Monthly Archives: February 2010

Money Jungle: “Worth A Murtha”


Pennsylvania congressman John Murtha (1932-2010), who died January 8, was the first combat veteran of the Vietnam War elected to national office; he was also among the last. Murtha began his first of 18 terms in the US House 35 years ago this month, and he was a virtual lock for reelection this November, despite becoming one of the most controversial public servants of this incredibly shady era in American politics. His words and actions during the Bush 43 administration bear directly on the country we live in today, and even his most bitter enemies must acknowledge the weight of his passing.

Murtha was a hard man who exerted soft power through the complex and deeply important business of manipulating the appropriations process to the benefit of his state. The people of Pennsylvania paid out millions in salary and benefits that will extend on for years to come for an inside track that could transcend the fluctuations of electoral activity. It is what legislators are hired to do, but details are generally left up to the individual. Murtha was just one of many, but he was considered one of the best—so much so that, when he turned on a war that our government and media establishment unanimously supported, his spot was only briefly jeopardized.

Murtha’s anti-war shift helped precipitate a chain of events that culminated with the election of Barack Obama. Granted, that has meant no tangible gains for the anti-war movement so far, but it certainly brought humanity a good ways back from the edge of total disaster for long enough to brainstorm solutions. Murtha’s turn legitimized views being voiced before the war even started, but which were effectively censored from the public debate through what is now understood to be a web of bribery, intimidation and willful deceit affixed to social connections between members of Congress, the Bush and Clinton administrations and reporters at several key media institutions. It was a deliberate process “assisted” (in the Scientology sense) by officials of at least four governments. Please look it up yourself right now—I’ll wait….

See? All of this is public record, through various proceedings and anecdotal data contributed by the principles themselves, including John Murtha, who, like all of us, was sold a set of falsehoods that ultimately reversed the greatest economic boom in history, induced an atmosphere of bitter division among civilians and led directly to the death or permanent physical or psychological injury (including lost jobs, broken families, homes foreclosed) of more American soldiers than can ever statistically quantify. Hell, we’ve all heard stories from friends, loved ones, colleagues, but Murtha (who earned a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts in Vietnam) surely heard a lot more than almost anyone, and one can easily imagine the effect it had on him.

Murtha wasn’t stupid, and he was no pacifist. He was a conservative Democrat who was for the war before he was against it. He knew the fix was in, and he said so, even at a cost that routinely proves too high for our so-called “leaders”. He was already under investigation, already widely associated with classic-style political corruption (the type eclipsed in the post-9/11 era), yet he chose to draw heat from an administration known for its vindictiveness because he felt it was his patriotic duty. He thus proved that peace was not a partisan issue. We now know that many of the men who waged the first war in Iraq, from frontline soldiers right up to the executive branch, were opposed to another one, for reasons that now seem obvious. Those soldiers should have never been in Haditha in the first place; they should have been home, protecting their own cities. It’s a price we’ll never stop paying.

The irony, of course, is that his stance against the war, which many at the time thought would be Murtha’s political undoing, instead helped elevate him from general obscurity to becoming a household name on par with Cindy Sheehan, who was the much-abused public face of the anti-war movement until Murtha arrived. It speaks to his legacy that his death (attributed to botched gall bladder surgery) was instantly declared in some outposts of the ‘Net to be an assassination. His death would have otherwise passed with barely a mention. Instead, Murtha’s name will live on as a sterling example of what real leadership—the dirty, dangerous kind—looks like. Well, kids, look closely, because you aren’t likely to see anything like it again, not anytime soon. RIP.; February 8, 2010

Money Jungle: “Blacker The Barry”


It makes perfect sense that, in a country that seems more and more about the symbolic value of things, as opposed to reality, the first major political scandal of the new year involves nothing concrete or physical, just words. The controversy surrounding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is not just funny, it’s stupid to boot, and it goes a pretty long way toward demonstrating why his party has failed on every front.

The Nevada Democrat caught volcanic heat for remarks quoted in a new book about the epochal 2008 campaign. We already knew that the Republicans were in total free-fall that year, with a pathetic nominee and a worse batch of strategists and advisers who took an American hero and made him look even weaker and more doddering than second-term Reagan. (Which is quite an accomplishment, given that Reagan cultivated that gimmick on purpose to insulate himself from complicity in the Iran-Contra mess.) The mere presence of Sarah Palin on that ticket is now regarded as evidence of a larger strategic collapse, an extreme version of John Kerry’s role in securing victory for Bush-Cheney in 2004 by picking the noxious John Edwards as his running-mate.

What we didn’t know, and are only now learning about, is that the Democrats were a whole hot mess of their own. By offering the most honest depiction of 2008 yet seen, Game Change, by John Heileman and Mark Halperin, promises to be the first “must-read” book of the year, in terms of general entertainment value, and specifically indispensable reading for political junkies. The publishers have done an amazing job of whetting the public’s appetite with tidbits so juicy, in some cases, that they could have potentially changed history had they come out contemporaneously. And that is the big revelation: that both parties deliberately kept quiet about their issues with Barack Obama because they viewed his victory as our country’s best chance to escape a whirling vortex of debt and death that their “bipartisan efforts” had driven us into.

Reid remarked in private that Obama could win because he was “light-skinned” and because he had “no Negro dialect, unless he wants to”. Well? The tragedy of Reid’s statements is not that he made them, but that he was right. Obama was able to draw support from segments of White America that would have never supported any other black candidate, precisely because of how his blackness was finessed by his handlers. Obama had the advantage of being thoroughly-versed on these issues, as evidenced by his painstaking efforts to teach himself the dialect of black clergy—Martin Luther King’s other gift to his people—and his ease at blunting the sharpest edges from the liberation theology he learned in those churches.

In Chicago they still talk about Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, Marcus Garvey and Wallace Fard, George Collins and Harold Washington (who many believe were also murdered); they talk about COINTELPRO, which has been excised from the revisionist tales told about the civil rights movement. How many black men have seen the shattered face of Emmett Till? Not nearly enough!

They talk about these things, but not on TV, and not in mixed company. Baby Boomers have short memories, and for them the future is just an abstraction. Obama has never revealed how much was revealed to him, but we know that he learned how to do the impossible: get a black man elected president, with overwhelming white support. It is the alchemy of advancement; it is the dream of all those black parents out there who still bother to raise their children, even though the streets never lack for mindless “soldiers” willing to kill and/or die for the white man’s drugs, the white man’s money, the white man’s consumerist fantasies that have ruined the world.

Hell, there’s nothing more “authentically black” than having whites debate your blackness. It rings true for me. My mom sent me to Catholic school for my first three years, inculcating a way of speaking that has been fodder for thousands of racist jokes from all sides, not to mention countless beatings and a permanent spot on the bottom of the ‘hood hierarchy. To this day, barely a week goes by without my meeting a reader who exclaims “Wow! I had no idea you were black!”

Harry Reid knows the truth. His state was built by the very mobsters that black men have been trained to worship since Coppola made the first of his “Godfather” Mafia recruitment films. Without Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and especially Bugsy Siegel, there would be no Harry Reid, just as there’d be no Obama without Al Capone and the Ford Foundation. Like 9/11, Obama was allowed to happen, and the wave of scandals due to pound his agenda into the sand (Tiger Woods-style) is merely an expression of buyer’s remorse from the losers who bought into something—and someone—they didn’t really understand. Obama, like his very name, gets blacker by the day.

“Specialty Art For Haiti‏” by Lesny JN Felix


[Received the following e-mail recently from my friend Lesny JN Felix, a Haitian-American artist based in NYC. Mr. Felix has released a series of Valentine’s Day greeting cards through, which is selling to help raise money for Haitian relief efforts. I’ve kept abreast of his career since walking into an exhibition he shared in the Wildwood District during Art Basel Miami 2007; sadly, it only now occurred to me that the blog makes a nice outlet for the copious updates I get from the dozens of artists/venues I’ve encountered, there and elsewhere.

You’d have to be comatose to have missed coverage of the devastation in Haiti, a tragedy that has probably only begun to unfold. I’ve resisted the urge to opine as politics should be put aside, for now, as the world struggles to keep an awful situation from getting even worse. One might have thought it unthinkable that two of the worst natural disasters in human history (three, if you could the large-scale impact of Katrina) would occur in the 21st century, just a few short years apart. It’s a sobering thought that suggests more, maybe worse to come.

But nevermind that, for now. The serious conversation that Americans need to have about Haiti, and hemispheric relations in general, can wait until we’ve neutralized the two most immediate threats in Haiti now: 1) More death through lack of food, medicine, clean water and sanitation, not to mention the infrastructure needed to get the stuff where it needs to go; and 2) The very real, yet mostly unacknowledged possibility of civil war in Haiti, if not outright anarchy of the sort we’ve seen far too much of in the African Diaspora.

Haiti’s government, always fragile to the point of nonexistence, suffered major losses of irreplaceable personnel; the calamity at its UN mission is a case in point, as well as the Presidential palace, which is widely regarded as a crucial totem for that country’s hopes and dreams–hopes and dreams that have now been utterly destroyed for at least a generation to come. The goverment has lost authority and credibility, given the atrocious building standards permitted in a country that takes regular structural abuse from hurricanes. It is only the comprehensive scope of the damage, and the presence of international interests, that prevents the emergence of entirely new power centres. At best, those forces could coalesce and force a revolution (which the US would attribute to Socialism and act to nullify); at worst, the worst.

Mr. Felix is just one among the many members of a proud Haitian-American community that is that country’s best–maybe only–hope of a stable, secure, serious effort at recovery, and it is in America’s best interests that we support him, and everyone else working on their behalf. You can also contact Felix directly at]

Hello my dear friend,
Many people have been affected by what I can view as one of the greatest acts of god since the ten commandments days. As an Haitian born out of Grand Goave, I’ve always felt that our problems go deeper than anything with a hole. We indeed had them and they where beyond being overcome because these holes where like an undying fungus that seemed to manage to stay extremely moist for over 200 years. Now, my hopes are further above the sky because I believe that mother nature and her power have made some extreme sacrifices on the behalf of the people of Haiti, my country and I can’t shed tears because I am beyond moved by the gratitude of the world in their response to the latest tragedy from the hands of nature.

The land is great, just as it could be so damn catastrophic.
In my efforts, I am presenting to you my newest works for the cause of Haiti and I hope to have a group exhibition in the works that some of my artists friends have agreed to participate in. I will keep u posted. Below are the specialty greeting cards from the series of works I’ve painted to help raise money for the great cause in Haiti, my beloved homeland.
Click below to purchase a greeting card to help support the people in Haiti

Best Wishes, Flex/Lesny JN Felix

I do believe this was a test and so far we are exceeding it. All those that have been taken by this earthquake will not die in vain because we have been able to respond as our true brothers keepers for the sake of our mothers. My hometown Grand Goave has been almost completely destroyed by the earthquake. The proceeds from the sale of my artworks will be distributed directly to those great organizations below.

TIME: 7-10pm


Click below to purchase a greeting card to help support the people in Haiti

Click below to purchase a greeting card to help support the people in Haiti
Forward to a friend and  loved one
L.E.S/East Village and Crown Heights Artist since 2004