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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.
.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

FORWARD MARCH, PROGRESSIVES!

While anybody can read news (and God and my wife know how much news I read!) still, in the corner of southeastern Pennsylvania where I reside, things remain relatively quiet. The only ongoing fight with which I'm involved is the anti-fracking campaign of Food & Water Watch.
But I know, and I know you know, there's a lot more to do if we progressives want to be organized enough by this time next year to be fielding candidates at all levels from local to federal. One progressive trait which is, in my opinion, decidedly unhelpful is our tendency to build 'silos' within which we carefully stay. This is a time when many more of us need to be building a network of support and communication between those 'silos'. We need to reach out to other progressive organizations as we also look for possible candidates for all those offices--candidates who'd rather do the leg-or carwork of actual physical campaigning across their districts rather than selling themselves for BMCC (Big Media Campaign Cash) and, who, ideally, have a strong sense of identity quite apart from political office. People like that are usually not as buyable as those just ready to be bagmen for the highest bidders. You listening, Mister Speaker?
One thing we need is a way to find out how many other progressives are in our vicinity and also next door in all directions. Once we know this, then we must establish connections in all directions and begin to create a common plan of action depending on our local circumstances.
The network/campaign which I seek to build will run on such connections between people. Remember, the other side has the megabucks. What We The People have is us--the people--and the connections between us! If such a network and campaign is to take shape to which big money may be irrelevant (and, I hope, will prove largely impervious to big money) on what else can it be based but such person-to-person-to-other-persons-connections? That's why finding and forging these connections in a sort of nationwide 'weave' is so crucial.
A good place to start might be if a website exists for progressives in our respective states. If there isn't one, let's see what we can do about setting up one. Also, let's experiment with low-cost alternatives to high-priced media as to reminding people to vote, for whom to vote and why. Now is the time to see what each and all of us can do as per the purging of megabucks from our political processes!
Many of you already see the need for such a new organization and are already on it. Many thanks to those of you who see that; keep up the good work of spreading the news and picking and encouraging promising candidates for (fill in the blank). A big part of our work will probably be encouraging others to ask questions they may not have thought of before and taking it from there. Forward march, fellow progressives!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

WELL, (SIGH) HERE GOES!

I think we're all agreed that, come November 5, 2014 and elections thereafter, we need to be firing as many 'Republicans' on ALL levels as might be humanly possible. Then they need to sit powerless (assuming they needn't be tried and jailed) for forty years at least.
But if we are to build a progressive network which becomes an all-levels campaign, we need to do some serious thinking as to which Blue Dogs we let be and which do we primary from the left. My own hunch is that a good many Blue Dogs deserve to be primaried, depending on whether or not they listen more to their actual constituents as opposed to their most generous contributors.
And this is where I reluctantly put myself forward as a candidate for POTUS. This much I can say on my own behalf which I haven't posted before: if I reach the White House, one factor I will COMPLETELY EXCLUDE in making decisions is any effect on my chances of re-election. With God's help I will act as if I may well have but one term. That is, act with dispatch and decision on behalf of all the people--especially on behalf of our middle class. No democracy can function well without a strong and expanding middle class and ours urgently needs strengthening after having been bled from above for thirty years! And we need to include the poor in this as being able to join the middle class is what nearly all of them want!
And we must restore, expand and replenish the commons--the infrastructure upon which we all depend and the biosphere without which we ourselves (not to mention almost all other species) cannot live. We must end the wanton despoiling of these commons, heal them and keep them healthy for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And to those who say that maintenance of our standard of living is impossible without despoilation, I reply: this is America. We are a land of dreams, realized and unrealized. If anyone can do what others believed impossible, who else (except Israel, maybe) but ourselves can step up to the plate and do what the naysayers proclaim impossible? How many times in our national history have we already done such things? No one believes this won't be done without hard work, but I believe we're not yet such couch potatoes as not to be wonderfully energized by such dreams of hope and renewal for all of us! Yes, it may be hard, but we're the men and women who can and will do it!
I'd like to conclude with two things: anyone curious about what I mean to do can find out either on my blog at http://nopartyline.blogspot.com or on my FB page titled 'Progressive Platform & Politics 2014+' in the post labelled 'The Central Article.' And if there's anyone who thinks they can do a better job than I would, let's talk. You've nothing to lose and, when push comes to shove, I've NO desire to live in a goldfish bowl for at least four years! I'd rather be a king/queenmaker (and maintainer) than the king himself! But while I don't know who'd get more done, I feel I've no choice but to stand up and be counted. God bless you all and God save the United States!