Results tagged “John McCain” from Drama Queen

In an effort to stick to a blogging schedule, I'm going to start posting a "Weekly Mack Attack" on Fridays, a shout-out and call-out of whatever got under my skin during the previous seven days. The first entry comes from the realm of political theater, and even though you wanted to leave during intermission (That's what this whole "break" in the campaign was, right?) they can't/won't refund your ticket. At least the second act will be shorter than the first.

This week I'm hating on: John McCain's electioneering. Yeah sure, that's like shooting fish in a barrel, and next week I promise not to go for anything so obvious, and maybe even for something arts related, but come on, already. John McCain: save the drama for your sugar mama. Learn to multi-task. What really worries me is that considering Sarah Palin's recent transformation from Miss Alaska also-ran to Miss South Carolina (such as and, the Iraq), he's just crazy enough to dump her... But just sane enough to wait until after Obama's next significant polling uptick.

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This week I'm macking on: The array of Barack Obama goodies on Etsy, a clearinghouse for all things handmade. There are McCain items too, but as we learned this week, conservatives are boring. So is their political paraphernalia. The best they came up with? "Nobama" t-shirts. Obamazons? They're uniters, not dividers. Hip-hop lovers can order "Obama Said Knock You Out" shirts, while metalheads can tear it up in one that screams (but not in a German accent"Here I Am, Barack You Like a Hurricane." Indie types can smirk in their ironic Andy Warhol-style "Yes We Can"  American Apparel tees. Fancy folk can order up a hand-calligraphied "Elitists for Obama" button and lace their election night parties with some Obama portrait cookies. And old-schoolers can "Rock Out with Your Barack Out" on a glossy 3x5 print. So many ways to beg your fellow Americans not to screw this one up.

Below: Electioneering we can enjoy--Easy Star All-Stars' Radiodread version of the Radiohead song.

September 26, 2008 1:44 PM | | Comments (5)
So with all the ruckus about Sarah Palin's VP nomination, I haven't seen much about her stand on arts funding (I've also been submerged in a Fringe Fest fog for the past week-and-a-half, so if I missed something on ArtsJournal about the issue, my apologies). If she's truly aligned with her running mate John McCain, she'd be all for eliminating arts funding altogether. 

Well, turns out it's not that simple. It seems that under Palin's governorship, the Alaska State Council on the Arts (AKSCA) has increased its funding very slightly--just over 4%--to nonprofit artists and organizations. But while on the surface this appears to be promising news, it comes with the caveat that the council ran out of grant funds by the end of the third quarter of FY2007, and thus, "was only able to receive applications for three of the four normal quarterly grant deadlines." As AKSCA's operating report budget changes the information it includes from year to year, I'm not sure if this is due to more money going to fewer organizations or just plain poor planning. However, it does appear that before Palin's tenure, arts funding was on the decline in her state, and has since seen an incremental increase.

The most significant bump in AKSCA's funding comes in grants to schools for arts education, which last year rose just over 31%. This number doesn't include grants for field trip transportation (there were 68 of those, if you were wondering, though the report doesn't say whether this number increased or decreased). Participation in Alaska's Arts Education Consortium--an art teachers' professional development conference--has also increased under Palin, with the number of teachers rising from 27 in 2005 to 70 in 2008. 

Of course, just because Palin accepted money for arts funding and kept Alaska's Council on the Arts open doesn't mean she'll be a friend of the arts once she becomes VP, heaven help us (Hey, it's a blog, not a newspaper. Go read the Inquirer if you want impartiality). Considering her ties to Pat Buchanan and far right sympathies, this widely circulated bit from Time magazine about her tenure as Wasilla's mayor:

Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. "She asked the library how she could go about banning books," he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. "The librarian was aghast." That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving "full support" to the mayor.

and Artnet's report on her slashing of Wasilla's Dorothy G. Page Museum budget, it's probably safe to say artistic freedom isn't high on Palin's list of national priorities. The Obama/Biden ticket has laid out its Platform in Support of the Arts for all to see, but don't bother searching the word "arts" on the McCain-Palin site, because it's not there. And consider this: if the arts don't even merit a mention on the candidates' website, what will happen to the country's arts and culture economy when they are in office?

September 11, 2008 9:55 AM | | Comments (5)

I'm still in Colorado, a pretty exciting place to be right now. With all the fuss surrounding the Democratic National Convention, the city of Denver has done an admirable job of highlighting its arts scene. There was a New York Times piece about the city's public sculptures, PHAMALy, a handicapped theater company , performed for free for conventioneers and the public, and last night, Red Rocks Amphitheatre hosted an adult contemporary enviro-love note to Obama featuring Sheryl Crow and Dave Matthews.

But on Wednesday, the Denver Coliseum will host a related, and--at least to my tastes--far more exciting event: the Tent State Music Festival to End the War. Joining the festivities are, among others, Denver's Flobots and Wayne Kramer, but headlining are '90s revolution-rockers Rage Against the Machine, and that's where things get interesting.  

Apparently, Rage has a real gripe with the current administration. Yesterday's Denver Post published an editorial by the band's members, which was distributed through Amnesty International. It seems the U.S. government has been using the band's music as part of its sleep deprivation and sensory overload torture campaign. The band says:

As artists and as human beings, it sickens us to know that the U.S. government has been using our music to torment detainees. We are especially appalled by the discovery that there is very little that we, as artists, can do to stop the military and the CIA from turning our music into a weapon. Our songs -- which include human rights themes such as freedom, our beautiful world, and the voice of the voiceless -- are meant to be cries against injustice, not accomplices to dehumanizing and extrajudicial acts.

Hopefully, the secret prisoners in question don't understand English all that well, because if they did, songs like "Bulls on Parade" and "Killing in the Name of" would probably serve more as inspiration for an overthrow of the U.S. government than deterrent. The clear irony here is that a band whose music is so blatantly anti-authoritarian is being used in the most authoritarian circumstance imaginable. And, as singer Zack de la Rocha, guitarist Tom Morello, et al, point out, they've made music to inspire people, not oppress them.

Even more frustrating, the musicians themselves have no recourse in this case. Though Jackson Browne, Abba, John Mellancamp, and even Frankie Valli were able to stop John McCain from using their music during his campaign, Rage is limited to, well, raging against the machine. Though last month Guardian blogger Sean Michaels suggested the military ought to pay royalty fees to the artists on its playlist, I imagine such an arrangement would be throughly repellent to the boys in the band.

I can't embed their Michael Moore-directed video for "Sleep Now in the Fire," but you can still click and enjoy it.  

August 25, 2008 9:42 AM | | Comments (5)
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