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.

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The Nature of Liberalism

For decades, “liberal” has been bandied about as a term of abuse in US politics. The term “liberal” has been defined as “soft on crime,” “soft on communism,” soft on defense,” and “tax and spend,” among others.

Political figures defined as “liberals” have never challenged the capitalist system; they believed that “capitalism works wonderfully, but we have to fix the problems it creates, such as unemployment, poverty, and corrupt government.” So, liberals have advocated such regulations on corporations as occupational safety and health, pollution, racial and other forms of occupational discrimination, etc. In the liberal scheme, capitalism is monitored, but it stays intact.

The Origins of Contemporary Liberalism in the United States

The New Deal of FDR, coming upon the 1929 Stock Market Crash and subsequent depression and the resulting unemployment of millions of workers, along with the fear of, if not the real possibility of, revolution-was the basis of contemporary liberalism. To head off the danger of revolution or other upheavals by workers and low-income people who lost their jobs and so turned against the economic system, FDR implemented series of programs that collectively were called the New Deal; there was no strategy involved, it was a series of expediencies that took place in order to put unemployed workers to work immediately, and to place corporations under control so that a depression would not occur in the future.

After consulting with the British economist John Maynard Keynes, the FDR administration took the risk of bringing the federal government into deficit, to put workers to work in public works jobs so they would have money to spend in local stores to stimulate the economy. Keynesianism was a doctrinal basis of the New Deal, giving it a strategy.

Throughout all this, the liberals of the FDR administration never challenged the idea of capitalism, , denying that they were seeking “socialism;” but conservatives, through the FDR administration and beyond, complained that the administration was leading the country into “socialism” and eventually “communism,” with its effort to control the worst parts of capitalism and thus avert social upheaval.

The Conservative Reaction To The New Deal

The movement known as “conservativism” also began with the 1929 Depression; but it was a reaction against the New Deal, attempting to reestablish total corporate control without any government regulation, denying that the capitalist system needed any policing, clinging to the faith that the system would correct itself.

Corporate leaders are convinced of their superiority as a class, resisting the idea that they needed policing of their management of their corporations by the government or workers organizing themselves into unions.

Thus, much of what we know today as “liberalism” and conservativism” is descended from the struggle over the New Deal and the 1929 Crash era. The corporations were placed under regulation, but they were never disbanded or nationalized; however, the popular belief in their infallibility, cultivated during the “prosperity” of the 1920s prior to the Crash, fell apart, and many corporate leaders, such as Henry Ford, expressed admiration for the fascist regimes in Europe, admiring how they kept order and averted the communist threat.

Liberalism and Conservativism After The Second World War

After the Second World War, conservatives sought to regroup as a political and intellectual force. During the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, the established economic belief was one of a tripartite system of government, private enterprise, and unions, with the NLRB, workers had the legal right to establish unions for their mutual benefit.

As a movement, conservativism carried with it a sense of superiority, in moral behavior and “knowing how the world really works,” with the aura of past beliefs accepted over decades, ridiculing and mocking liberals for challenging their privileged position or these long accepted beliefs that have been accepted as reality.

Conservatives see the advancement of former outcast groups-workers in the 1930s; African-Americans, LGBT, and women in the 1960s-as interlopers people who stole their rightful position of dominance, and blame liberals for accommodating them and supporting their advancement with the use of the government apparatus; but in the liberal scheme, the rise of the former out-groups is within the established economic and social structure, with the legitimacy of neither capitalism or the government challenged. The dream of conservatives has been to regain their power and dominance. To them, the rise of the former out-groups was conducted by the federal government, under the control of people whom conservatives have lumped together under the title ‘liberal,” whether they truly deserved the title or not. Any concession to the former out-groups was looked upon by conservatives as s sign of weakness, and the conservatives have insisted that the out-groups be smashed down and put in their place.

The real idea of liberalism, however, is to raise up the out-groups within the social system as it is established, while keeping the social system intact, utilizing the federal government and political apparatus to elevate the out-groups; and at the same time, trying to manage and direct the movements of the out-groups, to absorb its members into the political and social apparatus to deal it their issues.

Liberalism and conservativism, consciously or unconsciously, are two sides of a continuum, a line, a gauge, like a thermometer, compatible to the good-cop bad-cop routine you see in police dramas; the “bad cop” tries to terrorize the perpetrator into submission, whole the “good cop” tried to “befriend” and soothe the perp into cooperating with the police, i.e., the state and the society it serves.

Often, socialists, progressives, “radicals,” people favoring more advanced policies than liberals have offered, have gone along with the liberals, for practical purposes of getting the legislation passed in the legislative system, operating through public demonstrations, journalism, scholarly research, and often electoral campaigns; but often the liberals, closer to conservatives in wanting to keep the social-economic system in place, try to control the “radicals,” telling them “don’t go too far,” (whatever that is). At this point, the “radicals” have to decide whether to go along with the liberals, who are closer to the established powers, or go it alone and risk the wrath of the police system and its repression, which often liberals have gone along with? Which actions on the part of the ‘radicals” would be most effective-civil disobedience, street demonstrations, or selective acts of violence against state facilities?

These are no small questions; mainly it would be a matter of tactics. I do not have any answers, I simply want to raise questions.

 

 

 

 

 

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 High Holy Days

The High Holy Days-Rosh haShona and Yom Kippur-are almost upon us. this is the time when we are called to look at our lives, look at how we behaved in the past year, noted where we dome well as people, and where we need to improve.

this is the time to put our mistakes and errors of the past year behind us, and to forgive ourselves of them, and know we can be better people. To any person I may have offended, I ask your forgiveness; and to all who have offended me, I forgive them.

One practice I have is my Resolutions for Rosh HaShona, like the resolutions I write also for the New Year-and for my birthday and Pesach. Here they are:

I will continue conduct myself with self-live, self-esteem, and self respect. I will not be bound by errors of the past, but continue to improve as a person, to think positively about myself and my life, and challenge negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts.

I will continue such spiritual practices as Torah study, yoga, affirmations, meditation, etc.

I will continue my art and business as a writer, seeking journals, attending writing events, practicing writing, etc. I will continue my activism for my various social and political causes.

I will continue to be loyal to Jewish relation, culture, history, Israel, etc.

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.

Moonstone

I have worked for the longest time with Larry Robin and his Moonstone Arts Center, which has been a wonderful forum for poets in the Philadelphia region.

Tomorrow, I shall join over a hundred of the region’s finest poets for Poetry Ink, a celebration of National Poetry Month. It will take place at 12 Noon at District 1199C AFSCME, on 13th and Locust streets. The poets will have copies of their volumes available for sale; please purchase the volumes and support them. The food will be potluck, so please bring something to share.

On Sunday, May 7, will be a reading of poems of protest and resistance, held at the Grass Plaza of Brandywine Workshop, 728 South Broad Street. There will be readings of poems on such themes as women’s issues,  war, immigration, and freedom. Book sales will start at 12 Noon, and the readings will start at 2:00 PM.

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!

 

The High Holy Days

we are coming upon the High Holy days, Rosh ha-Shona and Yom Kippur-the new year, the time for a new beginning, where we re-evaluate our lives, where we look at what we did right and what we could improve on.

I follow the High Holy Days tradition-IF I have offended or harmed ANY person, I ask that person’s forgiveness. AND, if any person out there has harmed of offended me, I forgive them.

Here are my resolutions for Rosh ha Shona:

I will continue to conduct myself with self-love, self-esteem, and self-respect, thinking more positively about myself and my life.

I will continue to be loyal to my various social and political causes.

I will continue to develop my art and business as a writer, with writing practice, prompts, attending readings and seminars, etc.

I will continue to attend all available avenues of education and cultural advancement, such as classes, galleries, libraries, museums, plays, etc.

I will continue to enter other artistic fields, such as acting, photography, etc.

I will continue to consciously attain downtime, for my rest and recreation.

I will continue to go deeper into my Jewish faith and life.

I will continue to develop my personal relationships.

 

 

 

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.

Scalise\’s Dark Knight Casts a Shadow | Brian Levin, J.D.

Scalise didn’t know what David Duke was about? In the politics of Louisiana? That’s the Republican strategy, appeal to racist attitudes while denying being racist.

 

Scalise\’s Dark Knight Casts a Shadow | Brian Levin, J.D.

via Scalise\’s Dark Knight Casts a Shadow | Brian Levin, J.D..