One of my favorite independent bookstores, A Novel Idea on Passyunk, 1726 East Passyunk Avenue ( https://anovelideaphilly.com/ ), is celebrating its first anniversary in business. There has been a great resurgence in independent bookstores in this country, and that’s great-Amazon and the big box stores, like Barnes and Noble, can’t do it all. These little bookstores are the places where up and coming writers and poets display their material , and the book-buying public connect with them. I urge you to support you locally-based bookstores, authors, poets, and publishers, they are the front line of the written arts in this country.
Over the last several decades, the buying power and wages of American workers have stagnated, as productivity increased. It correlates with the decline in Labor union membership in this country; wages and benefits are far better wherever the workers are in a union. Since the air-traffic controllers’ strike of 1981, broken by Ronald Reagan, the Labor movement has faced a decline in members and constant losses in contract negotiations and organizing drives. In spite of the National labor relations Board and other Labor-friendly laws, corporations have worked to make it next to impossible for workers to organize.
We must remember that in spite of its flaws-which body of human beings is perfect? Certainly not corporations-the Labor union movement has been a successful vehicle in fighting for the empowerment of working and low-income people, and a bastion against corporations totally controlling our government for their benefit and at the expense of all other citizens. It’s no wonder that huge corporations and plutocrats, such as the Koch Brothers, have spent billions of dollars to elect their candidates to office to implement their legal drive towards oligarchic rule in this country, along with subsidizing “institutes” and magazines to propagate their message.
That’s why it’s important for workers to organize-these plutocrats an dtheir political handmaidens care nothing for poor, working, and low-income people, and the Labor movement is the perfect force to stand up to them. we can protect workers’ right to organize by advocating the Protecting The Right To Organize (PRO) Act going through Congress-Senate Bill 1306 and House Bill 2474. This bill would:
severe penalties on employers for firing workers engaged in organizing drives; workers have lost their jobs for that;
the end of “captive audience” meetings, when, on company time, workers were assembled and forced to listen to anti-union harangues and propaganda;
allow workers to act in solidarity with workers in other companies;
and allow workers to attain a fair first contract after formally organizing.
This is something that workers and their allies must support. Please call you senator and/or congress-member and have them vote for the PRO Act.
This past election on November 5, I was on my division’s election board, assisting people in working with the new voting machines; somehow, people were afraid that the new system would be too complicated, and that therefore people would not bother to vote-the establishment always sets up impediments to people voting-but I helped them make sense of it, and it really wasn’t so complicated. Turnout was said to be greater than in other off-year elections?
Off-year? All elections are important, and every office, from President down to the lowest municipal row offices, affects our lives, and we have to pay attention to who we elect into office, and stay active in our communities.
This was a great progressive election year: Democrats have taken both houses of the Virginia legislature and the Kentucky governor’s mansion. I got the feeling, “There’s hope after all!”, and others felt the same way. But in past non-Presidential elections, when republicans were voted out, they didn’t take the loss of their power graciously, but tried to subvert the power of the incoming Democratic officials. In Houston, Texas, nineteen African-American women were elected to judgeships last year; this year, Governor Greg Abbott (R) and the legislature introduced a bill that would allow the Governor to appoint judges in Texas’ urban, more racially-diverse counties, while allowing the mostly white conservative counties to elect their judges. (https://www.facingsouth.org/2019/11/texas-considers-ending-judicial-elections-democrats-gain-ground).
I have also followed as best I can the impeachment hearings by the House Intelligence Committee, with the testimony of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Dr. Fiona Hill, highly-regarded veterans in their particular fields of government service, pointing out the efforts by trump himself to demand that the Ukrainian government claim the Hunter Biden, son of former Vice-President Joe, engaged in corrupt business deals with that nation’s oil company, in exchange for military equipment to help Ukraine in their defense against Russia. trump’s threats and corruption have been so blatant, so out in the open, he doesn’t bother hiding them, like it’s a sign of his power, his masculinity, which he’s constantly trying to impress others of-just like Mussolini and Hitler a little under a century ago.
It’s significant that Vindman and Hill are immigrants to this country, and they have shown themselves to be true, patriotic Americans, like many immigrants have been; this challenges the nativism and xenophobia that has long pervaded this country’s history, the fear of the foreign-born for whatever excuse, be it “taking our jobs away” or “they’re not our kind of people.” Plus, it also important that women have led the charge against trump, the “grab ‘em by the pussy’ guy-Hill, Marie Yovanovich (the Ambassador to Ukraine he had removed, and whom he tried to intimidate via twitter while she testified), and Nancy Pelosi. trump’s misogyny is coming back at him.
It gives me faith and hope that there are honorable and decent people in public service-military, diplomatic, and congressional-who aren’t willing to be the sycophants of a wannabe dictator, and who are willing to act by principle to undermine trump’s crimes. But trump’s tendancy has been to honor the most low-down elements of our government, and insult and attack honorable people, like Vindman, Yovanovich, and Hill, for the crime of not putting the vanity of the Glorious Leader ahead of the welfare of the nation.
Case in point: the Navy has tried to punish Eddie Gallagher, a Chief Petty Officer in SEAL Team 7, for war crimes, such as firing upon noncombatants and stabbing a wounded Islamic State fighter. trump intervened in support of Gallagher, along with supporting Army Major Matthew Goldstyn and Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance, in spite of Defense Secretary Mark Esper urging him not to. (https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/17/politics/mark-esper-donald-trump-military-pardons/index.html). The Navy brass carried out a review of Gallagher, seeking to remove his from the SEAL force; Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer tried to cut a deal with trump directly, bypassing the chain of command that was to go through Esper, and was forced to resign-and Gallagher, as trump wanted, retains his SEAL trident pin. The lesson: in this administration, you can commit any crime while trump is in office, and get away with it and be rewarded.
We have to get ourselves ready for next year’s elections, from President on down. That means registering our family and friends, staying conscious of the issues, following the candidates, and THEN going to the polls on Election Day. It would also help if we go out into the streets, like in Beirut, Santiago (Chile), and Hong Kong, where people are out demanding their voices be heard in the halls of government. Like I said, the crooks and despots in power won’t go out quietly, and trump has his followers talking all badass, ready to start a civil war on his behalf as I warned previously. (https://www.lawfareblog.com/armed-militias-are-taking-trumps-civil-war-tweets-seriously)
In short, Americans, we are in a dangerous time in our history-as we were during the Civil War, the Depression, the World Wars, and other periods of upheaval. If we band together, we’ll move this nation to a higher level.
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) has initiated the “Fund Our Facilities” Coalition, or elected officials, unions, and community groups to secure funding for schools to repair and prevent health hazards in Philadelphia public schools. Such problems for Philadelphia students have been asbestos, rodent infestation, sewage leaking, lead paint peeling off, ceilings collapsing, plumbing breaking and flooding rooms, carbon monoxide, electrical and lighting,and the need for cleaning and maintenance staff.
The Coalition is organized to have the state government release funds for the School District to make these repairs, but the Republicans, in their sense of superiority over cities with strong minority communities, refund to release the funds. the fight is on for our kids, who are the future leaders of our communities. The website for more information is https://pft.org/fund-our-facilities/ .
Recently I have taken workshops at the Free Library of Philadelphia-Whitman branch, 2nd and Snyder-in putting together a zine-one of those handmade, little periodicals kids have made and passed around. (Why should kids have all the fun?) The instructor taught us how to fold the sheet into small squares and identify the front, back, and other pages; to cut a slip in the middle fold of the sheet and fold the sheet into a star; then drawing, writing, and pasting material onto the squares, using public domain photos and photos you clip from magazines; and then you photocopy the galley and hand it out.
A great resource recommended for zines is Philly Soap Box, 4700 Kingsessing Avenue, www.phillysoapbox.org. All forms of creativity must be allowed to flourish.