• Looking for America

    American flag

    I guess I have a woke look about me, I guess especially when I wear a bright blue shirt. Yesterday I attended a light lunch featuring the mayor of Pindrop, PA, a nondescript but sprawling suburb of Philadelphia. He was there to speak about the future of Pindrop, which intrigued me.

    We don't have a quaint, evocative town centre like many boroughs in this scenic county. I knew better than to complain about the municipal buildings, all contemporary brick rectangles spread on a road in the midst of residential subdivisions. At least they're close together, though you can't see the post office from the road until you've passed by. I always end up pulling into the wrong place and then sighting it from a distance.

    A first-world issue when most of the rest of the world is in harm's way for one reason or another.

    Anyway, the mean age of the mean audience at the light lunch was about 80, so I felt young-- the only people younger was one man at my table, someone's son brought along for the light lunch and to spend time with his parents, I guess. Also, the mayor's assistant and the mayor himself, bordering on old age but certainly not the spry 87 he claimed to be.

    I say "mean audience" because the minute I sat down with my light lunch (sandwich, Doritos, and a bottle of water), a woman at the other end of the table introduced herself without a smile and promptly complained under her breath about a commercial by Biden claiming that he was handsome-- afterwards once he'd listed his accomplishments of course (my note-- I saw the commercial last night). Then, to no one in particular she stated flatly that she was for Trump. I sat there benignly. I didn't have to add that I was woke and had different inclinations.

    The others, men, introduced themselves in a more friendly fashion. We ate and then the mayor was introduced by someone standing on the wrong side of the room, scarcely audible.

    Then the polished pol said some appeasing words or other, about how long he'd been in office, nearly 30 years, and his lively assistant added that she'd been working for him nearly that long. Stability. He made some general remarks about how safe we were and what a diverse community Pindrop is-- Muslims, mosques, temples, churches--he specified several denominations and rolled his eyes around and his assistant clarified synagogues loudly. Then followed words about how few immigrants there were, even in the City (that's Philadelphia), a good thing. I looked around the room for people of color and there were none, though we have a few in my apartment community, including a defiant black woman next door to me who will say nothing beyond "hi" to any of us, overly cheery. For a time she had a "Black Lives Matter" banner on her balcony and after Christmas for some reason hung a wreath on her front door--every day is Christmas? 

    A Q&A followed: too many potholes in the road, the nearby moribund and depressing mall where a gym and a church will relocate now that it's in new hands. The gas station right outside my complex that's been closed since I moved here in 2020 just ahead of Covid-- a depressing sight that puts off people coming to visit, in search of more scenic views on this most scenic road in Pindrop. There's an ice vendor next to it that's open 24/7.

    More conversation including much interpersonally despite the mayor's presence among the tables. The audience was stimulated. I had to sit with my back to my table to see the mayor and apologized to the man sitting next to me who said something like "Honey, it's fine--you'll face me when I become mayor!" 

    I left immediately after amid a roomful of animated people chatting away even though the mayor tried to block my path, having mumbled about liking people even if they're politically opposed. Mumbled in passing.

    So why was I in such a good mood? I went home and emailed a neighbor who is one of few here who agrees with my politics. She promptly called me to thank me for the laughs and told me she never attends "these things."

    So why was I in such a good mood? I needed to get out, sunk past my knees in an impossible freelancing project. But more than that, as Simon and Garfunkel sang so many years, I realized that I'd gone to look for America and found it, happy in the small-townish folksiness, used to sticking out like a sore thumb among groups. Despite the politics and being a Martian yesterday, I'd found what I'd gone to find, a folksy down-home pol and likemindedness and community.

    Need I add that in 2020, the minute that Trump lost, defeated by absentee votes from our City, you could hear a pin drop in this community? Then a lone young man had the nerve to stand in my courtyard and cheer. I had turned on Schubert's Ave Maria and listened to it in a daze for an hour, well aware of the conflagration that would follow but stealing an hour to breathe free, the daughter of immigrants on all four sides, stealing an oasis from these hard times, harder and harder by the hour, the Doomsday Clock ticking closer and closer to 12.

    Nothing like escaping for an hour, every once in a while.

    Escaping for an hour.


  • War: The Stalemate That Must Be Resolved: Peace in the Middle East

    I am the daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust refugees, including a paternal grandfather who spent three months at Dachau before a relative bribed the Nazis to release him. My maternal grandmother emigrated here from Poland to avoid the fate of one younger sister who with her family was taken to Auschwitz, all murdered, after she refused to leave her schtetl in Poland, claiming that the antisemitic plague would pass over.

    My father escaped Vienna before Krystallnacht. A professional engineer with $6 in his pocket, sponsored by a well-established relative in Brooklyn, a radiologist, he refused all monetary assistance and got a job as a hospital orderly. After working that job for two years, he raised enough money to bring what was left of his family here. He had lost a grandmother and aunt to Auschwitz. He brought over two sisters and his parents, one unrecognizable from his time spent at Dachau, who lived another fifteen years smoking himself to death with emphysema, prison camp numbers tattooed on one of his wrists that he never discussed.

    My father found wealthy Jewish sponsors in Trenton, where he settled. They introduced him to my mother and together they had three children. I was raised in an extremely xenophobic and racist environment. My grandparents and parents became ardent Zionist activists and wanted to send me to Israel for summers when I was in high school, which I flatly refused. It took me a lifetime to shed the prejudices that ran in my bloodstream—including several years off and on attending Quaker meetings and socializing with liberal Muslims in interfaith groups—to finally travel to Israel on an ecumenical ten-day tour in 2018. I met relatives and childhood friends there, all Jewish, all anxious to coexist in peace with Palestinians—Israelis and others. The atmosphere was tense there. Military weren’t evident, but in Tel Aviv, where I met one friend, we dined outdoors alone. The restaurants were almost empty. No music played. I so enjoyed the reunions that I didn’t think about dangers but realized later why we dined alone. The atmosphere in Jerusalem was more normal.

    With all of this baggage and resistance to it, what do I make of the October 7 massacres and the carnage that follows? With such a worldwide display of opposition to Israeli requitals, I hope that the resultant anti-Semitism might give way to a larger conclusion—the horrors of decimating innocent civilians that must stop: the conviction that has bloodied history time after devastating time that war is the answer to political conflicts activated by political powers.

    Like most of us, I want peaceful solutions. Violence has been the sire of all the world’s values, wrote Vachel Lindsay. Hamas claims that all of its attempted nonviolent gestures to draw attention to the plight of Palestinians have failed, and violence was their only recourse. Another axiom comes to mind at a mundane level: how many traffic lights have been installed at unsafe locations only after death occurs? When will gun control take effect in this country in the wake of so much violence? Who knows? What will it take?

    What must be undone is this foundation of patriarchal culture that abets violence as solutions to conflict at every level, from domestic abuse to world wars. Human nature must evolve. An eye for an eye turns the whole world blind, said Gandhi. Jesus reiterated the Mosaic commandment “Thou shalt not kill” and advocated turning the other cheek if one is hit, even while prophesying war at the end of times. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” he also preached, “because they will be called sons of God.”

    Why all the violence condoned by God as Joshua and Caleb plundered Canaanites to establish Israel and Judea as the Hebrew homeland? A God who ruled “Thou shalt not kill”? The Canaanites were all called evil, justifying the slaughter. I imagine that Netanyahu sees himself as reiterating this calling toward violence, even as his activities in the preceding few years diminished the border security of Israel in favor of other objectives. I have read that he stopped worrying about Hamas, funneling millions to them via Qatar, hence secure that he could concentrate on the West Bank, condoning Jewish settlement on Palestinian properties there. 

    The blockaded entry points into Israel for Palestinians who worked there were set up to prevent suicide bombers from entering. And indeed suicide bombing virtually ended once these checkpoints were set up, but at least when I visited, the atmosphere was tense, at least in Tel Aviv, as I said.

    It’s not right for innocent people to have to suffer for the sins of violent aggressors. A basic tenet of “civilization” must be overturned. War is not the answer. Human nature must evolve—seemingly an impossible solution but one I pursue, standing on the shoulders of giants, the peace activists of the world. I have a book of examples of peaceful solutions to conflicts throughout history., “52 True Stories of Nonviolent Success,” which includes the defeat of Apartheid in South Africa, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Chile ousting Pinochet, the Montgomery bus boycott, and more, all the way back to the ancient Roman plebeian strike in 260 CE, the year that Valerian was succeeded by his son Galienus, and the Jewish nonviolent resistance against the raising of a statue of Caligula in the Temple of Jerusalem in 41 CE.

    Instances of “successful” (?) wars far outnumber these amazing exceptions. What of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, ending the decimation and slaughter of Jews, six million of whom were already dead? Some peace activist justify it as an exception, others don’t.

    “How many deaths will it take til ["man"] knows/ that too many people have died?” asked Bob Dylan. The number of deaths is already beyond infinite, the number of ruined lives. 

    Jews and Palestinians must peacefully share Israel. The violence must end. I don’t know how. We must fight an ultimate war, against that part of human nature that demands war as a solution. A war of peace.

     


  • Andrew Kreig on John H. Durham's "Russiagate" Report: A "Corrupt, Cruel Fraud"

    When a special counsel heads up a commission to investigate the findings of a previous commission, with negative and politicized motivations blatant, what can the outcome be but a waste of time and taxpayer money and hugely destructive outcomes for untold numbers of innocent people? The report in question takes up 306 pages, and this is a large-type version, and approximately 159,000 words. Headed up by Special Counsel John H. Durham, it is entitled "Report on Matters Related to Intelligence Activities and Investigations Arising Out of the 2016 Presidential Campaigns." It has been described as "a Trump-friendly probe that weaponized law enforcement against Trump's opponents and absolved Trump supporters from their collusion with Russia to tilt the 2016 U.S. presidential election their way." Alternet reports that "The investigation concluded last May with underwhelming results: A single guilty plea from a little-known FBI lawyer, resulting in probation, and two acquittals at trial by juries." 

    Andrew Kreig, attorney, activist, and well-known investigator, has been following the less-than-brilliant career of special counsel Durham, former Trump-appointed U.S. attorney for Connecticut, for more than a decade. He is not surprised that in the course of Durham's investigation, "[F]our federal judges have vacated on grounds of prosecution misconduct convictions that had been won by Durham and his close colleagues." 

    In his newly published The Completely Annotated Durham "Russiagate" Report: A Corrupt, Cruel FraudAndrew dissects Durham's 175,000 words with an introduction that gives the complete background of Durham and his crass motivations, adds the complete, unedited, annotated report itself, and follows up with an appendix that includes a bibliography of all publications and official reports at all related to Durham's activities as well as thumbnail bios of all figures involved, including Steve Bannon, James A. Baker, Christopher Steele, Michael D. Cohen, James B. Comey Jr., Marc Elias, Michael T. Flynn, and many others. Notable among them, and included right after the first thumbnail, of Trump, is former Attorney General Bill Barr, chief instigator and supporter of Durham's thoroughly destructive efforts that possibly wrought untold damage to this country, including Trump's election.* 

    In one summary of his blockbuster revelations, Andrew's findings "show that his [Durham's] zeal to protect his Trump patrons and smear Hillary Clinton leads him to keep scapegoating targets absolved by juries. Worse, [Durham] cherry-picks evidence to avoid documenting serious threats to U.S. elections from Russians and their nefarious U.S. allies." 

    Andrew leaves nothing to the imagination. Durham's performance at the recent House Judiciary Committee hearing on his report was evasive and ill-informed at best, lacking credibility and hugely disappointing fellow partisans who had hoped for refutation of the Mueller committee's findings. The conclusion was supposed to be that "a Clinton 'Plan' hoked-up a false 'Russiagate' scandal whereby Trump and Russia were falsely accused of collusion or other improper activities regarding the 2016 election and beyond." 

    Why has the public not been better informed about this outrage sooner? Andrew has meticulously documented all MSM and other coverage of all related events as another section of his voluminous appendix. But more than that, as he writes, the sweeping takeover of the media by a few billionaire conglomerates has eliminated many vehicles that would have reached far more of the reading public--for example, small-town publications like the Marion County Record, recently invaded by police in a blatant violation of its First Amendment rights. 

    A judicious reading of the book and all the references it supplies is a sine qua non. Reading Andrew's full opus is a PhD program in areas the MSM has neglected or concealed from the public in journalism, politics, ethics, and history that must be disseminated. His passionate pursuit of justice and integrity is updated daily at his website justice-integrity.org and most evident in his previous books Presidential Puppetry and Spiked: How Chain Management Corrupted America's Oldest Newspaper

    Will Andrew's encyclopedic and heroic efforts to reach more people succeed with this publication? That's up to all of us. Get the word out. It's available at https://www.amazon.com/dp/0988672871

     

    *It is noteworthy that Nora Dannehy, a deputy to Durham, stepped down from her position in the DOJ in 2020, conscience-stricken, she said, to be associated with former Attorney General Bill Barr's handling of the Trump-Russia report. Barr had helped lead the Department of Justice in efforts to "press her and Durham to act in the service of Trump's reelection," according to the Connecticut Mirror. Dannehy has since been "fast-tracked" by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont to become a justice of that state's supreme court and been approved by a committee of the General Assembly. This despite her work "whitewashing the US attorney firing scandal of 2006 that left in place those who prosecuted Siegelman and so many other progressives," according to Kreig.

    The book's updated hardcover launch is planned for an Oct. 4 dinner at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, where the author serves on its Freedom of the Press Committee, featuring speakers describing the global importance of well-functioning justice and media.


  • 19 April 2023: Eightieth Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

    To read a clear and comprehensive account of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that began on April 19, 1943, Passover eve that year, go to https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/warsaw-ghetto-uprising.

    I visited the monument in Warsaw years ago, in the wake of WWII, when the city was largely in ruins, though the historic Old Town had been rebuilt and a newly erected “birthday cake”-style concrete government building, the Palace of Culture, loomed high. My father took my family of five—mother, two brothers, and me—along for two months there while he worked for the United Nations as an engineering consultant for the Communist government.

    It was grim. We were instructed to keep our mouths shut about the virtues of democracy or the dearth of food supplies compared with our bounty in the United States. People walked down the streets with visible war injuries: missing limbs, facial features. Some would stop us wanting to change their zlotys into dollars and others would vociferously complain about the constant procession of wars in their country and yes, about the current governmental system. I admired their courage.

    We visited the museum at Auschwitz. I remember more details than those at the Ghetto monument: a sign “Work leads to freedom” (Arbeit macht frei) at the entrance; a gallows; glass cases filled with shoes and other personal effects; a large, hollow gas chamber.

    Here are some fragments of a poem I wrote about that experience:

    Thin dry wind,

    Sun burning, aching, glaring;

    Barbed-wire fence

    —the power’s off now, the power’s off now, the power’s off now.

    Barbed-wire fence, the power’s off now;

    Handful of visitors,

    Quiet.

     

    Arbeit macht frei!

    Welcome to prisons

    and concrete chambers with smokestacks!

    Smoke that was people met air that was clear.

    Met air that was clear, met air that was clear!

    Smoke that was people met air that was clear.

    Handful of visitors, 

    Quiet.

     

    Museum of millions

    A handful now bear—

     

    I was there.

     

    My paternal great-grandmother and great aunt were killed at Auschwitz, as were my maternal great grandparents and one of their daughters with her husband and three children.

    In the latter case, my great uncle went to the tiny village outside of Bialystock, Poland, to plead with them to migrate to the US as he had along with another sibling, my grandmother—the youngest sister had gone to Israel. They dismissed his warnings, sure that the toxic prejudices would pass.

    My paternal grandfather was kidnapped by Nazis on Krystallnacht and taken to Dachau for forcedlabor. Some wealthy British relatives bribed the Nazis to release him after three months. There is a photo of him emaciated after that ordeal. He survived for another fifteen years, brought to the US by my father along with his two daughters and wife, all of whom migrated to Los Angeles after afew years in Trenton, NJ.

    Details of life in Nazi-ruled Vienna handed down to me were few. No one wanted to take about them,understandably. My father did tell us of days when his mother would wake them up with the news that there would be nothing to eat for the day. He also warned us children that we might feel secure—just as he did growing up in Vienna freely among Gentiles—he and his eldest sister were both romantically Involved with Christians when they were forced to emigrate.

    Beyond that, my father was grateful for the tolerance in this country and considered it a privilege to pay taxes every year. Sitting comfortably at the head of the dinner table, he would from time to time remind us how lucky we were. He was proud of his meteoric career success here—from hospital orderly when he first emigrated to Brooklyn, sponsored by a well-established relative who’d become a successful radiologist--to world-class HVAC engineer with 29 patented inventions.

    Growing up among first-generation refugees was largely in a xenophobic minor key and I purposely assimilated--though as a teenager haunted with my father’s warnings beseeched close Christian friends to shelter me in the event of a Holocaust. I married a Christian and had a daughter with him. I wanted to dilute, not suppress the painful legacy for her while gently teaching her about her heritage from my side of the family.

    She is fully assimilated and at the same time proud of her immigrant roots and passing them on to her two young daughters. 

    To know how many Holocaust deniers there are and that the numbers are growing; that Trumpism has unearthed latent Nazism into society is disquieting.  I live each day to the fullest and hope for the best. I can’t predict the future but if one thing is clear, it is that lessons from the past are forgotten and buried like the bones of slaughtered Jews and all others who have perished as a result of holocausts and other manmade violence all over the world.


  • There's a Dire Emergency, Joe & co.!

    live .taticflikr.com "End of the Day" VD 177707

    “Marta, you look so sad, as if the world were coming to an end,” said Mom many times when I was young.

    Young? At least I had a future. And the sun had billions of years to endure before imploding, and by that time we’d have invented ways to survive beyond that.

    These days, “The future” as we think of it could easily end in less than a decade.

    It evolved for the youngest generations already, because for the first time in a long time the quality of their lifestyles will not equal or surpass their parents’. In other words, the American Dream is dead for most of them, victims of the economy and their college debt, if they chose to invest in a future that now entails drudgery rather than inspiring pursuits. 

    Education as a ladder? Oh well. Literacy is eroding as is the value placed on it. Illiterate people are being chosen to govern us.

    And so Enlightenment values, the basis of the founding of this country, are eroding. The consequences of that also assail us.

    Nature and culture alike are on the skids.

    If the Biden government were to “effectively” respond to the UN Committee report released this week, the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6)  (a summary of its contents for policymakers is at https://report.ipcc.ch/ar6syr/pdf/IPCC_AR6_SYR_SPM.pdf), they would publicize a list of immediate actions we all must take to extend our existence beyond the next few years, after which the Earth is predicted to become uninhabitably warm. But politics intervenes even though the End of the World is surely something more exigent. At this crucial point, with the economy reeling and conservative extremism challenging moderate politics-as-usual, declaring a climate emergency would alienate voters of all stripes but especially conservative ones. 

    But there is a crucial climate emergency, Joe & co. Each one of our lifestyles should drastically change, from corporate to individual. Turn off the heat and the smokestacks. Writ large, drastic change must sacrifice the present to the Future. The advent of the omniscient Bot won’t change things, even with its store of Everything We Know, even with all of Its suggested syntheses, brilliant or not.

    An immediate to-do list must be generated and followed, no kidding. Austerity for all of us, even billionaires, in every way. 

    Otherwise, the Future is caput.

    If I were young, I’d be very, very mad.

     


  • Apropos of the UN Committee Report Giving Our World Less Than Ten Years to Survive (unless ...)

    Blyth, Ss Mary & Martin's church - Doom painting
    (Image by Jules & Jenny)
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    I went to ChatGPT to ask where to go and what to do to escape the UN committee's prophecy about the overheating of the Earth in less than 10 years--if we don't take drastic measures immediately. The window was temporarily out of service, but it occurs to me that so many will acquire answers to the same question that the refuge--New Zealand?--will be overloaded in no time, so that my question is well-nigh useless.

    Who wants to live in the luxurious safe havens being built by and for billionaires? They won't survive the imploding ecosystem for long. In less than ten years, will Elon Musk's forays to Mars have resulted in hospitable new homes for a few billionaires there? Or further trips to the Moon post haste? I'd wager not.

    I wish "they'd" apply all that energy and acquired knowledge to saving the world for all of us instead of a few tycoons. Who really deserves to survive? Where are the Noahs? Saving the world? It's already imploding with earthquakes and climate change. A gradual process to read about in the headlines before experiencing it ourselves. I wonder if some sources are sending out eschatological witnessing in space capsules? 

    "Here's the way the world was: blind to the truth. Here's what happened before we perished": fill in the blank in 25 words or less: "Most of the world was starving, diseased, perishing altogether, and way underserved. Some religious souls prophesied that God ordained the End and would save believers." Add another 25? "Science and technology taught us so much about reality! Many truths but no other Truth--where do we really come from and does God exist?"

    What else might this sort of time capsule witness? Write an old-fashioned Britannica- or Wikipedia-style history of Earth's reality. How would you sum it up succinctly? Maybe there's one word. I know there are millions. Maybe the right words will lead to a right conclusion how to save our own lives? Kevin Marley's great OEN-headlined article "Moonshot: Ten Ideas to Save This Frickin' World" (Click Here) proposes ingenious solutions but we need them much sooner, if the UN committee report is accurate.


  • 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
    (Image by Cold Rock Aspley 0417115707)
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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.