Saturday, December 28, 2013

Happy New Year to All!

To my terrific and tremendous readers,
Your faithful and grateful Peasant wishes
all of you a Happy, Prosperous, Abundant,
Joyful, and Blessed New Year! May 2014
be the best and brightest year ever! Let us
love one another, love our country, and
reclaim another piece of our government
by taking back the Senate in the fall!

See you next year!


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas to One and All!

Your favorite Peasant wishes you, my fabulous readers,
a bright, beautiful, blessed, joyful, and very Merry
Christmas! May you all be together with your loved
ones and exchange lots of hugging and kissing, presents
and joy on this special day.

You all are my gift, my grand readers and loyal friends!
You are the reason that I publish this blog, and why I
persevere. Your friendship, your encouragement, and
your support mean more to me than I can ever say with
mere words! To have confidence in yourself and your
efforts are important, no question; to have people who
believe in you stand with you makes the meek mighty,
the small large, the weak strong --- and the strong
victorious. These past four years we have spent together
have been wonderful beyond measure; the coming new
year and those to follow shall be even better!

So let us toast one another at Christmas and together savor
our triumphs, while we prepare ourselves for even bigger
victories in the time to come! Love and joy be with you


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lou Reed, R.I.P.

A music legend who was an icon, musically, artistically,
and politically, a man with fiercely loyal fans on both
sides of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, and an
singer, songwriter and musician with a deadpan voice
and poetic lyrics that captivated people around the world,
Lou Reed, passed away in mid-autumn at the age of 71.
Reed was the artistic driving force behind The Velvet
Underground, a band which he helped form in the
late 1960s which although was not a commercial success,
was in fact the catalyst for Reed and his unique brand
of music. It was said by English composer and musician
Brian Eno that although The Velvet Underground's
debut album generated only 30,000 copies sold
"everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies
started a band". Well, that may or may not have been
accurate, but their songs certainly caught the attention
and fueled the imagination of many aspiring musicians
in the day.

Leaving the group to go out on his own, Reed launched
his solo career in 1972. The following year Reed had his
first hit single "Walk on the Wild Side", a particular
favorite "70s rock song of your favorite Peasant's. Oh,
yes, I too enjoyed Lou Reed's songs, among them were
such great tunes such as "Sally Can't Dance No More" and
"Dirty Boulevard". Reed wrote songs that covered many
topics that some of his contemporaries were not comfortable
in bringing up; these included sexuality (Reed was bisexual,
and when in his teens was committed to a mental hospital
where he received electroshock treatment to "cure" him of
his bisexuality), drugs, the paranoia of urban night life,
domestic abuse, and the sense of inescapable despair that
accompanies such troublesome things.

His songs sparked a feeling of independence, adventure,
and a quiet sort of rebellion in Eastern Europe during some
of the most tense years of the Cold War. Reed himself was not
political in the sense of party politics and ideological preference,
but rather in supporting the marginalized in society, giving
them a spotlight and a voice in his songs without advocating
any particular remedy for their difficulties but always portraying
them and their plight sympathetically, always working to draw
attention to these people to make sure that their situations
were acknowledged and their stories heard. He simply wanted
people to care.

Lou Reed was truly in a class by himself. May he rest in peace.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Nelson Mandela, R.I.P.

A remarkable man has left this world. This man,
an activist who achieved a stunning transformation
of his country after first achieving a stunning
transformation of himself, becoming the head of
his country's government and limiting his time
in that position to a short term when he could have
easily proclaimed himself leader for life, a man
who was imprisoned in a hellish prison but
forgave his persecutors and captors in what would
be his first step in his aforementioned transformations
of self and nation, truly left his land, his countrymen,
and this world all better places than they were when
he first appeared in them, was Nelson Mandela ---
who went from being a violent left-wing revolutionary
to a champion of freedom, peace, justice, and democratic

Born in South Africa, a nation riven with racial politics
and resultant demarcations and restraints, the latter
imposed on those who were not white, Mandela
involved himself in the struggle to gain civil rights
for blacks like himself and later Asians and other
non-white citizens of that country. He first thought
that the best way to achieve his goal was to join
with Marxist revolutionaries, and wage violent
confrontations with the Afrikaner government and
its supporters. The turning point for both Mandela
and South Africa was his more than a quarter century
imprisonment for his anti-apartheid activities, in
which he developed friendly relations with his captors,
even learning the Afrikaner language (the version of
Dutch spoken by many white South Africans; the nation
was founded by Dutch and British settlers) so that he
could have a better dialogue with them and understand
them better.

After his lengthy incarceration, Mandela rejected the
Marxist notions that he once embraced, eschewing the
ways of Cuban communist dictator Fidel Castro and
Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, the latter having
instituted the forcible seizure of white farmer's lands
and killing many of them in the process in addition to
establishing a socialist state which begot a stagnant
economy, ruining the lives of all citizens of that woebetide
nation regardless of color. Mandela replaced these ideals
with those of his new heroes, Martin Luther King Jr. and
Mahatma Ghandi (who, by the way, began his activism
in South Africa, where he was a lawyer), practicing and
advocating nonviolence, understanding and forgiveness.

Your faithful Peasant thought at the time of Mandela's
achieving election to South Africa's highest office that
South Africa would be another all too familiar story of
an African nation having a bloody episode resulting in
the purging of all political opposition mixed with racial
cleansing. I have never been so delighted and grateful to
be proven wrong.

Others have, over the years, have made similar mistaken
assumptions about Mandela, and even now are reading
the man wrong. Many castigate him for what he was,
rather than seeing him for what he became. So many
see him where he was, not where he now is. And that
is a tragedy. Mandela is an example of how one can
change, how one can transform oneself, one's life, and
everyone around one when one commits oneself
wholeheartedly to the task.

When Mandela ascended to the position as head of the
South African government upon leading the changeover
from apartheid to a more democratic political system
which did not place any premium on the color of a South
African's skin, he realized that our freedom is inseparably
connected to that of others. He wrote, "For to be free is
not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way
that respects and enhances the freedom of others." This
should be the standard for all heads of state in all nations,
for all political activists of all stripes, and for all people.

Rest in Peace, Nelson Mandela. You leave behind a
world grateful for having had you in it for 95 incredible
years, and giving us an incredible legacy --- the triumph
of the human spirit over the darkness of oppression, and
the spreading of the light of hope and freedom to banish



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tom Foley, R.I.P.

Former House Speaker Tom Foley, veteran Democrat
politician and longtime member of the House of Rep-
resentatives from Spokane, Washington, passed away
recently after being weakened by a stroke. He was 84.

Foley served thirty years in Congress, culminating in
becoming the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
He lost his seat in the House in the 1994 elections,
which saw the Republicans rout the Democrats in many
races across the country, including gaining a majority in
the House for the first time since 1952. It is a very un-
common happenstance to see a House Speaker voted out
of office; such was the magnitude of the GOP victory
that year in which the party roared its displeasure with
Democrat President Bill Clinton and his policies.

But Foley was no radical; solidly left-of-center to be sure,
but he broke with his party on some key issues such as
gun control. In fact, Foley was an NRA member. The man
at least had some consistency in his approach to politics,
which is more that can be said for too many people in
both political parties, who demand that the people do one
thing while they themselves do another.

May the former Speaker of the House rest in peace.