If You’re Not Scared About Fascism in the U.S., You Should Be … Op/Ed ~ NYT

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MacArthur Fellow Vijay Gupta On Making Music Accessible For All

Vijay Gupta’s life work has been to make music accessible to all.

That passion caught the attention of others and earlier this month the Los Angeles Philharmonic violinist was awarded a 2018 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship — also known as the genius grant.

This means that Gupta and the other 24 winners of this year’s award have “all shown creativity, potential for future achievements — and the likelihood that $625,000, meted out over five years, will help them complete their grand designs,” as NPR’s Colin Dwyer reports.

Gupta grew up in an immigrant family after his parents came to the U.S. from West Bengal in India.

“My mom was married to my dad when she was 17. My dad was 23 and when he came here, he was actually undocumented. He worked in kitchens and worked baggage claim at JFK and somehow music was their refuge,” Gupta says.

Growing up, music constantly played in his house, he says.

“There was devotional Hindu spiritual music or Bengali folk music,” Gupta says. “Music was that place of respite, but it was also a place of service.”

The notion of music as a place of service stuck with him, and when Gupta was 19, he moved to Los Angeles after securing a spot in the Los Angeles Philharmonic. That’s when he says he saw Skid Row for the first time.

“I was overwhelmed with this community of people in walking distance of one of the greatest concert halls in the world … who experience chronic homelessness,” he says. “Many of whom are poor people of color, many of whom have a diagnosed form of mental illness.”

It was around that time when Gupta says he met Nathaniel Ayers, once a promising violinist and student at the Julliard School, but who dropped out because of his struggle with mental illness.

When he joined the orchestra, Gupta says he became part of a group of people who had previously known about Nathaniel and who were working with him.

“Very early on it became clear that Nathaniel deserved to be on any concert hall stage in the world, but because he had a mental illness, because he was homeless and undoubtedly because he was black he was a man despite his talent who had lived in the second street tunnel in downtown L.A. for 20 years,” Gupta says.

After meeting Ayers, Gupta went on to found the Street Symphony — a group of musicians that performs in shelters, clinics and jails. Gupta says creating the group was about trying to meet other people who were like Ayers.

“It was our audiences in these spaces who would raise their hands and say ‘Well what was the composer feeling when they wrote that because I heard this.’ And then they would tell us a story or anecdote of their life that exactly reflected where the composer or where we as performers exactly were in our emotional life,” Gupta says. “So this was actually one of the most astute and emphatic and engaged audiences that we’d encountered in our lives.”

Gupta wants to continue bringing music to those who might not otherwise have access to it, and he says he also wants to tell their stories.

“We all have a story and every person deserves access to tell that story. When we listen to someone’s story with reverence and respect, their life matters. Their neighborhood matters. Their histories matter,” he says.

Gupta says he also sees his role as a truth teller. And that’s a role, he says, that might require “some really hard conversations.”

“What I want to focus on doing in the next five years is to open the pathways to beginning those conversations and to pay attention to the fragility and pain and vulnerability that exists with every single one of us, even in those often across the aisle who are not willing to engage” he says.

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Video Shows Men in MAGA Hats Beating Protestors in NYC ~ MOTHER JONES

Last night, videos began circulating on Twitter of what appeared to be a pro-Trump gang inflicting violence on protestors after a Republican club event in New York City.

The incident occurred right after a Metropolitan Republican Club event featuring Gavin McInnes, founder of the Proud Boys, a far-right men’s group which describes itself as “anti-white guilt.” The Club building had been vandalized earlier that morning, possibly in protest of McInnes’ appearance.

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Independent filmmaker Sandi Bachom uploaded a video of the fight, depicting men in “Make America Great Again” hats attacking people while yelling homophobic slurs.

Photojournalist Shay Horse shared pictures showing the gang violently kicking a person laying on the sidewalk.

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In an email, McInnes told HuffPost that one of the protesters actually started the fight. “I recognized one of them,” he said. “He stole a Proud Boys MAGA hat and was immediately tuned up.”

The New York Police Department told HuffPost reporter Christopher Mathias that while three people had been arrested near the event, they could not confirm if any of them were involved.

NOW IS NO TIME TO QUIT

It’s been a tough several weeks for those who care about the truth: Congress, the FBI, and the judiciary are seemingly more concerned with providing cover for a foregone conclusion than with uncovering facts.

But we also saw something incredibly powerful: that truth-tellers don’t quit, and that speaking up is contagious. I hope you’ll read why, even now, we believe the truth will prevail—and why we aren’t giving up on our goal of raising $30,000 in new monthly donations this fall, even though there’s a long way to go to get there. Please help close the gap with a tax-deductible donation today.

‘communists’ tried to donate to a Democrat but were actually GOP activists. ‘Got to love dirty politics’ rōbert … The Washington Post

 

The potential donation that arrived at an Arizona campaign office Thursday had all the markings of a grass-roots, feel-good politics story — at first.

Two young men, who said their names were Jose Rosales and Ahmahd Sadia, had shown up at the Flagstaff campaign office of Rep. Tom O’Halleran, a Democrat who is running for reelection to represent northern Arizona.

They claimed they were from nearby Northern Arizona University and were eager to volunteer. They had also brought along a jar of small bills and coins — totaling $39.68 — money that they said wanted to donate to O’Halleran’s campaign.

That’s when things grew odd.

A junior staffer who “didn’t realize what was happening” directed the pair to fill out a campaign contribution form. The men mentioned they were with the “Northern Arizona University Communist Party,” according to O’Halleran campaign manager Ryan Mulcahy.

“Once they filled out the forms, they became oddly insistent on getting a receipt for the contributions,” Mulcahy told The Washington Post. “They were told the only way you can get a receipt is [by] email. So they ended up crossing out the email they had written down and writing in another one.”

Meanwhile, as the men were leaving, another staffer came over — and recognized them from social media as being affiliated with the Arizona Republican Party, Mulcahy said. Shortly after the pair left, O’Halleran’s finance director, Lindsay Coleman, drove over to the local Arizona GOP office to return the donation.

Her suspicions were almost immediately confirmed upon entering the GOP office, in an awkward exchange that was captured on video.

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Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.)’s campaign posted video of Finance Director Lindsay Coleman returning a suspicious donation.

See John Prine’s Performance of ‘Summer’s End’ on ‘Austin City Limits’ ~ RollingStone

Forty years ago, John Prine made his Austin City Limits debut in the venerable music series’ third season. Prine has since returned to the ACL stage several times and will do so again this weekend, performing a mix of classic material and new songs from his most recent album, The Tree of Forgiveness.

An emotional highlight of the singer-songwriter’s 2018 LP is “Summer’s End,” a bittersweet tune that comes to terms not with the change of seasons, but with grief, loss and alienation. Those themes are beautifully brought to life in the track’s heart-tugging video yet need only Prine’s sage vocal delivery, on full display in the clip above, to convey their gravitas with compassion and warmth.

Also featured during Prine’s upcoming Austin City Limits appearance is a performance of his enduring “Angel From Montgomery.” Prine dedicates this latest rendition to Bonnie Raitt, whose 1974 version of the song elevated the profiles of both artists. In 2002, the pair performed the song together on the long-running music series. Other Prine chestnuts, including “Lake Marie” and “Everything Is Cool,” are featured in the episode or will be available as web exclusives.

It’s been a week of milestones for Prine as he celebrated his 72nd birthday on Wednesday and also found his name on the list for 2019’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees. On October 19th he’ll be joined by Bob Weir, Lee Ann Womack, Lucinda Williams and more for “Across the Great Divide,” a landmark concert event at L.A.’s Ace Theatre benefiting both the Americana Music Association and the Blues Foundation. Prine’s current tour runs throughout the remainder of 2018 and in early 2019 he’s set to travel to Australia and New Zealand for a series of concert dates. Tyler Childers, who will be featured on those Down Under dates, joins Prine as a special guest during this weekend’s upcoming ACL episode.

The Faceless Ones ~ thanks Dick Dorworth

This video was before it’s  time, but so essential that it has been updated several times. Everyone must – watch it . Everyone in the English speaking world must watch it. If you haven’t time, then just listen. And listen everyday through Nov 6- Don’t let anyone take away your vote!

Melinda Chouinard

 

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This is the face of America …

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President Donald Trump mocks Christine Blasey Ford at a rally in Mississippi, casting doubt on her testimony about her alleged sexual assault.

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Swing Republican Senators Condemn Trump’s Mockery of Kavanaugh Accuser

 

Three influential Republicans, who together could decide the fate of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, condemned on Wednesday comments by President Trump that mocked one of the women who has accused his nominee of sexual assault.

The president’s mockery of Christine Blasey Ford at a Mississippi campaign rally on Tuesday injected still more uncertainty into the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, told reporters: “I am taking everything into account. The president’s comments yesterday mocking Dr. Ford were wholly inappropriate and in my view unacceptable.”

On NBC’s “Today,” Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, said, “There is no time and no place for remarks like that, but to discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right.”

 

Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, told reporters in the Capitol the remarks were “just plain wrong.”

Those swift rebukes, and others from liberal Democrats trying to sink Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation, reflected the strained atmosphere that has settled over Capitol Hill as the Senate lurches toward a final vote on Judge Kavanaugh that could alter the course of the Supreme Court.

Neither Mr. Flake nor Ms. Collins indicated that the comments would affect their final votes on Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which could come as soon as late this week. Instead, the senators have said they are waiting for the results of a supplemental background investigation by the F.B.I. into sexual misconduct claims — findings that could reach Capitol Hill by Wednesday afternoon.

Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined the condemnations when he took to Twitter to “plead with all” to stop attacks and “destruction of” Dr. Blasey.

Matt Damon plays a fiery Brett Kavanaugh in the SNL premiere’s cold open

September 30 at 1:09 AM

Many correctly assumed that “Saturday Night Live” would dive straight back into politics with the cold open of its 44th season premiere, given the fiery nature of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week. But the casting decision nobody saw coming?

Matt Damon as Kavanaugh. Yes, that’s right. Matt Damon.

When Alex Moffat’s Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) asked if Kavanaugh was ready to begin the hearing, which centered on an allegation of sexual misconduct made against the judge by California professor Christine Blasey Ford, Damon’s Kavanaugh responded at full volume.

“Let me tell you this,” he said. “I’m going to start at an 11. I’m going to take it to about a 15 real quick. First of all, I showed this speech to almost no one — not my family, not my friends, not even P.J., Tobin or Squi. This is my speech.”

He then called the multiple allegations against him a “political con job, orchestrated by the Clintons and George Soros and Kathy Griffin and Mr. Ronan Sinatra,” referring to the theory that Frank Sinatra is Ronan Farrow’s actual father, before crying about his “beautiful, creepy calendars.”

A sketch about the hearing wouldn’t be complete without Grassley’s fellow committee members, of course.

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Matt Damon Played Brett Kavanaugh Like an Angry, Entitled, Drunk Frat Boy. And the Internet Ate It Up. ~ MOTHER JONES

Trump hates SNL—except for when Kanye West shows up.

Last night, Saturday Night Live‘s season premiere recreated this week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The skit featured a floating Alyssa Milano cutout; a red-faced, sniffing, raging, water-swilling Matt Damon as Kavanaugh; Kate McKinnon spoofing the fury-filled, finger-pointing Sen. Lindsey Graham; and of course, references to beer.

So much beer.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), played by SNL cast member Alex Moffat, opens the skit with, “We’ve heard from the alleged victim, but now it’s time to hear from the hero, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.” In ambles a sniffing Damon, who sits down at a desk covered in small bottles of water and yells “What?!” (Last year Damon was widely criticized, and later apologized, for insensitive comments following the revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual assault.)

In Saturday’s skit, Aidy Bryant plays Arizona sex crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell. She declares it would be fine if people referred to her as just “prosecutor” instead of “female prosecutor”—a dig at her hiring by the all-male Republican membership of the Senate Judiciary Committee to avoid bad optics while questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Later, Mikey Day’s Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) refers to Mitchell as a “female assistant”—a dig at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s real-life moniker for Mitchell last week—then asks if she would prefer he called her “stewardess.”

SNL cast alum Rachel Dratch played Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), recreating a heated exchange during the actual Kavanaugh hearings in which the senator asked Kavanaugh if he had ever blacked out from drinking, to which he responded defensively with, “Have you?” (Kavanaugh later apologized to Klobuchar.)

The real Klobuchar endorsed Dratch’s performance:

At the end of the show, Kanye West, who had replaced Ariana Grande as the last-minute musical performer, gave a pro-Trump speech wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. He called President Donald Trump a “builder,” and said people backstage told him not to come out in the MAGA hat.

“It’s so many times that I talk to a white person about this and they say, ‘How could you support Trump? He’s racist.’ Well, if I was concerned about racism, I would have moved out of America a long time ago. We don’t just make our decisions off of racism,” West said. “If someone inspires me and I connect with them, I don’t have to believe in all their policies.”

On Sunday, the president tweeted his disapproval of SNL—except for Kanye.

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Samuel L. Jackson responds to viral Kavanaugh, ‘Pulp Fiction’ clip … Great piece!

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Actor Samuel L. Jackson responded Friday to a viral video depicting President Trump‘s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, in a pretend conversation with Jackson’s character, Jules Winnfield, from the popular Quentin Tarantino film, “Pulp Fiction.”

The video, shared by Twitter user @girlsreallyrule, is edited to show Kavanaugh’s opening remarks during his hearing Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of a conversation between the high court nominee and Winnfield.

At one point in the video, Jackson’s character also accosts Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), whose impassioned rebuke of Democrats on the committee was also widely shared.

In a tweet, Jackson said he enjoyed the clip that had been shared more than 20,000 times by Friday evening, but added that there was “nothing funny” about Kavanaugh’s nomination, which he opposes.

“Funny as hell, but there’s nothing funny about his Lying Fratboy Ass!!!” Jackson wrote Friday evening, referring to Kavanaugh.

 

Jackson, 69, has frequently criticized Trump’s administration, and mocked the president over two judicial nominees on his Twitter account last year.

“Common sense Trumps Non-Sense of Law!!” Jackson wrote in December after the president’s nominee for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia withdrew when he was unable to answer basic questions about courtroom procedures.

In February, Jackson slammed the president over his administration’s support for programs to train and arm teachers to defend against school shooters and other security threats.

“Can someone that’s been in a Gunfight tell that Muthaf—- that’s Never been in a Gunfight, the flaws of his Arm The Teachers plan??!!” Jackson tweeted at the time in a message that was retweeted nearly 100,000 times.