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Saturday, December 14, 2013


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


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


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


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


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 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!

Thursday, May 16, 2013


This is it--my 'Osawatomie' post. I call it that after the place where Teddy Roosevelt made the speech in which he broke with the Taft Republicans and with which he invoked the blessed memory of John Brown.
I was born and grew up in a Democratic family. In 1980, that attachment was tenuous. Then came twelve years of Reagan-Bush smoke and mirrors and I thought that sealed my place in the Democratic party beyond undoing. That's what I thought. However, the degree to which this current administration has proven itself to be just another tool of the military-industrial-security state, the banksters and of Wall Street generally has finally become insupportable to me and I must now leave the old Democratic tent and pitch a new one, with the help of, I hope, as many others as possible. I call for a revival of Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose Progressives!
For what that means so far, let me invite all to visit my FB page 'Progressive Platform & Politics 2014+' for both platform points and a blueprint for action. Both can be found on the post labelled 'The Central Article'. There are other posts either there or on my blog at as to how to proceed. On the website, 'Campaign Advice for all Progressives' sums up info following the platform.
As to rejoining the Democrats if Hillary's nominated: a definite 'maybe'. What bothers me about Hillary more than her vote for the unrighteous Iraq war is her husband's attempt to sneak an American version of Britain's Official Secrets Act through Congress in the last year of his administration. Let them both come forth with a smudge or two of ash on their heads and maybe a sackcloth scarf and/or tie and we might well rejoin the Democrats. Absent that and other serious signs of bringing our old party a nudge or two leftward, I think a word from New York's language says most of it: FUGGEDABOUDIT!
Congressman Trey Gowdy's words (R-SC) about the Department of Justice only doing what the gerrymandered House majority asked it to do (in regard to riffling through the phone records of the AP reporters) in the end only reinforces my feeling about how sickeningly much my party now has in common with the Tinfoil Hat Brigade now in full control of the 'Republican' party!
We need a party of, by and for the PEOPLE and we need such a party NOW. I ask the Greens, Working Families Party and others to come and see if we can all come together under the old and untainted banner of Teddy Roosevelt, Bob La Follette and of many other men and women.
The success or failure of this venture will depend as much on each one of you as it does on me: it's up to us all to spread the word among our fellow citizens even as we try to do so OUT of the MSM's neon floodlights for as long as is workable AND to either find and support Progressive candidates for all elective offices from local to federal or to run for those offices ourselves!
Let's do it, fellow citizens: make a Progressive party for all of us, starting right now! God bless you all and God save these United States!!

Friday, April 26, 2013


Something I've been pondering lately: not only the loony right but, it might be, a preponderance of most Americans, proceed and have been proceeding on the assumption that every penny of the money we earn belongs to us and ONLY to us, and, hence, that taxes are burdensome impositions if not, as the Randians at least prate (although when THEY need help it's quite a different story!), outright theft.
I challenge that assumption and throw down the gauntlet to the REALLY aspiring thieves, nearly all of whom do their dirty work under the Private Enterprise colors even while they seek to loot us every which way they can, including buying up OUR government. Not even the Founders believed that ALL anyone's property was theirs alone. In proof of which, read these two quotes from two Founders:

All Property, indeed, except the Savage's temporary Cabin, his Bow, his Matchcoat, and other little Acquisitions, absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of public Convention. Hence the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity and the Uses of it. All the Property that is necessary to a [person], for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is [their] natural Right, which none can justly deprive [them] of:(Nowadays, that would be whatever's necessary for a modest but decent living and to bring up--and educate--one's children in modest comfort and security) But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages.

The protection of a [person] is more sacred than the protection of property; and besides this, the faculty of performing any kind of work or services by which [s/he] acquires a livelihood, or maintaining [their] family, is of the nature of property. It is property to [them], [s/he] has acquired it; and it is as much the object of [their] protection as exterior property, possessed without that faculty, can be the object of protection in another person.

The first was written by Ben Franklin in a letter to Robert Morris on Dec. 25, 1783. The second is from Tom Paine's 'Dissertation on First Principles of Government'.

I don't know about you but I can already hear the whines, "Don't WE know how to spend our own money better than any government revenue hound (modern variation)?"
The answer is, not necessarily. Especially not if you ain't been paying attention, clown! If you barely know what needs doing in your own town, city or region, can we believe you if and when you say YOU know how to spend all your money? I really do wonder.
Mind you, I have my own ideas where our tax dollars should be put to work, but that's another matter. You want roads and bridges safe to drive on? Clean air to breathe and water to drink? Uncontaminated and reasonably fresh food? Not to mention police and fire who serve EVERYONE fairly? The market will do whatever it thinks it can get away with; it's long past time to discipline it and none too gently neither at that!! We can (so far) only monitor the market through the agency of OUR government. You want to know who government is? The same folks as create jobs. THAT means the person you see in the mirror in the morning as you either shave or apply war paint--and his/her neighbors as well, all acting together and deputizing people (representatives; who in turn hire and deputize 'bureaucrats', many of whom actually work not at a desk but either on the road or in physically strenuous jobs) to carry out the things we the people want done!!
Remember: WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT. WE ARE ALSO JOB-CREATORS. If anyone tells you the government is your enemy, they say that YOU are your enemy and they seek to sell you for parts!
And I can't repeat often enough that OUR desires and demands create the jobs!!
So--what we need to maintain ourselves, bring up and educate a family in modest comfort is indeed ours, but anything above and beyond that can and should be put to work in ways which benefit ALL of us, benefit the society as a whole. At least, that's what Dr. Franklin said. And he wasn't the only Founder who believed that either.


I've been mulling something over lately: the initial purpose of hijab, niqab, yea even burqa, was to render women INCONSPICUOUS. How well they work, given the stats on abuse of women in Muslim societies, is open to a good deal of questioning.
More than that, though, is the fact that women wearing such clothing in Western or indeed in any non-Muslim societies are ANYTHING BUT inconspicuous; they stick out like sore thumbs! If Muslim men in non-Muslim societies want women to blend in to the scenery, a better costume might be: a cap (in North America, probably a baseball cap) with maybe a pony tail hanging out the back, either t-shirt or sweatshirt depending on the weather, capris or sweatpants ditto, sneakers and a pair of shades if it's a bright day.
And as a Westerner, I can only conclude two things about women who insist (or their menfolk who insist) on wearing niqab or burqa in a non-Muslim society: either they're shutting their eyes to certain things about their 'host' society or they are deliberately raising a battle standard and flaunting it in the faces of the rest of us!
I don't even want to write what I think of males (they don't even deserve to be called 'men' in my opinion) who compel their women to wear clothing which, given the time and place, amounts to a battle flag saying "We-you-coming-to-get, infidel!" except for that where I come from, most men who deserve to be so called would consider such a gesture unconscionably COWARDLY!
Is a combination of both possible? I don't know.
But, as the hijab has a close resemblance to the headscarves which most women still wear at some points or other, it's decidedly different from the other two. Indeed, it can even be a sign of respect for the 'host' society inasmuch as while it says something distinct about the wearer, neither does it hide her face (anyone's most unique feature) and thus enables her to blend into the societal stream as it were.
Besides, I know someone who honors me with the title 'brother' (and I'm delighted to reciprocate) who wears hijabs with more style, class and downright sparkle than I'd have thought possible before! You know who you are, sister! Mwah!
Anyhow, to conclude: if women want to blend in and not stand out, that needs to be sartorial as well. So, ladies, take my 'sister's' advice on how to wear hijabs if that's what you want. Otherwise, go and get the sweatsuits, t-shirts, capris, caps and sneakers. Dressed like that, most males, men and others, will pass you by without a second thought.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


For some reason Asra Nomani's piece today in the Washington Post brought this idea back to my mind: on the one hand liberal, progressive and 'secularized' Muslims, and on the other liberal, progressive and 'secularized' Christians (myself among the progressives)--and nearly all Jews with brains befitting them--are fighting the same battle, although not at the same stage.
The progressive, etc. Muslims are now fighting to separate mosque from state, both here in the West and in their native countries. We now fight to maintain and strengthen the separation we have between church and state. I at least like to think that those of us who are God-, or religiously, oriented understand that separation to be absolutely vital, not only for human freedom of mind (also necessary for technological progress) but also to allow real religion to flourish as it does here where no religious body has been (since 1833) nor will ever be again part of the state establishment. Upwards of four centuries before our First Amendment stated, "Congress shall make no law..." a poet who was himself a friar wrote these words:

When the kindness of Constantine gave Holy Church endowments
In lands and leases, lordships and servants,
The Romans heard an angel cry on high above them
"This day has[the church] drunk venom
And all who have Peter's power are poisoned forever."

If Will Langland could see the corrupting nature of religion and state in the same bed in a time when a different arrangement could hardly be imagined, what excuse do any of us have, with most of the European churches now being near-empty shells as a consequence of that very connection?!
No, those who fear such separation are not afraid on God's account nor for fear of not saving we innocent sheeple but for fear that they won't be able to terrify and enrage their 'flocks' into giving them hefty incomes for doing nothing but terrifying and/or enraging them--that is, with no more reason to 'fleece' the sheeple they actually may have to go and figure out how to earn more honest livings! I say this is so for both Islamist rulers and imams on the one hand and for the far-right Christendomist (new word) preachers, publicists and noisemakers on the other!!
One distinguishing characteristic for them all seems to be a reluctance to 1) use their imagination, especially on behalf of anyone without bursting purses and/or pockets and 2) to use, still less encourage others to use, the rest of their minds except what's necessary to pull the plows so that the massas can keep making money!. Minds awake tend to ask so many seditious and blasphemous (really meaning 'inconvenient' and/or 'difficult for me') questions, don't you know? So they fight tooth and nail against having to actually engage new information and ideas and lie to their flocks that they must consider even such thoughts as blasphemous and possibly damning!
Maybe, Asra, you remind me of these things because self-criticism is also a necessity for engaging the new information, which in turn gives rise to growth and progress for both individuals and societies as a whole.
As for all the should-be hedgerow (or sand-dune?) hollerers, listen up: the hands of many of you are stained, yea, caked (for some) with the blood of others you have either urged to bloodshed or whose blood you have goaded others to shed and that blood will, without your repentances, drag you down to the lake of fire!
And when you stand before the Throne, what will you say to the God Whom we have all been commanded to love with all our hearts, souls, strengths and minds?! Think about it and I hope you charlatans lose plenty of sleep over it!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013


This is actually a series of posts put together on this post for (I hope) the benefit of all progressives campaigning for any office on any level from local on up to federal for this year, next year (2014) and beyond! And as I am a 'channeler' of Harry among others, I'm putting myself more firmly at the head of a hopeful progressive Democratic ticket for 2016--unless another 'conviction' pol like, say, Alan Grayson is interested in the top spot!

  Harry Truman was a different kind of President. He probably made as many, or more important decisions regarding our nation's history as any of the other 42 Presidents preceding him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.

The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri . His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.

When he retired from office in 1952 his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an 'allowance' and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.

After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them.
When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, "You don't want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it's not for sale."

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, "I don't consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise."

As president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.
Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale.

Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, "My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference!"

I say dig him up and clone him!

I think the more Harrys and Harriets we can find to run for offices at all levels, the better. Weigh in, all!

I cannot concur heartily enough with this article. To those listening, I also say that NO ONE who calls him/herself a progressive of any kind should support anyone, for any office on any level from local on up to federal, who does NOT agree to throw private money OUT of ALL elections! If we can't find such candidates, then let's either find them or run for those offices ourselves! Let's get moving on this NOW!!!

One thing which we ABSOLUTELY MUST DO in ALL ELECTIONS this year, next year, to 2016 and probably beyond that is PIN every person running for office at ANY level with 'Republican' after his/her name about their party's 1) professional-style gerrymandering at ALL governmental levels and 2) scheme to RIG the Electoral College in their favor.
'Everybody does it' is a LIE and any candidate who uses that as an excuse deserves spit in their eye!
This can hardly be more serious, ladies and gentlemen! We are talking about schemes to vitiate our democracy and also the very republican form of government most of us cherish!!
For anyone running for office, NOTHING LESS THAN AN EXPRESS ATTACK AND/OR DISAVOWAL OF SUCH ANTI-DEMOCRACY MEASURES SHOULD SUFFICE!! If anyone tries to shuffle or fudge this question, or worse, that should earn them a sentence of PERMANENT ELECTORAL DEATH!!!
Let NO ONE forget this and let's keep on throwing it at every single 'Republican' candidate for ANY federal, state or local office!!
Don't be dissuaded by anything, including phony pleas to 'let's move on from this' or 'why dwell on this?' Well, there's an A1 reason for 'dwelling' on it: it endangers our democracy at its very foundation, that's why!!
Again, let none forget this and let's all POUND the GOP with it!!

Something to say about campaigning: if I'm right, most legislative districts, both for Congress and both houses of state legislatures, are compact enough to be well-covered by candidates going around those districts--WITHOUT KOWTOWING TO LOCAL BIG MONEY INTERESTS.
This is important, so I need feedback from this.
For those on the other side, we already know that kowtowing to big money and petty tyrants of nearly all kinds (except experts who really do know their stuff) is what they're about anyway. But we are different. Let me then ask a question: I'm pretty sure none of US like the idea of grovelling before possible campaign contributors because we're under the illusion that it's an 'easier' thing to do than, say, to cover the whole district ourselves even if we do it in church/synagogue basements and local diners.
Think about it: it may take more time (but probably not much more) and more gas, but which is more encouraging and indeed more nourishing to the soul of anyone who really wants to serve the people?
And isn't the purported need for moremoremore moneymoneymoney allallall the g.d. time incredibly corrosive to those same souls? So, really, what is better, at least on the levels up to congressional--collecting money for media spots or going out among the people with a series of 'townhalls' throughout the districts?! Not to mention how, once one is elected, that same need eats up time far better spent on the people's business? Am I not onto something here? If not, let's hear it now!
But on the offchance I am, well, maybe it's time for progressive candidates and incumbents (again, at least up to congressional level) to forgo the pricey crapola and git down with the real people! I suggest that both people and representatives will be happier when THEIR representatives have more time to listen to them and attend to THEIR business! Doesn't this make sense? I think it does. Let's do it!

Some facts of political life necessary to take into account.
If a progressive wins the presidency in 2016, it may well be for nought UNLESS we organize to also elect progressives to as many seats in Congress as might be humanly possible. If we can elect more progressives in 2014, so much the better. But that victory, too, can be rendered relatively trifling UNLESS we also find, and elect, progressives to the state legislatures in both upcoming election years and thereafter. Those so elected must know that they owe their places to a progressive majority in their states or districts--and ONLY to that progressive majority, not to any big-money contributor or contributors!! Better still if our candidates and officeholders have a strong sense of themselves apart from holding office, but as Mick would sing, we can't always get what we want and that last might be asking a bit much as we are just beginning to organize.
But let's begin looking for people whose progressive politics we can trust and who we think would be good legislators, representatives, or senators--and let's start telling our friends and neighbors about them!! Let's organize in such a way that billionaire would-be contributors become irrelevant!
For those who have doubts about the possibility of such a thing, I ask this: how much more time does it really take to cover either a state legislative or senatorial district, or a congressional district--and to speak with as many real people as possible--than it would to beg fat cats for contributions? And which is more satisfying to the soul of any conviction progressive politician?
So, folks, let's keep rolling as we look for and find good people to run for office or to keep in office! And remember--we need progressives at EVERY level of government!!
Beginning NOW, we need to do a both-sides strategy around at least two issues: 1) we ask ourselves whether we should support already-extant officeholders and openly aspiring candidates OR find our own candidates and stay independent of the two-party system. We need to do BOTH--fight the progressive battle within the Democratic party AND build a literally INDEPENDENT network of progressives which may ally itself with, but without being swallowed by, that same Democratic party! 2) We know that GOP will double and triple efforts to suppress voters. This too needs to be fought two ways: frontally through the courts, legislatures and direct protest action--but we also need to look at the 47% of Americans who voted for Mitt and figure out how, and how many, can be turned away from the GOP to the Democrats or other progressives. If we can erode that number by at least 20 percent, that 20 percent can encourage others until the GOP is left with only the billionaires and their sectarian stooges. And at that point our renewal of America may be unstoppable!!
Anyone with any ideas about the vulnerable points of the 47 percent, please share them now! 2014 and 2016 start NOW, brothers and sisters!!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


"Me no Alamo! Me no Alamo!!"
So Santa Anna's troops pled at the battle of San Jacinto where Texan independence from Mexico was won and where the Texans remembered the Alamo. Hence the plea from the Mexicans to save themselves from the same fate as the Alamo's defenders.

I defy anyone and everyone to explain to me how what certain whites say (and with which I am thoroughly fed up), "What's race got to do with me? My folks didn't get here till after 1900 and it's not MY fault!" is any different in kind from 'me no Alamo'?
 My initial response to this particular whine is "Ptu!" through two fingers of my right hand, but that requires elaboration.
I'll start by agreeing: no, it's NOT your fault and no doubt your grandparents (or further back for the younger set) heard their share of ethnic epithets. And, yes, more than likely you don't use them either.
However, somewhere along the line you benefited by not being held back and having a real chance to prove yourselves when others, because of their color, did not. You, or your parents, weren't held back because of your familial lack of pigmentation.
So, like it or not, you have benefited from racism. No, you didn't ask for it but I'm sorry; that doesn't really matter. What DOES matter is, what are you doing to erase the extremely stubborn remnants of that structure? Except in the criminal justice system, that structure's gotten quite a bit subtler than it used to be. Jim Crow has been succeeded by James Crow, Esq.
My mother's people were among those immigrants of a century ago too, so I'm one of this crowd as well. But it is from my dad's side (Southern free farmers, aka 'scalawags' courtesy of the ex-planters) that I get my nose and my near-violent antipathy for even whiffs of racism.
Here's the deal: what they used to say in the 1960s is really true, still, today. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.
If we're not already there, how do we become part of the solution? First, TUNE OUT Rush, Glenn, Rupert, Breitbart, Drudge and other liars and go to Truthout, Alternet, The Daily Beast, Haaretz and the (Jerusalem) Post for news. Read the Times with a few grains of salt. And read what African-American scholars really have had to say about this matter. Do NOT accept anything cribbed together by Glenn et al.
So, first thing is get and keep yourself correctly informed and form a reasonably accurate idea of the background of the current state of affairs.
Second, don't talk out of both sides of your mouth. If we want the Shoah to be remembered, don't slavery and Jim Crow deserve as much? Promote knowledge of such shameful incidents as the destruction of the thriving and prosperous black section of Tulsa in 1920 (including, by the way, aerial bombing--no joke!!) and the destruction of another prosperous black town in the 1920s in Florida (Rosewood) by the KKK and find out what we can of other incidents. If we want wrongs done to us remembered, what business have we of mouthing 'move on!' to others?! I say to do that is nothing but SHANDA on us and surely race-based slavery and its aftermaths cast shadows comparable to Cossacks, pogroms and attempted annihilation!
Third, develop your own senses for this sort of thing. Teach yourself more analogies; that'll probably help a lot as this is how one learns to see parallels. Do all you can to develop a true sense of who really has the power in each case. While it's true that Proverbs advises us not to 'favor a poor man in his quarrels', this is advice to treat the poor equally, not preferentially. But if the poor today are treated anywhere near equally to others, I've a bridge I'd like to sell you!
So, brethren, no more excuses for not doing our parts. No more whines like the one with which I began this post and no more anythings which have the ring of 'me no Alamo'--or explain to me, in proper detail and without befogging the issue, where, how and why I am mistaken. I have time to wait, so take all the time you need.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


I am very, very angry over a number of things. I am also a middle-aged white man. So, I guess that makes me an angry white middle-aged man.
And the people on whom I want to detonate my anger are almost entirely other angry, middle-aged or older, white men.
And why would that be? Well, here it comes, so y'all brace yourselves:
I am angry at my fellow ruling-caste members because too many of them are behaving in ways unbefitting to a ruling caste genuinely confident and secure in its power and rectitude. No, they now act in ways which indicate they are anything but that! Most of them dare not speak the guilty truth that too many of them acquired wealth by adding no value to the economy but simply by legalized thefts from the community at large. Most of them are gaming the system to such an extent as to make their class even more hereditary than it was before 1981 even as they now pull up the ladders by which they themselves ascended. Maybe some of them are peckerwoody enough to close advancement even to poor whites rather than allow people of color to ascend to (to them!) an intolerable degree. Whence else comes the serious campaign to dismantle public education and replace it with a school-to-prison pipeline for all young men of color and probably a significant chunk of whites as well?!
I am angry that they are in the process of destroying nearly everything that makes our country exceptional. They have already largely destroyed a relatively broad way of upward mobility for which we were long famed and envied. Now they and their boughten and paid-for slaves in Congress, in our state legislatures and on the airwaves of radio and television are making a serious bid to complete democracy's hollowing out, leaving us with only the empty shell of the forms and procedures!
I am angry that, from colonial times even to this day, whenever our law or history has offered us a chance to lift out of slavery we have responded with further clampdowns. The English common law which we brought here with us stated that the children of a free father and an unfree mother inherited the father's status and, hence, were free people. Because of our own greed, we broke that law and continued to keep mixed-race people in bondage till God's vengeance overtook our country starting on April 12, 1861. Then we went to the prison-labor, chain gang and sharecropping systems and from there to skewing government help such as FHA loans away from people of color even unto directing blacks and browns into subprime loans when they qualified for better and thus making sure they suffered worst when the crash came in 2008! To this, affirmative action benefits amount to peanuts!!!!! Men who look like me have done little else but steal, on a consistent basis, from those with darker skins. With those like me, they've been subtler and more sporadic in their thefts. And when the law has compelled them to make redress, they usually work it so that working-class whites either wind up 'paying' or believing they are even when they're not.
I am angry at other white men not so well-educated and yet again falling for the crow (that is, Jim) which the planters and their economic descendants have used to keep too many of us thinking we, too, are part of the ruling caste. Our children might need medical care, but all is well because our 'kind' own it all. And, hence, we resist any attempt to redress a badly skewed distribution of wealth, income and good jobs which would ultimately benefit us too. I am especially angry that peckerwoods, with their other-ethnicity stooges (and that's putting it so politely!), all but control the highest court in the land now poised to knock out the floor from under the voting rights of minorities!!
 I am angry that they might well be about to complete a gross crime against us all and the rest of Creation to boot summed up in this old English verse:
The law locks up both man and woman
That steals the goose from off the common
But let the greater felons loose
That steal the commons from the goose.
We, the geese and the other critters may well lose this (still) good earth which sustains us and our economies still unless we act fast and NOW!! But we have the distinction of having the chance to save it--but now's the time to really start!
I am angriest of all at those who break the Third and Ninth Commandments as part of their stock-in-trade whatever their religious labels are from Baptist to Shiite by misusing Scripture and communities of faith to oppress rather than liberate, to crush rather than nurture and love. Worst of all are those who claim their god requires that believers kill, enslave or even put at legal disadvantage others who do not believe in their tribal idol! If they know any spiritual beings, they are demons and devils!! Any oppressive use of faith is of the devil; any so-called 'faith leader' who forbids or discourages asking any kind of questions is also of the devil!
I very much doubt I've exhausted my wrath and the fuels thereto, but (fortunately for my readers) I'm sort of 'articulated out' for the moment. So I'll conclude by restating: I am an angry white middle-aged man, and these are some things which fuel that anger the most. Let me know if they make you angry too.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


The counterproductivity of what I call our attempts to gloss over the things we don't understand in religion--both our own religion and those of others--occurs to me this morning. Such as the supposed immaculate conception of Mary, or any attempt to show that the young Jacob wasn't really what we'd call today an a**hole with brass b***s when he hornswoggled Esau out of both birthright and blessing, or the idea that Jesus wasn't really crucified, to name just three noteworthy examples.
Now that I've offended everybody, I intend to continue doing so--or, rather, to continue with shoot-from-the-hip truth and if anyone's offended, that's their problem. If anyone wants to argue any points--hey, let's get it on! Along with mulling this over, my explanation of the Trinity for those who struggle with it also pops up.
Go to your kitchen faucet and fill the following items with water: a glass, an ice tray, and a teapot. Now put the kettle on, as our cousins say, and put the filled tray in the freezer. Now you have, or shortly will have, three items: water, ice and steam. But the last two items are still molecularly identical to the first--something I hope everyone reading this knows! All three items are still H2O. In the same way but only infinitely more so, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all the same substance: God.
Now sip from the water in the glass. Then go to the freezer and get some ice cubes and drop them into the glass. Drink again. Chances are the water 'tastes' appreciably better with the ice in it, right? Well, when the Son is in the Father as the ice is in the water and we understand this in our hearts, the water (God) goes down into us all the easier--and yes, I know the Father is in the Son too. After all, the ice is still H2O. Remember?
Maybe some of us don't necessarily want God to 'go down easy' and we all need to watch out for what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called 'cheap grace'. Well, if you feel like the first, that's your right: you can drink your water neat, again as our cousins might say. As to the second, 'cheap grace' is basically the idea that all one has to do is 'sympathize' without actually doing much of anything, and that's not what any religious/spiritual leader has ever preached! No, we all must exercise our spiritual muscles by doing, including asking questions persistently.
And there are many who do ask questions that way and study and pray to find answers. I myself have found that the God I know asks me questions in the way we may remember our favorite teachers (the ones we wished all teachers were like) and for much the same reason: by helping me come to the answers, He makes sure that they will be engraved on my heart and mind. All of us, in every religious community, need to dig for such answers. But my experience has been that relating to God and through Christ is, truly, the express train to God. Not to say there aren't plenty of locals with the same final stop; there are. I think Christ is there especially for those who may not have time n/or the native talent for long study, and also for the least among us as God seeks to draw all Creation to Him from the bottom upwards.
We cannot comprehend how it is Christ can be both the road and the fuel for it, but do we need to? And how much do we know about how our cars work outside of how to drive them, to give an example?  Allow me to say that in relation to God, we're a lot more like toddlers at most as opposed to adults as well. And I could also be mistaken about the fuel; that could be the Holy Spirit--not that it matters a whole lot but it makes more sense in light of referring to God as 'Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer'. And indeed invoking God in that way can help many to whom the old formula is a stumbling block.
But back to incomprehensibility: how many of us would worship a God we could fully understand? This much I can say with some confidence: when we see the patterns in the things we can't comprehend they are patterns of love and that is Who God is-- Love to such an extent as we can barely comprehend when we can begin to comprehend it at all. The lesser 'incomprehensibles', such as why did God favor the sly young Jacob over his open and honest brother, have been in a way fuel for the journey as God has led me to at least some answers for such--well, maybe we should call them 'surface incomprehensibles'. The miracles may well fall into that category too.
For some of us (and this highlights the failures of all religion) our world expands when we believe there is no god. For some of us, including myself, faith in God expands the world immeasurably and so it should, and perhaps one day will be, for all of us as we move towards the God of (so far, to us) barely comprehensible Love. But to continue to do so means not glossing over but persistently seeking to understand, in and with our hearts as well as our minds, the surface incomprehensibilities--and let's understand that each of us will seek answers to different questions, too.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


I know that, coming from a liberal, this post will be a surprise and probably an unpleasant one to many who are old-style 'bleeding hearts' (especially 'Noble Savage' freaks) and/or those puffed up with self-righteous indignation about What White Men Did to my Sainted Ancestors. And I don't pretend to know who's who; I'll just say, if the shoe fits...
But it is to one of the latter to whom I owe the inspiration which produced at least this post's title. When Dr. Dyson either said, or quoted another person saying when he filled in for Big Eddie's show on MSNBC this past week, as saying Django Unchained needs to be seen with 'the masses', he included something on Mr. Spike Lee's reaction to it. I went and saw the movie this past Saturday and I don't know what seeing it in the middle of Brooklyn was like but my guess is it was a lot livelier than the suburban multiplex audience in whose 'company' (if one can call it that when no one even 'shares' after the film) I thrilled to it. In terms of my fellow viewers, I may as well have waited for xfinity to show it.
However, it is a consummate masterpiece and I think Mr. Lee is showing the symptoms of a condition all too common among those with whom I share a part of the political spectrum which I call being '21st century stoopid'. That to which I refer actually reflects, in a sort of fun-house way, more faith in the stated values of either the Western World, or Judeo-Christian civilization, than the right wing can certainly claim and maybe more than the 'center' as well; not sure about the latter.
Mr. Lee says he won't see it because of the frequency of use of a certain 'fighting word'. Well, sir, in 1858 that word was not so considered, not even to most of those who were called so. There are many things we in 21st century Judeo-Christian civilization consider abominations about which earlier epochs would have only shrugged at, if even that. As a film director, does Mr. Lee think Mr. Tarantino should sanitize his film for the sake of our oh-so-tender 21st century ears? Would Mr. Lee do that, were he making such a film about such dark matters past and/or present?
 And tell me: what sort of 'holocaust' is it when, out of 11,000,000 Africans brought to the Americas over 350 years multiply to the extent they have? Especially here on the North American mainland to which only 400,000 Africans were brought and whose descendants have multiplied nearly a hundredfold? Take a look at the eastward African slave trade if you want the real 'African holocaust' story--not to mention that slave traffic that way is still going on, as it has been for at least twelve centuries! I have sources I can share with you on request. Finally, your ancestors were bought from other Africans for the most part, not stolen. And twenty years ago, some of the descendants of the sellers had the chutzpa to ask for reparations!
In any case, the worldwide slave trade has existed almost since civilization began. Only within the last two and a half centuries did some Christians and Jews begin to have doubts about the rightness of the slave trade as practiced at all, never mind protecting one's own group from it. Only from our own revolution does the idea of my freedom being bound up with your freedom and your freedom being bound up with her freedom over there and so on all the way around the globe even begin! I dare you to find me any other example of a culture or civilization where that idea has taken native root and if so, to what extent? All right, not everyone here understands or believes that--not yet, anyhow. But where do more people actually believe and live that than do in North America? The Orient? Who are you kidding? The Middle East? What you smokin', man? India? Latin America? Europe? Definite 'maybes', all of 'em.
We can only judge a particular culture or civilization by how the rest of the world of that time is or was organized. And our common yardstick, courtesy of Jews, Christians and some Enlightenment skeptics, is how much freedom does anyone have to choose his/her lot in life, develop his/her conscience according to their own spirituality and to have his/her voice heard in the counsels of the realm? I know it's not just a legal matter; I'm quite well acquainted with the ways certain rich and powerful folks have of vitiating the laws and institutions which are supposed to facilitate greater freedom and 'upward mobility', thanks ever so.
Anyhow, while this might be addressed to one in particular, it's also to all those who share the condition outlined in this post. I should also say that seeing the wisdom other cultures have which we can share is in my opinion facilitated, not impeded, by a healthy knowledge and appreciation of the gifts of our own. Confidence comes from knowledge and confident cultures know how to borrow from others. Those who pretend the two to be mutually exclusive I call 19th century stoopid!
Look, boys and girls: we're supposed to be the smart people, so let's not fake it in this. Jefferson was not so much a hypocrite as he was a visionary with at least one foot in his own times, to use a prominent example. Let us all develop and cherish a respect for all who sought (and seek) to expand freedom for the least among us, even if they did (and do) so unevenly, tentatively and with concessions to their own times. Uneven (that is, human) visionaries are different from hypocrites, especially from those now in our legislatures. We can't go back to Eden;  if we try, we will soak the road with blood on a horrific scale. No, the only way out is forward and through. And while we're at it, remember that there are more things in heaven and on earth than you dream of in your philosophies.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


"For in a warm climate, no man will labor for himself when he can make another labor for him." Thomas Jefferson.
I don't know whether my Tarheel ancestors were able to buy slaves or not, but in any case they didn't buy them. Nor did they buy (at least I like to think they didn't) the whole plantation ethos. They were free farmers who actually did labor for themselves and knew they weren't 'trash' either, for all the planters' sneaky efforts to press them and their like down into the 'trash'!
This is something--homesteaders v. planters, say--which I see as a subtext of the Civil War. Lincoln himself, for all his legal work for the railroads, was a definite homesteader. Who else but a homesteader could or would say, "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. To me, this is the essence of democracy."? And Lincoln was rarely as prescient about what would follow the Civil War as he was in a letter to a Colonel Elkins dated November 22, 1864. In that letter he expressed his fears about corporations corrupting democracy after the war. Rarely was he more right.
The industrialists also believed in having others, yea, legions of others, labor for them. This has traditionally been a feature of societies dominated by hereditary privilege from the Roman Empire where a majority of the Empire's population were slaves of one kind or another through medieval times when the great majority of the people were serfs to our own South, both before and after the Civil War and e'en unto the present day.
And now the North is belatedly fighting against becoming, to use Fannie Lou Hamer's phrase, 'up South". The results of the last election help our fight, but to what extent is highly debatable. We can all be sure that our country, and democracy itself, has dodged a bullet but what more than that remains to be seen. But we are far less of an exception to that societal pattern than we once were. And I suggest that if American Exceptionalism is anything but an empty phrase used by bloodthirsty trench-dodgers to drum up wars to fill the pockets of crooked contractors, it means to be the exception from that ancient, sad pattern--and to encourage others who seek to change their societies' patterns too!
I see the stage set for yet another serious war between we homesteaders and planters. Be warned here: 1) Many planters have mastered the art of camouflaging themselves to appear as homesteaders, so be not deceived. Most of those doing so tend to mouth certain memes which they don't respect in their own lives. 2) To be rich does not necessarily mean to be a planter and not all 'planters' are rich. To be a 'planter' is a mindset more than anything else. I'd never call uncle Warren a 'planter', nor Steven Spielberg nor (probably) Bill Gates or even certain Rockefellers. On the other hand, your crazy uncle who lives in a trailer but won't stop mouthing Rush and/or Glenn even though he never earned more than sporadic hourly wages in his life and says rot like 'git the gubmint offa my Medicare!' very definitely is a 'planter' inasmuch as if he could, he'd be hiring 'slaves' to do his scut-work. And we all need to get away from delegating necessary work which we just don't want to do ourselves. And yes, there is a difference between this and hiring someone to help with a job they know better than you do. If and when we're honest, we know in our hearts which is which. Now is a time when such honesty is absolutely necessary. The coming confrontation need not have bullets flying, but if past experience is anything to go on sooner or later the 'planters' will, as they did in 1861, fire the first shots. Another trait of 'planters' is that most of them share a trait with the Bourbons: they forget nothing and learn nothing! Do we then need to buy military-grade weapons while we still can? I very, very much hope not!