The Mason Moment with John Oliver Mason, June 30, 2019

The Mason Missile, June 27, 2019


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Reminder-I will hold an author’s event at the new independent bookstore, A Novel Idea on Passyunk, 1726 E. Passyunk Avenue, on Tuesday, August 6, 2019. I hope to see your face in the place. (

This is one year after the Janus Decision; in June 2018, the US Supreme Court, in the Janus vs AFSCME decision, decided that public-sector workers are not required to pay even partial union dues-the “agency shop” fee, whereby if a person elects not to join a union, that person still pays a partial fee, since the person is still protected under the union contract. But, even without the fees, the union HAS to protect the nonunion person, thus laying a financial burden on the union. (

This has been the dream and scheme of the corporate right for decades-after demonizing unions, they’ve always wanted to eliminate unions as a challenge to corporate power, to prevent corporations from oppressing workers in the pursue to a little more profit in the next quarter.  

Guess what? There has been an uptick in union activism, such as the teachers strikes in such “red” states as West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky (are you sweating real good, Mitch McConnell?), and Colorado. Public sector union membership has been on the rise, thwarting the rightist scheme of weakening unions. (

People all over the country are converging on the web with the hashtag “I’m sticking with my union.” ( This harkens back to the old union song “The Union Maid,” popularized by the Industrial Workers of the world (IWW).  ( We need that kind of militancy to fight against those who would oppress us, whether we are workers, LGBTQ+ people, women, or people of color.

Are we edging closer to civil war in this country, as many pundits are warning? The Oregon state senate has been debating a “cap and trade” bill aimed at fighting climate change; eleven republican state senators ran out of the state, to prevent a quorum in the chamber for voting on the bill. ( Rightist paramilitary militia groups-The Three Percenters, designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group-has been protecting them from the state police, whom Governor Kate Brown sent to arrest the senators.  One of the senators, Brian Boquist, warned the police, “Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.” 

(I remember the Republicans boasted of being the “law and order, tough on crime” party; but the question is, whose law and whose order? And if they commit a crime, like Nixon in Watergate, how can they get away with it? That’s a common idea, making a resurgence with trump: if you’re sufficiently wealthy, powerful and connected, you can get away with anything.)

The premise of American politics is that we can find some middle ground, some way we can work out a deal for the common good. Is that a reality anymore, if it ever was? Joe Biden, former Vice-President, thinks so. But, in finding a common ground and making a deal, how much do you give up on what you work for, and what? What does the other side want?

Biden, I’m afraid, is all too willing to give up something worthwhile to get along with the other side, even if the other side was a pair of segregationist senators- such old “Dixiecrat” senators as James O. Eastland of  Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia. “I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” says Biden, and “He never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son.’” Did Biden need Eastland’s approval?  Senator Cory Booker (NJ), also running for the Democratic nomination, demanded that Biden apologize, but Biden refused and demanded Booker apologizes. (It’s a common bully tactic, act like you’re offended because someone complains about being offended.)

Talmadge and Eastland were notorious segregationists, adamant about preserving the South’s Jim-Crow system, raving about the “inferiority” of African-Americans and about “mongrelization.” (But if a certain race is “inferior,” why are they so scary?)

Plus there is the fundraising among wealthy donors; corporate-plutocratic campaign cash is the crack cocaine of American politics, and it will kill all of us. Biden himself appeared at a fundraiser at the home of Comcast executive David Cohen (, and has called for donations of $100,000 for people joining his financial committee. ( Is it absolutely necessary to sell your soul to the plutocratic devil to get yourself elected to office? Here is another sign of the inability for a working or low-income person to have any effect in the political system.

I don’t believe that Biden, or others calling themselves “liberal,” really want to see minority, low-income, or working people in charge of society; they do want to advance their rights and well-being, but they want to remain in control-that’s how it looks. Like so-called “conservatives”, they don’t want the social-political system disrupted, so they make small accommodations to those challenging the system, even bringing some of the members of the out-groups into the system.

Moreover, I notice the tendency of SOME (not all, let’s be fair) “Liberals” trying to accommodate conservatives, asking as if they are addressing a serious concern; but their only concern is to impede and real social reform. Conservatives or others on the right act as if they are the real masters of America, and minorities, workers, and their liberal abettors are usurpers, taking control of the nation from its rightful owners-calling that “communism,” back in the Cold War day; plus, whenever someone stands up to them, and works to advance social reforms, the conservatives act as if they’re the oppressed minority, as if liberals must ask the permission of their conservative superiors.

I plan to discuss such issues at the next meeting of Philly for Change, which meets every first Wednesday-July 3-at 7:00 PM, and Tattooed Mom, 5th and South streets in Philadelphia. Political change begins and ends at the grassroots, the streets, and the neighborhoods.


Bernie Sanders to propose cancelling $1.6 trillion in U.S. student loan debt, wiping slate clean for 45 million people — National Post

WASHINGTON — Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., will propose on Monday eliminating all $1.6 trillion of student debt held in the United States, a significant escalation of the policy fight in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary two days before the candidates’ first debate in Miami. Read More

Bernie Sanders to propose cancelling $1.6 trillion in U.S. student loan debt, wiping slate clean for 45 million people — National Post

We absolutely MUST eliminate student loan debt. In this economy the nice juicy jobs you’re promised on graduation don’t always pop up, and college graduates also have to take care of families, mortgages, utilities, etc. This would be no different from, in a developing country, a land reform, where poor peasants are allotted portions of a big landowner’s land to farm privately. And, alas, we ARE damned close to becoming a third-world country.


We are now on the Torah portion Behaalotecha, Numbers 8:1-12:16.

8:5-22; God instructs Moses on the ritual for consecrating the Levites as the priestly tribe-the washing of the clothes, the laying on of hands by the Israelites, the sacrificing of the bulls. God selects the Levites, instead of taking the first born, for performing the rites at the Mishkan.

8:23-26; God tells Moses that the Levites would begin their service at the Mishkan at age 25, and retire at age 50 and serve as a sort of ‘honor guard” at the Mishkan. A new generation must be developed to take over after the older generation, but the older people must be on hand to advise the youngsters. (Youth and age each have their virtues; it’s not either-or.)

11:1-9; the Israelites complain to Moses about not having any meat to eat, but having nothing bot the manna; they talk about the vast array of food they had when they were slaves in Egypt. (this is one of the times they show a lack of faith in themselves, believing they can’t handle being a free people; also, the idea of nostalgia comes up, the glorifying the “good old days” whenever there are difficulties in the present. The liberation of Israel from bondage was a revolution, a serious social upheaval, and such events create a beautiful picture of the old regime, which does not match reality.)

11:10-25; Moses gets upset with all the complaining he hears from the people, crying “I can’t take care of all these people!” God tells Moses to assemble 70 of the Israelite elders, experienced leaders, so that God;s spirit would descend upon them and share Moses’ burden of leadership. (This shows that one individual, no mater how talented and gifted, cannot do everything in running a tribe or an organization; they need other talented people to help them with leading the tribe or other body.)

11:26-30; Two lay Israelite, Eldad and Medad, have the spirit of God in them, and they “spoke in ecstasy.” Joshua urges Moses to make them stop, but Moses says, “would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD put His spirit upon them.” God, spiritual development, and participation in any body, is the right and responsibility of all of the community, not just an elite.

Salute To Labor

I was present at the Philadelphia Public Record‘s Salute To Labor, honoring a number of fine Labor leaders, some I know personally, at the Philadelphia Joint Board, 22 South 22nd Street, on Friday, June 20, 2019.

Nicole Fuller, Director of PHILAPOSH, Philadelphia Area Project for Occupational Safety and Health, one of the honorees. (Full disclosure, I’m on the PHILAPOSH board.)
On the left is Ken Washington, Laborers District Council of the Metropolitan Area of Philadelphia and Vicinity, one of the honorees.
Jonathan Saidel, former City Controller of Philadelphia, master of ceremonies.
Daniel Grace, Teamsters Local 830, one of the honorees.
Keven Boyle, Ironworkers Local 401, one of the honorees.
City Council-member Janie Blackwell and Pat Eiding, President of Philadelphia AFL-CIO.
Todd Farally, Sheet Metal Workers Local 19, one of the honorees.

Here’s why the right abandons Democracy in favor of authoritarianism

It has become a means to maintain power.

Source: Here’s why the right abandons Democracy in favor of authoritarianism

The idea of Democracy was, all differing factions come together for the common good, to work out their differences, in a mutually respectful manner. How can we progressives deal with people who don’t give a rat’s ass about Democracy, but instead want to repress anyone who gets in their way?