• On Making St. Valentine's Day a National Holiday

    This blog was originally written in 2011 and rerun a few times at this page's predecessor, WordsUnLtd.com. Here it is again, ripe for the ages until this day of love receives the importance it deserves for honoring love above all else. Three cheers to Hallmark Cards for popularizing it as much as it has been!

    Valentines Day
    Valentines Day
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    It is one of those times that I know a holiday is within me waiting for expression to its depths.

         There are saints backgrounding several of our major holidays--I consider this one the biggest of them all, for what is our ultimate wealth, joy, stability, prism, magnifier, if not love?

         What was Jesus' message if not love?

         There is All Saints' Day embracing Halloween; St. Patrick's Day, Christmas--Jesus the ultimate saint for many of us, St. Nicholas having jumped on his sleigh only a few hundred years ago.

         There is a Saint Lucia important to the Nordic Christmas, and so on. I'm thinking literally now--not in terms of how sainted our laborers and military have become. That's another article.

         St. Valentine, martyred for giving, martyred for activating love.

         We need to start a movement to make St. Valentine's Day a national holiday. If we tweak our priorities and perhaps turn it into St. Valentine's week--imagine.

         To observe this week-long holiday, we will have to activate love conscientiously every day, every night. We will all get the week off, but hardly a vacation. No trips to the Caribbean. Maybe lots of babies will be born in November.

         But we can create all sorts of ways to celebrate this week. Perhaps it will become the most crime-free of all fifty-two.

         We must be careful not to go any farther into the materialistic aspect than we already have. And then be sure all Valentines not kept are judiciously recycled in a special compost heap of love. What can we do with that?

         We need effective, charismatic leadership to actualize this idea. I'm just a writer. Presidents' Day has been around for years (I remember the days when the two birthdays were celebrated separately, without a three-day weekend). What do we accomplish by lumping Washington and Lincoln with all the other presidents? Not much. "Back in my day" (I don't believe I'm writing this, but Soc. Sec. is just around the corner), we studied Lincoln on Lincoln's birthday, and Washington on Washington's--who tells the story about the cherry tree anymore, or about Lincoln's proverbial and literal burning the midnight oil to educate himself?

         On MLK Day, we have a single focus and a very meaningful experience of another martyr who preached love and nonviolence. All kinds of love lump together far better than do all kinds of presidents.

         I don't know what I'd do with this amorphous creature Presidents' Day. I don't mean to belittle it.

         February is the most holiday-ridden month of the year, though no match for the holiday rush that precedes the materialistic aspect of Christmas--as I've said before, all that spending and gift wrapping are a form of activated love, but not at its highest level.

         We need to learn to give at that level of intensity and quantity at higher levels. We need to learn so much.

         Ideas are most welcome. Shall we draw up a petition to send to Congress? Will it resonate with the top one percent? Will they turn on a giant fan and liquidate all their billions to occupy the lower airs, line birds nests, change lives--these metamorphosed Scrooges must stipulate where the money is to go, to higher levels than the next vertical or horizontal mall.

         The Egyptians have given peace a chance as the whole world watches and wonders.

         Now it's time to give love a chance, too.


  • 12/12, a Dark Day for America and the World

    From flickr.com: Unique disaster {VID-176973}

    On December 12, 2000, after a protracted presidential electoral process  corrupted by nepotism and rampant Republicanism—hanging chads and the Brooks brothers riot, the “Jews for Buchanan” fiasco and votes stolen from 54,000 Blacks falsely disenfranchised as felons [but never prosecuted]—Bush v. Gore was decided in favor of George W. Bush by SCOTUS and the candidate who lost by 500,000 popular votes was allowed to ascend.

    Justice Sandra Day O’Connor had been overheard at a cocktail party asserting that she wouldn’t retire if Bush lost and Scalia had claimed that the recount in process ordered by the Florida supreme court, which would have resulted in a victory for Gore, would do “irreparable harm” to Bush.

    Irreparable harm was done to the world instead, as disasters proliferated under the Bush regime.

    9/11 happened as if to “wag the dog” to distract from the administration’s domestic ineptitude. One of its first actions was to lower taxes on the super-rich. Human life was devalued first at home and then internationally. 

    What if Gore had been elected fairly? Surely no utopia but far better hypothetically. The entire meme and language of stolen elections that resulted from the 12/12 decision, was eventually appropriated by Donald Trump with disastrous results, including the January 6, 2021 insurrection.

    Today, googling election integrity brings up Republican distortions and the original opposition to election corruption has been obscured if not forgotten. But the activists persist, working with the “new generation” to cling to rational and ethical procedures where possible.

    Corruption in government has always existed. But milestones of aggravation and destruction blemish history, so much of them ignored or suppressed. 

    Had the 12/12 decision been ethical, who knows where we’d be now?

    What a way to bring in a new millennium.

  • Navel-Gazing on NEVER and Mortality

    From flickr.com: Never {VID-176964}  

    Have you ever surveyed cars whizzing past you on a highway and realized you’d never meet any of the drivers? Never. This “never” applies to souls you pass on busy city sidewalks as well and where else?

              NEVER pervades our reality. We will NEVER know its ultimate nature. Where do we really come from? Theories abound. Was there ever really NOTHING?

         What we do know is miraculous—mathematics, for example, which defines infinity in its own way and entails many other forms of NEVER, including irrational numbers like pi, whose decimal places never end. Math is a cell at the tip of a fingertip of what there is to know. Among other things, we won’t last long enough to learn enough to get around the infinite forms of infinity because we’re busy self-destructing. Someone must emerge to combat that as a unit—probability implies the possibility, but beyond that, there is sadly evidence that many civilizations comparable to ours throughout the universe have already self-destroyed.

         Isn’t it amazing that astronomers have figured that out from microscopic specks found by their telescopes? Mars is yielding up that secret about itself, scientists say.

         The most erudite people on Earth don’t even come close to knowing everything, which a classmate of mine accused me of back in first grade. I was Marta-Smarta, but brushed off that compliment.

         Even Goethe didn’t know everything, though he encompassed the sciences, humanities, and arts. It’s all one lump really, all of those thirds we segregate. Someday they’ll be of a piece if we can send the Doomsday Clock backwards.


    Then there are all the people we’ve met and even known well whom we’ll never see again. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it’s sad. Facebook is great for looking them up without contacting them to find out what they’re up to. Google works, too, though most of us share names with several others, entailing a long and daunting search.

         And speaking of childhood, way back when, I challenged Death to a fight and lost. I would squeeze my eyes shut and exhort time to stop: “Now’s now and it’s going to stay now!” It never did. I got old. Consciousness, so ephemeral. Marta the child was so scared of Death sometimes she couldn’t sleep at night and would run down the steps to her parents sitting in the living room watching television. They warmly allowed me to stay without asking what was wrong. I didn’t dare tell them. Angst. 

         This child also found herself pitying her family’s garage door because it lacked consciousness. Never would it have an ‘Ich.’ Pity mixed with grappling absurdity. Again: the disease of ‘Never’ that plagues us all, more or often less.

         There’s always belief in an afterlife and any number of people who swear to it through firsthand experience. I drift in and out of that security. It’s possible.

         Somewhere out in the universe, other beings may know what we never will. I want to know all that. NEVER will. I coexist with my own infinities—the universes that may inhabit my fingertips, the infinite amount of knowledge I’ll never have.           

         Again, others out there in telescope-land and beyond may know everything.

         Is that a consolation? 


    I lived in Atlanta during my senior year in high school, for just a year. As I was moving on, the city was building its rapid-transit system, MARTA. I took comfort that everyone I knew there would be using my name in casual conversation for a long time to come and for at least part of that time might think of me at each mention of it. But the few times I rode on MARTA, no one thought it all remarkable that I was named Marta when I announced it. Once I told a driver my name and asked if I could ride for free. “Get on,” he said so dismissively that I paid. Another time I turned to a woman sitting next to me and told her my name. “My name is Jane,” she responded pleasantly. We chatted on—another stranger I’d never see again.

         I once wrote:                                

    Death of a sudden peered / Through the drift of melody /  “Boo, remember me?” he leared …

    I forget the rest—the meter abruptly expanded into longer lines--but death still interrupts my routines and rituals and busy-ness during the day.

         Boo! Being an Earthling isn’t easy. Stay busy and physically active so you can sleep at night.

         All the thinking and studying in the world won’t transcend what we know and can know. But they will try. Even I have always tried.

         I’m going to watch television and forget about it for half an hour.


  • "The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party": John Nichols on E2022

    John Nichols
    John Nichols
    (Image by Joe Mabel)
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    Progressive journalist and prolific author John Nichols, national affairs correspondent for The Nation, addressed the 144th townhall of the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) Sunday, on the ups and downs of the "red ripple" that, he said, salvaged the status quo for America, preserving social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and environmental concerns.

    A week before, he was just wondering how many positions the Democrats would lose. "This election is why I love politics," Nichols said, calling the results "rare and wonderful," the best midterm outcome since FDR's in 1934, though multiple parties were running then in the midst of the Great Depression.

    With the Senate majority won Saturday night in Nevada, Democrats can approve judges, cabinet members, and ambassadors and even negotiate with the fractious Republicans who will probably control the House. Speaker McCarthy will be boxed in by the Freedom Caucus but more moderate Republicans may be reachable for bipartisan measures.

    Democrats swept secretary of state offices, so crucial because most of them are in charge of elections. Two governorships were added and three or four state legislatures turned blue and none flipped to the GOP that hadn't been there before.

    Issues of inequality, the climate crisis, and the Pentagon's voracious hold on the budget won't change, said Nichols. Why not more progress? He blamed structural failure among Democratic elites, who overspend on TV advertising while devaluing vital grassroots support that could have won Mandela Barnes of Wisconsin a Senate seat, for example. The racist, xenophobic campaign waged against him outspent Democrats by $10 million. The difference in vote totals between winner and loser was 26,000 out of more than two million. A similar outcome kept Cheri Beasley from winning in North Carolina.

    Republican ingenuity publicized fake or marginalized polling results to influence Democrats' allocations also. Democrats needed to concentrate on rural and small-town locations, where many more votes could have been won and with them a majority in the House. "The Democrats have a narrow vision of their true base."

    Moreover, Nichols said, the Democrats lacked a coherent message weaving together issues of concern to everyone: They ran as "not Republican," rather than on issues like inflation, entitlements, the future of democracy, and abortion. Fetterman's successful campaign was based on such issues: healthcare, the right to join unions, legalization of marijuana, criminal justice reform, women's choice, and the future of democracy. He went to rural counties and small towns.


    Elections in this country are more popular worldwide than the World Cup (which begins next week). Biden will probably be energized by this historic gain and run to stay in office in 2024, though we must be vigilant in case old age wears him down, Nichols said. Bernie Sanders has said he won't run for president unless Biden steps aside.

    Turning to the vital importance of the youth turnout that so steered electoral results, Nichols urged PDA to prioritize them--its "single best investment." Had those aged 45 and over prevailed, more Republicans would have won. Thirteen percent more of those aged 65 and older voted Republican rather than Democratic, as did 11 percent more of the 45-65 age group. PDA should base themselves on college and high school campuses and workplace venues where young people are likely to go if they skip college.

    PDA must work harder, Nichols said, at opposing Democratic corporate power. For Election 2022 between $17 and $18 billion was spent. Campaign finance reform is imperative. The voting age should be lowered to 16. Trump, who specializes in belittling Republicans, will destroy DeSantis--don't write him off.

    And there's one thing more powerful than money in politics. It's gerrymandering, which is the fight of democracy. In gerrymandered Wisconsin, Nichols's home state, if Democrats win control of the supreme court next spring they will be able to outlaw gerrymandering. 

    In short, PDA, focus on youth, gerrymandering, and courts. In addition to everything else.

  • Election Day, the Lottery, Nature vs. “Culture”


    Many harbingers, okay, events, surround Election Day this year. First, Powerball stakes skyrocketed to more than $2 billion. I entered and lost, new to the game and wanting to trade the issues of “making ends meet” with those of a tree that would be inundated by fungi—that is, my whole karass would convert me into a human wallet.

    “I’d rather be rich and miserable than poor and miserable,” my father used to say.

    After Powerball, or simultaneous with it, came the last lunar eclipse until 2025. We’d see a reddish full moon gradually shadowed over. I carefully noted the time of visibility and stumbled out of bed to greet it at 5:30 am, but when I peered through the slat of my vertical blinds, I was blinded by a harsh light from the top of a neighboring building. I couldn’t make out anything else.

    Step two: another bust. I staggered back to bed after glancing at my cellphone to see ifthe winning lottery ticket had been drawn. It hadn’t.

    Up this morning slowly because of interrupted sleep, I next focused on this day of all days, Election Day. My polls are right on the acreage of my apartment complex. Few people vote there but enough to support its presence. I strolled over to take some pictures—having voted by mail weeks ago—expecting little “action.” I turned out to be it when I asked the front desk if I could photo the room with the machinery and was told to go ahead.

    Once there, I was told harshly to stop—no photos. Go outside where there are signs. Sure, I said. No problem. I didn’t blame their coworker. Blame games are becoming more and more irrelevant to my life, though not to politics. What is campaigning but blame games even more than vital issues?

    So I photoed the signage. Interesting arrangements. The ones advocating Democratic candidates, scarcer than GOP ones, greeted drivers as they pulled up to park but were to the right of the portion of the building where people were voting; GOP ones fronted that area in a neat horizontal row. Then at the parking lot exit, a vertical row of them saluted voters.

    If I didn’t know the political orientations of residents nearby, I would have guessed it.

    So I wended my way home along the winding path that passes the Delaware River. There an array of trees posed for pictures: a stately birch alone among other varieties, embraced by a smaller, gnarled tree about a third of its height. What did that mean?

    Should I personify it?

    I thought of the “woodwide web” formed by trees communicating and sustaining each other via fungal threads, a theory first offered up in the late 1990s by ecologist Suzanne Simard among others. Could I extend this to a tableau of tribute beng paid to a lofty birch by lowly ones with dark-hued bark? Racism perhaps?

    I passed by a self-effacing black woman once I walked further. I wanted to tell her not to forget to vote but remained silent though I hoped she was en route to the polls and not intimidated. Racism lurks barely below the surface of this year’s election—so what else is new?

    I came home to find out that someone in California won the lottery with a perfect ticket. I had purchased my ticket online and allowed for random numerical arrangements. My lucky numbers weren’t winners anyway this time. Maybe I should stick to the state lottery and settle for a jackpot of millions. Yes, I’d settle for millions. Even less, but not by too much.

    Rightwing reactions to the election won’t nurture our democratic ideals. That fungal web has other agendas, more like our more traditional imagery of fungi. Many are poisonous. And so on. Some are delicious … like democracy.

    A hurricane is forecast to hit Florida and then proceed northward to Georgia and produce heavy rain farther north. That’s later this week, just when all the mail-in ballots are being counted and controversy inevitable as the host of election-denying candidates contest (violently?) winners other than themselves. November, usually the tail end of the hurricane season, will be stormy at that level if not literally. Winter follows. I’m told it will be a rough one.

    For democracy?

  • Another [Temporary] Escape from Doomsday Dread

    From flickr.com: Teeth {VID-176489}

    (image from Flikr)

    One remedy for despair over the horrors worldwide and domestic is to go to the dentist for your semi-annual cleaning.

    The technology has evolved to a needle-like device that sprays water at and between your teeth as it probes for plaque and God knows what else. It is screechy loud. That is step one. Oh, please don’t hit a nerve!

    How can I be wishing that this hour will pass? I ask myself. How can I wish my life away?

    Next come all the pointy instruments sterilely packaged in cellophane—those things that jab at you as you again dread a nerve being hit, which today I compared to listening to ragged fingernails scratching a blackboard. Why is that sound such a horror? So is a nerve being hit  and that worst of all possibilities, one of those needle-like implements getting caught in a tooth. A cavity. Fillings are such fun also. I once had one done without anesthesia. I must have been crazy.

    But back to the cleaning: Skreeeee! Oh get your fingernail out of my lip! Why don’t you manicure your nails shorter? Ouch.

    Finally, the fun part. Rinse out and then …  time to floss! Two feet of floss for one mouth? Then toothbrushing time! But oh, you’ve got to be kidding—strawberry flavored? I’m probably the only person in the world who dislikes strawberries. But the taste is mild and still the best part of the ordeal until … the end! Rinse out! Ptui!

    No cavities, everything else normal: tongue, neck glands, whatever else the man dentist, who enters dramatically afterward, was looking for. Oh, please don’t find anything!

    Clean bill of oral health. They’re all out of free toothbrushes and miniature containers of floss, but here’s a travel-sized tube of your favor toothpaste brand. Thanks. 

    Free for another six months. 

    I’ve been going to the same dentist off and on since the mid-nineties. I first went to him for a toothache. A total stranger. Then I looked up at the guy bent over my teeth and saw the handsomest man I’d ever seen in my life. Surprise. Not that getting a filling was pleasant but the shock was. His wife at the front desk was extremely pretty. So going to the dentist was at least esthetically pleasing after that.

    I strolled out into an achingly beautiful autumn day, the sky sharply blue, the foliage peaking. Then reality came crashing down. Back into this pathetic, doomed reality of our poor old world we’ve plundered so badly.

    Putin’s accusation that Ukraine will be using dirty bombs on his country reminds me of Bush Jr.’s “WMD” hoax that led to the Iraq war and all the hell after that. This time the Doomsday Clock’s hand is even closer to that twelve.

  • Congressman Jamie Raskin: "Thank you, PDA, for hanging tough"

    Jamie Raskin
    Jamie Raskin
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    [It all boils down to this:] "Voting is like driving: if you want to go forward, you put it in D; if you want to go backwards, you put it in R."--Jamie Raskin

    The 115th session of the Zoom group Grassroots Emergency Election Protection Coalition (GREEP) featured Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who gained national prominence recently as lead manager in the second set of impeachment hearings against Donald Trump in the wake of the January 6, 2021 insurrection. Farther back in time, Raskin also helped found the Progressive Democrats of America, in the company of two other pioneer activists, Mike Hersh and Joel Siegel. Most of the session focused on the upcoming elections, expectably, as well as MAGA's fascistic threats against our democracy.

    The majority of this country are on our side, Raskin began; youth are registering Democratic at a ratio of two to one; all are moving in our direction. The Republican Party has been reduced to a cult of authoritarian personality around Donald Trump, a huge dive from its origins as Lincoln's party. Rightly did Biden accuse them of semi-fascist elements: "It the shoe semi-fits, you semi-wear it!'

    He named actions like the attacks on early voting, weekend voting, and the mail-in ballot as well as voter challenging (happening in Georgia), gerrymandering, and the filibuster as large symptoms of the decay of democracy we must fight against.

    We need more Democrats in the Senate to codify Roe v Wade and promote gun safety. The GOP thrives on the Electoral College, responsible for installing five popular-vote losers as presidents, two Republicans in this century alone. Gerrymandering isn't in the Constitution, but the Electoral College is. Presidential campaigns focus on swing states almost exclusively: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and aa few others. We export democracy hypocritically while whittling it down at home. We must have direct elections, which are indeed "democracy itself." 

    For Biden democracy may seem static (as he implied in a speech a few weeks ago), but for Tocqueville it was expanding or shrinking 150 years ago. Raskin specified six Amendments out of many that expand democracy: numbers 15, 17, 19, 23, 24, and 26. We must get back on that track--to a sea change that statehood for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico would accomplish, for example. We must add an amendment on the right to vote and restore the Voting Rights Act back to the full strength that SCOTUS gutted in 2013.

    "There is no solution to the ills of democracy except for more democracy." We're fighting to keep it this way.

    Joel Siegel, co-convener of GREEP and former lead counsel to Congressman John Conyers, asked Raskin to specify, as a Constitutional scholar (a former professor of Constitutional law before he became a state senator in Maryland), what exact federal laws Trump had violated with the January 6 insurrection: Conspiracy to interfere with a federal proceeding, the official counting of the electoral votes?

    Raskin replied, a federal statute. Halting the proceedings was the whole point of the Stop the Steal movement. "He pointed them like a loaded gun at the Capitol; he knew that they were armed. Bring down the magnetometers, bring down the metal detectors. He had been mobilizing [the opposition]. They sharpened the United States flag into weapons," the Congressman said. They have been accused and convicted of seditious conspiracy, to overthrow the US government. There is a very powerful circumstantial case to be made against them and 150 have already been prosecuted. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice are in a position to prosecute any federal crimes that they see. Many of those prosecuted point to Trump as instigator who forced them to do what they did: "If I'm guilty, then Donald Trump is guilty." And he's facing many other charges, including bank fraud, real estate fraud, and election fraud.

    Another question from Siegel concerned the possibility of limiting the power of extremist groups and their violence against minorities. Why should they be allowed to threaten voters? Aren't there limitations we can put on these groups before it's too late? All 50 states ban "private" militias, Raskin said; this is made very clear in the Constitution. These can be banned. They must be banned at the federal level too. They can be prosecuted but also sued, and many such groups have been bankrupted by this process. This is probably the best way to put them out of business.

    The next subject was Georgia, a hotbed of election corruption with its notorious SB 202 passed in the wake of the "Georgia Miracle" that handed the Senate majority to Democrats. Ray McClendon, head of the state's NAACP and architect of the Georgia Miracle said that early voting began last week and almost 750,000 have already voted, in a ratio of 60 percent Democratic to 40 percent GOP, numbers nearly as large as in 2020 at this time, though-mail-in votes are falling behind. Blacks are overperforming as a percent of the total black registered voters in the state, as a result of massive get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts. McClendon asked Raskin how to amass more support from the funding community for these crucial grassroots efforts, which must be ongoing year-round rather than just during election seasons--how to amass more grassroots support.

    There are strict laws governing financial support of campaigns, said Raskin, and we can't get involved at the level of 501c3 and 501c4 organizations. We all must realize the importance of defending the right to vote at the local level and using that right to reflect the will of the people and procure effective leadership to accomplish this. 

    Civic engagement and civic activism are of crucial importance, Raskin continued. There is a crisis of Constitutional illiteracy. People must be educated; the MAGA component believes that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to allow people to overthrow the government and that the Constitution makes America a Christian nation. It is that kind of Constitutional illiteracy that has gotten us into this terrible situation.

    Said McClendon, the Center for Common Ground is building Democracy Centers all over the Southeast that teach civics, a subject no longer taught in public schools. We're making people aware that they can become activists and participate in the government at the city and school board levels, where the other side has become involved. We need to counterbalance that. When we go into barbershops and beauty shops and out on the streets to to reach out to the people, they ask where we are the rest of the year beyond getting us to vote. 

    Raskin pointed to certain practices already in place year-round, including free minor auto repairs so that people won't be pulled over and harassed because they need them; diapers and food are also made available to those in need.

    GREEP co-convener Harvey Wasserman, also an author and academic, emphasized how crucial it is for the Democratic Party to move away from its marriage to high-expenditure media to a far more effective level, grassroots organizing, which could win the upcoming election.

    Well-known author and fascism scholar Brynn Tannehill spoke of the fascistic scapegoating of transgender populations by Putin, Orban, and Members of Congress like Margery Taylor Green and even Marcia Blackburn. "There's still a great degree of discomfort about transgender people." They will bear the worst brunt of the fall of democracy. It's extremely scary. She spoke of planning to leave the country with her family if things continue in this direction. She asked what officials like Raskin are doing to protect against this.

    Raskin said he was proud to have sponsored and seen passed a gender rights bill in Maryland in 2014. He said we must protect transgender people against violence and Republicans' discrimination. For protection we must support the police rather than defund them. On January 6, mostly black and Hispanic police saved his own as well as his son and daughter-in-law's lives--they were together at the Capitol that day. The bigoted element must be eliminated, of course. But police have performed well in major cities. 

    Dennis Bernstein, host of the nationally syndicated radio show Flashpoints, next compared the recent voter intimidation and thuggery in Arizona to death squads in the drug-dealing Central American military who threaten those who dare to testify against them in court. Bernstein further pointed to arrests in Florida of ex-felons unaware that they still lacked the right to vote. The state legislature, Raskin added, had voted to charge ex-felons for the expenses of their imprisonment, a poll tax right out of the end of Reconstruction, in violation of the Twenty-fourth Amendment. We must address such discrimination in all of the states and get the Department of Justice to proactively protect the right to vote.

    Bernstein further asked how dangerous are the threats of nuclear attack being traded by both this country and Putin. Raskin called Putin a desperate madman. "We must aggressively support the national sovereignty and democracy of Ukraine and keep diplomatic channels open," he said, expressing hope for a Ukraine victory and US intervention to get Russia to rebuild the county.

    Wasserman commented on the importance of aid, worried about a GOP takeover of Congress in 2022, which might oppose it, and the consequent possibility of Putin taking over the nuclear power plants in Ukraine and thereby becoming dictator of Europe.

    Activist Jim Garrison, founder and president of Ubiquity University, asked how it is possible that Donald Trump isn't already in court and in jail, given the enormity of his ongoing coup attempts, white supremacy violence, and thuggery. Where is the federal government? Why aren't Democrats taking the kind of action that will be normal?

    "The walls are closing in on Donald Trump," said Raskin. In New York, in Georgia, not to mention his theft of crucial classified documents that he hid at Mar-a-Lago. It's got to be charged. There was probable cause that a crime had been committed and much more contraband found than was initially expected. "I don't know what's going to happen." Congress can discover and make known the evidence and proof, but it's up to the Justice Department to indict. How can it not indict in a situation like that? This was an overall conspiracy to interfere with government proceedings. Raskin called Trump a "notorious and hardened criminal" for this and the many other attacks on American democracy by him and his supporters. 

    He quoted MLK that "the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." 

    Go to https://grassrootsep.org for a video recording of the complete event.


  • Fight or Flight? What Happened to the Future as a Sunrise?

    Dew of youth

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    To list everything going on here and everywhere that's keeping us up at night and torturing us by day would inevitably leave things out--we so depend on MSM headlines and bylines that leave out so much. But even MSM lists are long.

    Climate change, wars in Ukraine and elsewhere, climate-related crises, politics here and in the UK as well as China's looming takeover of Taiwan and Biden's threats--these top the limitless list. Add to that worldwide inflation and the tanking economy here.

    So I know some people who have given up on confronting these horrors daily and sworn off reading and hearing MSM. One reports massive relief. I knew a family in Vermont who escaped into the green hills from wherever and ignored MSM many years ago. The grandmother, however, would sneak into the public library and scour newspaper headlines when she could.

    Another weapon I've read about is to escape into a happy event in past life or find other sources of guiltless happiness once a day. That seems to be a good idea. I escape into my work on arcane and erudite peer-reviewed scholarly publications and into films on Netflix and TCM. Also Jeopardy for half an hour a day five days a week. I am daily disappointed when it ends, however many questions I can answer. Forget it when sports or pop culture are subject categories.

    The rest of my waking time is spent worrying and feeling helpless. Even when I'm exercising. I read nonfiction, so no escape there. 

    All of a sudden, the future is a huge question mark where earlier it was more of a given, though world wars were grim future deniers and covid still threatens. Younger generations mostly blame the boomers, not the billionaires and warmongers.

    It will take a miracle to cure the blight of climate change and constant recourse to violence to solve crises. Then we can get to other issues, like world hunger and disease. Meanwhile, we must play the blame game and hammer those at fault until the miracle happens. If only they could realize their destructiveness and care about it. They can go far toward reversing it. 

    Some say it's too late--climate change has already exceeded the tipping point. Xi says US, get out of our way into Taiwan, peaceful until it turns bloody. Russia won't turn back.

    Imagine peace. Imagine a world with a shining future, a sunrise our youth walk into.

  • Nader/Green on "Crushing the GOP in 2022": "A Blue Wave Is Possible"

    Ralph  Nader
    Ralph Nader
    (Image by John Mathew Smith & celebrity-photos.com)
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    "The GOP is about dread, anxiety, and fear.... [It is] messianic and driven."--Ralph Nader

    There are few things more dreaded by elections experts than close elections, and these are expected as votes are cast for the 2022 midterm elections"four Senate seats and 28 House seats are rated by Politico as toss-ups. Alan Minsky of PDA specified that swing districts that will decide the election encompass 50-70 House seats in nine states. Poll findings deliver mixed predictions. Politico expects that voters will choose more Democratic than Republican governors, however. 

    On September 18, the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) hosted a forum featuring the renowned outspoken environmentalist and progressive Ralph Nader along with his long-time ally Mark Green, a progressive activist attorney who was New York City's first Public Advocate from 1993 to 2001. 

    Moderated by PDA leaders Mike Fox and Alan Minsky, the forum's focus was optimistic. In the fifty days remaining before Election Day 2022, plenty can be done to win Democratic victories across the board. Nader and Green based their presentations on their new webpage https://winningamerica.net, unprecedented outreach endorsed by Sen. Ed Markey and Representatives Hakeem Jeffries, Jim McGovern, Jamie Raskin, Carolyn Maloney, John Larson and Peter DeFazio, among others. The featured report/volume, Crushing the GOP, 2022, aims "to counter the early conventional wisdom that there was no way to stop a red wave in the 2022 due to inflation and the midterms jinx for the presidential party." The Democratic candidates must be made aware of ways to surge ahead in the coming election. Articles written by 24 leading experts focus on the economy, health care, crime and corruption, national security, and children, "Trump vs. Democracy," "War of the Words," race, class, and democracy, winning language on climate violence, and GOTV. 

    Every election looks like the most important in history when it occurs but, said Green, the upcoming midterm is the most important offyear election since 1862 [and of course 1860] in that it could "overturn the collective values and assumptions of our constitutional democracy." For this reason, he and Nader, outspoken progressives, have turned to the more mainstream Democratic Party to uphold these principles. They also stress the many goals that most Americans share, regardless of party affiliation.

    Inflation is highest since the Carter years, due to disruptions in the vital supply chain, the pandemic, Putin's war, and corporate market power. One problem is that a substantial percentage of the public, "five-minute voters," are unaware of the issues involved for many reasons ("vote with their gut, not their head"). Fully 120 million qualified voters haven't even registered. The GOP has been skilled in recruiting some of their own among this category back to the polls or even to the polls for the first time.

    The Republicans are masterful at extremely catchy slogans--loaded words and phrases like "woke," "critical race theory," and "cancel," all of which Green dismissed as empty and without substance, but "a winning phrase can break through" and has led to stunning successes. "Their goal is to demonize Democrats and immigrants and make sure voters think about their enemies rather than their families." Democrats need to catch up with such effective outreach.

    There is much that the people on both sides agree about, believe it or not in these troubled times, including safety for our children in cars and elsewhere, raising the minimum wage, cracking down on corporate crime, and "government-guaranteed socialism," which includes of course social security and medicare, as opposed to corporate socialism, Nader later added. "We all bleed the same color." There's far more uniting people than dividing them. The appeal is universal.

    Our public is scandal fatigued, said Green; violence is now a weapon of the far right ("dangerous extremists") far more than the left--only one side tried to overthrow our government on January 6, 2021. 

    "We can capture the people who want to be mainstream rather than extreme." Democrats must win over 5 to 10 percent of "soft" Republicans or 5 to 10 percent of Independents to add to Biden's seven million-vote margin and victory in the House.

    The biggest problem now is civic groups' exclusion from campaigns, with candidates too involved in politics and with the media, said Nader, next to present. Democratic ads and campaigns are "dull and repetitive," and "campaigns are tired." They turn people off and actually boomerang. Nader suggested that PDA break through into campaigns and not just be an adjunct. It's so hard to get through--"you can because you're half inside and half outside." With the Winning America guidelines, they can get through to all the communities and "arouse, energize, and connect" with the voters. 

    "Why haven't the Democrats landslided?!" "We have by far the best policies and the worst GOP in history." We're proposing new ways and old ways of getting through to more voters. "The Republicans run on vague values because they can't run on their record." 

    A list of "Twelve Kentucky Values" favored by a majority in that state was found to be unaddressed by Mitch McConnell. Moreover, midnight-shift workers feel excluded. They must be reached. You have a midnight campaign to celebrate their indispensable contributions to society: firefighters, EMTs, retail workers. This sort of activism appeals to the press. Other outreach must extend to low-turnout Democratic districts, who can be offered free food at the polls once they have voted. Two-sided, inexpensive cards distributed to voters can contrast the two major parties' positions on bread and butter issues. They must be very accurate and reach a large number of voters. The people persuade themselves, unlike the "five-minute voters" ("He's a nice guy"; "I like the way he talks about the flag"). The positive blue values contrasted with the negative GOP ones paint the GOP as a party of "dread, anxiety, and fear." The people must understand this--"they are ignored on inscrutable billing, turned down on health care; it's a nightmare constantly."

    You must publicize the voting records in Congress. Senator Rick Scott's (R-FL, head of the reelection committee for the Republican senators) Rescue America program is so radical that Mitch McConnell was horrified and shuns any association with it. One part of it "sunsets all federal legislation for five years, including social security, medicare, OSHA, consumer protection, FDA," on and on. "But don't worry. Congress can just re-extend them." The press must reify this, must be very specific. 

    Said Nader, language is of great importance in Crushing the GOP. Never say "white collar crime"; say "corporate crime." The GOP prefers "corporate power" over "workers," "taxpayers," "consumers," "patients," and "big agribusiness" against the farmers.

    One thing that actually resonates is that taxpayer money goes toward sports arenas the people build and the corporations cash in on. Naming rights are sold to other corporations rather than granted to the people. Taxpayer money should instead go toward playgrounds and recreation facilities in neighborhoods. 

    "Start asking opinions. Have worker gatherings. Have them tell you what their work life is like, what their economic deprivation is like. They're desperate to have a voice" and not just shake hands--both liberal and conservative workers. We must reach the Reagan Democrats who shifted to voting Republican. Give workers lawn signs and buttons--the Republicans are way ahead of us here. These are symbols.

    People are still saying that they don't know what the Democratic Party stands for, and they are leaning liberals. Rural voters must be reached. Art Cullen, a rural newspaper man from Stormlake, Iowa, has written about why rural voters are turned off by Democrats and how to get them back. 

    These things can be done fast, in the next 50 days. Republicans phoned leaning Republicans unlikely to vote and gained large numbers of votes. 

    Why does the right wing have more energy than Democrats? They're messianic, driven. They tell their leaders what to do. They got rid of Boehner. You must up the energy level of potential Democratic voters.

    In Winning America, there's a focus on beating back the phony charges from the GOP: critical race theory, defunding the police, the crime thing, they don't like community policing. They control the initiative and put the Democrats on the defensive. They're soft on corporate crime. "Grab the offensive immediately!" There is focus on a too few issues. Stacey Abrams is focused on abortion rather than expanding more broadly into freedom for women. "If you have 12 arrows in your quiver you don't use just three of them.... She needs to broaden her progressive economic agenda."

    "The Republicans are anti-children in so many ways": They repealed the regulation of pesticide that was extremely toxic to children. It was about to be controlled. They're against daycare, paid family leave, all the Western country social safety nets. They've abducted the children into the internet gulag with all kinds of violence and violent games. They're pumping all kinds of fat, salt, and sugar to increase obesity epidemics and youthful diabetes and high blood pressure. "The Democrats are too piecemeal." There should be an umbrella focus on protecting our children, who are our future, our posterity. Talking about left-right issues. Parents are losing control over their children because of the internet, separating them from their families, nature. My sister's book You Are Your Own Best Children addresses children nine to twelve. A huge issue. That's where you want to hit. Both sides want the same things for their families: decent public transit, highways, bridges repaired, public schools that aren't broken down. All the money is going to empires abroad. Bring it back home. Our taxes should be used for us, not for corporate welfare, bailouts, handouts....

    Nader called pollution "deadly violence." The environmental justice movement describing this must become more muscular. The worst pollution occurs where poor people live. Fully half of the population is poor or extremely poor, he said. Then there are people who are barely making it. You must connect these issues. They affect all the people.

    "Democrats are at an advantage.... They must move fast with their eyes, ears, hearts, and minds." In the swing states particularly. "We are fighting for our lives."

  • Greg Palast, "Vigilante: Georgia's Vote Suppression Hitman"

    (Note to readers: This is a review; the previous blog entry was a preview.--Ed.)

    One aspect of Greg Palast's latest harrowing investigation, as executive producer Martin Sheen says, is horror. This is a horror movie, replete with unfathomable corruption and the ghosts of hideous violence.

    It is a dire tragedy--opening on the heels of Stacey Abrams' failed lawsuit to prove the lawless corruption of many electoral practices in Georgia, including the scrubbing of registration rolls that handed the 2018 gubernatorial race to Brian Kemp.

    Another aspect of Vigilante is heartbreak: of the senseless repression of hundreds of thousands of innocent voters caught attempting to vote while black. Individual victims are interviewed crying over the abuse of their rights, including a first cousin of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., 96-year-old Christine Jordan, and Major Gamaliel Turner, this country's leading expert on warfare of the future. While he was stationed in California serving this country, he applied for an absentee ballot. When he didn't receive it, he contacted the registrar's office and was told that his vote had been challenged. He had to make the inquiry. No one told him. Once a Georgia vote is challenged, subjects must prove their qualifications, often residency, even if they've lived and voted in the same place for years. Turner was able to regain his rights. But the same thing is happening to countless others in Georgia who won't be told unless they ask about it. They must be warned. They stand to lose their votes--250,000 of them have already been challenged. To find out if you've been challenged, go to SaveMyVote2022.org.

    Georgia history is a leitmotif in Vigilante. In one example, an armed Georgian militia in Civil War regalia is showcased early in the film. They proudly wave Confederate flags and their new solid white "secession" flag with a large red star in the center--red the color of Republicans or blood or both?

    And red is the bright color of the dress sported by another corrupt interviewee, Pamela Reardon, her comfy home protected at the front door with an assault weapon. This ambitious GOP operative is convinced that election 2020 in her Peachtree state was stolen from Trump. Nonresident votes kept him from winning, she says. She alone has challenged more than thirty-three thousand voters, though she claims only to have sent out "letters" (caging postcards?) requesting proof of address. Challenged herself on this point, she loudly throws Palast out, swearing as he leaves, most unbecoming to a southern lady. He thanks her.

    But the star of the film, if not the oppressed victims of repression time and again, If not Palast, is the vigilante, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who campaigned initially on his humble background and professed wish to integrate school--both lies. Palast traces his lineage back to the first importers of African slaves into Georgia before the Revolution. Get this: slavery was against the law in Georgia even then. Farmers objected to this atrocity in vain.

    More recently, Kemp is the scion of a thriving construction corporation, owners of myriad acres of wooded land now a source of toilet paper pulp for Koch Industries among others.

    We are treated to a brief tour of one of the plantation manor homes of Kemp's forebears. They'd smile with pride, though challenging voters originated with Gene Talmadge, a Ku Klux Klanner elected as governor of Georgia in 1945. 

    Kemp revived this practice with the passage of SB202 in the immediate wake of the Georgia Miracle in January 2020 that swept a black minister and Jewish filmmaker into the Senate, giving the majority to Democrats.

    Kemp's SB202 not only allows any Georgian to challenge an unlimited number of voters--48,000 have been challenged in Cobb County alone, one of the few Democratic strongholds in this swing state. It also criminalizes the donation of water and/or food to voters stuck in long lines at the polls"a felony, an act of "civil disobedience."

    Palast delves into more Georgia history, including the lynchings whose ghosts cry out for justice. An interview with the Georgia Historical Society ends when the subject of the Hayes-Tilden 1876 electoral impasse comes up; the fear is that the board of directors, all moguls appointed by Kemp, would be offended.

    Parallels are drawn with D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation, which defends the KKK's denial of voting rights to blacks"portrayed by white actors in blackface.

    The "KKK Act" of 1871 actually forbade the intimidation of voters.

    "The South Will Rise Again"? Yes, the film concludes, not with reactionary fantasies but MLK's dream: "This too [the corruption] will pass. We're stronger and better!" "Spirits crying out for justice will rise from their graves."

    Defending his own ghosts, Kemp is battling the ghosts of oppression--a horror story indeed. 

    Lasting an hour, Vigilante is narrated by Rosario Dawson, directed by David Ambrose, and produced by the Academy award winner Maria Florio. To find live presentations, go to Click Here. To order the dvd, go to Click Here

    Don't miss this warning of an already-metastatic cancer. It's about the future of democracy. It will anger you and provoke the activism and actions crucial to preserving it.