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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

WHAT'S REAL TO US AND TO THEM


More of us seem to understand what the REAL bare necessities are: clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and with which to cook, wash and irrigate. Unfracked land which can be worked and built upon and doesn't shake alarmingly at the least little tremor and to keep healthy so that we can enjoy these things!
Then there comes the need to put our contribution into the common pot and to be able to MORE than earn a mere living--to be able to make a LIFE by both giving and receiving with our talents and knowledge. Friends and family; living creatures and/or people to love and care about and who care about us. To be able to freely honor the God in each of our hearts and to respect how others honor God but also to assert that in NO case can God be honored by murder, rape, suppression of anyone, or religious coercion or heedless destruction of the natural world. We seem to see more of the world's colors, perhaps in more ways than one.
They don't. What they see boils down to a set of questions, to which I'll return in a bit. But first, let me say these things: they make a great but hollow show of religious devotion regardless of their 'religious' labels and they're all the louder for their emptiness but the god to whom they are truly devoted is known either as Ba'al, Mammon or just Moo-Lah.
Even so they are loud and hollow about their devotion to Family but what they really want is to preserve an iron and UNGODLY hierarchy of power (NOT love) within their families and the relatively freewheeling culture of today has them TERRIFIED of losing that. Which is probably why they seem to include a growing number of ammosexuals as well.
And here's where I return to the questions that seem to sum up how they see the world.
1) What you got to trade? What's your currency and how much?
2) Does it match mine and/or do I want it? (If not, it and you are both worthless to Me)
3)If I want it, how much is it? (Usually 'too much', whatever that might be)
4) Since I don't want to pay for it but I want it, how can I steal it without him/her knowing it? (This is where race-baiting comes in; see what LBJ had to say about it)
5) What can I get for me and mine RIGHT NOW? So long as it's legal, I don't care who or what else is hurt by it. It's a dog-eat-dog world and it's not my responsibility to make it better.
Go back far enough and almost everyone's narrative involves some oppression. One thing which does NOT come under that heading, however, is the humbling of those who had been oppressors. Right now, Europeans are who most of us think of first. But this narrative has also been played out in the Orient, in Africa and even in the native American cultures (anyone remember how the Tlaxcalans helped Cortez because they were fed up with their sacrificial tribute to the Aztecs?) and is now also seen in the Middle East where Jacob has rightly humbled Ishmael,who is still furious and who still doesn't really want peace.
Let's just be clear about THAT before I wind things up by mentioning that we accept the reality of how others see things, including ourselves, and at least make efforts, however mortifyingly laughable they may be, to integrate or at least make connections between our different stories and outlooks. They don't. To them, it's their way or the highway. Anyone like that, be they Dominionist or Islamist or Randian, is dangerous to democracy and should be pointed out as such. We strive for clarity; they seek to fog up and confuse. So insist on 'plain' speech, brothers and sisters!
I hope this rather rambling post helps at least some of you out in the field during this election year. Maybe this summing-up is better: we are the ones closest to the real basics, who recognize we can be wrong and others can see things differently than we. We are inclusive; they are exclusive. They acknowledge no errors on their parts and see money as the only REAL measure of anyone and never mind how it's obtained!
Clear enough, brothers and sisters? Then let's go!!

Monday, June 2, 2014

TIME TO USE 'WRITE-IN' CAMPAIGNS?

Thinking again about campaigning and ways to avoid going hat in hand to millionaires and billionaires. Also thinking about 1) the ambivalence (at best) many people have about real change. A lot of people are worried about what they MAY need to give up and 2) those of us who want real change but don't see a vigorous enough attempt to deal with the things coming down the pike directly towards us!
Allow me to ask the first set of people (you know who you are) this question: can you tell that, whether we want them to or not, things (with the climate first and last) will change, yea are changing before our very eyes? If you can't see it, refuse to acknowledge it or are preparing to be 'raptured' and, thus, don't care--then I ain't talking to you! Stick your heads back into the sand (or back up your hinder end) and stay there. But know this: having your heads stuck up your other end does put you in the most convenient position to kiss your a** goodbye, as the old poster from the 70s instructed!
To those who CAN tell and do know, let me ask you this: are you ready to do what needs doing NOW or will you palm it off on your children and/or grandkids? If you're a 'palmer', you also have no business as a free citizen of a democracy but need to go somewhere which will welcome docile subjects, because that's what you really are!
For those ready to act but still ambivalent: you want to do right by posterity, right? You say that's the most important thing to you? Well, pardners, now's the time to step up to the plate and walk the walk: support what looks most likely to ensure that posterity the best type of life we can leave them--and don't be sloppy about doing your 'homework' in checking that out!
Last but possibly most important, I speak to my fellows who are impatient with the pace of change: in the primaries last month, I wrote in my own name to be a committeeperson, just because. Then, lo and behold, I'm told I've won a spot!
I think, in those areas where progressives are 'shut out' by the apparatus of major parties, maybe encouraging 'write-in' campaigns might help. Either find people who we know to favor real, noticeable change or, if not, write our own names in and ask our friends to do so. We badly need, and I still hope for, an all-levels progressive tsunami this fall. Nor can we expect, and I for one feel we shouldn't solicit, large-scale donations but find out whatever we can do WITHOUT big money!!
I suspect not many of us, myself included, are ready to enter the goldfish bowls and/or snake pits that public life and governmental assemblies have become, but if we don't, how will they become any less of those things?
It really is up to us to do whatever we can. Even if we mostly lose, at least this is a start. We're rolling a snowball and time will tell how big it gets and how quickly. We can only do our own parts--so let's step up and do whatever we can right here, right now!

Friday, February 28, 2014

ONE AGGRESSIVELY LOW-BUDGET CAMPAIGN IDEA

Lately I've been exploring what might be ways to stage and run aggressively low-budget campaigns not only where I live but nationwide and I think I have something.
It starts with the truth, everyone enjoys eating. And most of us like potluck suppers. Well, why not use that as a way to not only energize but expand the base? That is, draw in(or draw back) progressively more people who are and/or have been disenchanted with the whole business? Considering how deplorably, yea abysmally, low the turnout is for even presidential, let alone midterm, elections I say we want to aim our pitches at drawing back the disenchanted rather than catering to the biped Morrises called 'independents'. There are PLENTY more disenchanteds than 'independents'! So, make sure to have plenty of registration forms at the potlucks, which should be held at free or low-cost venues such as churches or synagogues or, maybe, fire halls and the like. Ask for small ($5-10) contributions from those who don't bring anything, but ASK. Let's try not to compel if we can get away with it.
And KEEP HAVING THEM across the district, borough or whatever the election unit might be. Ask for volunteers to help with them. Maybe volunteer to help organize them.
And as the weather warms, they can become potluck picnics--but, again, ask for food contributions, be they snacks, grillable meats, salads or whatever from those who'll come. We want to encourage a feeling of everyone doing what they can--of a wide number of contributors. Which, in turn, can work AGAINST the numbing feeling which the Repiglicans have been spreading: the feeling that YOUR vote doesn't matter and there's nothing you can do. We MUST make the point to a widening number of in-kind contributors that YES, what they do, whether they vote and for whom DOES make a difference for not only them but for all of us, for the whole country!
And we need to keep repeating it, which might be the toughest thing of all for some of us. I know repetition can bore ME pretty quickly but we need to keep at it in order to 1) show ourselves and our base that, at least from the congressional level on down, we CAN nullify big money's influence and yet win and 2) to have our points sink in for a widening base!
Such potlucks and picnics should end with a question/answer session between the candidate(s) and the audience, and maybe with an appropriate song or two. I write songs; all anyone need do is ask and I'll share. Another point about potlucks and picnics: attendees could be asked if they're registered to vote. If not, then they can be directed to a table where the registration forms will be. Even if they refuse to register, still make them welcome.
One thing about which I'm not too sure is to have 'C' and 'S' stamps for the attendees' hands. 'C' would indicate 'citizen', meaning someone civically engaged to varying degrees. The opt-outers would be stamped with 'S', indicating 'subject'.
Actually, I'm not sure potlucks or picnics as so far imagined are the right place for that as it might get more of a discussion going which might obscure the question/answer time with the candidates. However, why not also have potlucks where such a discussion would be at least part of the after-meal agenda?
Such a thing could also provide some raw data as to what needs to be done in which communities in order to variously build, rebuild, maintain and/or strengthen what can be called the civic sense--that is, the feeling of both freedom and responsibility that comes with 'citizen consciousness'. I hope I'm making myself understood here, so weigh in, y'all.

Let's go, people. Let's WIN this election with the first wave of a progressive tsunami and tell the anti-democracy billionaire crowd where they can stick it!!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

AMERICAN DREAM, REAL & COUNTERFEIT

There's been a lot of talk about the ebbing away of the 'American Dream' lately.
However, as I observe what that means to a too-large segment of our population, it occurs to me that the difference between what they mean by the American Dream, and what most of us still believe it to be, needs articulating. I don't see anyone else tackling this job, so here goes.
Unless I'm much mistaken, most of us still understand that dream much the same as articulated nearly three millennia ago by the prophet Micah: "Every [person] shall sit under [their] own fig tree, and there will be no one to make them afraid." In contemporary terms, this means: everyone can have as much education as they want or need, medical care that doesn't bankrupt us, a job which earns them a decent and living wage and by which each of us can see we're contributing to the community as well as earning a living--and which, over time, enables us to buy a house and do our part towards keeping the money moving around and putting a bit by as well.And that anyone of any race can have a truly equal shot at this. Is this a fair articulation? If anyone wants to differ, please let's have feedback--but not before you read all of the post.
Now we go into a dark side, or rather a distortion, of this dream. It begins, at least in this post, with something grimly realistic said by Jefferson.
"For in a warm climate, no [person] will labor for  [themselves] when he can make another labor for him." The observation of this, and the mindset accompanying that observation, is at the root of many of our currently acute problems.
Beginning with Jefferson's saying, this mindset is characterized by 1) treating most 'white' persons as if they are, or soon will be, plantation owners. 2) conversely treating most people of color, black and/or Latino (uncertain about some Asians) as slaves as one form or another and, hence, unworthy of decent wages, equal treatment, etc., 3) never-ending attempts to avoid honest work and to compel someone else to do one's own fair share.
"We are a band of brothers native to the soil,
Fighting for the property we gained by honest toil."
Y'all remember those opening lyrics to The Bonnie Blue Flag? Y'all know what sort of 'property' is meant there? Not landed property; no! Oh no: the property mentioned therein is the 'property' which a white man could of old compel to labor for him. That's right; human 'property'! What these lyrics say is, essentially, we worked honestly till we could afford someone else to do our work! Then we went and sat on the veranda! I call this the 'planter' mentality and outlook, and it is prevalent today in both major wings of the 'Republican' party today, that is, among both the 'religious' Right and the Randians as well. (I may call this mentality 'planter' but that's not to say it's confined to the South by any means; nor is it shared by all Southerners, not even all white Southerners and yes, it can and does cross racial lines!)
But perhaps the most destructive thing about this outlook is how it projects that attitude (I'll work only as long as I must without anyone working for me [sob]) onto the rest of us who actually want to do some kind of decent-paying, somehow-contributing sort of work! To quote a character in one of my favorite novels, "Is no good have too much time. Must have work." And those of us who either don't have, or have too little, regular work strive to 1) regularize what work we have and 2) at least try to create work for ourselves and others. The latter at least refers to work we'd want to do anyhow even if we had no further monetary worries!
Anyhow, their projection of that evil attitude onto the rest of us (and I suggest the riverboat gambler variation of that attitude is what now rules Wall Street) affects us in many tremendously pernicious ways: in the cutting of programs necessary to shore up working people and the middle class generally, in the giving of more, more and more to the greedy planters among us (including and perhaps especially the defense contractors) and indeed in the anti-Christian attitude towards the poor and struggling shown by the Mammonites of the Right. And by these signs they show us their culture, and the worst in it at that, trumps whatever faith they might really have by a long shot!!
It is we, and not they, who stand for the renewal, and the 'greening', of the real American Dream! We are the ones who wish to be neither masters nor slaves and we understand that needs to be true for all of us of every race and ethnicity or it becomes a vicious lie! So let's arm ourselves further, indeed with the shield of truth and the breastplate of (but never self-!) righteousness as we continue to organize, spread the words and otherwise prepare to engineer a progressive tsunami next year!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

EXODUS 23:9, 2013 C.E.

Israel is on my mind for a number of reasons.
First, I have to ask myself, how much attention is the Obama administration, and especially Secretary Kerry, really paying to the peace process if they really believe Abbas and the PA are committed to nonviolence when it's plain to most eyes both unbiased and properly informed that they are not anything of the kind? They are still committed to the hope of the Shoah going on (I admit, pun intended) and our people should remember that!
On the other hand, I ask myself: if the embryo-stage deal with Iran taking shape is as bad a bargain as Bibi claims it to be, I must ask: How so? And why? If Iran agrees to turn all its uranium enriched more than 3.5% into harmless uranium oxide and to enrich no uranium further then that 3.5%, what's bad about that, so long as thorough outside inspections are part of the deal? If one batch of 3.5% enriched uranium's added to another, does the enrichment also double to 7%? Doesn't seem to make much sense to me. No, I suggest Bibi is 1) making plain he trusts none of the parties or the people making these negotiations and 2) trying to checkmate his loony-right coalition partners by trying for an Iranian 'unconditional surrender' to nail on the domestic wall.
Bibi's not stupid: surely he knows that there'll be no such thing from Iran absent open warfare; is that what he wants?! I'll allow he's not trying to pull the old Chiang Kai-shek 'let's you and him fight' scam on us--but only just. His actions and words have me frowning with concern lately.
But what worries me the most are growing signs of racism within Israel. Never mind that the Shoah was perpetrated by 'whites' who believed the Jews to be 'counterfeit whites', a 'negative race', a 'bastardy', to use H.S. Chamberlain's (one of the Nazis' precursors and benefactors) words. Never mind that too many Israelis like thinking of themselves, even after such an enormity, as 'whites'.
No, what troubles me the most is the signs of harassment of  (African) 'aliens', not to mention my own need to remind my readers of these words: "Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt." (Exodus 23:9, NIV)
In Egypt and nearly everywhere else except that little sliver of land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. I suggest Israel, and indeed all Jews, forget those words at their individual and collective peril. And what effect, if any, does this un-Jewish anti-refugee sentiment have on how fellow Jews from Africa--Ethiopians, Nigerians, Ghanaians, etc.--are seen by others? For instance, why were Israel's doors thrown open to Russians of scant observance and questionable lineage while observant and true-descended Ethiopians and Indians (Bnei Menashe) were put under magnifying glasses before they were cleared for return? Why were 100,000 ( or whatever the number was) Ethiopian Jewish women given contraception without being told what it was?
The Jewish (or should I use the broader term of 'Hebrew'?) state is named Israel--not Greater Anatevka!!! So let that sink in as (I hope) you give up thinking of yourselves as 'white' and embrace your darker brothers and sisters (hooray for Miss Israel!) as heartily--no more, no less--as you have the Russians and other Europeans.
Finally, a disclaimer of sorts: I'm not one of those 'liberals' who seem to need Jews to be better than the rest of us slobs. I know they're as human as the rest of us with the same failings most of us share. Nor do I support Israel any the less; no, not for a New York nanosecond.
But I leave us all with a question: should a people who have suffered, probably (although arguably) more than any other people from the combined evils of racism, xenophobia and religious bigotry give any mercy or quarter, any 'slack' at all, to any one of this trinity of hatred? Indeed, should any people who've suffered from any or all of these evils cut them any 'slack' when it's their brethren who now wield them as weapons?
I hope and pray that now, as the new millennium unfolds before us, the answer will be a firm and decisive, "No!"

Sunday, October 13, 2013

TOWARDS A LOW-MONEY CAMPAIGN

In the campaigns next year and thereafter, perhaps for the foreseeable future, we progressives can no longer afford being schoolmarms. To the willfully ignorant GOP and teabaggers, we must be as willing to inflict butthurt as was Wackford Squeers, albeit in the cause of truth. We CANNOT LET any lie promulgated by these right-wing TRAITORS go unanswered!
Frankly, to HELL with the oh-so-eggshell-porcelain-crybaby feelings of ALL rightwingers from Cruz and Gingrich on down! I swear, if I ever have a platform they might not be able to sit down for years after I retire!!
Take off your gloves, all my fellow-progressives, and let's fight bare-knuckle 'cause that's what we need to do! The traitors see our civilities as weakness and exploit them accordingly! We can fight without ad hominem or ad mulieram attacks; all we need do is tell the truth about who pays these goons and what they're really after and keep telling those truths in the face of right-wing wailing! Do not hesitate to share the nasty truth about our enemies--who are also our country's enemies!! With congressional (and, probably, state senatorial and legislative districts as well) being as gerrymandered as they are, any REAL change has to begin by noting the usual sorry-assed turnout for midterm elections: somewhere around 30% of the eligible population votes.
Hence, if we are to overturn enough gerrymandered districts on ALL levels, we must: 1) find out who among the nonvoting and unregistered (but eligible) are likely to vote progressive
2) Get those who are our likely voters registered to vote
3) Show the waverers and the 'they're-all-the-sames' the significant difference between the parties and how anti-democracy the right wing really is
4) Impress on them that their voting, and other forms of participation in democracy, CAN indeed make a difference!
I'm willing to bet that, if we can at least double the turnout percentage next year, we might well overturn and progressivize about half the gerrymanders, both on the state and federal levels. Let's get cracking, progressives! To those of you who are already doing these things, kudos to y'all and KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!!!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

LEAVING ANATEVKA BEHIND

As the High Holy Days approach, a question occurs to me: how many other MOTs see the point, let alone the advantage, of Israel cultivating connections not only with sub-Saharan African countries and peoples (including the growing number of black Jews or Hebrews) but with indigenous peoples worldwide, such as North America's First Nations, aka Native Americans?
I'm serious: the Jews are so called, as Bibi himself pointed out, because they come from a place called Judah or Judea. And Eretz Israel was home to the Twelve Tribes of Israel until 722 B.C.E. and  descendants of the previously lost Ten Tribes are now emerging from the woodwork, such as the descendants of Manasseh now returning from Assam in northeastern India. The return of the Ethiopian 'Jews', although a more accurate term might be 'Hebrews' or 'Israelites' (don't they claim descent from the tribe of Dan, or are they further south, or both?) is well known and hailed by all of us who are uninfected by racism.
But by whatever name, the house of Israel, formerly known as Jacob, are the indigenous people of the land variously known as Eretz Israel, the Holy Land or southern Syria. Most of us know Hadrian  fastened the name 'Palestine' to try in vain to erase the memory of 'Judea' from it, so I won't use it! As an indigenous people returned to their ancestral land, does it not behoove Israel and Jews worldwide to form  alliances and friendships with other indigenes around the world? I certainly think so; to me it makes all the sense in the world!
In Israel as in the rest of the world (especially North America) I suggest Jews need to scrap the idea that they are 'white'. If  my memory is correct, it was 'whites' who murdered a third of the world's Jewry because some madmen decided Jews were 'counterfeit whites' who were too dangerous to let live. How many Jews have forgotten that so quickly as, at least in the USA, many all but stampede towards assimilation? (Not to mention the need to welcome in the children of intermarriage!) How does even Crown Heights and Farrakhan's ramblings, never mind street-corner harassment, compare with the Shoah? When my mother was a wee lass beginning her schooling at P.S. 221, there were many 'whites' the world over who considered neither her nor her family as 'white'. I wonder,  my impeccable paternal Anglo-Saxon credentials notwithstanding, what these 'whites' make of me, my sibs and their children?
The contrast between the open arms with which Israel has greeted the Russian immigrants--many of whom are 1) disputably Jewish and 2) barely observant if at all--and the suspicious squints which greet the Ethiopians, most of whom are 1) observant and 2)of relatively impeccable parentage looks profoundly suspicious to me, but I leave it to Israelis to decide whether this matter amounts to  a national disgrace.
Don't mistake me here: I know Arab racism is way worse than anything in Israel, and allow me to call Eldridge Cleaver (who lived in Algeria for eight years and experienced it firsthand) as my first witness. But that's not the point anyhow. The point is, bias from those with power to put it into effect   in favor of one group of Jews (or Israelites) or another, aka racism, has no place among the children of Israel and should be dealt with ruthlessly. And let's not mistake neglect of security measures for being anti-racist either.
We all need 'cocooning' times, mostly collectively but sometimes individually as well, but certain 'cocoons' can also be dangerously seductive. I just hope that Jews in the Western world haven't been fully seduced by being (at least for the moment) a wonderfully successful part of the 'white' majority. In the USA, that majority is scheduled to be gone when I'll be in my nineties if G-d keeps me here that long. Israel is already only half-Ashkenazic and may well be due for a general soul-searching on the matter of race, although as I don't live there I can't be altogether certain.
Being part of a 'majority' can be very soothing indeed and I can hardly blame Jews (of all people!) for embracing this identity with, probably, some little desperate gratitude indeed! On the other hand, getting close to, and having, power carries its own perils. How long can a David and a Goliath, even a debatably benevolent one, walk together?
One thing power does very poorly is listen. It generally has a particularly hard time in hearing the relatively powerless, its own some-time benevolence notwithstanding. But a big part of and debatably the main point of the story of Israel--and perhaps of Europe as well but hold on for further explanation--is how active engagement with G-d makes somebodies out of nobodies, both individually and collectively. Through such relationships, G-d empowers the powerless. Isn't that, then, supposed to be a central part of Israel's message to the world? Not to mention a central part of the church's message? And what about Islam's contribution to this message as well?
Let Israel welcome Jews and Israelites with black and brown skins with the same open arms they present to whites whose Jewishness is at least equally debatable and renew that message. Here, let's continue repairing the old civil rights alliance and continue the struggle for freedom and real equality. I had hoped to say something in this post about how the Hebrew return to their land is not 'colonization' and how the Arabs have, over the last century, behaved (at least out loud) mostly like Southern whites of the Bull Connor variety, but I've no wish to tire my readers so I'll need to cover that in subsequent posts, along with the parallel of the land's resettlement to the civil rights marchers and the parallel between ancient Israel and Latin Europe of the Middle Ages at least.
Let me end this post with a pair of lines from  Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing which I suspect many Jewish people, both in Israel and the Diaspora, would do well to remember:

Lest our feet stray from the places, O G-d, where we met thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee

Brothers and sisters, let's not be drunk with the wines of the world, especially not with riches and/or power. Not now or ever,  and may G-d so help us all.
.