The Mason Missile, June 25, 2022

Greetings, Americans!

Earlier this month, I took part in the reorganizing meeting of the 48th Ward Democratic Committee, in South Philadelphia, and I was elected Secretary of the committee. I’m proud of the assignment, and I look forward to doing my part in urging people in my neighborhood to band together to address the problems they face-gun violence, racism, and the rise of fascism in this country. The members of the committee, who I’m proud to work with, and working-class people committed to dealing with our community’s issues.

We need more of that-activism at the grassroots and shop-floor level, people who are affected by decisions in corporate boardrooms and legislative bodies, where we working people are excluded. That’s the thinking of the billionaire class in this country and throughout the world: they act as if we, low-income and working people, who work in the factories where their products are made, have no business asking about how they run the business. (It’s the tendency shown in the rag of a “novel” by Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged. )

Also, I have been in and out of the national convention of the national AFL-CIO, which took place June 13-15 in Philadelphia, with its theme, “Building The Movement To Meet The Moment”. Here is another area of working people banding together to find their collective power. I heard addresses from Liz Schuler, the new (and first female) President of the federation, who came out of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); and Fred Redmond, the Secretary-Treasurer, who came out of the United Steel Workers (USW).  There was also a panel of younger workers, from various backgrounds, adding their energy to the movement.

So many decisions and policies take place in corporate boardrooms—and country clubs, high-end restaurants and brothels, and golf courses—that serve to fatten billionaires’ bank accounts and stock portfolios, as well as weaken any attempt by working and low-income people to resist these attacks on our rights and our livelihoods.

A terrible example of this is the latest atrocity: The United States Supreme Court has voted 6-3 to overturn the landmark decision Roe v. Wade.    (https://6abc.com/supreme-court-protest-roe-v-wade-philadelphia-city-hall-abortion/11993756/) Don’t think for one minute they won’t overturn other rulings, which, like Roe v. Wade, have been considered “settled law” —voting rights, same-sex marriage, anti-sodomy laws, interracial marriage (like Clarence Thomas’). These nine individuals had the power to decide which laws are legitimate and which are not. It was the same body, though not all the same people, who voted to sustain Citizens United and similar rulings that called unlimited millions in donations to political campaigns “protected free speech.”

This is some fine legal logic—comparing the right to express your beliefs to dumping money on politicians who will do the oligarchy’s bidding! But logic and justice has nothing, NOTHING, to do with sustaining the power of ruling plutocratic elites. For decades, corporations have donated to think-tanks that cranked out press releases attacking environmental laws, unions, LGBTQ rights, and abortion rights; to political movements that raised fears about drag queens in schools, transgender girls in girls’ sports, the “Oppression” of Christians,  the greater prominence of non-white people in America; and to scapegoating people who are a little worse off than we are financially, like mothers on public assistance, or public employees who got their benefits from being in unions. (Hint, hint!)

Thus, we are divided against each other over some lame excuse or another; why be angry at a union workers for their benefits, when you yourself should enter a union to get the same damn benefits? Why bother the same-sex couple who love one another and don’t bother anyone else? Why keep a kid from learning about the world, and about our nation’s real, and bloody, history—and about who and what they truly are? Who is anyone else to decide the workings of a woman’s body, and what she needs to sustain it, and whether she should continue a pregnancy?

All of these issue are critical in and of themselves, but we must also remember the issue of class in our society—and yes, we have our own class of oligarchs, as evil as the crowd around Putin. They would love for us to attack and hate each other, so that  we don’t combine against them. It’s not either/or, it’s another serious issue we have to deal with, for the betterment of our society.

I was there Friday, June 24, for the rally in front of Philadelphia City Hall to protest the court’s terrible decision. The energy and determination of the crowd, with a lot of young people, was strong, and we must keep it up, in the streets, but more importantly in the ballot box.

Does the oligarchic class really think women who just accept passively the end of Roe v. Wade? Do the managers of Apple, Starbucks, Amazon, and others think their workers will continue to accept mistreatment? That LGBTQ people would accept being oppressed again, after the legacy of the Stonewall uprising of 1969? Do they think we’ll passively accept losing the right to vote, among other rights?  Apparently they do; their attitude around social issues is “We don’t want to hear of it or talk about it, and neither does anyone else.”

Yes, we WILL talk about them, we WILL advocate around these issues, and we WILL vote, and we WILL NOT give up our right to vote!

Stay safe, stay strong, and stay together! Slava Ukraini! America will be free! Bye!

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The Praxis With John Mason, July 19, 2021

I speak today about billionaires-Branson, Musk, and Bezos-launching their own space programs, and of the fight to protect the right to vote.

I committed an error: Bezos’ space program is not Blue Horizon, it’s Blue Origins. I’m sorry for the goof.

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Stand Up For Voting!

During the audit of the voting machines in Maricopa County, Arizona-to hunt for non-existent voting fraud, and to find more votes for t—p that weren’t there-a delegation of Republican legislators from Pennsylvania went to observe the whole silly (but dangerous) business of the audit, which ruined the voting machines and the county would have to get new ones. (Genius move, NOT.) State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin County) has demanded from three Pennsylvania counties-Philadelphia, Tioga, and York-to submit to a similar “audit” of their votes, which would cost millions of dollars and raise questions as to who would do the “audit.” Attorney-General Josh Shapiro called it a “partisan fishing expedition” and urged the counties not to go along with it. (https://apnews.com/article/pa-state-wire-pennsylvania-elections-election-2020-government-and-politics-cf7cfe0566c9ef47489d7ecef88165f5?mc_cid=f8e3240d9c&mc_eid=1a031a046f) (https://www.alternet.org/2021/07/a-sham-pennsylvania-ag-torches-state-gop-s-push-for-arizona-style-election-audit/)

Mastiano, by the way, is an ally of t—p, and intends to run in the republican primary in 2022 for Pennsylvania Governor, seeking the votes of t—pist MAGA crowd. This is the crowd that participated in and supported the raid on January 6 into the Capitol, with the idea of-somehow- overturning the will of the people who voted for Joe Biden. That disqualifies Mastriano right there: he believes that the MAGA freaks are the REAL American people and he must go after their votes, therefore, he’s feeding into the “voter-fraud” myth, utilizing such far-right media as Steve Bannon’s podcast and OANN.

Americans, it’s past high time for us to educate ourselves on the real issues the country faces, like gun violence, workers working for poverty wages (and still requiring public assistance), universal health care (especially with the COVID still out there), and infrastructure needing serious upgrades. Then, we organize, and we get out there and vote, and never allow some gang of punks and thugs-be they armed MAGA-heads or state legislators-to intimidate us. The future of our country demands we do so.

person dropping paper on box

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The Mason Moment, June 25, 2021

I speak about the latest bill in Florida demanding that teachers and students register their political beliefs, and about the Freedom Ride for Voting Rights.

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Vote By Mail

Yesterday, I received my mail-in ballot, made my vote, and mailed it to my county’s board of elections. It’s an alternative, in this pandemic crisis, of electing our public officials.  It’s especially crucial to vote during this pandemic, so that we can have leaders who will truly  lead, truly work to help us resolve this crisis, and not soak the public of tax money to line their own pockets (like SOME people lurking around the White House!).

For information about voting in PHiladelhia, you can contact the City Commissioners’ website, https://www.philadelphiavotes.com/.  For the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (“Commonwealth,” meaning the common well-being of the community), go to https://www.votespa.com/Pages/default.aspx.  Let us come together to vote, so that we have officials worthy of us as a people. We deserve it.

person dropping paper on box

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Voting, June 2, 2020

June 2, 2020 is the new date for voting in the primary election in Pennsylvania. It is SUPER important all qualified voters to get out and VOTE, so that we can remove those incompetent fools and thieves who have brought us to this disaster, and we can elect those people who are dedicated to the public well-being (they’re out there).

You can apply for a mail-in ballot or absentee ballot from the state; for information, please go to the website votespa.com for details.

May 18 is the last day to update your voter registration; May 26 is the last day to apply for a mail-in ballot; and again, June 2 is the primary election in Pennsylvania. Please get out and VOTE, for your family, your community, and your country.

Philly For Change, March 4, 2020

I will attend the monthly meeting of Philly For Change, the progressive activist group, tonight at 7:00 PM, at Tattooed Mom, 5th and South streets in Philadelphia.

Present will be:

PA State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta;

Nikil Saval, candidate for PA First Senatorial District;

City Commissioner Lisa Deeley;

Greg Benjamin, candidate for the PA House, 188th District; and

Nikki Bagby, candidate for PA House, 198th District.

There will be discussion of the issues and questions for the candidates, in a relaxed atmosphere. I urge you to participate in the political process, as it affects our everyday lives; and, on Primary Election Day-April 28 in Pennsylvania- I URGE you to vote, to show the people in office that we intend to take back our democracy.

The Mason Missile, November 23, 2018

Greetings!

I hope everyone within the sound of this newsletter voted. I did my modest role in the process; as a committee-person in my division, I handed out flyers throughout my ward, and I served as Clerk in my division’s election board, taping up posters and helping take the information from the machines after the election.

In my division, it was an epic turnout; serious issues were at stake in this election, such as the environment, tax codes favoring the wealthy and placing the tax burden on already stressed working families, dilapidated schools, and aging infrastructure-along with a commander-in-chief who runs the government like a mafia family, who does not honor military veterans or people who died in the service of their country, and whose deepest thoughts are on Twitter (nothing against social media, he’s not that deep a thinker).

But it shouldn’t take an impending national catastrophe to motivate people into voting; politics, and the issues of the community affected by politics, are the concern of each person. Now that the election is (for the most part) over, we can take a breather-burnout and wearing down are problems for activists-then continue our work on educating ourselves on the issues and meeting to plan strategy; politics is not about elections,  it’s about working with, and on, the governing system for the benefit of the entire community.

I’m pleased with some of the results; we didn’t get the Senate, but we have the House, with a new cadre of women members-over 100 at last count; recounts have added to the number. A definite, long-overdue sea change is coming to our politics. We have Sharice Davids in Kansas (Native American and gay), Deb Haaland in New Mexico (Nate American), Rashida Tlaib in Michigan (Muslim) and Ilhan Omar in Minnesota (Muslim and Somali-American),   and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York (Hispanic and the youngest female member elected). In Colorado, Jared Polis (Democrat) will be the first openly gay man to be elected governor of a state (Kate Brown of Oregon is already the first openly bisexual governor of a state). Marsha Blackburn will be Tennessee’s first female US Senator.

The question-Should there be new leadership for congressional Democrats? Often congressional Democratic leaders, like Steny Hoyer and Chuck Schumer, have gone along too much with accommodating Republicans, giving up too much to them; and Majority Leader (and possible Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi does not want to take the radical measures necessary for the country and the economy, like “Medicare for all,” to make our health care system closer to Canada’s single-payer system, preferring to stick with the Affordable Health Care Act (“Obamacare”).

Alas, taking corporate money, and the Clinton “centrist” tendency to imitate the Republicans in accommodating corporations with “free trade” deals detrimental to workers, like the North American free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), have rendered the Democrats incapable of challenging the Republican program.  And so we have been taught that “free trade” is the new normal, the reality we have to accept, and any challenge is just plain silly.

Oh? This new crew of Democrats in Congress hopefully could challenge this belief. But do we have to accept Pelosi as Speaker again? Would any attempt to dislodge Pelosi weaken the Democrats in Congress, at a time when the Republicans are now weakened by their own President, and may not ever recover? This is a great test of political skills for the new crew, to be ready to deal with the established leadership, but from a position of strength, to advance their agenda within the framework of the party caucus.

The party leadership would have to consider first the needs of the American people and the issues Americans face on a daily basis, and the leaders would have to finally be weaned away from the corporate trough. The new members represent the American people as they are-not so affluent, not so white, mainly female, many not heterosexual, and not all of them identifying as Christian. Eventually, with practice of political skills like committee work, public speaking, and negotiating, these newbies will attain leadership positions.

The new congressional crew will have to deal with such serious issues as income inequality, health insurance, dilapidated schools and infrastructure, the environment, factories closing and jobs moving to low wage regions, then overseas (a phenomenon dating back to the fifties and sixties, supposedly a golden age for the American worker). For the good of the nation-seriously-the new crew and the old heads must come together for the people’s welfare. (I’m not an either-or thinker; the new crew and the old veterans have their virtues, skills, experience, and energy.)

This election has also exposed the terrible reality of voter fraud, particularly in Georgia, Texas, and Florida, during their senatorial and gubernatorial campaigns. How interesting it is that while people were exercising the most simple and basic act of a citizen-voting-machines, lost electric power or were not open on time, absentee ballots were misplaced until the deadline for counting them passed, and people suddenly found themselves NOT on the voting rolls, even though they voted for decades. Fortunately, the results of these voting suppression schemes are observed and challenged. And IF these candidates are “elected” by fraudulent means, like Brian Kemp in Georgia (who, while running for Governor, was still the state’s Secretary of State, in charge of the voting system), we don’t have to accept them as the legitimate holders of those offices. This is not about “being a good sport” and “you lost get over it.” This is serious business, not a kid’s backyard ball game. These offices affect how people’s lives work-law enforcement (will it turn into state repression?), pollution, discrimination, you name it.

And do the conservatives think that we the people will take this? NO! We will continue our work of activism, agitation, education, and voter mobilization.  Rest assured I’ll do my part, and if we all come together in this work, we can and will win. Please forgive the cliché, but “Many hands make light work.”  Bye!

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.