved the gifts that they all called “differents”. That name stuck.
Later, I was watching the news and saw a story that stopped me in my tracks. “In his latest tweet storm unleashed early this morning president Trump lashed out at a man named Clovice Lewis who is selling t-shirts and baseball caps that are in violation of president Trump’s trademarked ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan.”, the newscaster said. Displayed on the screen was Trump’s tweet that read, “Clovice Lewis thinks he can stop America from being GREAT again. The constitittion has an answer for him and his fellow conspiracators and so do my lawyers. SAD!!!” Since I don’t have a twitter account I did not see this tweet from the president. When I went on Facebook I found hundreds of postings, both for and against me. I also got death threats in my email. One that I remember was, “Trump RULES. Your dead this time. I’ll find out were you live and plant a burning tshirt in your front yard while I explane to you with my fists how America is GREAT AGAIN.”
In the way dreams do, I found myself in front of a judge who said I could post bail for one million dollars or go to jail on a newly-minted charge of “Illegally Trying To Impede America’s Greatness”. I told the judge that I can’t pay the bail, but I’d happily go to jail as a still free man and that I look forward to my day in court. In the dead of night I was blindfolded and transported to another facility.
Months later my wife, Carol, visited me in Guantanamo. She told me companies that printed the “differents” were forced out of business. Millions of people began using press on lettering on colored t-shirts and hats to make their own “different” attire. Those businesses were also forced out of business or closed by the US government under the new “Make America Great Anti-Sedition” law. To purchase a permanent marker citizens had to sign a legally binding statement that they would not use it for making different slogans of any kind. People began calling themselves “differents”.
Guantanamo was rough, but I survived the ten years I was there. Carol met me at the airplane that would take us from the Naval airbase. Some of the ground personnel there wore colored armbands with different “Make America” slogans on them over their uniforms. When the plane landed at the San Francisco airport there were thousands of people proudly wearing t-shirts and caps of all the colors of the rainbow with many different “Make America” slogans. I asked Carol, “Honey, is this just in the Bay Area that people do this?”. “No”, she said, “Everyone in the entire world sports these now.” “I see a few red hats slinking around in the corners. Who are they?”, I asked. “Oh them... only assholes wear ‘Make America Great Again’ hats.”, she said, laughing.
About this blog.
This blog is a place where many of the confluences of my life can be shared. I am, at the core, a creative person. I approach everything from that basis... whether composing symphonies, playing the cello, being a serial entrepreneur, writing sermons and essays, flying airplanes, or creating software apps. I am deeply passionate about creativity, issues of social justice, and spiritual enrichment. These are fundamental to everything I do. Welcome to my journey!