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Archive for February 2008

Nader/Gonzalez 2008 — an alternative to pro-corporate political parties

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A week after the November 2004 presidential elections in the United States, I put a home made “Nader 2008” sticker on the back of my car. It is there to this day, though the harsh winter this year has taken a toll on it. I voted for Ralph Nader for President in 2000 and 2004. Now that Ralph Nader has announced for the Presidency again in 2008, I will vote for him again.

Why? Because someone must speak truth into the vacuum of silence and ruling class consensus created by the major media, the two-party political machine, and the corporate money which buys our candidates and the electoral process. With the exception of Dennis Kucinich, noone in the Democrat Party was willing to do so and Kucinich — when he would not shut up — was simply excluded from debates by the corporate-owned Democrat Party. Perhaps former U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney will run as another voice of truth which can not be shut up. In that case, I will consider voting for her. The important thing is that we must not spend the next 8 months listening to the voices of corporate and ruling class rule in this country, to the exclusion of the true dreams of the U.S. people — peace, prosperity, equality, justice.

The only candidate worthy of my vote — and your vote — is a candidate willing to courageously stand and speak the truth about the United States as an aggressor imperialist nation, an international pariah, a nation ranking low in comparison with other industrialized world (and even in comparison with some developing nations) in many measures of societal well-being, as a racist nation perpetrating war on non-European peoples both abroad and at home.

Nader vs. Wolf Blitzer– http://youtube.com/watch?v=BiYYNfkVGSo&feature=related

VP candidate Matt Gonzalez — http://youtube.com/watch?v=UaoncB-akQY&feature=related

ballot-access.org

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A Feb. 5 Star Tribune editorial claimed that Ralph Nader “undermines the democratic process” by running as an independent, anti-corporate candidate and refusing to join the Democratic Party.The reality is that it’s the two major parties in this country that undermine the democratic process by excluding all independent voices who seek to challenge their monopoly on power and the corporate domination of our political system. In 2000, the Democrats and Republicans colluded to exclude Ralph Nader from the debates even though a majority of Americans said they wanted him in them. In 2004, the Democratic Party and its supporting organizations spent tens of millions of dollars on lawsuits to keep Nader off the ballot in a vain attempt to ensure that voters would have to vote for their pro-war candidate John Kerry.The editorial also claims that Nader would have been able to have a major influence if he had given a national convention keynote at the Democratic National Convention, like Barack Obama in 2004. There’s no chance that the Democrats would ever, in a million years, allow Nader, who earned his reputation by attacking corporate interests — the very same interests that provide the majority of funding to the Democratic Party — to give a keynote speech at their convention.There’s nothing funny about the prostitution of our political system to big corporations. I sincerely hope that Ralph Nader will again run for president to provide a voice to those fed up with corporate power, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the $500 billion military budget, the criminal injustice system and racist war on drugs, and the enormous gaps between rich and poor in this country. If he doesn’t run, big business and their two-party system will be laughing all the way to the bank.

DAN DIMAGGIO, MINNEAPOLIS;

CHAIRMAN, 2004 NADER FOR PRESIDENT CAMPAIGN AT TUFTS UNIVERSITY

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Written by Arroyoribera

February 26, 2008 at 10:07 pm

Posted in Commentary, Elections, Media

Millions without a Voice — Amy Goodman on Felony Disenfranchisement

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Millions Without a Voice

By Amy Goodman

As I raced into our TV studio for our Super Tuesday morning-after show, I was excited. Across the country, initial reports indicated there was unprecedented voter participation, at least in the Democratic primaries, several times higher than in previous elections. For years I have covered countries like Haiti, where people risk death to vote, while the U.S. has one of the lowest participation rates in the industrialized world. Could it be this year would be different?

Then I bumped into a friend and asked if he had voted. “I can’t vote,” he said, “because I did time in prison.” I asked him if he would have voted. “Sure I would have. Because then I’m not just talking junk, I’m doing something about it.”

Felony disenfranchisement is the practice by state governments of barring people convicted of a felony from voting, even after they have served their time. In Virginia and Kentucky, people convicted of any felony can never vote again (this would include “Scooter” Libby, even though he never went to jail, unless he is pardoned). Eight other states have permanent felony disenfranchisement laws, with some conditions that allow people to rejoin the voter rolls: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee and Wyoming.

Disenfranchisement—people being denied their right to vote—takes many forms, and has a major impact on electoral politics. In Ohio in 2004, stories abounded of inoperative voting machines, too few ballots or too few voting machines. Then there was Florida in 2000. Many continue to believe that the election was thrown to George W. Bush by Ralph Nader, who got about 97,000 votes in Florida. Ten times that number of Floridians are prevented from voting at all. Why? Currently, more than 1.1 million Floridians have been convicted of a felony and thus aren’t allowed to vote. We can’t know for sure how they would have voted, but as scholar, lawyer and activist Angela Davis said recently in a speech honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Mobile, Ala., “If we had not had the felony disenfranchisement that we have, there would be no way that George Bush would be in the White House.”

Since felony disenfranchisement disproportionately affects African-American and Latino men in the U.S., and since these groups overwhelmingly vote Democratic, the laws bolster the position of the Republican Party. The statistics are shocking. Ryan King, policy analyst with The Sentencing Project in Washington, D.C., summarized the latest:

About 5.3 million U.S. citizens are ineligible to vote due to felony disenfranchisement; 2 million of them are African-American. Of these, 1.4 million are African-American men, which translates into an incredible 13 percent of that population, a rate seven times higher than in the overall population. Forty-eight states have some version of felony disenfranchisement on the books. All bar voting from prison, then go on to bar participation while on parole or probation. Two states, Maine and Vermont, allow prisoners to vote from behind the walls, as does Canada and a number of other countries.

The politicians and pundits are all abuzz with the massive turnouts in the primaries and caucuses. There are increasing percentages of women participating, and initial reports point to more young people. The youth vote is particularly important, as young people have less invested in the status quo and can look with fresh eyes at long-standing injustices that disenfranchise so many. In this context, one of The Sentencing Project’s predictions bears repeating here: “Given current rates of incarceration, 3 in 10 of the next generation of black men can expect to be disenfranchised at some point in their lifetime. In states that disenfranchise ex-offenders, as many as 40 percent of black men may permanently lose their right to vote.

The Sentencing Project’s King said: “We are constantly pushing for legislative change around the country. But public education is absolutely key. There are so many different laws that people simply don’t know when their right to vote has been restored. That includes the personnel who work in state governments giving out the wrong information.”

I called my friend to tell him he was misinformed. He hadn’t been on probation or parole for years. “You can vote,” I told him. “You just have to register.” I could hear him smile through the phone.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 650 stations in North America.

© 2008 Amy Goodman

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080206_felony_disenfranchisement/

Written by Arroyoribera

February 21, 2008 at 9:33 pm

Martin Espada–the Pablo Neruda of North American authors–at EWU 5/30/08

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Author Sandra Cisneros has called Martin Espada “the Pablo Neruda of North American authors”. He has won many awards including the American Book Award and was invited to Chile as part of the Neruda’s centenary.

At Eastern Washington University on May 30, 2008, Espada will give a lecture in the afternoon and later that evening read from his poetry.

Winners of the “Diversity with Diversity” writing contest will also participate in the evening reading event.

The February 20, 2008 online edition of The Easterner ran the following information on the event in an article by Easterner staff writer Russell Stahlke:

“Diversity within Diversity,” an essay/poetry writing contest, is currently accepting submissions. The due date is April 4, 2008. Entries can be delivered to the Writers’ Center in PUB 354, or submitted via e-mail at writers.center@mail.ewu.edu.

Essays can be a maximum of 2,000 words, and should be double-spaced and written with 12-point font. Poems can be a maximum of two pages with the same specifications.

“An essay is always non-fiction in nature,” said Dani Ringwald, one of the Writers’ Center Responders. “There are all types of essays: personal, argumentative, descriptive, cause and effect, compare and contrast, division and classification, and we welcome all approaches,” said Ringwald.

“This contest is also open to the various forms that poetry provides,” said Ringwald. “For inspiration, students might want to look up Martin Espada’s poetry, or stop by the Center and take a look at the bulletin board we’ve created to celebrate his work.”

Winners of the contest will have an opportunity to read their work at a community reading on May 30th alongside award-winning poet and essayist Martin Espada, as well as receiving a $100 gift card for Eastern’s bookstore. Also, the winning submissions will be published in an anthology.

“We invited Martin Espada, ‘the Latino poet of his generation,’ to come to EWU as our guest speaker because of his dedication to using writing as a tool for democracy which fit exactly with our intention for this diversity project,” said Ringwald.

“All of the winning authors will be invited to read at the public community reading in Showalter Hall the evening of May 30th,” said Ringwald.

For more information on the writing contest, go to http://www.ewu.edu/writerscenter

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Amy Goodman interviews Martin Espada on Democracy Now about the life and works of Pablo Neruda. (Available in print, audio and video on the Democracy Now website).

Written by Arroyoribera

February 21, 2008 at 8:17 pm

Posted in Diversity, Events

“The Karen Boone Incident”

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Do people in Spokane still remember what, according to Spokesman-Review writer Doug Floyd’s 1997 article in the American Journalism Review, “continues to be referred to in Spokane as ‘the Karen Boone incident’ “?

Do people remember the concerns about mistreatment of minority groups and racial profiling in Spokane expressed loudly by Spokane communities of color in 1997 and 2001 and 2003 and as recently as the summer 2007, mistreatment and profiling experienced, felt and discussed on a daily basis up until today?

Does anyone recall in 2001 former Spokesman-Review editor Ken Sands writing: “In Spokane, racial profiling by police is accepted as fact in the small minority population, and greeted with much skepticism by the vast white majority”?

Do you think that the experience of racism described over and over by minority members of this community and the sentiments unleashed in 1997 against courageous community members like Karen Boone simply disappear overnight?

What about the Spokane law enforcement recently referring to a fast gas owner as a “gypsy” and a “Hindu”?

What about Spokane Police illegally strip searching a black man?

What about the police killings of boys and men from diverse Spokane communities — Eagle Michael, Jerome Alford, Otto Zehm, and others?

Is Spokane a racist town?

Can you imagine what would have been the outcome of the incident of Spokane Police Officer Jay Olsen shooting Shonto Pete in the head if Pete had been killed by Olsen rather than having survived as he did having been shot in the back of the head?

I will tell you what the outcome would have been. They would have sobered Olsen up, put him back in his uniform, strapped him into his squad car, and said, “Get back in there white boy, we need ya”.

Does a decade make any difference? How do we know? What is the report from the man and woman and boy and girl in the street? In the classroom? In the welfare office? In the opera house? In the cathedral? In the mall? In the hospital?

Do we know? Do we care? Do we think it matters?

Or would we rather it just all go away?

A Sacrifice for Civic Journalism

American Journalism Review (July/August 1997)

By G. Douglas Floyd
G. Douglas Floyd is an interactive editor at the Spokesman-Review.

Karen Boone agreed to write a column, not pull the pin on a hand grenade. Call it her sacrifice for civic journalism.

A 37-year-old African American in the 92 percent white city of Spokane, Washington, Boone was convinced to voice her opinions about her community’s diversity (or lack thereof) in the local paper, the Spokesman- Review. In a February 26 (1997) column she related a poignant tale of her participation in a community leadership group, an experience that led to her painful realization that even she had become desensitized to the feelings of ethnic invisibility faced by minorities in Spokane.

The paper’s editors felt her story was a perfect fit for the S-R’s “Your Turn” column, a feature created during a February 1994 overhaul of the editorial pages with the intention of providing a forum for Spokane citizens who felt they were being overlooked in the paper’s coverage (see “Climbing Down from the Ivory Tower,” May 1995). Boone was reluctant to contribute at first, fearing her privacy would be at stake. But eventually she decided she owed it to herself and to other minorities in the community who felt, as she did, that the local paper did not accurately represent them.

In her column, Boone described the “psychological loneliness and isolation” she experienced as a teenager growing up in Spokane, and her “diligent attempt” to adapt culturally to life in the city. “I must ultimately find a way to maintain my ethnic authenticity while seeking to find my way of life in Spokane,” Boone wrote.

The end result of Boone’s effort to enlighten Spokane’s mainstream shocked Boone and her editors alike. Her 400 words in the S-R ignited intense community debate about Spokane’s racial attitudes that continues to ripple.

The backlash took the form of an incendiary letter Boone received the day after her column ran. “You niggers really piss me off. Bitch & complain is all you worthless assholes are good for,” it began, going on to suggest Boone go “back to Africa & swing with the baboons.”

Concerned but not frantic, Boone called the paper to tell of what her column had wrought. She faxed in a letter to the editor in response to the hate mail. A local human rights group called Unity in Action got word of what continues to be referred to in Spokane as “the Karen Boone incident,” and challenged the paper to publish not only Boone’s response but the hate letter itself.

On March 11, the Spokesman-Review published both letters, along with an editorial denouncing the hateful act and telling readers how to get involved in local human and civil rights activities.

“Our responsibility was to continue what we’d started,” says S-R Editor Chris Peck. “We were trying to get real voices in the paper talking about what it’s like to be a person of color living in Spokane, and the events that unfolded added another chapter to that story.”

And another and another, it seemed to Boone. As she tried to get beyond the incident and focus her energy on her new job as head of Spokane’s Institute for Neighborhood Leadership, people kept coming to her with their personal stories of wrangling with racial issues. Blacks revealed to her their daily experiences with prejudice. Whites unburdened their long-repressed consciences.

As Spokane citizens mobilized in support of Boone, keeping her story alive by flooding the S-R with letters and calls on her behalf, members of Unity in Action organized a public rally in a downtown park and enlisted Boone as a speaker.

“We wanted to let people know we’re not going to take it,” says Robert Lloyd, one of the rally organizers and publisher of the African American Voice, an alternative paper.

Boone still feels overwhelmed with stress, and her teenage children, one of whom opened the hate letter thinking it was addressed to her, struggle with anxiety.

But the incident galvanized the community, and provided a fitting backdrop for a much-needed public discussion about racism. Lloyd, a 23-year resident of the city, says the Spokesman-Review handled the incident well. The only criticism he’s heard, he says, is the one Boone herself has expressed to the paper: Somebody should have warned her what would happen.

“I probably would have done it anyway,” she now says, “but I would have liked to have been better prepared for what happened.”

Peck says preparing guest writers for unpleasant replies is one of the reasons the paper has “interactive” editors — to serve as allies and mentors and to connect with readers. Another reason is to build bridges to sectors of the community, including minority populations that don’t feel the newspaper reflects their
interests.

Lloyd says the Spokesman-Review has made headway, but not yet enough to be widely embraced by the city’s black community. “The S-R is like a guy whose wife caught him with somebody else,” he says. “It’s going to take a long time to win trust.”

Written by Arroyoribera

February 20, 2008 at 9:26 pm

Posted in Commentary, Media, Racism

“Maxey forces shocked Jackson and the party establishment” — 1970 US Senate Race

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http://www.historylink.org

Source: Henry M. Jackson Foundation

Senator Henry Jackson overwhelmingly defeats peace candidate Carl Maxey in the Democratic primary on September 15, 1970.

On September 15, 1970, Senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson (1912-1983) easily wins the Democratic Senate primary by defeating peace candidate Carl Maxey (1924-1997), a Spokane attorney and civil rights leader. Maxey, the champion of the anti-war wing of the Democratic Party, has fiercely denounced Jackson’s outspoken support for military spending and the Vietnam War. Maxey finishes a distant second to Jackson in the primary, but still wins far more votes than Republican nominee Charles W. Elicker.

The 1970 campaign was waged against a background of great political turbulence, as the Democratic Party, the state, and the nation were rocked by deep and bitter divisions over the increasingly unpopular Vietnam War. The divisiveness frequently spilled over into street protests in Seattle and across the country, reaching a crescendo in May following President Richard M. Nixon’s (1913-1994) announcement that the U.S. military would enter Cambodia. The Cambodia incursion triggered massive demonstrations, and the killings of four anti-war protestors at Kent State in Ohio and two demonstrators at Jackson State in Mississippi led to even greater protests.

Anti-war Challenge

Jackson, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1940 as a supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (1882-1945) New Deal, remained firmly liberal on domestic policy for his entire 43-year Congressional career, sponsoring ground-breaking environmental legislation and championing social welfare programs. These progressive credentials meant little in 1970, when the great divide within the country and within the Democratic Party was between pro-military “hawks” and anti-war “doves.” Jackson’s career-long advocacy of increased military spending and his die-hard support for the war made him a leading hawk and anathema to the increasingly dovish liberal wing of the party.

National Democrats active in the peace movement, including Senator and presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy (b. 1916), Representative Allard Lowenstein (1929-1980), and economist John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), encouraged state Democrats in the Washington Democratic Council (WDC), an anti-war group, to mount a primary challenge to Jackson. However, no established Democratic politician would take on Jackson, who was not only the most successful vote-getter in the state’s history, but had aided many of them in their political careers.

Carl Maxey

In the end Carl Maxey, the WDC chair, resigned his position to run against Jackson. The first African American to become an attorney in Eastern Washington, Maxey was born in Tacoma and spent much of his childhood in a Spokane orphanage. After serving as a medic during World War II, he won an NCAA boxing championship while in college and earned a law degree from Gonzaga University. As a lawyer, he defended minorities and fought for civil rights, supporting the NAACP and often taking on police, prosecutors, and other local government officials.

By the mid-1960s, Maxey was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War, which he saw as unjust and unnecessary and as unfairly impacting African Americans who were drafted into the military at disproportionate rates. Maxey admired Jackson’s domestic views, especially his support for labor, and had worked for Jackson in his first three Senate campaigns. But he abhorred the senator’s support for the war and the draft and his opposition to military spending cuts.

Maxey’s criticism of Jackson was biting. He called him “a Napoleonic little senator,” denounced Jackson’s “platform of a continued draft that kills sons and brothers,” and stated, “Leaving peace in the hands of Henry Jackson is like leaving a lion to guard the Sunday roast” (Prochnau and Larsen, 314).

Attacks Sting, but Jackson Wins Easily

The Maxey forces shocked Jackson and the party establishment by winning the endorsement of the King County Democratic Convention, held in May during the uproar over the Cambodia incursion and Kent State, and by enacting an anti-war, anti-draft platform at the state party convention held in July in Spokane. Jackson was shaken and angered when a demonstration by Maxey delegates disrupted his speech at the Spokane convention.

The repudiation of his positions in the party platform and the harsh attacks, demonstrations, and heckling he endured on the campaign trail embittered Jackson toward his opponents within the party. Despite his liberal domestic record, he increasingly positioned himself as a moderate, declaring frequently “I’m proud of the fact that during my term in the Senate I opposed both McCarthys” (Prochnau and Larsen, 319) — a reference linking anti-war Eugene McCarthy to anti-communist Republican Joe McCarthy who led the witch hunts of the 1950s.

While the attacks by Maxey and the anti-war forces stung Jackson they did not reduce his support among primary voters and may even have increased it, given Washington’s blanket primary system that allowed Republicans to vote in the Democratic race. Jackson beat Maxey in all 39 counties, winning re-nomination with 497,309 votes to the challenger’s 79,201. However, Maxey far out-distanced the remaining seven primary candidates, which included two other Democrats and five Republicans. State Senator Charles Elicker gained the Republican nomination with only 33,262 votes, a showing that foreshadowed Jackson’s record-setting victory over Elicker in the November general election.

Sources:

Abstract of Votes, Primary Election Held on September 15, 1970 (Olympia: Secretary of State, 1970); Robert G. Kaufman, Henry M. Jackson: A Life in Politics (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000), 218-21; William W. Prochnau and Richard W. Larsen, A Certain Democrat: Senator Henry M. Jackson (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1972), 6-10, 310-21; Bill Morlin, “Spokane Loses a Champion: Carl Maxey – 1924-1997 He Defended Civil Rights and Controversial Clients,” The Spokesman-Review, July 18, 1997, p. A-1; Jim Camden, “Principles Governed His Politics: Maxey Embraced Long-shot Challenges for Chance to Influence Public Debate,” Ibid., July 18, 1997, p. A-8; “Jackson Says: Party Planks Repudiated,” Ibid., September 17, 1970, p. 7; “Favorites Win in Contests for Congress,” The Seattle Times, September 16, 1970, p. A-1; Marsha King, “Maxey Was An Inspiration: Black Attorney’s Example of Activism Cherished,” Ibid., July 18, 1997, website accessed August 13, 2003 (http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com); David Wilma, “Weeks of protests erupt in Seattle beginning on May 1, 1970 against U.S. entry into Cambodia and to protest the killing of four Kent State students,” HistoryLink.org Timeline Library (www.historylink.org). By Kit Oldham, October 29, 2003

Henry (Scoop) Jackson (1912-1983), 1970
Photo by Paul Thomas, Courtesy MOHAI (Image No. 1986.5.51941.1)
Carl Maxey (1924-1997), 1965
Photo from The Spokesman-Review via http://www.historylink.org

Written by Arroyoribera

February 20, 2008 at 12:19 am

Posted in History

Spokane Law Enforcement harassment of Romani-Americans

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1986 — (quote) The Spokane Police Department’s Gypsy File, a document half an inch thick, has determined that crime constitutes our very culture: “scams, theft and confrontations with law enforcement officials is a way of life with Gypsies” (dated 1986, on page 9). (end quote) http://radoc.net/radoc.php?doc=art_f_bias_profiling&lang=en&articles=true

[Recently, as they harassed a Hispanic woman in the Spokane Valley, Spokane Vally Police and Spokane Sheriff’s Deputies referred to an Asian-American fast gas owner on Broadway in the Spokane Valley as a “Gypsy” and a “Hindu”. Police racism in the Spokane area is an undeniable fact, verifiable simply by speaking with members of minority communities in the area].

Written by Arroyoribera

February 17, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Posted in Police, Racism

Walk a Mile in my Shoes — Everlast (Video)

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Spokane Police officer: “I have a job…to get these shit bags out of the park”

You may have read the Spokesman-Review article about the September 19, 2007 forum/chat with Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick. The article referred to Carmen Jacoby, an outreach worker from the Community Health Association of Spokane (CHAS).

I was present at the forum when Jacoby told of being on a “bridge walk” with WSU nursing students at the 4th and Monroe Bridge Park. She described how a Spokane Police officer showed up. Jacoby told Chief Kirkpatrick and the public how she attempted to ask the officer a question to which he responded, “Who are you?”

Jacoby answered the officer, at which point he told her, “I have a job to do. I have to get these shit bags out of the park“.

Offended by the officer’s remark, Jacoby asked the officer for his badge number. The officer then told her to move back or he would put her in the back of his patrol car.

The Spokesman-Review’s report on Jacoby’s statement to the Chief at the forum reads, “Jacoby said the officer used an obscenity to refer to the homeless”.

The obscenity used by the officer to refer to the homeless was “shit bags“.

Chief Kirkpatrick is known for promoting her “zero tolerance policy” on misconduct. Apparently it does not apply either to calling citizens “shit bags” (or “faggots” for that matter) nor does it extend to threatening to put community professionals in the back of your patrol car for asking for your badge number.

Would it be exaggerating to say that the Chief’s once impressive little PR line about “zero tolerance” and her other little ditty about “you lie, you die” are starting to sound a little hollow?

God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in his shoes, ’cause then you really might know what it’s like to sing the blues

Lyrics

For a complete version of “What it’s like”, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L–IXGV797Y

Written by Arroyoribera

February 11, 2008 at 7:14 am

Posted in Commentary, Poverty, Videos