About John Oliver Mason

I am a freelance writer, having worked for newspapers, magazines and blogs for over twenty-five years, covering neighborhood and working people making their communities and their lives better. I believe in the power of the written word to bring about change, and I put that into practice. I believe that when we become aware of the effect our small actions in the community have in improving lives, we can truly make a difference. I am also one of the leading poets in the Philadelphia area, and I also write fiction. I also act, performing on the public access channel PhillyCAM.

Prosecute Trump!

In 1974, Gerald R. Ford, one month into being President, granted a pardon to Richard Nixon, his predecessor who resigned in disgrace foe to the Watergate coverup he took part in. There were protests, but the official spin through the news media said that the pardon was a way to heal the nation from the scandal and move forward.

I call bullshit to that! It was a way for Nixon to evade going to prison for undermining the rule of law with comic-book attempts at forming a police state. Nixon won the Presidency due to racially charged appeals to ‘law and order,” meaning the repression of African-Americans and anti-war protestors; as his own aide John Ehrlichman admitted, the “War On Drugs” was a took to suspend civil liberties and attack opponents. When faced with “law and order” himself, Nixon resigned and Ford bailed him out of a jam. It’s a typical form of the political establishment watching our for each other.

Now, donald t—p is finally going to a a private citizen, and will have to face the consequences of his criminal conduct, without the shield of the Presidency to hide behind; and there will be the please from various sources to say, “Let’s leave him alone and move on.”

No way! t—p’s rhetoric was all about beating up on opponents, and he encouraged his disciples to do so, such as telling the Proud Boys “Stand back and stand by,” and encouraging the Q-Anon conspiracy movement, which has resorted to potential violence. That’s his “law and order!”

Americans, we must insist that the rule of law covers everyone in this country, rich, poor, and everyone in between; and that money can’t continue to buy a rich person’s way out of prison. t—p and his minions MUST be prosecuted for their crimes, and we must insist that happen.

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Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

WHOSE Stock Market?

On Tuesday, November 24, the New York Stock market closed at 30,000 points, setting a record. (https://www.nbcnews.com/business/markets/dow-hits-30-000-start-transition-biden-prospect-yellen-treasury-n1247399) As a working person and Labor activist, I must raise the questions “And? and “So?” .

What does the Stock Market really mean? What does it really reflect? Does it do any good for the millions of American workers who have no work, and thus no income to feed their families, pay their utilities and mortgages, have to go to foodbanks to attain food, and worry about medical expenses, especially around the COIVD pandemic? Does it benefit people who have no homes, or battered women who need a place of refuge from their abusers? Or people dealing with opioid addiction?

The Stock Market is only good for the billionaires who hold stock in companies, and contribute little else to a company’s development, who do no work on the shop floor, who do no research and development. Yes THESE are the people our economic policy, for five decades and both parties, have sought to benefit. Productivity has increased for decades, but wages have either shown no growth or have fallen.

In the upcoming Biden administration, economic policy must focus on the benefit of working and low-income people, who actually manufacture, transport, and sell the goods we purchase, and who spend their money on local stores in their neighborhoods. This would include a national minimum wage of $15.00 an hour, a national health care system-yes, “Medicare For ALL!”- and a strategy, worthy of the New Deal, for upgrading our nation’s infrastructure-roads, bridges, airports, sea ports, railways, electric power grids, and the internet-and a “green jobs” program, to shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, and would employ more workers then carbon-based fuels do now.

That is what we must demand from the Biden administration, because that is what we deserve. We, and not he stock market, and the true measure of the nation’s economy.

stock exchange boardstressed woman looking at a laptop

Happy Thanksgiving

I wish everyone out there a Happy thanksgiving. Of course, many of us can’t be with our loved ones and extended families, due to the pandemic; I’m also frustrated by it. But the pandemic is out there, and we must connect with each other through telephone, Zoom, and other social media, which is better than nothing, and better than risking catching the COVID.

We must, amid our holiday, think about those who have no food in the house, or not even a place to live; who have no income, due not through any fault of their own, but the pandemic spreading throughout our communities, including our worksites; and who have loved ones struggling with the COVID in ICUs, and have died from it. We must both pray and fight for those who have suffered due to the COVID.

But we must be grateful for all that remains good in our lives and in our world, such as the new regime coming into the White House, determined to seriously deal with the pandemic; for those medical workers in ICUs and hospitals who have worked to the point of exhaustion to save lives; workers in stores, ambulance drivers, truckers who haul the food to our markets; people who work in food banks handing out food to those in need; and people calling on neighbors, asking how they’re doing and if they need anything.

Those are things to be grateful for; we Americans are a strong and resilient people, and as long as we look after each other, we’ll beat this pandemic-and also the diseases of racism and hate that t—p has enabled to be blatant in our country. We CAN and WILL defeat these diseases, of the body, of the mind, and of the soul.

Enjoy your holidays.

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Photo by Anna Tukhfatullina Food Photographer/Stylist on Pexels.com

The Mason Missile, November 24, 2020

Greetings, Americans!

I take this time to honor the memory of Jim Moran-Director Emeritus of the Philadelphia Area Project for Occupational safety and Health (PHILAPOSH), an organization dedicated to advocating for workers killed or injured while doing their jobs to earn their livings; Jim was instrumental in organizing in Philadelphia such events as Workers Memorial Day, late in April, honoring the memory of workers killed while trying to earn a living for themselves and their families; organized the Labor Day parade in September, where we celebrate ourselves, the working men and women in the Philadelphia area, and have fun doing it; and brought to Philadelphia the May Day celebration, where we celebrate the internationally recognized day honoring working people, and we learn the real history of the Labor movement in this country. Jim was a working –class kid from the heavily industrialized neighborhood of Kensington, and he helped other works find their pride and empowerment. Jim, may your memory continue to be a blessing and an inspiration.   

Rejoice! We did it! Joe Biden, after a long ballot-counting drama that lasted for a week, is elected the 46th President of the United States. He always had the larger popular vote over whatshisface, just like Hillary Clinton did in 2016; but we had to wait until the right number of Electoral College votes in each state-particularly Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada-were tabulated, so that Biden got over the 270 threshold.

The Electoral College was a system formulated during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, where the framers of the Constitution-affluent white men, many of whom owned slaves-had no concept of what we now call “democracy;” the states had, at that time, requirements of property for white men to qualify to vote. Also, the delegates of the southern states, where slavery was predominant, knew they would be underpopulated compared to the northern states and thus outvoted in a popular election. There was also the longstanding fear among elites-still going on today-that the slaves would unite with lower-income whites to challenge the elites’ privileges and power (not at all a BAD thing!). Thus the Constitution-Article II, Section One-organized the system of the Electoral College, which has given disproportionate power to numerically weaker southern states, so they can continue their system of chattel slavery.

The Electoral College has led to elections that had the person with the majority of votes losing, or else the election thrown to the House of Representatives for them to sort out in the wheeling and dealing, and oftentimes threatening the very existence of the country. This was shown in the election of 1800, where John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Aaron Burr ran against each other, and Alexander Hamilton’s influence swung the House’s votes from Burr to Jefferson. In 1876, Samuel Tilden had more popular votes than Rutherford B. Hayes, but questions of Florida’s electoral votes caused a threat of another civil war, just as the nation was recovering from the last one; a special commission was formed, but a deal was made-the Democrats would allow Hayes to be President, if he agreed to remove federal troops, who were protecting the newly-freed Blacks during the reconstruction period, from the South. Thus, the Republican Party, “the party of Lincoln,” betrayed the former slaves, their most loyal supporters, and left them at the “mercy” of the growing system of racial segregation known as “Jim Crow.”

The Electoral College is a mechanism formed by oligarchs, to protect oligarchic privilege and power, and it is long overdue to be eliminated. I urge you to contact Congress members and Senators to do so, thereby ending a destructive element in our elections and our history.

But more importantly, we must continue-after we catch our breath, of course-in fighting the Coronavirus, demanding that the Senate pass the relief bill passed by the House-in MAY!-to benefit working people who lost employment due to the pandemic; state and local governments who have borne the brunt of the pandemic, since certain of our “leaders” refused to deal with it, preferring to play political games while Americans get sick and die; and medical workers, such as nurses and EMTs, who have worked tirelessly to deal with our illnesses during and including the pandemic. This will take much serious grassroots organizing, from the bottom up, of working people, people of color, LGBTQ+   people, and homeless people-people who have long traditionally been deliberately excluded from the decision-making process.

Let us now and forever bury the once noble and necessary, but now impractical, idea of reaching a bipartisan consensus, “reaching across the aisle,” to work out deals for the benefits of our common nation and its people. The Republican Party is too far gone in its embrace of racism, religious fundamentalism, rejection of education and of scientific fact, and plutocracy to deal with on that score; this has gone on for, I would say, since the New Deal, when our capitalist class hated FDR for imposing controls over them and for encouraging the empowerment of workers through organizing into unions.

This has gone on through the Barry Goldwater campaign of 1964, where he rejected the Civil rights Act of 1964; to Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy,” where he sought the voters for George Wallace, and called for “law and order,” the buzzword for repressing Civil Rights activism, and with his “War On Drugs,” which was a cover for a war on the Black community and anti-war activists;  Ronald Reagan’s proclamation, “I believe in states’ rights,” as he starting his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where, in 1964, the Civil Rights activists-Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman- were killed by the Klan for registering Black people to vote (showing how important voting is); the campaign of 1988, where the patrician George HW Bush, through his campaign manager Lee Atwater, waged the Willie Horton propaganda campaign, with the image of the scary Black man out to rape and kill.

 Whether or not the Republicans are personally racist is not important; playing to racially-based fears remains a long-standing republican propaganda tool.

The behavior of trump and his minions during the period between the election and the inauguration has bene appalling. Such routine procedures as counting the ballots and certifying the election, as well as the General Services Administration (GSA) releasing funds to begin the transition to the new Biden administration-so that the new regime can make plans based on new evidence, on such serious issues as the pandemic-have seen trump’s lawyers going to court to find SOME excuse to stop the ballot count, or to deny the validity of the ballots-mostly from communities of color, like in Detroit. There have also been threats of physical violence and death to election officials. But fortunately, the GSA has finally released the funds for the transition, and the courts have recognized the futility of the trump attorney’s case, which has been no case at all.   

We must abandon trying to reason with the Republicans and their racist hangers-on, and stand fast for, and advance, the needs of working and low-income people, and for the rights and needs of communities of color and of LGBTQ+ people to advance in the world, and to simply live their lives without violence or abuse, by the agents of the State of anyone else.

On a personal note, I have just self-published my manifesto, Under The Workers Cap, printed by Minuteman Press (https://www.minutemanpress.com/), where I articulate my social and political beliefs, based on my study of American History and my activism in the Labor movement and the community. It’s on sale for $10.00 plus postage.  

Stay safe, stay strong, and stay together! Enjoy your holidays! America will be free!

Bye!      

diverse people uniting on demonstration against politics
Photo by Kelly Lacy on Pexels.com

Rejoice, America!

I rode the bus yesterday to a -count every-vote rally at Independence Mall in Philadelphia, when someone gave us the news-Joe Biden won Pennsylvania, the Electoral College, and the Presidency! People were honking their horns, hugging each other, and cheering. I got to the rally, it was more like a big block party, and did we celebrate! We deserve to celebrate our victory over trump and his minions, and all they represented. There was another big gathering down South Broad Street, down to Locust Street. There was still the rally at 12th and Arch streets, between the reading Terminal and the Convention Center, where the votes were being tallied; the trump freaks were still there, inside their little pen, venting.

We deserve to celebrate and congratulate ourselves for our victory-but after we recover from the hangover, let’s get to the real grassroots work of organizing workers, low-income people, communities of color, women, and LGBTQ+ people to advocate for their rights. The party lost some seats in the House, but there have been great progressive victories, with more LGBTQ+ people elected in congressional and state legislative seats, along with more Native American people elected to Congress.

Our opponents will be bullying and insulting to us; we now that from our experience with the Obama years, with the Tea Party AstroTurf “movement” financed by wealthy donors, which brought the racist fringe elements into the the Republican mainstream, with their verbal and physical violence and their willful ignorance. We should not turn the other cheek and tolerate it; like all other bullies, they understand nothing but brute force. Let’s not hesitate to stand up for our rights.

You know trump will not surrender power gracefully, after his disgraceful regime; we must continue to organize against him while he and his demon brood are in the White House.

But for now, rejoice, Americans, at our victory-the world rejoices with us.

Philly Says, Count Every Vote

I have just come from a rally at Independence Mall, 5th and market streets in Philadelphia, to demand that every vote in the presidential election be counted, and that no gang of thugs that trump puts against us-either his attorneys or neo-Nazi goons-will keep us from exercising our rights as American citizens. Please look for and join in similar rallies in your area, and let trump and company know we’ll stand up for our rights.

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Photo by Shane Aldendorff on Pexels.com

Fight-back

trump has loaded the Supreme Court with his toadies-Neil Gorshuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, who will be alongside Clarence Thomas in wearing away certain rights down to zero: the right to a safe abortion; the rights of LGBT people to hold a job, live in an apartment, to marry, or just to live; the rights of workers to redress grievances, to earn a fair income and employment opportunities, and to have a safe working environment; and, particularly relevant right now, the right to vote in elections, so that we the people can influence those decisions affecting us and our communities.

The 2020 elections are on, and so are Republican efforts to undermine the peoples’ right to vote, and the ability of states to accurately count the ballots, utilizing a number of legal gimmicks, so that their orange boss-man remains in power, and they stay in power. Have they ever considered that we the people will NOT accept having our rights taken from us? These rulers over us are so apart from us that they have no idea what we live through on a daily basis. this is particularly true concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.

And they must expect us to accept any erosion of our rights they put before us, like it’s a done deal. American history is full of times when a situation that is going on at that moment is permanent, such as slavery. But dedicated activists, like the kids out on the streets protesting police abuse and urging people to vote, have, and continue to, push our country in a more positive direction.

The day after the election, there will be demonstrations to support our right to vote; we will show we won’t tolerate the violation of our rights. Please be sure to take part in one in your area, you know I will, for the sake of our country and its future.

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Photo by Lina Kivaka on Pexels.com

Saving Our Democracy

I urge you, ALL of you, to get out and vote on November 3, to remove this corrupt, putrid regime from OUR White House. trump has been a stench on our country, ruining the reputation of the United States, and proving his incompetence and disinterest in the public well-being by doing nothing about the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging through our nation, sickening several million of our fellow Americans, killing over 220,00 of them. He is a sorry excuse of a man who uses our military against their fellow Americans-the same military he calls “suckers” and “losers.” He uses his office to steer money towards his otherwise failing businesses and towards his useless offspring.

And he WILL do any vicious act, through the courts or his hired thugs and goons, to stay in power, either declaring votes to be illegitimate to by physical intimidation. By that act, we cannot recognize him as our legitimate President, and is there =fore unworthy of obedience or allegiance. We must take to the streets to support our democracy, as the people of Belarus have done against their authoritarian dictator. The future of the country is in our hands.

The Mason Moment, October 27, 2020

Greetings!

I cannot stress enough the necessity of voting on November 3rd, if you haven’t already done it by mail. Only WE the American people stand as a bulwark against t—p’s drive to attain a dictatorship, just like his idols Putin and Kim Jong Un. We know t—p is down in the polls, but that is no grounds for overconfidence-that’s what got us the disaster of 2016.

The FBI has uncovered another effort by the Russian intelligence agencies of trying to interfere with our election system (https://www.npr.org/2020/10/22/926825699/ongoing-russian-cyberattacks-are-targeting-u-s-election-systems-feds-say), just as they did in 2016. But t—p continues to accept such interference, since it benefits him; he is dependent on foreign meddling in our elections. But, as they say, the Russian cyber-attacks on our elections have utilized the racial divisions that have plagued our country from the beginning. It’s a cliché-though VERY true- that racism and ethnic rivalry have been used by elites to keep the working and lower classes under control, so that they don’t combine against their masters. Well, it’s true once more, but this time it’s a foreign entity playing Americans against each other.

The Republican leadership-of course Mitch McConnell-willfully did nothing about it, but accepted the Russian cyber-attacks, just so they can attain power and ram through their dreams of deeper tax cuts for billionaires and loading the federal judiciary with their kinds of judges-ones who will bring women’s reproductive rights to zero, who will limit workers’ rights to organize, and who will reduce the ability of people of color to vote-which brings me to the nomination and finalized appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

t—p and the Republicans act as if we should sit back and allow this to happen to us-the elimination of people’s rights is now a done deal. No, we will NOT accept this! The protests against Coney-Barrett, demonstrations against police abuse in minority communities, the neglect that our own government has for its own citizens in distress, are signs of continuing upheaval in this country. Our “leadership” in this country has disconnected itself from the rest of the population, caring nothing for the suffering the COVID-19 pandemic has cause, refusing to pass legislation for relief for state and local governments, small businesses, hospitals that have dealt with treating COVID patients and workers who lost work due to the pandemic.

And what has been the Republican leadership’s response to pandemic unemployment? “reopen the schools, reopen the job sites,” while the COVID is resurging throughout the country, and if workers catch the virus and die so that Republicans and their corporate backers can get richer, how heroic of them!  

Failure is NOT an option, Americans! We MUST vote out this regime on November 3, so that the good name of our country will be restored. And if Donnie and his dodos refuse to leave graciously, we must take to the streets in record numbers, as they did in Belarus against their authoritarian regime. We owe it to ourselves, the generation before us fighting for freedom, and our descendants.      

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