Update, September 16, 2018

Thursday, I went to a taping of the show Conversations Across Time, on PhillyCAM  (channel 66 on Comcast, channel 29 on Verizon). There I portrayed Rabbi Stephen Wise, one of the leading figures of the Jewish Community in America, a counselor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and leader of the Zionist movement. With one person playing FDR and the other playing Hermann Goering, we discussed the situation with the tRump regime in America today, with such topics as the recent New York Times op-ed by the “anonymous” White House staffer (we speculated it might be a group of them); the book Fear by Bob Woodward, which shows the tRump White House to be a madhouse; the possibility of impeachment, which is all fraught with politics as is everything else in DC; and the 25th Amendment, whereby supposedly the Vice-President and a majority of the cabinet might decide that the President is not physically or mentally capable of carrying out his duties, and would force him to give up the office to the Vice-President. (Pence would like that; he thinks God has anointed him to be President.)  We cannot count on the hope that sensible people in the right office can save us; only we the people, conscious of the issues at stake and voting accordingly, can save this country. Contact PhillyCAM at https://phillycam.org/.

Friday, I attended the dinner-cruise aboard the Spirit of Philadelphia , of the Philadelphia chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, the organization of African-American trade Unionists, founded by A. Philip Randolph, who was America’s leading African-American trade union leader. (I’m Recording Secretary of the Philadelphia chapter.) we held our awards ceremony then:

The A. Philip Randolph & Bayard Rustin Leadership Award went to Sam Staten Jr., International Vice-President of LIUNA (Laborers) and Business Agent of LIUNA Local 332.

The Rosina Tucker Award went to Carla M. Insinga, Director of AFSCME District Council 90.

The A. Philip Randolph & Bayard Rustin Outstanding Activist Award went to Boise Butler, President of ILA (Longshore workers) Local 1291.

The President’s Award went to Dionne Gary, of District 199CC of AFSCME (hospital and health care workers).

Saturday, I went back to PhillyCAM, where I sat in the audience of The Chef Trek Adventures, a cooking show produced by my friend Delmer Gill, who allowed me time to go on stage and speak about my writing career. Delmer’s web site is http://cheftrek.net/.

 

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The Mason Missile, May 16, 2017

 

The Mason Missile

 

The E-newsletter of

 

John Oliver Mason

 

May 10, 2017

 

John.mason.2016@verizon.net

 

Johnomason.com

 

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.

 

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Greetings!

 

I have been celebrating May Day, THE international day honoring workers and our achievements in organizing for our rights, and what we accomplish if the workers stand together and fight the bosses and their political minions. I have been active in these campaigns-don’t worry, we’ll still have Labor Day in September.

 

The origins of May Day are in the struggles in this country for an eight-hour working day, led by the Knights of Labor.  The American origins of May Day have been obscured by the appropriation by the Soviet Union, China, and other Communist regimes of revolutionary culture to further their ends, which have not been revolutionary; it gave the regimes the appearance of being radical and revolutionary. Now, the truth has been coming out, and I urge you to look up the web site, maydayusa.org.   (This raises the question: what other things have we been lied to about, in schools, media, and politics?)

 

We need to have such solidarity in these times of trump as our “president,” and I have NO obligation to show him ANY respect! A woman was arrested for laughing at Attorney General Jeff Sessions-laughing! Political satire, laughing at the doings of our elected (by whom?) officials is a venerable American tradition; currently, we have seeing a new golden age of it, with the work of Trevor Noah, Jon Stewart, Samantha Bee, and Stephen Colbert-who recently faced trumpist howling after a great monologue.

 

“Fake News,” one of trump’s favorite lines, reminds you of one of Hitler’s favorite insults, “lugenpresse,” “lying press,” against the news media of his day. The news media is not perfect, it is more corporate-slanted towards what is acceptable or palatable to corporate interests; but it so far has helped in keeping an eye on the trump regime and how the trump family-including Jared Kushner, the son-in-law-in-chief-have used these connections to further their business interests.

 

The Republicans in the House of Representatives (of whom?) finally passed the trump “alternative” to Obama’s signature law, the Affordable Care Act, and are celebrating that heroic act of stripping health insurance from millions of Americans, while providing another tax break for the billionaire class. All through the Obama administration, Republicans have tried SO hard to  have it repealed, even though the Obama plan in partially based on the plan in Massachusetts while Mitt Romney (no Trotskyist he!) was governor.

 

How much did racism play in the Republican crusade against “Obamacare”, which is a term Obama himself wore as a badge of honor? It was from the debates over health insurance that near-riots and threats emerged during congressional town halls in 2009, and I was sure then that some group or agency was behind this; lo and behold, it turns out the tea party movement is what is termed an “Astroturf” movement (as opposed to a ‘grassroots” movement), artificially created by corporate interests, in particular the Koch brothers and others.

 

The Republican Party establishment has long looked for foot soldiers, along with the plutocrats writing the big contribution checks, to do their voting, show up at rallies, yell at and intimidate their opponents, hand out leaflets on the streets, and fold and mail said leaflets. In the 1970s through the 1990s it was the religious fundamentalists, led by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson; now it’s the tea parties worked up about supposedly being taxed to death to pay for lazy welfare recipients, who are, in their mind’s eye, people of color.

 

Now, the foot soldiers have taken over the general staff; Republican leaders, no matter how conservative they have been, are not conservative enough for the Republican base.  This is why the republican rank-and-file cast aside politicians, who actually have occupied political office and have strong conservative programs, for a reality-show star whose political leanings consist of his own publicity, whose business record is one of bankruptcies and not paying contractors, who allowed a foreign power to assist him in his campaign and thus undermine our elections and what remained of our democracy.

 

What are we to make of the trump voters? Are they frightened people worried about the fate of their nation, disgusted by our political elite, and therefore waging a “populist” movement? Or is it a collection of infamous racists and bullies, who enjoy his calls for banning Muslims, his contempt for women, his supporting violence against his enemies? 

 

It’s all on video: the punching of protestors at his rallies, the racial slurs spouted by the attendees, the racism and anti-Semitism, and the Confederate flags, on display. It’s not being “elitist” to call out people like this; it’s telling the truth, and it’s calling for challenging the racism that has been a pre-existing condition in our country that needs to be cured once and for all. We must plainly tell any fellow citizen, most particularly any working person, who engages in violence against Muslims, African-Americans-LGBT people, or any minority, “Brother, sister, you’re+ wrong to do this. It’s not worthy of an American.”

 

Since the Civil rights movement, so much has been made of the ‘white working class,” as if they are one homogeneous group, violently opposed to any minority group-women, African-Americans,  Hispanics, LGBTs, what have you-asserting their rights. Commentary I have heard says that the Democratic Party lost its way, made a big mistake, by seeking the votes of these former outgroups, and neglecting the “white working class” voter.

 

Is this true? Should, therefore, the needs of the former outgroups be ignored so that the party could attain once again the “white working class” voter? Is this an either-or situation? I don’t see the logic in this idea.

 

This bifurcation, if it truly exists, is not inevitable. Due to my education in Labor Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I have learned that issues of race and class in this country are inseparable; the Civil Rights leaders of the 1960s-Martin Luther King Jr., A. Philip Randolph, and Bayard Rustin-sought the labor movement as allies in the struggle for equality for African-Americans, the vast majority of whom are working class, just as Americans in general. The March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom of August 1963-where Dr. King gave his “I Have A Dream” speech”-pointed out the problems the nation faced with racial and economic inequality. Civil rights Activists worked closely with progressive Labor groups, such as the Congress of Industrial Organizations, and King worked with the United Steel Workers of America (USWA) and the United Automobile Workers of America (UAWA) under Walter Reuther.

 

Randolph, leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, brought together over 800 trade union and civil leaders to take part in the march, along with the International Fur and Leather Workers Union (IFLWU), the Seafarers International union, and several public sector unions, all with an interracial membership. Along with this Randolph and Rustin organized a group of economists, trade unionists, and civil rights activists to draw up the “Freedom Budget,” released in 1966, which called for job-creation programs to combat unemployment, a guaranteed annual income for poor families, and increased federal spending on schools, eradicating slums, and public works.   

 

I have just come from voting in the local elections here in Philadelphia-District Attorney, Controller, judgeships-mundane stuff, but these offices it most directly affect our lives, and this is where Presidents, Senators, and other officials get their start. It’s at this level where we begin to know the kind of elected officials they would be, and it’s where progressives needs to start to bring the party into a more people-oriented direction. Plus, people coming out for such unexciting races as for township supervisor, county commissioner, and city council-member sends a message that we the people are paying attention to the affairs of our community, and are willing to hold our officials accountable.

 

This is something we must continuously work on-especially in this dangerous era-for the sake of our children-bye!    

 

 

 

The Mason Missile, November 26, 2016

Greetings, and happy holidays!

Yes, I am over the shock of the reality of Donald Trump becoming the next president of the United States, keeper of the nuclear codes, leaders of the “free world.” How did it come to this? Was Trump really the avatar for change he made himself out to be?

Donald Trump-a billionaire (as far as we know) real-estate tycoon who inherited the business from his father (who discriminated against minorities renting is apartments; who used his father’s connections to attain deferments from the draft for Viet Nam; who has insulted almost every one of the “other” demographic groups-Mexicans, Muslims, the physically handicapped; who acts like women are his playthings to just grab wherever he chooses; who offered simple sound-bite rhetoric to complicated foreign policy issues, like the civil war in Syria; who joined the ‘birther” crusade that said Obama was not born in this country; who, in spite of his “protectionist” talk on trade, had his brand of ties made in china, his brand of clothing made in Mexico, and the furniture for his hotels made in turkey.

Now, barring a miracle in the Electoral College, he will be our President, the face we have to show the world who and what we are as a people. Is it anything to be proud of?

The Trump campaign has brought out of the woodwork the racism in this country, against African-Americans, Asian-descended people, Muslims, Jews, and LGBT people-swastikas sprayed on walls, arsons fires in churches, taunts of kids in schools, and physical assaults. How can we tell kids that bullying and terrorizing minority kids is wrong, when they see the President of the United States do it and get away with it?

Racism, long confined to such code works as “inner city” or “law and order,” has returned into the political mainstream, due to Trump’s campaign. Along with endorsement of such veteran racists as David Duke-who bragged that Trump campaigned on what he, Duke, has preached all along-the movement called the “alt-right” has stepped from the shadows; it shows itself to be savvy with the internet, but it’s really a rebranding of the same old racism and white supremacist claptrap.

And of course the “left-liberal slanted” commercial news media presents like there’s nothing wrong, it’s a normal transition from one administration to another, and the white supremacists around Trump are no big deal, downplaying the racist nature of the Trump support. Also, there is the tired old trope of the “white working class” which supposedly was all in for Trump, as if working-class whites are more susceptible to racism than other white economic groups. And the talk is revised complaining of “identity politics,” that in our endeavor to deal with racism and sexism in this country, we have neglected the problems of low-income white. (Calling this “identity politics” is a way of trivializing racial and gender issues; many people don’t like politics, seeing it as campaigning over nothing.)

The media idea is you have to work on EITHER race and gender issues OR class issues-as if they were separate; I have seen much overlap of them. Why not BOTH AND? We CAM and MUST simultaneously take on the issues of race, class, and gender, they are intertwined. So many occupations are dominated by particular racial and gender groups, such as the sleeping car porters, almost all African-American, organized by A. Philip Randolph. It is Native American people, standing fast at Standing Rock, North Dakota, who are taking the lead against the Dakota Access pipeline, which would run through their ancestral lands and contaminate the drinking water of everyone in several states.

(That leads me to the geniuses in charge of our glorious “free enterprise” system, the great entrepreneurs who, is you keep the government off their backs, will usher in an era of prosperity, just by allowing them to take as much money as they want for themselves. They know the technology for non-fossil energy systems in available-wind turbines, biofuels, solar panels-but they want to stick with the only thing they know about, good ol’ dead dinosaur carcasses turned into oil and gas after millions of years-the process of extracting the oil, gas, and coal has been a ruin for the environment and a disaster to surrounding communities of people who have to breathe the fumes and smoke of these fuel sources. Can’t these “geniuses” think of anything else?)

And what of the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton? During the primaries, the DNC apparatus was biased in favor of Clinton against the insurgency of Bernie Sanders, a man of decades of experience in political and social activism, and who has galvanized a generation of young activists, who has identified himself proudly as a “Democratic Socialist,” and who has flooded stadiums and assembly halls with enthusiastic young supporters, and who has funded his campaign with small donations averaging $27.00 apiece, who has inspired art and song in support of him. BUT the party apparatus, in its “wisdom,” loaded the primaries in favor of Hillary Clinton, the safe, Wall Street friendly, “don’t cause the corporations to worry” choice-and failed in the long run. It’s as if our political leadership has no recourse except candidates that say nice things about racial and gender minorities but don’t want anyone to interfere with their domination of the economy, which Bernie Sanders (God bless him!) has challenged.

We have to be careful about the election results. This is from NBC News:

231,556,622 people were eligible voters;

46.9% did NOT vote;

25.6% voted for Clinton;

25.5% voted for Trump. Not much of a mandate for Trump, is it?

Recounts are taking place as of this writing, and the popular vote has been growing for Clinton. Yet Trump won the Electoral College vote, of an institution dating back to when the Constitution was written in 1787, when low-income people were deemed unsuited to decide political issues, when the vote was limited to white male property owners, the economy was primarily agricultural, and communication was through dirt roads. This is a governmental dinosaur long overdue for extinction, an elitist body that mocks whatever ‘democracy” we have left in this country.

And of course Clinton and the democrats, instead of fighting this injustice, are expected to give up, not fight it, just as they did in 2000, even with ample evidence of voter suppression in Florida-it didn’t hurt George W. Bush that his brother Jeb was Governor-and the screaming mob of Republican activists yelling while the votes were being recounted. (Liberals are expected to always defer to their conservative superiors.)

All attempts to protest these problems are called “sour grapes, get over it,” like it’s little league baseball, and not the fate of the most powerful nation on the planet. Did the Republicans graciously handle their loss in 20087 to Obama? No, they went to work almost immediately to undermine his presidency, formulating the “tea party” movement which terrorized congress-members in town meetings-as opposed to the reasoned debate we’re supposed to have in a democracy-bringing forth the “birther” movement that stated that Obama was born in Kenya and therefore not the legitimate President, putting forth racist cartoons about him, linking his policies with the now-extinct Soviet Union, and blaming Obama for George w. Bush’s trillion-dollar deficit-so much for “personal responsibility.”

(That is the point of conservative politics all along, since the New Deal- Formerly dominant groups, either based on economic class, race, or gender, have had their dominance challenged, and these former out-groups have entered positions formerly reserved by the dominant groups; the former dominant groups had the idea that if they were Not dominant, they would be subordinate, like they could not comprehend the idea of equality, which they juxtapose against “Liberty,” meaning “If the government gets out of the way and not interfere with the natural order of things, the dominant groups would stay dominant.” The former subordinate groups are seen as usurpers against the rightful rulers, affluent white males.)

And let us spend some time with the religious right movement-the same movement that would eliminate abortion and the right of women to control their bodies, would make it legal to discriminate against LGBT people based on religious excuses, and who in general would make their idea of “Christianity” the law of the land (even while getting hysterical about Islamic Sharia law). After their chosen candidates, like Ted Cruz, failed in the primaries, the religious rightists jumped on the Trump bandwagon, knowing him to be a dirty-talking whoremaster, corporate conniver, racist, and tax cheater, just so they can get some of their own people into cabinet positions. Are they facing a period of decadence, a downslide?

And, let us note the cynicism you hear out there-“Trump is in, there’s no point in protesting, they won’t pay attention, and so what’s the point?” The point is we come together as a group, to know there are many more of us who want to fight back against any injustice Trump may think up, to give confidence to politicians who want to fight the Trump agenda, and-possibly-to convince other officeholders that it’s safe to challenge trump and all he stands for.

That’s what we’ll do-take to the streets, write to our editors and politicians, and let them know how we stand-bye!

 

Tea Partiers Hold ‘Pro-Confederate Rally’ on MLK Weekend (Video) | Americans Against the Tea Party

There are still those who say the Confederacy was a noble cause, and downplaying, WAY down, the fact that it was all about maintaining a slave system and giving poor whites the illusion of having someone to feel superior to. This is nothing to be proud of. The Confederacy was a racist, class-based, oligarchic system that needed to be destroyed.

 

Tea Partiers Hold ‘Pro-Confederate Rally’ on MLK Weekend (Video) | Americans Against the Tea Party

via Tea Partiers Hold ‘Pro-Confederate Rally’ on MLK Weekend (Video) | Americans Against the Tea Party.

Whose Law and Whose Order?

All through the ‘seventies, we were inundated with propaganda about how the law doesn’t protect innocent people, that the police can’t arrest anyone who commits a crime, that “law-abiding citizens” are fearful about being in their homes and going out. This idea permiated through the “mainstreatm news media,”-I’m thinking of a scary cover article in Time from 1975- and in cop-oriented TV shows (Dragnet, Strasky and Hutch) and movies (Dirty Harry), where through a too-lenient “liberal” legal system the most vicious and evil villains are set free to terrorize “law abiding citizens,” and a certain amount of “excessive force” is needed to eliminate them. This makes it easier for people to accept repressive measures, not necessarily upon the real criminal element, but at protestors, activists, and other fighters against the system.

This all came after the ‘sixties and the Civil Rights movement, when African-American people fought for their rights and made some progress; the Nixon administration, as evidenced in the White House tapes, sought to use the “War on Drugs” as an excuse to impose a near police state in Black communities, as a reaction to Black Civil rights achievements.

J Edgar Hoover and his FBI-his, his own personal domain, and Congress allowed it-violated all manner of laws, with sending the letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. telling him to commit suicide, to sending in moles and provocateurs  to harass and undermine the Civil Rights and anti-Viet-Nam-war movements, along with the rising LGBT, Feminist, and environmental movements. The FBI was simply a secret police system, not interested in defending anyone’s rights or safety.

It’s a great propaganda ploy-who DOES NOT fear crime, who DOES want their wallets stolen or their houses burglarized? But remember, this has come from the Nixon and Reagan administrations, who used the “soft on crime” label on liberals and who used such fear to get elected; but they were comfortable breaking the law when it suited them, Nixon with the Watergate scandal (he once said, “If the President does it, it’s not illegal.”) to the Reagan administration’s Iran-Contra activities.

This was all done in the name of “fighting Communism,” with the idea that all challenges to the injustices of our system in red propaganda, followed by Moscow-besotted dupes (more likely in university campuses), and not the REAL reality people face. I, on the other hand, do NOT believe that ALL law-enforcement people are bad people at all, some are very dear friends; but we must reclaim the law-enforcement agencies, and our government in general, and get them back on our side.

 

 

Just Being Black Was Enough to Get Yourself Spied on by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI | The Nation

Again, here are the facts that the FBI spied on its own citizens. Is standing up for basic rights SUCH a threat to the State? The media myth of the FBI’s invincibility and honor helped protect it, until now. THESE are the good ol’ days the Republican-Tea Party crow want to drag us to.

Just Being Black Was Enough to Get Yourself Spied on by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI | The Nation

via Just Being Black Was Enough to Get Yourself Spied on by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI | The Nation.

Unbelievable GOP Statements on Voter Suppression | BillMoyers.com

So much for Democracy! This is what we’ll get IF, and only IF, the Republicans take back power. LEt’s see that does NOT happen.

 

Unbelievable GOP Statements on Voter Suppression | BillMoyers.com

via Unbelievable GOP Statements on Voter Suppression | BillMoyers.com.

Rick Scott sends white supporters to harass black voters

If the Republicans are so confident about winning the primaries, why are they resorting to thug tactics like sending out bullies and voter ID laws?

Rick Scott sends white supporters to harass black voters

via Rick Scott sends white supporters to harass black voters.

California passes ban on Confederate flag | theGrio

Great, the Confederate flag will be banned in California. I look on it as the American swastika-it was the symbol of the oppression of African-American, just as the Nazi swastika was the symbol of the opporession of Jews in Germany. Of course someone will whine about losing their free-speech right to fly that rag-too damn bad!

California passes ban on Confederate flag | theGrio

via California passes ban on Confederate flag | theGrio.

Lawyer and Two Teachers—All Black—Say Staff at Exclusive NYC Hotel Accused Them of Being Hookers | Alternet

What is going ON here?

Lawyer and Two Teachers—All Black—Say Staff at Exclusive NYC Hotel Accused Them of Being Hookers | Alternet

via Lawyer and Two Teachers—All Black—Say Staff at Exclusive NYC Hotel Accused Them of Being Hookers | Alternet.