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Saturday, December 7, 2019

A 'STEALTH' CAMPAIGN AS INSURANCE

A week or so ago, I wrote a semi-serious post about launching a ‘stealth’ campaign for president. As I watch Biden’s campaign find its footing and contemplate the immense war chest of Bloomberg, I wonder if my ‘campaign’ ought not to be a good deal more serious.

Because of how too much of the press is far too bedazzled by anything resembling Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, I still think it necessary for my campaign to be a ‘stealth’ one — on social media and person-to-person. It will be up to those who agree with me to collect the signatures for me to be on the ballot and so forth. This is still a job about which, for myself, I’m dubious, but I also feel it more necessary than ever to at least step forward and say, as did Isaiah, “Here I am. Send me!”
And why should I think myself at all qualified? Three things with which I start: I agree with most of the progressive Left about what urgently needs to be done. I don’t know if Malcolm Nance or David Cay Johnston consider themselves progressives but I mostly agree with them too.
Second, I know just how ignorant I am about how we get from point A to point B. Third, I know whose help I will want and need in order to get us from one point to the other. Leaders on that list are Malcolm Nance, Robert Reich, David Cay Johnston, Charles Eisenstein, Esther Dubos (what’s her name again? She and her hubby just won the Nobel Prize for Economics)Laurence Tribe, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Nina Turner and, yes, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as well. Fourth, I have watched politics since I was just short of twelve, which is just over half a century ago. And let me ask my readers this: who sees the most of any competitive game? Isn’t it the spectators and the cameras that put the pieces together?
If either Warren or Sanders wins the Democratic nomination, that will render this campaign unnecessary and I can happily retreat back into the woodwork of the progressive resurgence. But if we wind up handing the nomination to one of the Tammany Bourbons, I suggest that renders a campaign like mine all the more urgently necessary. We must, repeat MUST, have a candidate who is 1) not an oligarch nor a servant of theirs, 2) a strong anti-racist with some understanding of the roles race, sex, etc., still play in our society coupled with a determination to do all s/he can to transcend that and 3) really does love democracy, the earth, and the rule of law as written in the Constitution and interpreted in such a way as to expand the voices of ALL the people.
Bloomberg said recently he expects Trump will wipe the floor with anyone but himself. I guess that’s what too much wealth and power does to any individual; they believe in their hoard much more than they believe in people at the grassroots. When I heard him say this, I thought, “What a Bourbon!”
A bas toutes les Bourbons, mes freres et mes soeurs! C’est l’heure!
(Down with ALL Bourbons, brothers and sisters! The time is NOW!)
I might recommend the ‘stealth’ approach for campaigns for lesser offices as well. It depends on how much the ‘mainstream’ press is watching. If the campaign is already absent from their radar, make the most of that. If they are watching, then a ‘stealth’ approach may well be necessary.
And one thing is certain about any such campaign: if the candidate(s) who launch them wind up winning on Election Night, the people who voted for them and did the hard work to put them on the ballot and spread the word will be able to say, more than ever, “We did it ourselves.”
And isn’t having the people say that of any great collective task point out the truly great leaders among us? Think about that! So, come and ask your questions of me, one and all!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

TO PRESERVE, RENEW AND EXPAND DEMOCRACY

What I now write is not new. Nor am I anywhere near the only one saying it, thanks be to God. Indeed, more and more voices are saying basically the same thing as I am (for which I’m also thankful). However, I haven’t seen anyone say it in this particular way, and here it is.
If we want our governments and our societies around the globe to gain and/or retain more of democracy than is currently the case, private stores of wealth (which are always privately held political and economic power) can be tolerated only up to a point. There has to be a ceiling for private wealth as well as a floor below which we allow no one to sink. Private wealth can never be allowed to the point that one fortune, or a few fortunes, can effectively ‘buy out’ the voices of those of middling and/or little or no means from the government by blatant or ‘legal’ bribery — that is to say, such ‘bribes’ as campaign contributions and/or a ‘revolving door’ whereby the paymasters keep the money flowing to their present or former political slaves!
This is what has happened in the USA over the last forty years or so and it must be reversed if we are to save not only our democracy but, indeed, the very planet itself! It is a ‘given’ that there will be rich, middle and lower in any human society but the rich should not be so wealthy as to be able to both ‘opt out’ of the common wealth and/or privatize it for their own benefit. Nor is there any need for the ‘poor’ to be abjectly so. The market is not doing the job for either; we, through our elected representatives and/or directly as citizens, must do this.
As I said before, many have said much the same thing at greater length and with more particularity than before. I believe my gift to be more like taking in the big picture and paring it down to its essentials. I hope I do that effectively in this post and in others as well.
I hope and pray we can start to put more than one Green New Deal in place even as we renew democracy to include more different voices than ever before, as democracy will always be a work in progress. And we badly need some serious progress on that work right now!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

A SORT OF A CAMPAIGN

Today I re-state my unofficial and highly unorthodox campaign for President of the United States. This is not something I particularly want to do, but I think someone needs to have a campaign this out of the ordinary and be as ‘unbound’ by political orthodoxy as I like to think I am.
First, let me clarify something. ‘Politically unorthodox’, for me, includes serious respect for our Constitution, the rule of law and even, where it’s not being used to stifle voting rights, the right to protest or other guaranteed-to-all Constitutional rights, political precedents. The unorthodoxy kicks in with this particular way of sort-of campaigning which is geared in part to those with wisdom enough to realize that the persons most worth electing to political office can often be the ones who want it the least. P. J., I’d say you have a serious point there.
It also kicks in with more realization that what has become custom or precedent should not be allowed to forestall the urgent needs of both the present and the future, such as racial justice coupled with a far-reaching Green New Deal. Finally (and in some circles, this is actually pretty orthodox) the realization that a lot of necessary things need to be built, rebuilt or refurbished from the ground up, not from the top down! Although putting in honest government may have to be top down; many of us still remember the saying ‘a fish rots from the head down’. Get it?
Bernie has the right idea when he says, “It’s not about me. It’s about us.”
I couldn’t agree more. Indeed, this sort-of campaign takes his ideas a couple more steps further as follows: I do not intend to do any traditional campaigning (at least while primary season lasts and maybe even thereafter).
No speeches, no rallies and above all, no constant begging for money for TV and radio spots. I figure if my platform https://nopartyline.blogspot.com/2011/06/to-all-my-fellow-americans-especially.html gets you moving in the right direction, then you can 1) share it with everyone you think will be receptive and even some who may not be and 2) collect signatures to put me on the ballot in your state.
In any case, as I’m not at all sure I really want this nutty job, it will be up to you, my readers and the people at large, to put me there. And let me say that my mixed feelings about having the job does not mean in the least that I won’t do my level best for all of us and the planet itself. I will do my best as God strengthens me. And I have no private interests for which I would or even could use the office, unless getting my songs recorded and produced is involved somewhere in this.
Finally and most importantly, I was always be open to questions about my platform and about other political matters and some personal ones too. If I think something’s no one’s business but my own, I’ll say so and say why I think that. If I’m asked what I consider a downright loony question, the questioner can expect a ROFL, but I’ll try and say why the question comes across to me as pretty wacko. That’s mostly how I mean to campaign: answering your questions about what I would do as POTUS and how I would push it along!
I hope this gets more people going, especially considering how many of us are pretty tired of politics as currently practiced. I’m pioneering what looks to me like a new way of doing that. Let’s hope it at least takes off.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

THE 'WHITE HEAT' EPOCH?

“Look Ma — top o’ the world!!”
Then, ka-BOOM! A deafening and blinding explosion at the top of an oil derrick in Los Angeles back when there were working oil wells within the city limits!
That scene from the film White Heat has been on my mind for a while. I’ve been asking myself, how much might the current rulers of today’s politics and economics (especially the fossil-fuel barons and all their boughten political and media slaves) have in common with Cody Jarrett? The answer coming through to me right now is, too dam’ much!
I’m serious. Just think about it.
Where are the fossil-fuel barons who are ready to turn their coats to a ‘greener’ side, start to divorce their companies, either quietly or with more publicity, from their original functions and begin to seriously power a ‘greening’ of the energy and agricultural spheres of the world’s economy?
There are commercials on TV which show them doing just that, true, but how much is really behind those ads? Considering these corporations’ abysmal record in doing the right thing (remember, they knew what was going on as early as the early 1970s!) give me leave to doubt that there’s really that much change!
One political party is officially denying the existence of climate change at the behest of its fossil-fuel masters. But those masters know the reality of what’s happening; I’m willing to bet few know that reality better than they! Which means, the subtext bears a very uncomfortable resemblance to Cody Jarrett’s death scene from White Heat. These obscenely greedy, and mentally lazy, 21st century barons mean to go on pumping until either they are stopped by the preponderance of humans who actually want to live (how dare they!)on an actually living planet or until it’s literally impossible to maintain any semblance of civilized life and both the human and animal population plunge off an apocalyptic cliff at whose base will be a barely livable planet, if at all.
It’s up to all of us to STOP this death-march before we reach that cliff! People like the Extinction Rebellion are working towards this end and we need to join in and/or support those efforts however we can. First thing is, don’t let the fossil-fuel media deceive you further: there is a climate crisis and the news of natural disasters the world over is making that clearer all. the . time!
Second, get news from organizations such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, EcoWatch, the Rocky Mountain Institute and other ‘greener’ sources of news. These are also good organizations to contact when you’re not sure what you can do in your situation. Third, join up with politically ‘green’ organizations and don’t vote for anyone who tries to pretend that there is either no crisis or that we still have plenty of time. WE DON”T!!!! Fourth, and maybe most important, connect with other local groups and form regional ‘hubs’ and keep organizing and educating. Both Bernie and Elizabeth are doing this; join with either campaign depending on what you feel the market/utility balance needs to be.
To return to the White Heat analogy, we — yes, we — are the cops in hot pursuit of this psychopath with a ‘mother’ fixation, and we need to move fast! So — let’s roll! Now!

Monday, October 14, 2019

OPEN LETTER TO THE TRUMPOLATERS

I understand that many, and perhaps all, of you are Trumpolaters because he makes you feel OK with the manifold hatreds on which it seems you live.
Like anyone who doesn't bow down to your white 'Aryan' maleness or, in the case of women, to your white 'Aryan' menfolk. Anyone who doesn't see and treat you as, essentially, a hereditary noble.
I may have black (black and grey now) hair and brown eyes, but I'm still one of y'all and I know what a fantastical lie that is! We are about as noble as cockroaches and quite possibly worse!
Another thing you worship about Trumpelthinskin is his addytood, as we say around Philly Town. And that he makes you think y'all 'own' us liberals because you so-o-o-o wou-ou-ou-ound us! Wrong. Quite wrong. One thing y'all don't get about us, in much the same way darkness cannot comprehend light, is that our hearts almost never bleed (those hearts that do bleed; not every liberal heart does) for ourselves. Our hearts go out to others outside ourselves. Other people, some of whom look like us and many more that don't; some who live here and others that don't. To animals who don't know what we're causing to happen to their previously stable environment but they know it sure isn't good, to other living things we put in danger. And for the generations of our children and grandchildren (whether we actually have them or not) who will have to, willy-nilly, clean up the mess we're leaving them--or lose civilization, and maybe life itself, altogether.
And our hearts bleed and rage for what Trump and all you who are his minions are making of our country: an openly hypocritical laughingstock of a pariah nation. A country which is now hated and derided around the globe except by other pariah nations, nearly all of whom are dictatorships of one kind or another.
You may notice I say 'our' country. That's another thing about us. We try to use 'mine' less often and 'ours' more often. I guess 'mine' marks the limit of what y'all understand because it seems none of y'all care what happens to anything, or anyone, else until and unless it hits you between the eyes! And then you howl like nobody's business and as if y'all are the only ones to whom such misfortune, deserved or not, ever happened! Now just who are the real 'snowflakes' here, I 'wondah'!
Yes indeed. I guess 'mine, mine, MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE!!!' is indeed the outer limit of your understanding! Well, let me tell you something. There are many more of us than there are of you and we care for what is ours. We're waking up, getting organized and we. will. win the next big election. And we will go on winning elections. If I have anything to do with what happens, I will do everything I can to break your hearts of stone until they are utterly pulverized, which means, reduced to dust!
Then I will pray to the real God (not the god of Franklin, Junior, Jeffress and other phony 'religious' charlatans) of nations and generations that He give you all hearts of flesh for your destroyed stony hearts. It may hurt to have hearts of flesh for a time, but that is the only way that any of us grow spiritually and otherwise. We will lay your patriarchy in the dust and go on to assail other patriarchies such as the Islamist one! And if need be we will meet you at a Reims schoolhouse where you will 'sign' something like an Unconditional Surrender.
When it's all over, I'll be glad to kick in a bit so that former 'nobles' can have good booze on the bar shelves as they mangle Wae's Me For Prince Chairlie any number of times as they get drunker. But they'll get home. After all, there'll be no more military-grade weapons in private hands!

Friday, October 11, 2019

THE COLD SPOT IN TOO MANY HEARTS

"In the warmest of hearts, too often there is a cold spot for the Jews."
Irving Howe

How many among my gentile readers of Abrahamian background (whatever beliefs they may have or have discarded at this point) will spout vehement and violent negatives to this statement?
True, some among these deniers are also ones who, with equal vehemence, deny any racism in them whatsoever. And we all know what such denials often indicate, don't we?
On the other hand, there are those who, while they will vehemently argue with Irving Howe's observation, will also patiently nod when they are told how deep racism and/or racist structures are within themselves and how much work, both external and internal, needs to be done before they, and the rest of us, are free of such pernicious tropes.
How now?
I could hardly agree more heartily with the urgent necessity for such work to proceed with each and all of us, but tell me this: isn't at least an equal amount of work necessary to rid ourselves of tropes which have been with us for not four or five, but fifteen or sixteen, centuries concerning the Jews?
Are so many of us that deceived by 1) Israel's current military strength, all of which is still necessary to prevent a second Shoah and/or 2) the purportedly high socioeconomic standing of most Western, especially North American, Jews today and 3) the rate at which the latter have been intermarrying with Gentiles? Be not deceived: the Jews of Germany were starting to intermarry and many Christian clerics (there were Nuremberg Laws aimed at them, so there were more than a handful) had some Jewish ancestry. And not only those Jews, but the Jews of Spain in 1492 were also thought to be better off than their hosts. Remember what happened to them? Just about everyone conscious of Jewish DNA in their family tree knows these facts and will never, never forget them.
Allow me to ask a potentially highly explosive question, especially to those who see themselves as 'enlightened'. Are you sure your mind and heart are free of ancient anti-Jewish tropes? How many of you feel seriously uncomfortable knowing that Jews have their state again and that it is a prosperous and militarily powerful state--but one with potentially mortal enemies close at hand?
Let me say here that I've no great liking, or indeed much liking at all, for Bibi and his governments. On the other hand, so long as an Arab plurality dreams of finishing the Shoah, the 'two-state solution' is and will remain unrealizable. And to those who will say with vehemence that they don't dream so, at least not anymore, I say: read the records of what they tell each other when they know, or believe, that no liberal Westerners are listening. (If neo-Nazis are listening, they won't care.) Once you do, I think most of you will be appalled and ashamed.
Jews and other peoples of color--remember, the Shoah gave the lie to any 'whiteness' Jews or others might claim for Jews--need to do a lot of honest airing (which I hope can stay reasonably civil; that's important) of feelings about each other and histories both shared and different. And to look at the Middle East through 'American' lenses is to turn things upside down; remember Arabs have been, and mostly still are, the 'whites' of the Middle East.
Wealth, prestige and non-military power did not protect the Jews of Iberia in 1492 nor those of Germany in the 1930s. If anyone thinks those things will protect Jews in the Diaspora this time, tell me why you think that. I'll probably tell you why you're mistaken, but I'll ask the question anyway and I will expect an answer!
Finally, to all who really do want peace in the Holy Land. The best thing you can do is help those organizations which seek to build real peace from the ground up. Especially those who encourage Jews and Arabs to work together and are doing God's work of giving hearts of flesh for those of stone for both sides. But id we are to be serious about ending racism in ourselves, our society and in our world, I think we'd better start with attacking the very oldest bigotry and the racist tropes that prop it up. I say we're all better off without that cold spot in too many hearts.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

WHAT CAN ANYONE 'TELL' ISRAEL?

What can any state tell Israel what to do or how to live? To give credit where it's due,  it looks as if none of the Far Eastern countries would think of giving such advice, including India. But for India, the realization that it and Israel face something of a common foe seems to be eclipsing any Gandhian moralizing streak it might have had.
In any case, Israel has more to concern itself in this respect from other Abrahamian countries, in many of which at least a sizable chunk, if not always an outright majority, of their peoples believe that God has forsaken the Jews and has chosen them. Even many Christian minorities in an otherwise Muslim part of the world seem to believe that. Assyrians and Copts, I'm looking straight at you.
Apart from that, the status of Muslim nations toward Israel need hardly be discussed at the moment as the best relations Israel now has with any of them is either a cold peace (Egypt and Jordan) or an under-the-table-but-generally-known entente with other countries who fear Iran. (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Bahrain).
As to Christian-majority countries, their case is considerably more complicated as, at least according to a Dane who Caroline Glick debated, they now claim Israel as 'one of us'.
Excuse me?
Well, maybe Denmark can make such a claim in light of their heroic measures to save the Jews of Denmark from the Nazis during the Shoah. But in light not only of nearly all the 'Christian' countries shutting their doors to Jews before the war but also in light of the readiness of too many of their peoples to 'take water and wash their hands' in the lead-up to the Six-Day War in 1967, I can't see any other 'Christian' country that can legitimately lay claim to such a role.
When Jews needed help and had neither a state of their own to protect them nor any other state willing to do so, the 'civilized' world treated them as outsiders, as 'non-whites'. In the West, Jewish 'whiteness' is and remains quite conditional. And no Abrahamian country should expect Israel and indeed Jews worldwide to forget this. Not for centuries; perhaps not even for a thousand years.
Between the general hostility of the Muslim world, Christendom's pathetic lack of moral authority where Israel's concerned and general slanting of on-the-ground reporting, none of these have any business lecturing Israel. The only communities which can speak with Israel with some moral authority are those communities which have historically been oppressed themselves and have been forcibly removed from part or all of their homelands and have been in effective exile such as the African-American (referring to the whole Western Hemisphere here) communities. But they need to speak as one community of exiles (or occupied people) to a returned and self-liberated community of former exiles.
When it had the most consequence, Jews were mostly not seen as 'white'. Quite the contrary. And Jews themselves should treat being called 'white' as an insult. From anyone of any skin tone. And I would ask other occupied indigenous communities, and other communities of exiles, to bear this in mind when speaking of or to Israel or Jewish people over the world.
However, it is worth noting that, so far as I can discern from the news and 6500 miles' distance, that most of the Israelis who concern themselves with preventing what being 'in occupation' over another people does to the occupier from happening to Israel are either from long-established sabra families or have returned from Europe or North America. I'm very sorry to say I don't see many Mizrahis or former residents of Russia among them, although that too could be due to a news-slant.
But it cannot be stated often enough that, from the beginning of this return almost 140 years ago (before modern Zionism even) Jews have been, and still are (for the moment--how much longer?) much more willing to share the land, its fruits and power over it. The Arab majority has not been willing to share to date as have the Jews. This is not a characteristic of most indigenous peoples; it is a trait of colonial settlers. Indigenous peoples are usually much more willing to share the land while they and the newcomers can both live comfortably. Colonists cannot live with anyone but themselves holding all, or nearly all, the land and all the power.
I wouldn't be too surprised to learn the Mizrahim in Israel have been affected by that colonist mentality 'on both sides'. Meaning, while they're resolved to have no other people over them again but how much they grasp of freedom's principle is open to question.  And until and unless the Arabs show, on a continual and persistent basis, a willingness to share the land on an individually equal basis, it's all too likely to remain so. While the Arabs persist in mimicking the behavior patterns of a formerly dominant majority still smarting over being reduced to equality and lower, they'll never get anywhere except to deserved oblivion. And no one, with the exceptions enumerated above, has any business lecturing Israel about what it needs to do to continue to live and flourish. Certainly no current or former imperial power has any such right.