Tag Archives: Politics

Budd Schulberg and HUAC: Not To Be Forgotten

With the passing of writer Budd Schulberg there is the usual outpouring of hosannas and allelujahs to a great screenwriter and novelist and he was indeed a talented man who penned some excellent, enduring and quote-worthy works of art and therefore I feel neither the need nor the desire to add to said heapings of praise. Instead, I’d like to put on record one of the aspects of Mr. Schulberg’s life that is largely missing from these paeans.
Even the “Gray Lady” herself, the New York Times, glossed over the shameful fact that in the 1950’s Budd Schulberg and his occasional collaborator Elia Kazan both testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and thus destroyed the lives of many of their former colleagues including Ring Lardner Jr., Dalton Trumbo and Herbert Biberman. He named at least 15 of his close friends, helping to send many if not all of them to jail. As I have written before this is a shocking and despicable act and it must not be forgotten.
So far, only Carolyn Kellogg in the L.A. Times has run a piece about Schulberg and his betrayals and the testimony quoted in the article gives a pretty good idea of the kind of a man Schulberg was at the time. He claimed that he became disillusioned with the the Communist Party when Stalin signed a non-aggression pact and that the CP interfered with his work.
Both are valid criticisms (assuming the latter was true) and Schulberg was perfectly within his rights to leave the party, which he did. However, going on to name names and cooperate in one of the most horrific instances of government abuse in our nation’s history was going too far.

“Dalton [Trumbo] wrote one good novel and that’s it.” [Schulberg told Victor Navasky for the latter’s book Naming Names.] Most of these people never tried to write any social realism. I think maybe [they had some] guilt about making two thousand dollars a week and doing nothing. You could make it up by paying ten percent dues [to the Party], and maybe that made you feel better about being a hack. Most of them settled for being hacks.

These people, if they had it in them, could have written books and plays. There was not a blacklist in publishing. There was not a blacklist in the theater. They could have written about the forces that drove them into the Communist Party. There was practically nothing written.”

So according to Schulberg, even though his testimony led to the loss of his former friends’ ability to earn a living, it was their own damn fault because they either weren’t as prolific as he was or weren’t able to shift to stage plays and books, thus avoiding the Hollywood blacklist? That’s a level of ego bordering on narcissism. Of course Schulberg was also wrong about Trumbo’s output.
Please, save your “but he was a fantastic writer and deserves the accolades” responses. Of course he was a great writer and yes, deserves to be lauded as such. That said, when one does bad deeds, when one betrays long-standing friendships, when one does irreparable damage to the lives of that many people and their families, it must be included in any wrap up of your life. You don’t get to skate in death, just because you were a great artist in life.

Are The Times A-Changin’? It’s Up To Us!

No matter what, the times, they are a changin’. How much and for whom is yet to be determined but the fact remains, Tuesday, November 4th was a transformative moment in American history. That said, it’s now time for us to take this advantage that we’ve given ourselves as the electorate and run with it. What’s on the agenda?
Universal healthcare, ending the war in Iraq quickly and safely and fixing the economy in a manner that ensures that the American workforce has high-paying, productive and meaningful jobs, not just low-wage service industry positions, among many other things.
If President-elect Obama is going to fix anything, he’s going to need our help and our vigilance but we’re not going to be able to do it ourselves. 53% and control of the House and Senate ain’t gonna be enough. As the song goes, we’re going to need the senators and congressmen, as well as the mothers and fathers. Their old road may be rapidly aging, but we’ve yet to really pave our new one.
There are signs that the youth of America might be emerging from 40 years of torpor and apathy and I hope so. For those of us in the middle, not yet old and no longer young, it is our job to do what we should have done more than 20 years ago and that’s make our voices heard and make sure those that are becoming active for the first time, those young faces on videos like this one stay active. We must engage them in the process and work of a participatory democracy.
For too long the people of the United States have been silent and for too long we have allowed those in power to erode the constitution and operate without any checks and balances. That time is over. This election was a great first step, but first step it was. Unless we take back the power and the rights that we have given up, piece by piece, since the Reagan “revolution,” the election of Barack Obama, as important, beautiful and historic as it was, won’t achieve its promise and we will have wasted this biggest opportunity we’ve had in decades to change America and the world, for the better.

The Times They Are A-Changin’
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.
The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.
Copyright ©1963; renewed 1991 Special Rider Music

A Political Must See: Colin Powell Endorses Barack Obama

This morning on NBC’s Meet the Press, General Colin Powell (Ret.) thoughtfully and with great detail discussed both John McCain and Barack Obama and the reasoning behind his endorsement of Senator Obama. It’s an intelligent and often moving seven minutes that is required viewing. As I’ve said repeatedly, both in this blog and in personal discussions. I will not vote for someone purely based on race and Powell makes it very clear that he shares this position. Had race been his only criteria, Powell would have endorsed Obama two years ago, he said.

What effect this endorsement has on the election is still to be seen. It seems a foregone conclusion that moderate republicans will take this to heart, as will military and retired military families. Considering the military presence in states like Florida and Virginia as well as North and South Carolina, this could prove the most important endorsement received to date by the senator from Illinois. This story, from the Independent newspaper in the UK ran almost a week ago and it illustrates a trend within the military to back Obama. Powell’s endorsement can only help.

DNC: Re-Energized And Proud!

1467881953_cb3fc2a9f9.jpgDespite the disappointment of not getting into the Pepsi Center or Mile High Stadium for the events, just being here in Denver for this Democratic National Convention has been an amazing experience. When push came to shove, there was no way I was not going to be here. I’ve recently written about my racial upbringing and each and every minute of this DNC has made me more and more aware (as if it were possible) of the monumental nature of what’s happening. We the People, who revolted to form a more perfect (white) union have, after 388 years of English settlement, finally begun to stick our heads out and have a look around at the world.

We’ve just nominated a black man for the the presidency of the United States and that’s simply amazing. As recent as 6 months ago you could hardly get anyone to admit the possibility and 2 years ago it would have been dismissed out of hand. And now? In 68 days we can elect Barack Obama president of the United States and send a message near and far, to every country on earth that the United States is at least trying to achieve the goals we proclaimed after the revolution and that we are a place where a person’s destiny is not limited by the color of their skin.
Say it loud, we’re ALL black and we’re proud! We’re ALL Latino and we’re proud! We’re ALL Native and we’re proud! We’re ALL white and we’re proud! We’re ALL Christian and we’re proud! We’re ALL Jewish and we’re proud! We’re ALL Muslim and we’re proud! We’re ALL athiest and we’re proud! We’re ALL men and we’re proud! We’re ALL women and we’re proud! We’re ALL Americans and dammit, if we elect Brack Obama, we can ALL be proud!

Some Pix From Denver: Rides, Fireworks, Construction And A Drunk Duck

Saturday night was the DNC media party at Elitch Gardens Amusement park and the rides, games, food and drink were gratis, so of course I jumped on the wooden roller coaster (one of the top 5 in the country, apparently), played the games of chance (I lied and won a duck made in China that feels like fiberglass insulation) and spilled wine on myself. If you expected me to ride one of those new fangled, upside-down coasters or half pipe, you’re shit out of luck!
The City’s spruced up, banners, banners, every where:
We Like The Fireworks, The Fireworks That Go Boom!
The Late Night Lounge 24 Hours Before Opening (stay tuned to see how it turned out!):
“So a duck walks into a bar….”: