Calling Each Other The Right Political Names

One of the things that drives me nuts in this propaganda-driven world is names. The fact that we call each other names at all is first, of course. After that, the idea that we call —and get called — the wrong names. I can put up with the political names that actually represent me, but if you’re going to dislike my views, at least talk about my actual views, than some random category that doesn’t represent me at all. To that end, I want to straighten things out with facts as far as I know them. I won’t make a judgement, I’m just going to explain, I hope it helps make things easier between people to mean the same things when we talk.

Part 1 — Politics vs. Economics — not always the same.

The first misconception is that the opposite of “democracy” is “communism”. Communism is about money and who owns what. Democracy is about politics, it’s about who makes decisions about the way things are in the country. The opposite of Communism is Capitalism. There are a whole lot of things that are “opposite” of democracy, including “oligarchy” and what we had under a king. By the way, the term Oligarchy means, “a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.” It, as we’ll see later, is the opposite of democracy.

Capitalism is the older of the two types of economic systems. That’s the one we have in America. Communism is the one that Russia and China used to have when I grew up. Now, my friend Jen, a history teacher, reminds me, the only actual Communist country still left is North Korea. Russia has become an Oligarchy and China is moving towards capitalism economically. Economically, an oligarchy means that the people will all the power also have most of the money.

Capitalism is the idea that people who have money or ideas own those things. They convince others to make those things. Those people who make things are workers. The owners pay them for their work. The owners pay other workers to sell those things. In the end, though, the owners make the bulk of the money because it’s their idea, their product, and they own it. They also take the risk by putting it out there. If it fails, in whatever way, the owners take the risk and therefore the pain. This used to apply to land owners and farms as well. They owned the land, the workers got paid, or protected by the owners or something. The land owners were in charge of, and responsible for everything.

Communism is an economic theory, proposed by Karl Marx, that says, in essence, that the workers do the work, therefore they should get the profits. Any profits made should get divided up and given to everybody. I don’t know enough to say where ideas come from, or who puts up the money, and who decides to put them on the market. As far as who is responsible if things fail, but I assume that everybody is because that’s the way it turns out now, here — the workers get the blame. Since the economy is controlled by the workers and the public as a whole, everybody should feel the pain of failure.

Now, to be totally fair and honest, there’s another part to the capitalist world: stockholders or investors. Stockholders don’t come with the ideas, nor do they build or sell them. They use their money to own a piece of the product’s profits, if it succeeds, or losses if it fails.. They lose if it doesn’t go well, but they are not creators or workers.

Also, to be fair, there has never been a perfect example of either of those systems. Hard-core Communism yields authoritarian leaders or dictators in reality. So does hard-core capitalism, not because of the theory, but because human beings, who can be kind or they can be jerks. Human flaws, magnified in leaders and their policies, create really flawed societies. Human goodness, magnified in leaders and their policies, create better functioning societies.

Part 2 — Who’s Who in Politics

We usually talk about left and right in politics. I think it was the French legislature that was first set up according to parties. One group sat on the right side of the room, another on the left side of the room, with moderates in the middle.

I’m going to start on the left and move toward the right on the political spectrum.

On the left are people who want change. Right now, their party is the Democratic Party. They are liberal, (open) in their understanding of what is and can be. On the far left are radicals who want a lot of change and they want it now! They tend to use violence to get what they want. Then there are progressives, who want change and are constantly pushing for it, but understand that change doesn’t go as fast as radicals want it to. Then there are liberals who want change to happen but aren’t as forceful about it. They are okay with change when it happens, but they don’t often push for it. Moderates liberals have to think about changes that happen before they agree to them. On the far left in WWII was the violent Stalin and supposedly “Communist” Russia. I say “supposedly”, because economics don’t have to be violent, but violent revolution has been part of Russia’s historic leadership.

On the right side, conservatives want things to stay the same. Right now, their party is called the Republican Party. Starting from moderates, we move to moderate conservatives, to “regular” conservatives who don’t want things to change unless you can a) prove that they must and b) that your plan is better than what they already have. After that, you have “reactionaries” who want things to back the way things were before usually when they were in power. Reactionaries want things, for example, to go back to a White society, run by Christians, landowners, and men. Far, far right people are reactionaries and — in their purest, most violent form are “Fascist”. In World War II, Hitler was a Fascist, as was Mussolini, and Japan’s leader.

Part 3 — Between Right and Left — a free America

In theory, as borne out during World War II, America is neither violent Leftist (Russia) nor violent Rightist (Fascists). In theory, America is about ideas, and people argue about them. The best idea, proposed by the best debater, wins. The people all have a say in things, but not purely. They make their opinions heard to those people who represent them. Those people make laws after arguing/debating. This is supposed to provide the best laws for the people who elected them.

Steering the balance between Right and Left is The President. We the People elect the President, whom we think is capable and has good ideas for our country. If they don’t have great ideas, they know people who do. Those people present ideas/policies that become the President’s laws proposals. The President and Congress generally duke it out verbally to come up with the best policies for people.

Now here’s where it gets weird: The people we elect to represent us are supposed to both represent us and be trusted to do that. If they don’t represent us, we are supposed to protest. If they can’t be trusted, and/or they actively hurt us, they are corrupt and should be thrown out of office.

Part 4 — Back to Names and Name Calling…

One of the strange things happening in America is that people call liberals “unpatriotic”. This is usually done with disgust in the voice and an eye-roll. Liberals aren’t bad or good, more or less patriotic. They’re just liberals. Conservatives aren’t bad or good, and they usually aren’t “fascists”. In fact, very few liberals even use the word “fascist” about Conservatives unless they actually are.

But here’s the weird part, this President, along with Right-wing radio use the word “fascist” a lot. And they mix it with to call us Fascist Leftists. There is no such thing as a Fascist Leftist! Fascists are the opposite of Leftists! You can’t be one and the other. It’s that simple.

Going back years, for example, Rush Limbaugh coined the phrase “Femi-nazis”. By that, he means feminists, or left-leaning women. In fact, Eva Braun would be a female Nazi. In America, what we would now call “Karen’s” would be actually closer to femi-nazis. Women on the very conservative right — the lady screaming about being anti-abortion in the 1980’s — was the actual femi-Nazi.

About me? I’m a progressive Democrat, who likes the idea of more people getting what they need, and representing more people as American, including Blacks, Women, Hispanics, and people who are all over the place sexually. Economically, I’m closer to socialism than capitalism , but I’m not violent, and I shouldn’t be scary to you. If my wanting more people’s voice to be heard and included in the debate that is our electoral system, then well, that’s just too bad. If wanting more people to eat, have a place to live, and get health care is scary to you, that’s you are immoral, not me.

Resisting in Peace,

John

Police: This, Not That

I inhabit this space between two worlds. I have White police family members and friends. I have Black friends. I also have clients of all colors, with many careers. As a minister, I see good and evil as categories. As a therapist, I see, often, how good and evil start in family systems and in communities of addiction which taint judgement in so many was. Some of these are different. Some are the same.

Some basic assumptions, before I start:

  • There is good and evil in the world.
  • Police believe it is their job to keep evil people from the good people. This is a noble goal.
  • Police often decide who they believe are good and those who are evil,
  • Police are often called specifically to make that decision.
  • Police officers believe in law and order. They see their job as enforcing the law and thus keeping order. They do not write the law, they enforce it.
  • I suspect that that policing is also a numbers game. “Good” police are supposed to enforce the law so many times in a certain period to prove they’re doing their job.
  • In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: The police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders.
  • In addition to that, there are lawmakers who decide what is crime and what isn’t crime.
  • Because the system of policing and laws are made by human beings, there is the possibility of bad/evil laws made by bad/evil lawmakers.
  • Because the system of police is made up of human beings, there is thBecause the system of policing and laws are made by human beings, there is the possibility of bad/evil laws made by bad/evil lawmakers.
  • Because society is made up of human beings, any given member of society can be anywhere on the spectrum between good and bad.
  • We have to live together.

Here’s where it gets muddy: If the good police are enforcing bad laws, are they really good police? Also, if there are bad police, and there are, are the police as a whole good?

Here’s what I know from my Black friends and life in the city:

  • Most Black people are decent, kind, hardworking people. They just are.
  • They go to church on Sundays, they believe in God. Those that don’t are deeply affected by those who do, because so many do.
  • In addition, many people — Black and White — practice Islam. Islam, like Christianity, has a moral code at its base.
  • In other words, Black people, like White people, are most often good, decent people who know right from wrong, and try to do right. This is my experience. From my perception, it is fact.
  • Many (most?) White people don’t know, as friends, Black people. In short, they don’t actually know any Black people. This means that what they do know is based on media reports, rumors, myths, and stories about Black people, told or seen by White people.

Unknown to most White people, (because most White people don’t make laws) there’s a reason for this. The reason is because there were laws made so that Black people couldn’t live in the same area as Whites. In California, there were also laws made that said Asians couldn’t live with Whites. This type of lawmaking is known as “redlining”. Like everything else, it’s not based in actual experience of the Black community, because, as I said, the Black community is basically good, decent, hardworking people, who know right from wrong and try to live decent lives.

So, if police just enforce the law, and it’s a bad law, are they good or bad for doing their job? If White police have to make judgement calls about who is a criminal and who’s not, but all they know about Black people is what they’ve seen on TV, read about, or heard from other Whites, how can they even do their job? It’s a set-up, bound for failure.

So, this week, for the millionth time, White police officers enforced the law on a Black person they couldn’t know personally. For what seems to be the hundredth time this year, they killed or wounded that Black person. Is it any wonder?

There has got to be a better way to do this. Maybe it involves having police know the people they are policing. That means living in their communities, or maybe knowing Black people outside of work, or having Black police officers policing Black communities.

Maybe it involves less firearms (Brits don’t use guns, and they still have law and order. By firearms, I include tanks, armored vehicles, assault weapons, etc. Maybe the general society shouldn’t have as many firearms. Maybe we shouldn’t worship guns as what make us free.

Maybe it involves electing more lawmakers who actually know Black people in their daily lives and wouldn’t dream of separating people by color.

In any case, this can’t go on. Lack of understanding combined with bad laws can only lead to more chaos in our streets. Blaming problems on people you don’t know won’t solve anything. If you want peace and quiet, this isn’t the way to get it. Good people that we don’t know are getting killed, and they are sick of it, because they should be.

Resisting with Peace,

John

There Can Be No Words. There Can Only Be Actions.

I’m listening to the news on MSNBC. I’m reading the news on theTwitter battlefield. As the news comes in, it seems that in Trump’s own words, as the dismantling of the Post Office happens, WE ARE IN TROUBLE AS A DEMOCRACY.

Think of me what you will, think about politics as you will, be on the Right Wing or the Left Wing, be in politics or not, think this is a hoax, or slanted or not. I don’t care if you’re a FOX News watcher or not. I don’t frankly care if you are even a criminal, or a White Supremacist. What we think anymore, what we believe anymore mean absolutely nothing. OUR DEMOCRACY IS IN TROUBLE.

What do I mean by Democracy? I mean “a government by the people, for the people”. How do we get that? We vote. We say who we want to represent us, and they do, to the best of their abilities. But what if there is no vote? What if there is no way to believe the vote? What if the President doesn’t care what the vote is? That part, the simple basic bedrock of democracy, that is being threatened, and we must stop it.

The only thing there can be is action. Now. There is no one in a position of power coming to save us. We can argue in court. That will not help. As long as we are arguing, no matter where or how, Trump remains in office. We can call on the President’s supporters in the Senate to break with him. That will not help. If they were coming, they would have been here by now. This is it. It’s us and democracy.

If you think for a minute you’re immune because you are conservative, White, Republican, male, or anything else, forget it. Yesterday, Trump said, on Fox News that he “hoped Bill Barr wouldn’t be too politically correct to not pursue” the people he thinks almost prevented him from getting into office. Bill Barr is so far on Trump’s side, they damn near inhabit the same body! If he worries about him being “too politically correct”, where does that leave you? It leaves you (and yes, me) nowhere. No one will every be good enough for Trump.

So, what do we do? We find every person in Congress who isn’t in Washington and we send them back to Washington to pass support for the Postal Service. Remember the days of surrounding them in restaurants and camping out at their houses? We need to do that now. Perhaps we need to start with Mitch McConnell’s house, but every single person in Congress needs to be in Congress to do our will, and they need to do it now.

What is our will? I don’t know, but I would start with us not dying from the virus, either directly or indirectly. We need a package that plans to stop the virus as best we can, that takes care of us if we can’t or don’t go back to work. “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness” starts with life. We have to get this thing under control in time for the election.

At the same time, we need an election to go to. We need to vote, however we do. If votes are mailed in, we need to have the government supply the post office with what they need. The head of the post office needs to be removed or kept out of the way so that those votes get to their proper places. If need be, we have to help deliver the ballots ourselves.

When the ballots arrive at where they will be counted, we need all kinds of poll watchers to make sure they are counted correctly. Any Secretary of State who limits the number of places to vote needs to be hounded until they put them back or increase the numbers of them available. Anyone who lies about where polls are or when the day and time to vote is must be arrested immediately. This cannot stand.

When the votes are tallied, we should expect a week or more until the votes are counted. Poll watchers and counters must be there until all of the votes are tallied, and final numbers given. Then, and only then, can we take the pressure off. We can rest a few months and then, assuming Trump has been voted out, we can prepare for his leaving.

You know what? This and the coronavirus may be kill us. If he gets voted in, well, there is no America left, as far as I can tell. We might as well be dead anyway. Or maybe with a new Senate, or at least a fair one, we can balance out his power. If we’re going to go down, we have to go down swinging. But, in any case, let us get through the election with all that we have got. Then, we can figure it out from there.

Resisting with Peace,

John

Dancing In The Streets! Kamala Harris as VP!

“Calling out around the world! Are you ready for a brand new beat? Summer’s here and the time is right/ for dancing in the streets!”

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! For such a moment as this, Kamala Harris is the ideal Vice President! For the first time in years-that-seem-like-decades, I am happy! Thrilled beyond measure! I have all but given up on America under Trump. The man has so many faults that a whole team of Democrats were required to offer the antidote to the illness that is Trump and Trump-ism.

Joe Biden is a good man. I have never doubted that, and I never will. The endorsement by Barack Obama of Biden was good enough for me. But I believed it before Obama made his case, because Biden is an actual person. Is Biden a great man? I don’t know that he’s ever claimed to be. That’s why he has been so hard for Trump to pin him down.

What Trump calls “sleepy” is what criminals call “boring”. They see no future in honesty and hard work, or suffering and growth. As citizens, we Americans have believed in “get paid a lot for doing no work because you deserve more than others” (see Kim Kardashian) as a model to aspire to. Donald Trump is the icon of that worldview.

Biden’s not an icon. He’s just a guy who does his job to the best of his abilities, with a good, if flawed heart. Biden is not a one-dimensional image. He’s a humble, decent man who makes mistakes like a real human being does — at work, in the midst of real life. Trump is an image, the guy who got to say, “You’re fired!”, who hasn’t really worked honestly a day in his life. Like Kardashian, he is “reality TV”, not most people’s lived reality. Trump doesn’t know what to do with that.

But back to Kamala: she’s “young, gifted and black” to quote Nina Simone. We need all of that right now. The moment when we welcome more of America to be an actual part of America, when we move closer toward a more inclusive America requires new, fresh ideas from the younger present and future of our democracy. Harris will know a Tik-Tok from an Instagram and will not be threatened by either the White establishment or Black Lives Matter. She will bring experiences that no other VP has ever had, closer to the experience that half of the population has.

Yes, she’s a woman. Does that make her a better leader? It doesn’t make her a worse one. After nearly 250 years of male leadership, I think it’s time to at least try a woman’s leadership. No one has said of her, or any woman candidate, “she’ll try to kill 150,000 people with her incompetence”. It’s a low bar, yes, but we put it there.

In her sleep, without even getting out of bed, Harris is a better leader than Trump or the soulless sycophant we have now. Could she do worse? Could any woman? They’d have to work really hard to come close to it. And for those right-wing people who will say, “she hates America”, she hates Russia more.

Finally, and this is my favorite part, Harris believes in the Rule of Law. Bill Barr and his tories, who believe the President is King, and doesn’t believe that “government derives its power from the governed” has met his match. Harris believes in law as we had it, and she believes in justice as we might have it, with better laws enacted. Bill Barr and Trump’s criminal cronies can see the writing on the wall. They should be scared, as we search for justice for so many who have been wronged.

To sum up, Goodness, humanity, and justice by the actual people who make up most of America, are the combination that Biden and Harris bring to the future and, for the first time in a long while, I want to go there.

Resisting with Peace, and hope for justice,

John

Things That Should Make You Say “Duh!”

As Biden prepares to make his decision for a female Vice President, sexism is rearing it’s ugly head. It’s a really stupid idea. Pitting Black women against White women, pitting women against each other, pitting lesbians against straight women, are all just political games still played by men (and possibly conservative women, I suppose) who don’t really believe in any woman in power.

Let’s just start with the premises that 1) Women are capable leaders. 2) Any woman being considered for the office are more worthy than the man they will replace 3) The person Biden should select needs, most importantly, to love people and love democracy and have the intellect to know how to do those things well.

A Black woman is just as competent as a White woman as an Asian woman as a Hispanic woman . It’s not the color of their skin that matters, it’s their intellect and ability to be just, and their ability to think on their feet that matters.

“Inexperienced”, people will say. Nobody else has ever done the job before in the setting they will face. In other words, no one else has experience in that particular job either.

PART 2

We have a problem, Houston… and Miami, and Los Angeles, and so on, and so on. The virus is not under control. Until the virus is under control, the economy will not be under control. Until the virus is under control, travel to other countries won’t happen. Until the virus is under control it won’t be safe to go to church. Until the virus is under control, “normal “ connection with others will not be safe. Until the virus is under control, no, children should not be in school.

If you want any of the above things to happen, not wearing a mask isn’t going to get you there. If you want any of the above things to happen, not having PPE won’t get us there. If you want any of the above things to happen, not having testing available is not going to get us there. Neither is not having reagents. Neither is not having quick turnaround tests. Neither is speeding up a vaccine for political reasons. Neither is having an unsafe vaccine.

In short, we are f…..ed until we get the virus under control. Like it or not, believe it or not, we are just all kinds of f….ed until this virus is under control.

Amazingly to some people in Congress, people will still need to eat until the virus is under control. They will still need to have a place to live until the virus is under control. They will still need medical care. They will still income. And so what if we pay them to stay home? If going to work is going to kill them or cause long-term harm to them or their families, why would you want them to go work? Also, if companies don’t want to keep their employees safe, they are responsible for causing their employees illnesses until the virus is over.

Regarding the virus, it’s a “pay me now or pay me later” situation. Either deal with it and prevent deaths or not deal with it and cause deaths.

PART 3

Houston, we have a solution… I’s fairly simple in economic terms, moral terms, and political ones as well. Respect each other. Care for each other. Consider yourself responsible for people around you. Put people before profits. If you have more money than any human should, start spending it on more people than yourself.

And regarding these things, I mean all people. I don’t mean “people that look like you” or people that think like you” or “people you know personally”. I especially don’t mean “people of your social class”. Yes, care about all people. Respect all people. If we did that, we’d still have the virus, but it wouldn’t be out of control. If the virus were under control, and we considered everyone to be valuable, parts 1 and 2 wouldn’t even be issues.

Resisting with Peace,

John

I Swear It’s This Simple.

Kidnapping is wrong. Shooting people is wrong. Shooting people to permanently disable them is wrong.

The Police’s job, like it says on the car, is “Protect and Serve”. If they are killing people, they are neither protecting nor serving.

Yes, Black Lives Matter. So do Asian lives. So do Hispanic lives. So do White lives. So do female lives. So do male lives. So do transgender lives. So do gay lives. So do heterosexual lives. So do senior lives, adult lives, teenage lives, and children’s lives. None of them should matter more than the others. That’s the point. The fact that some people had to say their lives matter before anyone cared is the problem. The fact that some people still deny that Black lives matter is still a problem.

“Illegal” should be akin to “immoral”. If you hold yourself to the standard of “moral”, “legal” shouldn’t be a problem. If you get arrested while being moral, there’s a problem with the law.

People shouldn’t be behind bars if they were being moral. See also: Immigration policy, children, family separation, driving while Black, in jail awaiting bail…

Physical abuse is wrong. Sexual abuse is wrong. Emotional abuse is wrong. At the very least, the first two should be illegal.

There is not Republican law and Democrat law. There is American law. It ought to be moral, and it ought to apply to everyone.

There’s a reason we don’t have a king — actually lots of them. Any politician who acts like a king and believes that’s always right doesn’t get the concept of Democracy. If they don’t understand the concept of Democracy, they shouldn’t be running it.

Experts know more than most of us about a certain thing. Health experts know more about health than most of us. It’s best if we listen to them.

People shouldn’t die because of policies. If they do, there’s a problem with the policy, and, if it happens a lot, there’s a problem with the government. If your government wants you to risk your life, they better have a darn good reason.

Really. Seriously. Is this that too hard to understand?

Resisting with Peace,

John

Black Is Beautiful And…

I’m watching the movie “Cry Freedom” about South Africa in 1977, and I see America today, or a month ago, I can’t tell which. Steven Biko died after being beaten, in a police truck, just like Freddy Gray died in Baltimore a few years ago. We were about 40 years behind South Africa when Gray died. Let that sink in.

It’s 5 years later, George Floyd is dead. The Senate can’t pass an anti-lynching law, let alone a full-fledged police brutality bill. Who doesn’t see lynching as crime? How is that possible? Who doesn’t see beaten Americans as a crime…unless you don’t think of Black people as Americans. In that case, it makes perfect sense.

Just as it suddenly made sense when Japanese-Americans were put in concentration camps during World War II. Suddenly, they weren’t Americans. Suddenly, American law didn’t apply to them. They hadn’t changed. The law did. Muslim-Americans were targeted, and the law was changed after 9/11. They also hadn’t changed. Once again, the law (the “Patriot Act”) changed. People have sought asylum in this country since there was a country. Three years ago, asylum seekers became “criminals”. Again, they were the same people that they always were. Now, because the law changed, they are dying — as “criminals”.

Anyone can be a non-American… except White people, and liberals. Since the days of Ronald Reagan, liberal White people have been told to be ashamed. For years in this country, “liberal” was an epithet. After that, FOX News held us back. Bill Clinton was called “slick Willie” for most of his presidency, because he was sneaking around being a “liberal” non-threat. When Obama was elected, the country might just as well have elected Afrikaans to the Senate. Mitch McConnell is not just “another guy with another opinion about the way things should be”. He’s a White Supremacist trying to enforce apartheid on all of the America, just as much as Pik Botha did. The majority of people want it one way. White Supremacy wants it to stay “the old way”. It is so entrenched in who we are, that it seems reasonable to 30% of the population. How do I know this? Trump has never lost his base — 30% of people, and as he continues to increasingly more insane, they go with him. From the other side, every non-Trump supporter understands that it will take the House, the Senate, and the Presidency being Democrat to change things. We have to hold all of the cards to have a chance of changing laws that see some of us criminals.

Now, here’s the weird part: except for 2 or 3 years in the early 70’s, it has always been illegal to be Black. Maybe it was then, too. But for a few brief, shining moments, Black was beautiful. The radio played “Say it loud, I’m Black and proud”. That’s when I grew up — when the possibility of a fully American America was possible. Then, liberal White causes “cut in line” : Women, gays, and so on. Why? Because White people believe that European heritage is what made this country. Being White, for them, is normal. It is the thing we are all measured against here. Remember “Buppies” — Black yuppies? They believed that if they could measure up to Whiteness, by straightening their hair, being lighter skinned and having wealth, they could be Americans. There are no more buppies. Why? Because you can never be White enough for conservative Whites, even if you’re White and liberal. Still, they don’t kill us. Blacks can never be White enough, simply because of the color of their skin. The fact that Black folks can die because they can’t be White enough is the definition of White Privilege. We White folk didn’t notice it, because we were safe, relatively.

That cultural revolution — where Black Lives Matter because Black is Beautiful — stopped for years after the 70’s. Since the 1980’s, time in America has actually gone backwards. 40 years after the 1980’s we’re starting the 1950’s, when America was “pure” and Whiteness was “normal”.

Here’s the thing, though: Black people haven’t changed since the 1970’s. The law has changed. Sound familiar? Starting way back with the Bakke decision, that Whites were being discriminated against by affirmative action. Hell, back then, even I believed that. My love of my own kind blinded me to the racism I wasn’t taught and didn’t see. But I knew the revolution wasn’t finished. Even back then, in upstate New York, and in Bridgeport, Connecticut, I knew the revolution wasn’t finished. I didn’t know how unfinished it was, but I liked Black too much of Black culture and new far too many decent, intelligent, kind, and deeply spiritual Black people to ever give up on that hope, yes, that “dream” of an America where we’re all Americans. Yes, Black really is beautiful. It always has been. It’s time to forge our laws into something that sees that. It’s time to know about, and care about, laws that give voice to hatred, by making Black folks “un-American” criminals.

We do a weird thing in America today that Steven Biko was trying to explain to South Africa all those years ago: Black is beautiful doesn’t mean White isn’t. It just means what it says. Black Lives Matter is the same thing. It doesn’t say that White lives, or blue lives, don’t matter. It just says that Black lives do. If we’re feeling threatened by someone else’s goodness, that is, as one of my children would say, “a you problem”, not their problem. Our lens of “White = America” needs to come off, simply because it’s only partially true. Yes, White is beautiful, except when it’s not. Violent laws don’t make America beautiful. Let’s finish the American revolution, by having all America be part of it, and let us see that Black is beautiful once again. As long as we can see beauty in all lives, even Black ones will matter.

Resisting with Peace,

John

What Did They Think Would Happen?

Ok. Here it is— the day of no surprise. Coronavirus cases, and deaths from them are rising as bad as they were at the beginning of this whole mess, except in most of New England and New York State. Why is that? Not to put too fine a point of it, but it’s because we’re not stupid! Really, that is the answer. On March 28, I not a scientist, not an expert in any way wrote a piece called “Seriously, Don’t Be An Idiot, or Evil”.

I listened to the experts, I live with people who know enough to explain what was happening, and I talked to actual people I trusted to know what to do. Lastly, my state has a governor who did the same things. Ned LaMont, whatever you think of his politics , stepped up and led our state through the absolute hell of the period from March til now. People in other states saw what was happening. They saw Governor Cuomo give a daily briefing on how horrible or good things were. He told them “this is what you’re facing”. It was a learning moment/teachable moment and that should have been enough.

There were plans on how to cope with the virus. Most of our government didn’t follow the plans. Dr. Fauci did, or tried to describe what they were supposed to be, at the least.

We had a chance to stop this thing, and we didn’t. The government stopped believing in science. Then people played politics with it, and things got worse. The government kept protective gear away from certain states, possibly so they could make money off of the infighting between states, and things got worse here than they ever needed to be. But the rest of the country saw this happening! Did they not think it could happen to them??? I guess not. Meat packing plants kept opening against the advice of experts. Lots of people died.

Once we knew that asymptomatic people could transmit the virus, we here in the North understood that if we wanted to not kill others, we would have to wear a mask. A month later, the governor of Georgia, I think, suddenly discovered asymptomatic transmission was a real thing.

But putting aside the government’s response, people —individual people — with no particular institution they were attached to — decided that no one could force them to wear a mask. People were having anti-vax parties and now they were having “COVID parties”. They died, or they got really, really sick.

Back to people— regular people. They were told to social distance. They drank, and partied, and didn’t social distance. Surprisingly to no one they got sick. To prove that they knew what it meant to be free, people without masks brought guns to the State House of Gretchen Whitmer. I’m sure that some of them got sick. A state tried voter suppression by forcing people to vote in person. Worried for their lives, they went anyway. Some of them died. Then all hell broke loose and there were riots in the streets. Many of the protesters and rioters and the police wore masks. Still, rates of the virus went up. More people died or got sick.

Now Texas, Florida, and many other states have rising virus rates. Texas and Florida were warned time and time again (see above!) that this would happened. WHAT DID THEY THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?!?!

Now, we’re here, at this place and this time, and we are back to square one. Do I care that people there will die? Of course I do. Do I care that idiots die of this thing? Kinda not so much!!! But here’s the problem: I have come to understand that you can’t separate the idiots from the innocent ones who had to put up with this insanity. They seem to live in the same place.

If there were a way to separate idiots and intentional killers out, I’d be happy to let them “take a long walk off a short pier”. I’d actually be ok with that. If you’re from out of state, and you did this, understand that now. I don’t want you here! Stay out! Deal with your own stupidity. You want to talk about personal responsibility and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps? Well, here’s your chance. Do it. Learn your lessons. Then, if you’re still alive, maybe you can come here. The problem is…

There are lessons to be learned here, things to take away from all of this. If you (or I) don’t learn these things, we are simply going to die. If you want to die, don’t listen to them. It is as simple as that.

1) Science really works. Listen to actual scientists. Learn from real experience.

2) The laws of science are bigger than politics. Since facts don’t care about politics, choosing politics over science is a deadly choice.

3) The laws of science are bigger than the economy. An unscientific world view kills economies. Ask the meat packers.

4) Because scientific facts apply everywhere , everyone is important. Inequality leads to death. Who was most hit by this pandemic? Senior citizens in nursing homes were. Those people we tried to forget about and throw away? They were the epicenters. The people who staff those places often don’t get paid enough, or there aren’t enough of them for the job. That person wiping poop off of your relative’s butt is just as important to society as the CEO who’s not. And all the deaths which will come from the protests , and the cheated-on voters? All of them would be less likely — unnecessary, in fact — if we valued Black lives as much as we do White ones. If we viewed poor people as at least as important as rich ones, meatpackers wouldn’t be dead. If we viewed immigrants as equal in value as citizens, they wouldn’t die in our fields, or in cages, with no way to distance. If we gave housing to the homeless, they wouldn’t be messing up the streets of Los Angeles, where another spread is happening.

5) Finally, because we all share air, and facts are for everyone there is no “least” of these. We actually are all in this together. If we don’t take care of each other, and have concern for one another, our society will die, and take all of us with it. If we don’t get that the unknown cashier is just as important as the famous celebrity, or the wealthy CEO, or the grandmother or the grandchild, when we tackle the climate issues we face (and we must do that, too) we’ll die again.

These are our choices. We can learn or we can choose not to. I pity us if we choose not to.

Resisting with Peace,

John

When Is Treason … Treason?

There’s a story that has people on Twitter going absolutely nuts. Because it’s a weekend, I want make sure it’s gets seen because it explains a whole lot about a whole lot of things. Someone in the Executive Branch, or maybe Congress, seems to have committed treason. Yes, I know we need another scandal/something else to worry about like a hole in the head, but, boy-howdy, this is a scandal.

Here’s the story: Apparently, Vladimir Putin, leader of the Russian state, put a bounty on American servicemen and women serving in Afghanistan. He paid members of the Taliban a fee for killing Americans. In war, this may or may not be a standard practice. I don’t know. Nothing surprises me anymore. That’s horrible enough, but that’s not where the issue ends. It seems to end in Washington D.C., with our government. That’s where the treason part starts.

At some point this year, the CIA informed the White House about this. As near as I can tell, the response was… crickets. During the time the White House (and some Senators? The Gang of Eight? Unknown) the Trump administration sold PPE to Russia, Mr. Trump pushed for Russia to rejoin the G-7talks, and, in general, acted buddy-buddy with Putin’s Russia.

What seems to infuriate military folks is that Trump made a big deal of speaking at the graduation ceremony of cadets at West Point and talking about his support of our troops while knowing this information. You may remember that Trump forced the cadets to get together in the midst of the pandemic so he could tell them how proud he is of his own work in getting them the things they need. As Commander-In-Chief, he had both the right and the ability to make that happen, even against the protestations of his generals. He made it happen. They did what they were ordered to do. If he actually knew this at the time, then having bounties on their heads wasn’t something he saw as conflicting with what he was saying.

So, what is the White House saying about this? The White House Press Secretary has just today said that “the President and Vice-President knew nothing of the ‘alleged’ incident”. So, there it is. The New York Times said that the White House was briefed on this “in late March”.

There are a bunch of problems with this. 1) Did the briefing happen or not? 2) If it did, why was there no response against the Russians? 3) If the White House knew and did something about it, why not say so? 4) If the President was briefed and did nothing, did the CIA tell Congress? 5) If they told members of Congress, who were they and why didn’t they say something? 6) What did our Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who used to run the CIA, think of all of this?

The bot/spin wars are already starting. Most people on Twitter seem to be calling this treason, but one guy split hairs by saying, “no it’s not. We’re not officially at war with Russia, therefore, it’s not treason”. We’ve heard enough splitting of legal hairs in the last 3+ years to know that this might actually be legally true. Still, if cozying up to a regime that you know is actively trying to kill our troops isn’t “legally” treason, what is?

The chaos brought on by this has just begun. I just don’t want it swept under the rug on a weekend in June. Yes, Black Lives still Matter. Yes, there still is a pandemic. But our President may be a traitor. He may be pursuing policies that actually hurt Americans, while helping our enemies, enemies who want to sow discord among us. Does that sound like Donald Trump to you? And if it does, what should we do about it?

Resisting with Peace,

John

Simple Ideas About Justice

I’m getting old, so every once in a while, I like to go back to my roots. These are simple sayings/ideas that I have gotten along the way, mostly from my mother and my grandfather. Jesus in the gospels seem to make simple statements. Educators and authors along the way, politicians, and yes, even Republicans in the past, have said things that we haven’t heard for a long time.

From my mother: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said”. Why do people in the news not get this?

Also: “If you didn’t do anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about”. Why does our justice system not share this value? Innocent people go to jail while awaiting trial and can’t afford bail, while heinously guilty and repeat offenders people never even have a trial because they have lawyers.

From Jesus: “Love your neighbor”. “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you”. Why are laws — any laws — written which prevent this from happening?

From Leonard Nimoy, as Spock: “Nothing unreal exists”. Either something is true or it isn’t. Climate change, the coronavirus, people’s experiences, and inner reality, gravity, all exist. They just do. Whether you believe they exist doesn’t make them any less true. Oceans still rise, objects still fall. People People die. People know when they are being hurt. People experience all kinds of things that you and I can’t imagine. If you don’t want those things to happen to you, you have to acknowledge that they exist, and plan accordingly. If those things never happen to you, it doesn’t mean they don’t happen to others. Which leads me to…

From an old client in recovery: “90% of your life is none of your business”. This is the thing that I find missing in our political world, and our social world, and have for years. Libertarians like the former Governor of Minnesota, (a former pro wrestler) believe this. When asked about denouncing gay rights he said, “What does this have to do with me?”. No, he did not come out and support gay rights as I would have preferred, be he didn’t make life worse for anybody either”. I’m not sure this belief will hold up in modern society, nor am I sure it always should. Perhaps a better way to say it is what my grandmother used to say, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all“.

From Spiderman, words by Stan Lee: “With great power comes great responsibility” If every single member of Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Supreme Court believed this, we would not have the corruption that we have in government today. It goes with Jesus’ “do unto others…”, but it specifically deals with the issue of power. In fact, if police forces used this rule, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

From Mavis Staples and the Staples Singers: “People walking around, talking ’bout air pollution. Put your hand over your mouth when you cough. That’ll help the solution”. Prescient? About the coronavirus? Nope. This is another example of old beliefs that we all know, that can simply make life easier for everybody. This is not rocket science, folks. Before COVID, this was just plain kindness. Now, people on videos are taking off their masks and coughing at people. What happened? When did kindness and civility become “politically correct” and to be mocked? They did when we went crazy. Can we be sane again? Please?

From Robert Kennedy: “Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” For years and years and years, politicians have said, “Why do we need to fund arts programs? Why do we need to give people welfare or food stamps? Why do we have to guarantee women’s rights, or why should we fund voter rights efforts, or why should we protect the environment? These all seem like good ideas to most people, but we can’t seem to find the money for them because we have to save a few dollars in tax money or balance the budget… we just can’t, they say. They say, “be realistic”, so we try that. Then hope gives way to cynicism, when we suddenly have a war, and we can suddenly find all the money necessary to destroy things and people’s lives. The whole Medicaid for All aka Universal Healthcare is a prime example of people telling us what we can’t do as a society, right after 20 years of non-stop war and a $3 Trillion deficit! It is right for people like Alexandria Ocassio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders to say “let’s try!”. Faux- “realism” and cynicism have gotten us here. It’s time to think about what we can do, and try to make it happen, about things other than destruction.

Resisting in Peace,

John