The Mason Missile, July 23, 2021

Greetings, Americans!

The assaults on our democracy go on, with the passage of restricting voting laws going through Republican-dominated state legislatures, including Pennsylvania. I commend the Democrats of the Texas legislature, who exiled themselves to Washington to prevent a quorum from voting on the voting-restriction bills. (https://www.texastribune.org/2021/07/12/texas-democrats-voting-bill-quorum/)

Governor Greg Abbot has threatened to arrest these legislators if they come back to the state; but they’re national heroes, and I commend them. This was a bold action, and we must take bold action to stand for the essential right to vote; take that vote away, and we lose all the others. This is what the late, great John Lewis, congress-member from Georgia and one of the heroes of the Civil-Rights struggle meant when he said, “Get into good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.” (https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/john-lewis-quotes/?template=next)

The idea against popularly-based democracy in this nation has a long history-the idea that a minority must have veto power over the majority. During the drafting of the Constitution in 1797-in Philadelphia-southern states know that, as they were an agricultural society, and the northern states were more heavily populated, any popular vote would turn against them, and the northern states could end up voting against the slavery system, while-this was the real danger to the slave system-slaves could united with poor white and overturn the dominance of the planter class-and the planter class tried to model itself on the noble classes of Europe, which still dominated their societies-but their dominance was starting to slip away.

John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, one of the great statesmen of the period between the war of 1812 and just before the Civil War-one of the “Great Triumvirate” alongside of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. Calhoun, in his posthumous book Disquisition of Government, promoted the idea of “concurrent majorities.”  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concurrent_majority) This is the idea that a majority of interests groups in a nation, and not the majority of the population as a whole, vote on an issue to approve it. This idea was used during the Nullification Crisis of 1832-1833, when he was against the Tariff of 1828, the “Tariff of Abominations.” Calhoun used the idea of Concurrent Majorities to make any federal tariff not apply in South Carolina if the legislature did not approve of it. (https://www.ushistory.org/us/24c.asp)

The opposition to democracy, once skimming around the fringe of our politics with lip service  to “democracy,” is crawling out of the political woodwork and into the political mainstream. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) said of this country “We’re not a democracy,” and later, ““Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prospefity (sic) are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.” (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-lee-democracy/democracy-isnt-the-objective-republican-u-s-senator-draws-democrats-ire-idUSKBN26T2YX

And again, from Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky): “The idea of democracy and majority rule really is what goes against our history and what the country stands for,” and “The Jim Crow laws came out of democracy. That’s what you get when the majority ignores the rights of others.” (https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/rand-paul-latest-gop-question-democracy-majority-rule-n1270697)

(I’m dating myself here: I remember the administration of Richard Nixon, when, as he expanded the Viet Nam War into Cambodia, he asked for support from the “vast silent majority” of Americans. The Republicans right has always used the argument of “We’re the majority of Americans, and we don’t care about your issues” as a way of evading the problems of racial discrimination, LGBTQ oppression, the environment, etc. they’re for the majority when it’s convenient for them, but they know now they’re becoming less and less a majority.)

Ruling elites have tried, and still try, to find some rationale for negating or vetoing any popular effort for social reform. This is the idea behind the shit-ass “fiction” and “philosophy” of Ayn Rand: The Superior Man-always a man to Rand-is a billionaire resisting his “inferiors” in telling him how he should run his business, no matter what damage he does to his workers, the local community, or the environment; and he, the Superior Man, presents himself as the person being oppressed. (It’s an old story, of a once-dominant group passing itself off as an “oppressed minority.”) Race and ethnicity enter into this mix, and further “scientific” excuse could be formulated to justify further social inequality affecting all of the lower classes, of all races and ethnicities.

From what we have seen in the past several decades, from Reagan through the t—p takeover of the Republican Party, corporate moguls and their political serfs, left by themselves, do NOT have the interests of the American public at heart; by indulging them like a bratty kids they are (I have ZERO respect for them), they have turned the federal treasury into their own personal piggy bank to tap into when their “free market” turns sour on them, as with the S&L bailout of 1990 to the Federal reserve’s loans to the mortgage companies after the 2008 Crash-and the general public, us working and low-income people,  and still struggling with food, mortgage payments, and medical bills.

Let’s stop falling for the bullshit! We must and will come together and make our elected officials know our grievances are real and our cause is just. Along with that, we will continue to educate ourselves on the issues, formulate solutions, and communicate our beliefs. The ruling elites portray working and low-income people as racist, ignorant, and only interested in the hottest video games; let’s give them one rude awakening.

Stay safe, stay strong, and stay together! America will be free! Bye!

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The Billionaire Space Race

Another billionaire-Jeff Bezos, formerly of Amazon-has launched himself into space, with his own personal space program, Blue Origin. This is what he has stent his billions on, rather than paying his workers a decent salary or improved their oppressive working conditions. He followed Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines, whose missile-plane by his space program Virgin Galactic just skimmed the Atmosphere bordering the Stratosphere. Following him will be Elon Musk of Tesla, with his program, SpaceX.

The whole premise of “supply-side economics,” a reboot of the historically discredited laissez faire,   is that if we, the American people through our government, give corporations and wealthy people everything they want-grants, tax breaks, the “relaxation” of rules for environmental protection, consumer protection, and workers’ safety (read, total elimination), among others- and the profits these corporations will-somehow-seep down to the lower classes; and we are expected to have faith in our capitalist class that they would take care of the rest of us. (https://www.propublica.org/article/the-secret-irs-files-trove-of-never-before-seen-records-reveal-how-the-wealthiest-avoid-income-tax)

We see the results now of this faith-based economic scheme: the wealthiest Americans sock their savings away in off-shore tax havens and continue to purchase the most outrageously expensive luxury goods-such as their own space programs-and corporations, instead of hiring more workers and investing in new equipment, move their manufacturing to impoverished countries that have scant protections for workers, and governments that are willing to repress their own citizens. Instead of trickling down, the money is going up into space, and remaining with the dominant one percent.

No more, please, of this adulation of billionaires who attained their billions from gouging workers and consumers. We must continue to organize, in our workplaces and our neighborhoods, for our lives and our rights; our consciousness and our numbers are our superpower.

Space travel concept

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My Birthday Resolutions

My birthday is coming up, my biological new year; and so I continue my practice of writing down birthday resolutions, compatible to New Year’s resolutions. Here goes:

I will continue to conduct myself with self-love, self-esteem, and self-respect, and to forgive myself for any mistakes I’ve made in life.

I will continue to further myself in the art and business of writing, attending writing conferences and classes, notworking with other writers, submitting my material, etc.

I will continue to be faithful to Jewish religion and culture.

I will continue to be loyal to my various causes, and to be engaged in the community.

I will continue to pursue all avenues of education.

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The Praxis With John Mason, July 19, 2021

I speak today about billionaires-Branson, Musk, and Bezos-launching their own space programs, and of the fight to protect the right to vote.

I committed an error: Bezos’ space program is not Blue Horizon, it’s Blue Origins. I’m sorry for the goof.

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Teacher of the People, an original short story

On a June afternoon, from a radio station north of Philadelphia, the announcer blared:

“And now, the Bob Sealy Show, giving you news and commentary you won‘t get anywhere else! And now, the voice of the plain ole American, Bob Sealy!

A university fight song played, and Bob Sealy sat in the studio, his big rectangular body hunched over the microphone as he proclaimed, “Huh-low, huh-low, this is Bob Sealy coming at yah, an’ let’s look at the news!”

A pile of newspaper clippings lay on Sealy’s table; he grabbed one and declared, “The so-called gay-rights crowd’s been talkin’ to the state legislature about a hate crimes bill in this state! They are so shocked, shocked I tell you, that people don’t like them, like they think everyone ought to! Lissen, girls, don’t you know when you’re not wanted? Wake up, for God’s sake! Your lifestyle’s not popular with Christian decent people! So why don’t yah go back to your closets, an’ leave us normal people a-lone!

“Y’know,” groaned Sealy, “sometimes, people think they have rights jus’ ‘cause they live here! They’re entitled to this an’ that! Someone else has somethin’, so they think they should have it, too! We can’t all have a mink coat, or a Rolls Royce, now can we? An’ if you wanna call it discrimination, fine!” and he gave the call-in number to the station.

Picking up another clipping, Sealy barked, “Now we gotta story here about a little Black kid got shot outside a store on Allegheny Avenue. Story is he got caught in the crossfire between some drug dealers. An’ so now there’s the cry again for gun control! My God, we’ve become a nation of wimps an’ babies, cryin’ whenever somethin’ goes wrong! Why don’t you go after the drug dealers that shot the kid, rather ‘n take away the rights ‘a honest Americans?”

Sealy leaned over to the mike and proclaimed, “We need to have men again! We need some good ol’ fashioned guts again! We need men, men who’ll be willin’ totake the rough stuff and dish it out, too!”

Then, he stated, “An’ let me tell you Black people, cryin’ when things don’t go your way! My dad was a fire-fighter, we lived out in Tacony, and we worked for every damn thing we had! We had some morals and values, we didn’t hang out in the street doin’ nothin’! There was no affirmative action for us, no special privileges, and as for me, the only check I got from the government was for my time in the Marines! I didn’t get it from marchin’ and demonstratin’ out on the streets, I worked for what I got! You got all these privileges, you’re takin’ over city governments, you had your guy in the White House an’ you still complain about bein’ oppressed! Well, bruh-thuhs, I’m bein’ oppressed by the taxes I pay to pay for you! So jus’ shut up and get a job, okay? First caller, Bill, y’on!”

“Yeah, Bob,” said Bill, “I like what y’ say about havin’ manliness back in style. What with these feminists, an’ the queers, it don’t seem like men are men an’ women are women anymore.”

“Yeah, that’s how it goes,” proclaimed Sealy, lighting up a Lucky Strike. “What we ought’a do’s ignore all this sensitive new-age guy stuff, an’ bring back the he-man! Back in the Corps, you had an argument with a guy, y’ take him out back, an’ you fight it out! Do we have that anymore?”

“Naw, Bob,” groaned Bill, “No one wants to get hurt anymore!”

“Well, that’s what I used to tell my players, when I coached football,” declared Sealy, “‘Get hurt!’ That’s what I told my players! An’ if y’ got hurt or injured, to me that’s a good sign you gave your hundred an’ fifty percent for the team! I tell others t’ do the same, no matter what they do!”

“It’s, like,” said Bill, “a lotta so-called workers don’t wanna get hurt, they worry about safety, they won’t accept risk! That’s what socialism has done to this country!”

“Like I said,” added Sealy, “nothin’ but fags an’ babies we’ve become! Gotta move on, Bill, gotta sell some stuff!”

“Okay, Bob, g’bye,” and Bill hung up.

The commercials came on – one with Sealy announcing Hamblin Cadillac, which gave him a new car every year for promoting the company.

Sealy sucked on the flask of Four Roses from his briefcase, and took another puff of his Lucky Strike.  Sealy always told of his time in the Marine Corps, where he served as a clerk in a hospital, and of his time as head coach of the Hollybrook University football team, where he ordered his players, “We’re takin’ on Temple, girls! Knock the black right off their asses, and send ‘em back to their ghettos, or I’ll make you all wear tutus on the field! An’ get hurt while y’ do that!”

Deborah Nullman, the president of the university, called Sealy over to her office about this. “Sealy,” began Nullman, “that kind of talk is racist, and reflects badly on the university. And telling these young men to get hurt, like that kid Gavin, his ribs were fractured at the last game, and you kept telling his to go back out there.”

“Hey,” snapped Sealy, “I’m motivatin’ these kids to win!”

“Win?” queried Nullman, “Hollybrook under your coaching’s never won a game, and the NCAA lists you at the bottom of university coaches. And calling the team members ‘girls,’ what’s the sense in that?”

I run the football team, not you,” declared Sealy, “and I’ll talk to them faggots on it any god-damn way I want!”

“That, Sealy, is what I can’t stand about you! You always insult and belittle people, as if you want to feel superior.”

“So what’re y’ gonna do?” sneered Sealy, “have me fired?”

Nullman leaned back at her desk and said, “Yes.”

After the firing, the radio station hired Sealy to do sports commentary, and everyone loved how he raved about how players were paid too much for their performance, about their sex habits while playing in other cities, and about their low intelligence. The owner of the station asked what he could do for Sealy for boosting the station’s ratings, and Sealy said, “Two hours a day on the air, to do what I want.”

He got it.

As he finished his cigarette, Sealy thought about what a sweet gig this was; the station paid him big money just to say whatever the hell he wanted; people, mostly men, called him and listened to his every word; and a network of radio stations across the country wanted to take his show nationwide.  Not a bad deal, he thought.

Gene Roeder, the engineer, said through the intercom, “Uh, Bob, be careful with the cigarettes and the equipment -”

Sealy flicked the switch on his mike to the left and snapped, “Shaddap, faggot!”, and flicked it back. The engineered stared at Sealy, and Sealy chuckled.

The commercials ended, and Sealy snapped, “Oh-kay, folks, that was one American speakin’ his mind! An’ speakin’ of speakin’ your mind, you remember a couple days ago, I said the local Hispanic Community Council’s run by drug dealers? You remember that? Did you hear the screams and cries come out of them, callin’ me racist? They call me bigoted? They say I’m spreadin’ hate? Well, amigos, I made a charge, now you have to prove it’s not true! It’s my right as an American to make these charges! Now I dare you to say I’m lyin’! And if you don’t answer my challenge, then you just proved me right!”

Sealy pointed to Roeder, and the sound of a crowd cheering, as if in a football game, came on. “How ‘bout the rest’a yah?” he proclaimed, “Come on an’ speak your minds! Go ‘head, Jim!”

“Yeah, Bob, this is Jim, I’m one of your biggest listeners, an’ this is my first time callin’. I liked what you had to say ‘bout gun control, I own a gun, a revolver an’ a shotgun, but I don’t go huntin’. I’m scared, Bob!”

“Scared of what?” asked Sealy as he leaned back, the chair creaking.

“Well, couple things. One, I’m worried about crime, bein’ robbed, that’s why I got the revolver.”

“Yeah?”

“I’m scared of gun control laws, that the government’ll take our guns away.”

“First off,” declared Sealy, straightening up, “You got every right in the world t’ own an’ carry a gun. Says so in the Constitution, Second Amendment. You got every right to protect yourself! The guy tryin’ to rob you, or rape your wife, don’t give a damn ‘bout your feelings, so don’t you worry ‘bout him!

“Second,” continued Sealy, “Politicians’re a gutless bunch! You stand up to ‘em, an’ they back down! So that’s my message to you all today! I want all you to call your friendly neighborhood Congress-man and say, ‘Leave my guns a-lone,’ an’ call me and tell me you did!”

(They did.)

That’s what they understand!” declared Sealy. “Maybe it had nothing to do with crime an’ violence after all! Maybe it’s an excuse to leave people helpless an’ dependent on the government, like with welfare an’ communism! That’s what liberals’re doing! They may not say it, but that’s what it’s leadin’ to! Your gun is your defense, an’ if the people’re defenseless, then socialism can take over! That’s how this country became free, y’know? People took their guns an’ rose up against the King of England, an’ won their freedom! If the guns in those days were registered, the British would’a taken ‘em! Okay, Jim?”

“Oh-kay, Bob!” and he hung up.

Sealy added, “Y’know one thing, I been called a demagogue, like it’s somethin’ bad! But I looked the word up in the dictionary, and yeah, smart-guys, I know how to read! ‘Demagogue,’ is a Greek word, an’ it means ‘teacher of the people.’ That’s my job, boys and girls, I’m teaching you what goes on in the world! I’m educating you, and it don’t cost you a dime! This is the stuff they don’t tell you in college! Next caller, Ted, you’re on!”

“Hello, Bob?” said Ted.

“Yeah!”

“I gotta problem.”

“Well, I’m the answer!”

“I called a couple days ago about problems with this guy at work?”

“Yeah, I remember.”

“You said him an’ me ought’a go out an’ fight it out, like men do?” asked Ted.

“Yeah, I remember,” proclaimed Sealy, “That’s how you settled things in the Corps, that’s how men used to settle problems! Go outside an’ fight it out!”

“Bob?”

“Yeah?”

“That’s what I did.”

“Yeah?”

“I did jus’ what y’ said, Bob, I had an argument with a guy, an’ after work we went out to the parkin’ lot an’ fought it out. The plant manager found us fightin’, and we’re both in trouble, we’re gonna get suspended, maybe lose our jobs!”

“So what do you want me to do about it?” grunted Sealy.

“Bob,” Ted started to squeal, “I listen to you every day, you’re my idol!”

“I know I’m your idol, boy,” sneered Sealy.

“But, Bob, I need y’ help!” Ted pleaded.

“Take the lumps, boy,” snapped Sealy, “Y’ say you’re a man, take the lumps like a man! You were man enough t’ fight, you’re man enough t’ take punishment for it!”

“Y’ bastard!” howled Ted, “y’ sonuva motherfuckin’ bitch!”  (These came out as bleeps over the radio.)

Sealy pointed at the engineer, and Ted was cut off. Sealy declared, “Can’t anybody talk anymore without jumpin’ into the gutter? All the time, cursin’ an’ swearin’!”   The next day, Tom Erikson, program manager for the station, called Sealy to the office.

“Bob,” Erikson warned, “the show’s gettin’ too hot. That guy, Ted, I got a call from his lawyer, he’s suing us for giving him bad advice, like fightin’. The Hispanic Council’s takin’ out an ad in tomorrow’s paper against you. An’ a lot of sponsors are talking about pulling out of the show. Neither Roeder or anyone else wants to work with you.”

Sealy inhaled and grunted, “So what should I do, clam up?”

“Naw, just tone it down,” Erikson said, “An’ remember, a lot of people listen to you an’ take what y ’say seriously. They do whatever you tell them to do. If you told them to kill themselves, they’d do it! That’s the effect you have on people. Remember that, and be careful.”

Sealy left Erikson’s office, and he thought of this as he drove home; he also thought about his father, his drill instructor in Parris Island, and his high school football coach yelling at him:

“Put your back into it, boy!”

“Can’t you see that, boy?”

“C’mon, boy, wake up!”

Boy – boy – boy…

The memories pounded in Sealy’s head as he drove home. He hammered the dashboard with his fist, inhaled, and muttered, “I’m a man! Goddammit I’m a man!” His head hurt and his stomach tightened.

The next day, just before airtime, Sealy puffed another Lucky Strike and sipped his Four Roses – what Eriksson said; his effect on listeners; people doing what he said; the network deal –

Then, the intro, and the fight song, and Sealy was on the air! He began:

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been informed that I have an effect on you, the listening public. They say that you would do anything I told you to do, an’ I’d lead you astray.

“Well, now,” continued Sealy, “I want all of you to call or write the station, and let them know how much you love Bob Sealy! Let ‘em know how much he means t’ you! How he tell you the truth no one else tells you! They’re tryin’ t shut me up here! Tell ‘em you need me t’ tell you the real story! Tell them!”

They did.

 

Stand Up For Voting!

During the audit of the voting machines in Maricopa County, Arizona-to hunt for non-existent voting fraud, and to find more votes for t—p that weren’t there-a delegation of Republican legislators from Pennsylvania went to observe the whole silly (but dangerous) business of the audit, which ruined the voting machines and the county would have to get new ones. (Genius move, NOT.) State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin County) has demanded from three Pennsylvania counties-Philadelphia, Tioga, and York-to submit to a similar “audit” of their votes, which would cost millions of dollars and raise questions as to who would do the “audit.” Attorney-General Josh Shapiro called it a “partisan fishing expedition” and urged the counties not to go along with it. (https://apnews.com/article/pa-state-wire-pennsylvania-elections-election-2020-government-and-politics-cf7cfe0566c9ef47489d7ecef88165f5?mc_cid=f8e3240d9c&mc_eid=1a031a046f) (https://www.alternet.org/2021/07/a-sham-pennsylvania-ag-torches-state-gop-s-push-for-arizona-style-election-audit/)

Mastiano, by the way, is an ally of t—p, and intends to run in the republican primary in 2022 for Pennsylvania Governor, seeking the votes of t—pist MAGA crowd. This is the crowd that participated in and supported the raid on January 6 into the Capitol, with the idea of-somehow- overturning the will of the people who voted for Joe Biden. That disqualifies Mastriano right there: he believes that the MAGA freaks are the REAL American people and he must go after their votes, therefore, he’s feeding into the “voter-fraud” myth, utilizing such far-right media as Steve Bannon’s podcast and OANN.

Americans, it’s past high time for us to educate ourselves on the real issues the country faces, like gun violence, workers working for poverty wages (and still requiring public assistance), universal health care (especially with the COVID still out there), and infrastructure needing serious upgrades. Then, we organize, and we get out there and vote, and never allow some gang of punks and thugs-be they armed MAGA-heads or state legislators-to intimidate us. The future of our country demands we do so.

person dropping paper on box

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