Update, November 8, 2018

On Election Day, November 6, I worked the polls in my division, as Clerk in my division’s election board, helping my fellow board members set up for the voting, and helping people, citizens of our country, exercise their right to vote, which people have died for. It was a long and crazy day, but it was worth it, as I was part of a movement to take our country back from plutocrats and their deranged front man in the White House.

The election results? Not all I hoped for, to be honest; the Republicans, a reactionary parody of their former selves, still have control of the Senate, but the Democrats regained the House; and there are several new members of the House-many of them women, and young, Hispanic, and native-American, reflecting the reality that America is a vast, diverse country, and non-white people are taking part in the system.

Yesterday, I was at the meeting of Philly For Change, at Tattooed Mo, on 5th and South streets. There were no speakers, but we celebrated the victories of our endorsed candidates, Joe Hohenstein and Malcolm Kenyatta in the State House of Representatives. We also discussed he campaign itself,  like how we communicate to voters, the campaign strategy of trump, and how to plan for the elections in 2019.

What concerns me is the temptation by the Democratic congressional leadership to think the old rules of politics-sit down with the other side, make deals, and work something out to get things done-are still in effect. This is no longer the time of Lyndon Johnson, who was able to meet with Republican leaders like Everett Dirksen to pass Civil rights legislation; the republican party had “learned” that the way to get ahead in politics is to slander the opposition, not just way they’re wrong but that they’re evil, and never compromise with them, and force your congressional leaders to take extreme stances-the tactics Newt Gingrich was famous for.

As we progressives are working inside the Democratic party, we must demand some backbone from our leaders, and not give in to their demands for greater tax cuts for the plutocrats; the destroying of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security; the weakening of regulations on the pollution of our air and water; and tolerance for discrimination against racial and religious minorities; we must also push for the end of being close to wall street, to gain campaign contributions, but to overturn the Citizens United decision and stop treating campaign contributions-to the millions of dollars-like “free speech.” We must prepare for a fight, for our families and our democracy.

This is democracy-people, working people, retirees, young people, claiming a stake in the political system that affects all of our lives. It is an opportunity where a neighborhood person,  man or woman you know in your block-such as a retiree-can be a political player. I urge you, in this dangerous period in our nation’s history, to play your role in reclaiming our government and making it work for working people.

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Upcoming October 3, 2018

Tomorrow, October 3, 2018, I’ll take part in the taping of a panel discussion on the show Conversations Across Time, at PhillyCAM (Comcast channel 66, Verizon channel 29/30). This time, we will be ourselves, not playing any roles.

I’ll also attend the monthly meeting of Philly for Change, at Tattooed Mom, 5th and South streets. Speaking there will be State Rep candidate Malcolm Kenyatta, and environmental activist Alex Lola. Plus there will be discussion about volunteer work for candidates in the November 6 elections, where we will urge people to get out and vote.

Philly for Change

On Wednesday, July 11, I’ll join in the meeting of Philly for Change, held at Tattooed Mom, 5th and South streets in Philadelphia. There we will once again discuss such vital community issues as immigration, congressional redistricting, and school funding, in a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. If you are  a progressive and would like to join other progressive activists, I hope you can attend.

Philly For Change

I will attend the monthly meeting of Philly for Change, a progressive activist group, at Tattooed Mom, 530 South Street in Philadelphia, on Wednesday, June 6, 2018. There, we will celebrate the election victories of our endorsed candidates-Malcolm Kenyatta, Brendan, Boyle, Mike Doyle, Dwight Evans, John Fetterman, Elizabeth Fiedler, Joe Hohenstein, Sara Johnson, Rothman, Chris Rabb, and Joe Webster.

Also, we will hear from Senate candidate Tina Davis and Temple Medical Trauma Outreach Coordinator Scott Charles. I hope to see you there.

Philly for Change Meeting

Once again, I will attend the monthly meeting on Philly for Change on Wednesday, November 1, 2017, to be held at Tattooed Mom, 5th and South streets in Philadelphia. This is where you hear guest speakers discuss such issues as gun control, municipal reform, enviromental concerns, and legislative redistricting, as well as progressive candidates for state and local offices. I hope you can attend and see what you can do to improve you community.

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!

Philly for Change

One of the groups I have long been active with is Philly for Change, the Philadelphia branch of Democracy for America, which was founded after the Howard Dean campaign of 2004.

They meet every first Wednesday of the month at the bar-nightclub Tattooed Mom, 5th and South streets in Philadelphia. Tonight, the guests will be Brian Sims, State Representative, who will discuss the state budget issue; Naiymah Sanchez, transgender advocacy coordinator for the ACLU on trans rights; Kate Goodman, of Fight for 15, on the minimum wage issue; and Melissa Robbins of NOW on pay equity.

Philly For Change

Tomorrow I’ll take part in a meeting of Philly For Change, a grassroots progressive group allied with Democracy For America, the organization formed after the Howard Dean campaign in 2004. Once a month we meet and discuss various public issues, such as immigration, gun control, legislative districting, and natural gas fracking, as well as listen to candidates for public office tell us their programs. It’s a great combination of serious discussion and good fellowship. Philly For Change meets every first Wednesday at 7:00 PM, at Tattooed Mom, the bar-restaurant-club on 5th and South streets in Philadelphia.

Philly For Change, July 1, 2015

Among the various activist groups I’ve worked with over the years is Philly For Change, which is the Philadelphia affiliate of Democracy for America, which spun out of the presidential campaign of Howard Dean in 2004. We meet on the first Wednesday of the month, at Tattooed Mom,  5th and South streets in Philadelphia. Here, in a fun relaxed  setting, we discuss important issues such as government accountability and school funding, as well as listen to political candidates give their platforms and we vote on which candidates to endorse and work for. The group’s web site is philly4change.com.

The videos below, found in my YouTube channel, show the previous meeting of Philly For change. The first video is of my friend, Tracey Gordon, running for the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives.