Not Our President Poetry Reading

I will take part in the reading of the poetry chapbook Not Our President, an anthology of poems protesting the current inmate of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and everything he stands for. I will join other fine Philadelphia area poets, including Leonard Gontarek, Enoch Guy, and Irving Jones, among others, at Fergie’s Pub, 1214 Sansom Street, on Sunday, November 5th.

For more information, contact http://www.moonstoneartscenter.org/

The Mason Missile, September 3, 2017

Greetings!
I have celebrated my 60th birthday on August 1st, and I know my best days are ahead of me. I thank everybody for joining me on my life journey.

Charlottesville, Virginia, is, like the rest of the country, a flashpoint for the racial problems and hostilities plaguing our nation; one hundred and fifty years or so after the Civil war, fifty to sixty years after the start of the contemporary Civil rights movement, race is still the great dividing line of the nation. (Class is also a real issue, even though we still don’t talk about it.)
A gathering of neo-fascist groups, called “Unite The Right,” took place in Charlottesville, around the statue of Robert E. Lee, the great Confederate general-he was indeed a great military strategist, as well as the focus of great sentimental historical revision. The neo-fascists marched through Charlottesville, which is from what I hear a lovely university town-the headquarters of the University of Virginia- carrying tiki torches (like Klansmen have done) chanting “Jews will not replace us!” and “Blood and soil!” like straight out of the Third Reich. Counter-demonstrators challenged them; there was violence, with the deaths of Heather Heyer, a fine progressive activist, and two Virginia State troopers whose helicopter crashed as the monitored the march-Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M. M. Bates; may their memory be a blessing.

The immediate cause for the march was to resist the taking down of various statues of Confederate “heroes,” such as Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. These statues were a form of propaganda, “art” used for a political purpose; they were set up during the time, after the Civil War, when the “Jim Crow” segregation laws were being enacted, and again during the rise of the Civil Rights movement. It was to remind African-Americans so was still in charge.

The rewriting of the Civil War’s history was also part of the propaganda; the war, historically proven to be based on the determination of the seceding states to maintain their slave systems, was now seen as merely a clash of differing ideas about what America was to be like, etc.

The Robert E. Lee myth, that of the kindly Christian gentleman-warrior, who sought to reconcile the nation after the war, was part of this. As a recent article in The Atlantic shows ( https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/the-myth-of-the-kindly-general-lee/529038/) , Lee indeed oppose slavery, but only because it was bad for white people; He once wrote, “I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially, and physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild &melting influence of Christianity, than the storms & tempests of fiery Controversy.”

How did our Commander in Chief handle this situation? First he said there was violence “on many sides,” then his staff urged him to make a real condemnation against racism and bigotry, then he went back to talking about the good people on the white nationalist side. He is either to gutless to stand up to his base (many of the racist marchers in Charlottesville wore his “Make America Great Again” caps), or he is too ignorant of the reality of racism contaminating our nation’s psyche-OR, more than likely, he’s a stone-cold racist himself. His wealth and power don’t bring him and more knowledge or wisdom, even though we are taught to revere the wealthy as geniuses.

What are we to make of trump supporters, people who stick with him right or wrong, sink or swim? He is not a friend of working people, but you hear so much about how working-class white people love him, and who love his bad-ass talk about building the wall and being allowed to beat up dissidents, like he urged them to do in his rallies. Many trump lovers are our friends or relatives whom we love, and we certainly can’t cut them off-trump isn’t worth it.

“Populist” is a word bandied about in the news media, like a kind of shorthand, to describe low-income racist politics. The origins of the word “populist” come from the movement in the US, the Populist Party, which was an alliance of farmers who were oppressed by railroads charging too-high rates for shipping their produce, and banks charging too-high interest on their mortgages. It was a movement of low-income people against the corporations dominating the nation’s politics and government, and it allied with labor unions and the women’s suffrage movement. One of its greatest activists, Thomas Watson of Georgia, spoke of the need for Black and White farmers to unite against the common enemy, but Watson and other Populist Party leaders succumbed to the white supremacist idea, for getting who the real enemy was.

It’s a fight, but we’ve had our fights before-organizing workers for their benefit, women organizing for their right to vote at the minimum, people of color working to have their American dream, LGBT people fighting for their right to love-we have a tradition to fall back on, and we have living elders who can tell their stories and inspire the young ’ins, who will add their chapters to the history of the struggle.

What will I be doing in the fight? On Monday, September 4 I’ll march with other Labor activists in the 30th annual Tri-State Labor day Parade and Family Celebration, where we honor the working people of America-that is, US-our institution the labor unions, and the accomplishment we have made for our class and our nation. We are more than worthy of a party.

On Wednesday the 6th I’ll take part in a meeting of Philly for Change, a group which came out of the presidential campaign of Howard Dean in 2004. This group discusses campaigns around legislative district boundaries (and the problem of “gerrymandering”), environmental and gun laws, and LGBT rights, to name a few.

Bye!

The Mason Missile, July 5, 2017

Greetings!
I’m approaching my sixth decade, and I feel great. I’m carrying on with my classwork at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in Labor Studies, and I will pass on what I have learned to other working and low-income people.

This has been the 241st anniversary of the founding of the nation-or is it? In June of 1776, the Continental Congress, meeting in what is now Independence Hall in Philadelphia (yay!), listened as Richard Henry Lee, delegate of Virginia, read his resolution “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, dissolved.”

That resolution put into words the reality of what went on at the time; the Continental Congress already authorized the Continental Army under George Washington, along with a postal system-the kinds of things governments do. In January 1776, Thomas Paine-a person that needs more mention in our nation’s history books-published the small book Common Sense, which also put into words the movement towards independence by the colonies. There were however still members of the Congress who hoped for some form of reconciliation with Britain, fearing catastrophe from an all-out war.

(Revolutions are not ONE spectacular event that makes for a great movie; a revolution is a series of events challenging the legitimacy and the power of the old regime, and eventually a political body forms to give it focus and a system of directing the revolution, be it the Continental congress of the United States, or the Bolshevik party of the Russian revolution.)

A “Committee of Five” was formed by the Congress to draft a formal resolution as to the reasons for declaring independence. In that committee were John Adams of Massachusetts, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, and Robert Livingston of New York; Jefferson, being known as a polemicist for the colonies’ cause, had the job of writing up the draft of the Declaration, with some changes recommended by Adams and Franklin.

On July 2, the Congress read and began debate on the Declaration, along with revisions and editing; finally, on July 4, 1776, the congress formally adopted the Declaration. (There was much political wrangling over the Declaration, this being a political event worked on by politicians; but that does not make it any less an important document.)

What do we have to be proud of this holiday? Not our “President,” a “man” consumed by his ego and ignorance, a schoolyard in the most powerful office on the planet, a man who uses his office to line his pockets in his real-estate holdings, a man who insults women and uses them as sex toys (including HIS OWN DAUGHTERS), a man who hints at violence in his rallies and in his Twitter tweets-

BUT, you say, all of this is a distraction, we have to focus on the substantive issues of the day, the terrible stuff his administration does-like pushing the “health care” bill that not only seeks to destroy Obama’s legacy, trump’s reopening of the digging of the Keystone XL pipeline and of the Dakota Access pipeline-environmental catastrophes waiting to happen-weakening environmental regulations on coal mining, and banning people from majority-Muslim countries (that is, those he has no business dealing with).

I agree, we MUST be on top of trump and his minions, and the policies they implement. BUT, let’s not be either-or here-EITHER focus on his bizarre behavior OR his policies. It’s these silly antics that show us the kind of man he is, how he views the world, how he would use the office of the President of the United States to carry out what he would deem to be “Correct”-but correct for WHOM, his family, his bottom line, or his country?

IF he is pulling all these silly stunts to distract public attention from his policies, could he NOT have found a more dignified way to do it? Or is dignity something he doesn’t understand? How does it look like, to have our commander-in-chief acting like a damn fool to implement policy?

Hopefully the trump experience ends the idea of having a “businessman” put in elected office to run the office, and the country, in a “businesslike” manner. A corporation is an organization formed solely to make a profit for those invested in it; a government is an organization formed to administrate the needs of society, answerable (hopefully) to the general public.

And what kind of business model does trump have? He purchased real estate in New York and Atlantic City, promising that everything he touches is grand and spectacular, and he is worth more money that God; and, when he went bankrupt, instead of being monitored and harassed like any of US who would be in debt, finds a way to cut a deal to satisfy the banks he owes money to, along with refusing to pay contractors who did work on his buildings. The bankruptcy laws of this country are twisted to the benefit of the rich deadbeats, and we little fish are at their mercy.

Still-I am pleased that the REAL patriots are stepping up, not intimidated by the trump regime, using both the internet and good ol’ shoe leather to let the members of Congress who precisely they are to represent-in town halls, in public demonstrations, in visiting Congress-members’ offices-when they’re not hiding from their constituents’ ire.

And what are we to make of trump’s supporters? The story goes in the commercial media is that trump’s voters are working-class people who are afraid of losing their jobs, or have lost their jobs, and trump is giving them some hope, however false. Another story is that trump’s voters are the same balls-out racists and haters who could not stomach an African-American man as President, and the traditional racial order is again attacked. Could BOTH be true?

The bottom line-BOTH parties have failed the American people. The Republican party has, since the Jimmy Carter administration, been a home of religiously based haters, fearful of the advancement of LGBT people, of honest sex education in schools, of the challenge to traditional gender roles and to what is a “man” and a “woman” in our culture, hoping that their attaining state power would restore “traditional family values;” and also, since the Richard Nixon campaign of 1968, a haven to conscious or sub-conscious racists fearful of the advancement of races they have been traditionally taught to consider less that human, fearful that THEY themselves would be in a subordinate position, and associating certain races to such social maladies as crime and drugs.

The Democratic party? Since the New Deal and the Great Society, the Democratic party has had the aura of carrying out needed social legislation and advancement of traditionally put-down people: workers and unemployed in the 1930s, African-Americans and other minorities in the 1960s. But the Democratic party sought to attain control of these groups and their activities, so that they would not go “too far” against the some political system that benefits BOTH parties, while adopting the proposals of the protest movements.

Now, the Democratic party is once again just as decadent as the Republican party. After the Mondale loss of 1984, “moderate” elements of the party sought to remove from power the so-called “special interest groups,’ a code word for unions, minorities, etc., forming under the banner of the Democratic Leadership Council, at one time led by Bill Clinton. And the same groups, labor, minorities, etc., are told they have NO choice but to still stick with the party, since the Republicans would be FAR worse (setting the bar pretty damn low).

To both parties, the American voter is ignorant, bigoted, and swayed by tough talk against some perceived enemy that really doesn’t pose a threat. Trump, just as much a product of the social-economic elite, thinks the same way about the same people who voted for him, picking up the “birther” movement and cheering on any assaults his followers make on protestors, calling for brute force at home and abroad, and he tries to connect with them-as does every other aristocrat seeking working-class votes-by acting like “I’m just as ignorant as you are” (and indeed, they’re not all that wonderful, in spite of their wealth).

This is the task of REAL American patriots, to make our stand against trump and his minions, but raise American to a higher self, to make it great for all its people; and WW the people, the working and low income people of America, are the TRUE loyal opposition, and WE are the ones who can and will carry this work out.

Bye!

 

Today’s Shooting Tragedy

I am appalled and disheartened by the shootings today in Virginia, where a gunman shot at members of Congress, injuring one of them, and the shooting at the UPS facility in San Francisco. Human lives are precious, and we need to sound the alarm for ending the gun violence that plagues the nation.

Unfortunately, some of trump’s partisans are  making political hay out of the shooting in Virginia, during a fun baseball game among Republican Congress-members.  The shooter supposedly took part in the Bernie Sanders campaign, and Sanders himself stood on the Senate floor to express his outrage at this tragedy and to state his opposition to violence. The right-wing media madhouse is raving that Democrats and liberals conspired to terrorize Republicans and trump; they were quick to jump on this tragedy to bash anyone on their left.

I have a fearful thought-might this tragedy be used by the trump regime to repress its opposition, just as Hitler used the burning of the Reichstag to call for emergency power and establish his dictatorship? I wouldn’t put it past trump or his allies, they don’t have the SLIGHT-EST idea of honor or decency.

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!

 

Serving Notice

Lately there have been comments that since Donald trump has been “elected” President-with the Electoral college vote and have the voting public NOT voting- we who oppose his agenda should be quiet, put up with it, and not complain. There have been protests all around the country of people who oppose trump’s agenda-racist, sexist, homophobic, and downright neo-fascist, judging by the people he has on his staff, like Steve Bannon.

Conservatives act as if their opponents should stay in their place and be quiet; this is true especially about the anti-trump protests, which conservatives have accused of being entirely violent and anti-social; this from the faction that would love the state to use violence and force against their opponents, who have raved all along about staging a revolution if Obama of Hillary got elected, and who feel they have to take their guns for a walk all the time. THEIR violence is supposedly more moral than OUR violence. This accusation of violence is an attempt to de-legitimize the opposition, to say we are not decent and nice people and we should be ignored in public discourse.

What about when Barack Obama was definitely elected President? There were the complains that he was a Muslim from Kenya and not legitimately qualified to be President. From the start, the republican congressional leadership vowed to do everything they could to make it impossible for Obama to govern. SO, why should be accommodate trump?

And the aftermath of the trump victory has seen many incidents of racist intimidation, such as anti-Semitic graffiti, physical assaults on Muslim and African-American people, and taunts and verbal harassment. The trump victory was no mere election but an opportunity for the neo-fascists and racists to crawl from the woodwork and into the mainstream of politics.

Let me be clear-I will join in the protests against the trump agenda, and I will not ask the permission of those who would benefit from it-the plutocrats who benefit from tax breaks what working people have to make up for, and the racists and neo-fascists who enjoy the false of security of “racial superiority.”

Okay, now what?

the elections are over, thank God, and it has been, to use that elegant word, contentious. Hillary Clinton has conceded the election to Donald Trump-an act that Trump himself wasn’t sure he would do if HE lost.

I am NOT please with the Trump victory, and it’s not just a case of “my candidate lost.” AMERICA lost this election, all that has been decent about it. Due to this election, the racists and neo-fascists have crawled out of the baseboards and into the mainstream of political discourse.

Hillary Clinton may have conceded the election-which is the tradition to respect what is left of our democratic tradition. HOWEVER, I will NOT concede my rights to any one, let alone Donald trump, who, in spite of how the media may pretty him up, remains a racist, sexist, ignorant, narrow-minded plutocrat who talks to the American people like they are ignorant yahoos-his political base.

For me, I DEFY Donald trump. I will continue my life and my learning and my activism. I will continue to take part in the issues this country faces. And in the long run, I and the rest of the progressive forces of this country WILL be victorious.

America will be free!