The Mason Moment with John Oliver Mason, July 16, 2019

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Showdown Coming?

Would trump rile up his followers-including the white nationalists and neo-fascists-to fight any attempt to remove him from office, either by impeachment or voting out? I wouldn’t put it past him; trump has no knowledge or regard to the political system or American history, no idea of respect for the rule of law or human rights-he is simply a self-centered plutocrat, no different from the crowd around Putin in Russia, who definitely assisted trump in the election of 2016. If he goes down, he’ll try to take the nation down with him, and we must see he doesn’t.

In standing up to trump, the signals are mixed from the Democratic congressional leadership, but other voices are entering the mainstream. Nancy Pelosi originally stated that trump wasn’t work the bother of impeaching-he was the zero he is-a jab at his vanity, which would anger him; now she’s indicated that impeachment is on the table. Is she genuinely warming to the impeachment idea? Is this a subtle threat to trump? I don’t think he has the brains to take the hint, all he understands in brute power, by the State or by the fist.

Our political system is geared towards avoiding violence but towards compromise and working things out to keep things from going too far; but HAVE things gone too far? We are not in normal times.trump wont’ take defeat, and neither will his acolytes.

The Mason Missile, March 31, 2019

Greetings!

Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has submitted his report into the meddling of Russian intelligence systems into the 2016 presidential election favoring trump-I’ll never show him respect!-to his superior, Attorney General William Barr, a longtime Republican asset. Barr released a four-page digest with his own idea of summarizing the report (of at least 300-plus pages)-I, and so many others, would prefer to see the actual report, just as, during the Watergate scandal of the ‘70s, we read the White House tapes. But, even Barr’s summary said that Mueler’s report “does not exonerate him (trump).”

I don’t want to dismiss Mueller, or hype him up; he has been a dedicated and honorable public servant, and I respect his work. It is fortunate that he had to work with a thoroughly corrupt regime. But fear not-there are the investigations of the Justice Department’s Southern New York, and the congressional committees at work, showing the trump doesn’t have the entire federal government under his control-yet; he still has his dictatorial dreams, wanting to be like Putin, Kim Jong Un, Bolsonaro in Brazil, and Viktor Orban in Hungary.

I am galled by the Republicans claiming, with Barr’s four-page summary of two years of investigation, that trump is fully exonerated, while he is not; the Republican base, and its media like Fox News, is talking to itself and listening to itself. I believe even they have a good understanding of how corrupt trump and his crew are, including Ivanka, Don Jr, Eric, and Kushner; but do they care about the future of this country and of the planet? The lessening of health care, education, and job opportunities in this country?  Are they also bullies who worship someone who pretends to be powerful, and so live vicariously through him?

Feeling their sense of entitlement to rule the government without thinking of anyone else’s opinion, the Republicans have demanded that Adam Schiff (D-CA) resign as Chair of the Judiciary Committee-but he’s stood fast against them. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) spoke against the “condescending” and “arrogant” tone of Barr’s letter, and she demanded the full report-as do we all.  (https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/29/politics/mueller-report-secrecy/index.html?utm_source=fbCNNp&utm_content=2019-03-29T12%3A32%3A07&utm_term=link&utm_medium=social&fbclid=IwAR15IldRQdmU6-w_2IvfS1lKZCf7U85ZQ7__FL0rpZ1hCqTe8QdqS_zyZbA) (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/dems-demand-muellers-full-300-pages-mock-scaredy-cat-gop_n_5c9d447de4b0474c08cb2671)

Recently, I joined other Jews, like in my synagogue, Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir (http://www.leyvhair.org/) in celebrating Purim, the rocking, rolling, riotous holiday where we celebrate the downfall of the wicked Haman (Boo!), through the work of the beautiful Esther (Woo hoo!), honoring the downfall of puffed-up despots who want to be worshiped as the gods they’re not. (Like someone we heard of). In a few weeks we will celebrate Pesach, AKA Passover, where we celebrate the liberation of the Jews from slavery-an ongoing theme in history that constantly has to be celebrated in every nation, in every faith, in every era. Let us maintain the spirit of those two wonderful holidays as we fight to win back our country for the people.

Bye!  

The Mason Missile, March 5, 2019

Greetings! I’m sorry to be so late; I’ve been doing my work as a Committee-person for my ward in South Philadelphia. Politics, the process of electing persons who run the community’s affairs, are the concern for all of us.

I was delighted by the defeat of Amazon, in its attempt to establish its second headquarters in New York-specifically, Long Island City in Queens-by neighborhood people protesting the disruption of their neighborhoods and the massive tax breaks, up to $3 billion, that the City and the State would have given the company-a company said to have $11.2 billion in profits (including the upscale grocery store chain Whole Foods), and whose CEO Jeff Bezos is worth $130 billion-rich enough to organize his own private space program, SpaceX. There were also worries by the community and the unions-still the best hope for working people-of low-wage work under stressful conditions-there were reports out about those practices at Amazon facilities-and of disruption of neighborhoods and gentrification.

Working-class and low-income people standing up to a corporate behemoth that, for a while, was valued at one TRILLION dollars, (https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/04/amazon-hits-1-trillion-in-market-value.html), is something to be proud of. Organizations for tenant’s rights, immigrant rights groups like Make The Road NY, and neighborhood groups joined together to stand up to Amazon and for their community. (https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/02/19/organizers-oust-amazon-hq2-new-york?cd-origin=rss#)

Amazon also serves as a poster child for the challenge to the idea that giving corporations tax breaks stimulates the economy, and so state and city governments must offer these to corporations to establish themselves I their communities. That was the way Amazon played it-several cities, including Philadelphia, were on the list to be the site for HQ2, and cities and states offered the company billions in tax breaks. A report by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) shows that Amazon, with all its billions, has not paid a single cent of federal income taxes last year. (https://itep.org/amazon-in-its-prime-doubles-profits-pays-0-in-federal-income-taxes/) Moreover, Amazon has received a tax REBATE of $129 million.

Another bad example of corporate socialism is Foxconn, the Taiwan-based manufacturer of pasts for Apple. The original deal was that, according to Governor Scott Walker (with Donnie trump going along), Foxconn would set up a factory that would create “up to 13,000” manufacturing jobs, mainly for display panels; for that it company would have the incentive of tax breaks from the state, worth $3 billion, along with three-quarters of a billion from local municipalities. But all of a sudden, Foxconn executives announced that the company would make the site into a research and development “hub,” which would hire approximately 1,000 technical employees. Billions of dollars lost, elected officials groveling to foreign capitalists, hopes raised for jobs for workers who have no jobs-for nothing. ( https://thinkprogress.org/factory-wisconsin-foxconn-billions-to-build-eea422ff0cef/)

May I introduce you to one of the most influential-and malignant-economic thinkers you never heard of: economist James McGill Buchanan, who did his work out of George Mason University. (https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/meet-the-economist-behind-the-one-percents-stealth-takeover-of-america) . Buchanan, like Milton Friedman, Friedrick Hayek, Ayn Rand, and Ludwig Von Misis, has been an influencer to the economic elite, advocating absolute “free market” capitalism, at the expense of workers and community people.

Buchanan has projected upon workers, social activists, and similar enemies of conservatives the traits of utter selfishness-to him, they are people who want to take property away from its owners for their own benefit-but are the capitalists, the owners of said property, not being selfish in bleeding workers and community people for their profit being selfish? Property owners-oligarchs-must, said Buchanan, be protected from working-class and low-income voters standing up for their rights-which, to Buchanan, would lead to tyranny, and so protecting the property of plutocrats-who wouldn’t be where they were without their workers-was defending liberty.

And in defending his idea of “liberty,” Buchanan had the support of Charles Koch-you know, of the Koch brothers-and worked against such threats to “free enterprise” as the environmental movement, feminism, public education, Social security and Medicare, and the civil rights movement-blatant racism was a loser in publicity, so Buchanan’s patrons utilized the arguments of “controlling government spending.” Buchanan’s ideas were antithetical to the idea of utilizing the state apparatus for progressive ends, for the public weal; but he was happy to be an advisor for the brutally repressive Pinochet regime in Chile, and he supported the repression of low-income and working people organizing themselves for their benefit.  

The 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has come and gone, and there was none of the defense of tradition that is supposed to epitomize what “conservative” is supposed to mean.  There was the old scare of “socialism,” updated to include terrifying pictures of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes, and distorted interpretations of the proposed Green New Deal.

One rock-star speaker was Sebastian Gorka, a former trump advisor and member of the Vitezi Rend, a Hungarian group founded by that nation’s pro-fascist (and anti-Semitic) dictator Miklos Horthy; members of the group were declared “Inadmissible” into the United States by the State Department. (  https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/trump-anti-terror-adviser-a-sworn-member-of-nazi-allied-group-1.5449737) But that did not stop Gorka from raving against how he interprets the Green New Deal; “They want to take your pickup truck, they want to rebuild your home, they want to take away your hamburgers! This is what Stalin dreamt about!” said one of the deep thinkers of conservativism today.

Michelle Malkin, another right-wing pundit, raved about the “invasion” of immigrants, both legal and illegal; “Both parties are to blame,” Malkin proclaimed, “and yes, I’m looking at you, retired Paul Ryan. And yes, I’m looking at you, Mitch McConnell. And yes, I’m looking at you, Bush family. And yes, I’m looking at you, the ghost of John McCain.” The crowd cheered at that-an attack on people who were as conservative as themselves, but they disowned them when it suited their purpose. (  https://www.huffpost.com/entry/cindy-mccain-john-mccain-cpac-speaker_n_5c7c225ae4b0614614db7900)

The fear of the “Other,” of dark-skinned immigrants, who don’t look like themselves, was in Malkin’s speech. (Malkin, by the way, is of Filipina extraction, yet she used rhetoric worthy of David Duke. Hmmm…) Blatant white nationalists-like Peter Brimelow, of the racist web site VDare; Gavin McInnes founder of the Proud Boys, the white nationalist thug gang; and Faith Goldy, who has been on podcasts of the racist web site Daily Stormer- people who conservatives of an earlier era would have shunned, roamed the halls of the conference, denying the value of diversity and treating it as a plague. And during the conference, there were reports of harassment of Muslims and LGBTQ people by CPAC attendees. (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cpac-harassment_us_58b7360fe4b0284854b3a2a4?fbclid=IwAR3B2uOpF77FJXBsq5NRV36bJYREya5R887z7y37RBdylEZ61CYFt3UJp5E)

THIS is what there up against; and our commander in chief is their enabler and hero. Let us continue to organize, to study the issues, and fight against this menace to our liberties.

Bye!

Boycott Airlines?

The shutdown of the federal government goes on, due to tRump’s insistence that a wall be built to protect us from immigrants seeking a better life than political repression, criminal gangs, domestic abuse, and corruption in their homelands. Included in those federal employees deemed “essential”-they have to work without pay during the shutdown-are TSA agents, the people who check airlines for security, and air traffic controllers.

What kind of morale could they have, working for nothing for a President who uses them like poker chips in a big political poker game? What kind of stresses could they be having-included with doing their jobs, they have to also worry about feeding the kids, paying the mortgage and bills; but certain members of CONgress, and definitely our commander-in-chief, don’t have to worry about that stuff. They are the handmaidens of corporations who pay them off to weaken regulations on food, occupational safety, mines, financial transactions, and environmental quality; and who skew the tax laws in their favor.

Included in these corporations are air lines. I propose boycotting air travel, since the quality of air travel safety is too compromised, and the stresses on TSA workers and air-traffic controllers are too great, to be relied on. It will relieve pressure on the TSA and air traffic workers, who are already too stressed to do their important jobs effectively; and it will pressure the airline companies to pressure tRump to give up his stupid-ass border wall. I think it’s an idea worth kicking around.

Delta Airline GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Border Wall Blues

trump refuses to give up on his precious border wall with Mexico, because such pundits as Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, presumably speaking for trump voters, complained about any backing down on the construction of the wall. He’s also talked about closing the border with Mexico entirely-that reminds me of East Germany during the Cold war period.

This is not the act of a responsible leader, but of someone who is desperate for whatever support he could get, since Mueller is on his trail, and established Republican leaders are souring on his stupid foreign policy moves, like the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Syria, to appease such despots he admires like Erdogan of Turkey and Putin of Russia. He has to play tough for his voters-what would he use them for? A crude militia if he IS impeached? I would put nothing past him. The rules of politics in this country have been long gone.

For this stunt, over 800,000 federal employees are without paychecks; these are not the evil “bureaucrats” the right wing myth factory whines about, but people trying to do the best job they can for the community, often with not all that much pay; people who have mortgages and groceries to pay for, and kids to support. But don’t worry, CONgress and the inmates in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue still get their pay. That’s something to think about this new year.

Blue Gif Artist GIF by Erica Anderson - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Q Conspiracy Theory

During the rally trump held in Tampa, his supporters wore t-shirts with “QAnon” on them. this is a reference to the latest conspiracy theory, favored by trump supporters, which says that an official in military intelligence circles-know simply as Q- is feeding everyone “information,” through the social networks 4chan and Reddit (favorites of right-wing extremists),  of a fight between trump, Robert Mueller, and the military brass on one side, and Bill and Hillary Clinton, Hollywood liberals, billion-dollar corporations, the “deep state,” and a child sex-trafficking ring on the other; that Mueller is not really targeting trump, but has secretly indited the Clintons. This idea all began in 2016, when a gunman raided and shot up a pizza parlor in Washington, thinking it was the center of a child sex slave ring.

Conspiracy theories have a long and sorted history in this country; our own “President” was a leader of the “birther” conspiracy theory, that Barrack Obama was a Muslim born in Kenya. There have been conspiracy theories centered around Jews, the Catholic Church, and Communists (with some overlap between them). Added to this is the decades-long conservative campaign against the mainstream news media for not “reporting” the news according to their bias, and so the followers of trump and his cronies have to get their “news” from some other source, other than a reliable news organization, in order to make any sense of what goes on in the world.

America’s Shame, July 16, 2018

Donald Trump, supposedly the President of the United States, went to Helsinki to meet Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia and the man helpful to donnie’s getting elected, with the Russian intelligence agents hacking the DNC and the Clinton campaign. In the press conference after the meeting-where there were no one else but interpreters, no foreign policy advisers-donnie commended Russia’s hosting the Word Cup, and took the word of Putin, the former KGB agent-you remember form the Cold war era, the KGB were the villains- over the findings of US government intelligence agencies-the same government donnie is supposed to be running-whether or not the Russian intelligence agencies sabotaged the election of 2016, jeopardizing what’s left of our “democracy,” thus installing a business failure-racist-misogynist-realty-show clown as president.

(Plus in the press conference, trump once again went off on a tangent about beating Hillary Clinton, like he’s campaigning again-but when does he ever stop campaigning?)

trump always had a soft spot in his “heart” for dictators and authoritarians, whether they be Kim John-Un, Erdogan, Recep Dutarte, Ix Jinping, or Putin. “Like takes to like,” as they say, and THESE are the role models trump is trying t follow.

Americans! Let’s stand up for our rights! Don’t wait until November, start NOW! Hit the streets, write to your editors, visit your elected officials!

The 4th of July, What To Do About It

Independence Day, July 4th, the day where we celebrate our liberties, is tomorrow. I said “liberties;” what do we have to celebrate right now? we have a “President” who talks like some drunk in a bar at 3 AM; who brags of his deal-making genius, but has been conned by North Korea, which is continuing its nuclear program, while he called off military exercises with South Korea; who tells his supporters at rallies, “Knock the crap out of them,” and glorifies the days when you can beat up your political opponents; who, daring to call himself a “populist,” brings mockery to that idea by supporting a tax cut for the wealthy, while also supporting cuts in Social security, Medicare, and other pro-people programs; who appoints people into certain agencies who oppose that agency’s mission, such as Scott Pruitt at the EPA; who supports the separation of children from their parents, causing untold suffering to both parents and children; who makes religious and racial minorities, and fine, hardworking journalists into scapegoats for his supporters to hate-the list goes on.

Protests has come about, and are not stopping, against the Muslim ban in immigration, against the taking of the children of immigrants, against the racism he encourages, against the disrespect he has shown to women, among others. Such examples are the confronting of Stephen Miller and Krisjen Nielsen in MEXCAN restaurants for the immigration policies, marches and pickets at ICE offices-all in the finest traditions of American protest. But of course-it’s as predictable as snow in December-people would say, “You’re being too confrontational, it’s not nice what you’re doing, it plays into trump’s hands.” It’s a subtle hint for us to be quiet.

I’m sure the agitators who helped to start our OWN revolution also heard talk like this; but they kept at it, they prevailed, and so our country was formed. Our enemy must not dictate to us what our strategy should be, and we must never stop standing up for what is right, and to what is wrong.

This is serious business, and we should treat it as such; but, we must also take a break and relax, and be fresh for the ongoing fight, so enjoy your 4th.