“REFUGEES” — A Poem From “BRIAN BILSTON’S POETRY LABOETRY — From Ideation to Poemification”

https://brianbilston.com/2016/03/23/refugees/

“REFUGEES

They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way

(now read from bottom to top)”

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Thanks to our son-in-law Professor Daniel Barolsky of Beloit College for forwarding this!

PWS

11-25-17

 

RIP: A TRIBUTE TO ALL-AMERICAN ROCKER “PROFESSOR TOM” PETTY, THE SONG “REFUGEE,” AND THREE SIMPLE TRUTHS ABOUT REFUGEES.

In addition to all of the other terrible and disturbing news last week, I was saddened by the death of one of my all time favorite rockers, Tom Petty, the lead singer of “Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.” I’ve felt a “special connection” ever since he was one of the “featured members” of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland Ohio during one of my details to the then newly established Cleveland, Immigration Court in 2006. (Another “featured member” happened to be a guy who went to high school in our current hometown of Alexandria, VA, the late great Jim Morrison, lead singer of the Doors. In addition to visiting the R&R HOF and catching up with some of my old buddies from “Jones Day Days,” I got to see LeBron James play in person with the Cavs — before he left and returned – and got the coveted LeBron James Bubblehead, which I still have. Even better than being detailed to Los Fresnos SPC or Pearsall, Texas!) From listening to recollections on “Tom Petty Radio” on Sirius XM, it appears that in addition to being a great performer and musical artist, Tom was just one heck of a nice guy who brought joy and did good things for everyone around him.

As those who took my “Refugee Law & Policy” Course at Georgetown Law will probably remember, “Professor Tom” always “visited” our first class to share a few words of wisdom with us from the lyrics of his great hit “Refugee.” From a “musicology” standpoint, “Refugee” appears to be about a tortured love relationship. (Always have to try to work a little music into my teaching to impress my son-in-law Professor Daniel Barolsky who teaches Musicology at Beloit College!)

Nevertheless, “Professor Tom” with a little help from the Heartbreakers, leaves us with three simple, yet profound truths about refugees that sadly, the shallow and cowardly men who now govern our country either never knew or have forgotten.

 

Here is a link to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performing “Refugee:”

And, here are the lyrics. Can you figure out the “three-point message?”

 

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Refugee Lyrics

We got somethin’ we both know it

We don’t talk too much about it

Yeah it ain’t no real big secret all the same

Somehow we get around it

Listen it don’t really matter to me baby

You believe what you want to believe

You see you don’t have to live like a refugee

 

Somewhere, somehow somebody

Must have kicked you around some

Tell me why you want to lay there

And revel in your abandon

Listen it don’t make no difference to me baby

Everybody’s had to fight to be free

You see you don’t have to live like a refugee

Now baby you don’t have to live like a refugee

 

Baby we ain’t the first

I’m sure a lot of other lover’s been burned

Right now this seems real to you

But it’s one of those things

You gotta feel to be true

 

Somewhere, somehow somebody

Must have kicked you around some

Who knows, maybe you were kidnapped

Tied up, taken away and held for ransom

It don’t really matter to me

Everybody’s had to fight to be free

You see you don’t have to live like a refugee

I said you don’t have to live like a refugee

Songwriters: MICHAEL W. CAMPBELL, TOM PETTY

Refugee lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

 

Lyrics term of use

 

 

 

First, nobody really wants to “live like a refugee.” That’s true whether they are in prison or hiding out in their home countries, surviving on “handouts” or “by their wits” in neighboring countries, or existing in misery and potential exploitation in often squalid refugee camps. Even those fortunate enough to be relocated to a relatively safe country like ours would undoubtedly prefer never to have become a refugee in the first place!

Second, refugees usually have been “kicked around some.” It starts with persecution, often gruesome torture, from their home countries. But the escape and survival in a foreign country often involves victimization, exploitation, and dehumanizing treatment. Then, to top it off, cowardly jerks like Trump, Pence, Sessions, Miller and Bannon, speaking from their safe and privileged positions, disparage refugees, dehumanize them, disregard their needs, and disingenuously minimize their achievements and the ways they make our country better.

Third, if like me, you are one of the fortunate ones who is not a refugee, it’s probably because either you or someone before you “fought to be free.” Guys like Trump & Miller never fought for freedom, but they are the privileged beneficiaries of those who did. Rather than showing their gratitude with a little humility and humanity, they urge Americans to turn our backs on the world’s most needy.

I have great admiration and respect for refugees, and I am impressed and inspired by the life stories of many who came through my courtroom searching for justice.

But, I never for a moment wanted to switch places with any refugee. As I often say, I wake up each morning thankful for two things: first, that I woke up: and second, that I’m not a refugee, particularly in today’s world.

So, I’ll continue to think about “Professor Tom,” the Heartbreakers, and his important messages every time I hear “Refugee” or any of the other great tunes Tom leaves behind.

Rest in peace, Tom Petty. Thanks for the music and the pleasure that you have brought to millions, and for a “life well lived!”

 

PWS

 

10-09-17

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Another one bites the dust, And another one gone, and another one gone” — Nunes Out Of Russia Investigation!

Quote from “Another One Bites The Dust,” sung by Queen, Songwriter: Deacon, John; here’s a link http://www.metrolyrics.com/another-one-bites-the-dust-lyrics-queen.html

The NY Times reports:

“WASHINGTON — Representative Devin Nunes, the embattled California Republican who is chairman of the Intelligence Committee, announced on Thursday he would step aside from leading his committee’s investigation into Russia’s efforts to disrupt last year’s presidential election.

His announcement was made on the same morning that the House Committee on Ethics said Mr. Nunes was under investigation because of public reports that he “may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information.”

Read the full report here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/06/us/politics/devin-nunes-house-intelligence-committee-russia.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share

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COMPROMISED:

Former National Security Adviser, Gen. Mike Flynn

U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions

House Intelligence Chair, Devon Nunes (R-CA)

Who’s next??????

PWS

04/06/17

 

 

 

 

NYT: Tilting At Windmills — Trump’s Coal Mining Fantasyland — “Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back, To your hometown, To your hometown!”**

**Bruce Springtsteen — My Hometown

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/business/coal-jobs-trump-appalachia.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=0

Hiroko Tabushi writes in the NY Tmes:

“In Decatur, Ill., far from the coal mines of Appalachia, Caterpillar engineers are working on the future of mining: mammoth haul trucks that drive themselves.

The trucks have no drivers, not even remote operators. Instead, the 850,000-pound vehicles rely on self-driving technology, the latest in an increasingly autonomous line of trucks and drills that are removing some of the human element from digging for coal.

When President Trump moved on Tuesday to dismantle the Obama administration’s climate change efforts, he promised it would bring coal-mining jobs back to America. But the jobs he alluded to — hardy miners in mazelike tunnels with picks and shovels — have steadily become vestiges of the past.

Pressured by cheap and abundant natural gas, coal is in a precipitous decline, now making up just a third of electricity generation in the United States. Renewables are fast becoming competitive with coal on price. Electricity sales are trending downward, and coal exports are falling.

All the while, the coal industry has been replacing workers with machines and explosives. Energy and labor specialists say that no one — including Mr. Trump — can bring them all back.

“People think of coal mining as some 1890s, colorful, populous frontier activity, but it’s much better to think of it as a high-tech industry with far fewer miners and more engineers and coders,” said Mark Muro, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

“The regulatory changes are entirely outweighed by these technological changes, not to mention the price of natural gas or renewables,” Mr. Muro said. “Even if you brought back demand for coal, you wouldn’t bring back the same number of workers.”

. . . .

“In 1980, the industry employed about 242,000 people. By 2015, that figure had plunged 60 percent, to fewer than 100,000, even as coal production edged up 8 percent. Helped by automation, worker productivity more than tripled over the same period, according to data from the federal Energy Information Administration and the Brookings Institution.

And a recent study by the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment predicted that automation was likely to replace 40 to 80 percent of workers at mines.

Automation makes mines more “safe, efficient and productive,” said Corrie Scott, a Caterpillar spokeswoman. “While mines would not need as many drivers, they will need more people who use and understand the latest technology,” she said.

“However way you spin it, gas and renewables are going to continue to replace coal,” said Nicolas Maennling, senior economics and policy researcher at Columbia University and an author of the automation study.

“And in order to stay competitive, coal will have to increase automation,” he said. “What Mr. Trump does will make little difference.”

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Yup,  I understand the President is a leader, not a technocrat. That’s why a good political leader surrounds him or herself with competent staff and also draws on the huge wealth of technical expertise available in the Federal Civil Service.

Surrounding yourself instead with idealogical know-nothings and sycophants like Bannon, Miller, and Priebus is pure political malpractice at the highest level.

(Note that I didn’t include Conway in the group. I think she’s probably the smartest of the bunch. She was the “brains” behind what has to go down as one of the most unexpected electoral triumphs in American political history, regardless of whether or not you like the result. And I wouldn’t accuse her of being a sycophant. But, she is totally loyal to a fault, and therefore keeps throwing herself on her sword over and over for The Leader. I also didn’t include Spicer. He has his bad days, for sure. But, he has the hardest job in Washington, and that includes The Leader himself. I actually doubt anyone could do it better. He won’t last too long. But, after he’s gone, not only Melissa McCarthy is likely to miss him.)

PWS

03/30/17

HAIL, HAIL ROCK & ROLL: IN MEMORIUM: Chuck Berry, “Godfather Of Rock & Roll” — Today’s Rock Stars Owe Him Big Time For His Pioneering Work!

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/03/19/arts/music/chuck-berry-rock-innovator.html?emc=edit_nn_20170320&nl=morning-briefing&nlid=79213886&te=1&_r=0&referer=

John Caramanica writes in the NY Times:

“Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” wasn’t the first rock ’n’ roll song, but it was the best and brashest of the genre’s early advertisements. Released in 1956, it opens with a nimble, bendy guitar riff — a prelude to the one that would be perfected a year later, on “Johnny B. Goode” — that serves as an intrusion and an enticement. Then Mr. Berry describes the fever, “the rockin’ pneumonia,” that was soon to grip the country.

“My heart beatin’ rhythm/And my soul keep-a singin’ the blues,” he sang. “Roll over Beethoven/And tell Tchaikovsky the news.”

Plenty of artists would go on to cover “Roll Over Beethoven” — the Beatles streamlined and sweetened it; Electric Light Orchestra distended it into an overlong, pompous shuffle with a snatch of the Fifth Symphony; Paul Shaffer and his band made a sleek version as the theme to the 1992 film “Beethoven,” about a St. Bernard with the composer’s name.

But those covers lacked the panache, the transgressive potential, the unexpected twists and turns of the Chuck Berry originals.

Mr. Berry, who died on Saturday at his home near St. Louis, was the first true rock ’n’ roll superstar. When in his late 20s he emerged from St. Louis onto the national scene, the genre wasn’t yet codified. In its infancy, rock was hybrid music, and Mr. Berry was its most vivid and imaginative alchemist.

From the mid-1950s through the end of that decade, he concocted a yowling blend of hopped-up blues, country and then-emergent rhythm & blues that ended up as the template for what became widely accepted as rock ’n’ roll (though the term predated his rise).”

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Great musician, entertainer, and stage performer whose influence will continue as long as rock and roll is played!

I find it interesting how the “mainstream culture” eventually adopts and idolizes folks like Chuck Berry and Mohammad Ali. In their “heydays,” both were considered dangerous renegades, not cultural idols.

The largely white-driven mainstream America often tried to suppress and deny their achievements and even subjected them to prosecutions that looked more like persecutions. (Regardless of its morality, how many white Rock and Rollers have transported underage girls, and lots of other “illegal stuff,” across state lines for “immoral purposes,” do you think? How many were prosecuted — twice for the same crime in Berry’s case — and sent to prison?) In both Ali’s and Berry’s cases, their careers never completely recovered from their well-publicized legal problems.

Contrast this with the great “outlaw” country singer Johnny Cash (another of my personal favorites) who was “busted” seven times for misdemeanors (if he were an immigrant, he undoubtedly would have been characterized as a “dangerous repeat offender” not fit to live in America) but never spent more than one night in jail.

I have absolutely no difficulty with “mainstream America” recognizing folks like Berry and Ali for their amazing contributions to our world and adopting them as “folk heroes.” To me, it shows why the “cultural wars” being waged today by Trump and the GOP are ultimately doomed to failure.

But, it would be better if in posthumously recognizing great African Americans like Berry and Ali, all of us also acknowledged that contemporary society had it wrong about their contributions and probably treated them unfairly during their “prime of greatness.”

PWS

03/20/17