It was 54 years ago this week that a little-known folk singer named Bob Dylan told the most important figure in prime time television, Ed Sullivan, to take a hike.
In May of 1963, Dylan had a small following based on playing clubs around Greenwich Village and the release of his first album a year before, called “Bob Dylan”, which contained only two original songs. His second album, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”, which would change everything, had not come out yet.
Freeweheelin’ had a bunch of soon-to-be-classic Dylan compositions on it, including “Blowin’ in the Wind”, “Girl from the North Country”, “Masters of War”, “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall”, and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”.
Before Freewheelin’ dropped, Dylan was like a lot of other people struggling to be heard. Unlike almost everyone else, though, he got a huge break in the form of an invitation to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show, which at that time was the biggest thing anyone could hope for. It was the country’s highest rated variety show – a guarantee of a huge national audience.
But on May 12, Dylan walked off the show because network censors rejected the song he planned on performing, “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues”. The song lampooned the loony right for its tendency to see a “Communist” everywhere they looked, and the network worried they’d be sued because the song equated the views of the Birchers with those of Hitler.
They asked Dylan to choose a different song and he told them to choose a different singer.
As you may know, The John Birch Society was co-founded by Fred C. Koch, the father of David and Charles Koch, who have been doing their best for some time now to ruin this country with their Dark Money.
An excerpt from Amazon’s description of “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right”, by Jane Mayer:
Why is America living in an age of profound economic inequality? Why, despite the desperate need to address climate change, have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again? Why have protections for employees been decimated? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers?
The conventional answer is that a popular uprising against “big government” led to the ascendancy of a broad-based conservative movement. But as Jane Mayer shows in this powerful, meticulously reported history, a network of exceedingly wealthy people with extreme libertarian views bankrolled a systematic, step-by-step plan to fundamentally alter the American political system.
The network has brought together some of the richest people on the planet. Their core beliefs—that taxes are a form of tyranny; that government oversight of business is an assault on freedom—are sincerely held. But these beliefs also advance their personal and corporate interests: Many of their companies have run afoul of federal pollution, worker safety, securities, and tax laws.
The chief figures in the network are Charles and David Koch, whose father made his fortune in part by building oil refineries in Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany. The patriarch later was a founding member of the John Birch Society, whose politics were so radical it believed Dwight Eisenhower was a communist. The brothers were schooled in a political philosophy that asserted the only role of government is to provide security and to enforce property rights.
The Kochs have changed the face of Congress by bankrolling candidates that can be relied upon to support their views, and by attacking their opponents with all manner of fake news, made-up scandals, and assorted dirty tricks.
One of the beneficiaries of the Koch largess has been Trey Gowdy, a partisan hack from South Carolina, who has been nicknamed “Hillary Slayer” for his absurd and relentless persecution of Hillary Clinton when he was chairman of the Benghazi hearings, a two-year long waste of the taxpayers’ money. His behavior more closely resembled that of a demented piranha than a U.S. Congressman.
Guess who Trump’s first choice for the next Director of the F.B.I. is?
Just when you think Trump can’t top himself, he surprises you. At least this time we don’t have to fret about whether Trump will again be so clueless as to ask Gowdy for his loyalty. Everyone already knows the answer to that one. And it’s another big day for the sons of the Birchers – the Kochs are smiling about this.
As Dylan said all those years ago, “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall.”