Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Mason Missile, May 30, 2019

Greetings! Since this publication takes a good deal of work and time, I welcome any donations, and I am willing to discuss ad space. For $10.00 I will be happy to advertise your business on the Missile. Please contact me and we’ll talk about it. I have just finalized plans for my author’s event on Tuesday, August 6, at A Novel Idea On Passyunk, a lovely independent bookstore located at 1726 E. Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia. (https://anovelideaphilly.com/). We must support local bookstores; the big box chains and Amazon can’t fulfill all our book needs. I will also be one of the dozens of fine Philadelphia-area poets reading their material at the 23rd Annual Poetry Ink, sponsored by the Moonstone Arts Center (http://moonstoneartscenter.org/). The event will take place at 12:00 PM, on Sunday, June 2, 2019, at District 1199C, 1319 Locust Street. Please try to attend; like I always say, the arts are for everyone. I have also served on my division’s election board in the primary election on May 21, helping people exercise their fundamental right to vote. That is essential, especially since what’s left of our democracy-such as it has been-is endangered by a “president” and his minions trying to establish a police state for their benefit-or at least to repress attempts to legally get them out of office due to their corruption. Impeach trump? I would NOT be opposed. I have friends who say we mustn’t impeach trump, since Mike Pence is more dangerous since he is more ideologically committed to the Christian Right agenda, which includes the “religious freedom” bills that permit discrimination against anyone-at a job or at a restaurant, say-on a “religious” excuse. LGBTQ+ people are targeted by these bills; but the bills would allow discrimination against anyone for any reason-“You’re a Muslim, I don’t serve Muslims.” “You Jews killed Jesus, so I won’t hire you.” You see where I’m going with this. Back to impeachment-Nancy Pelosi has had fun mocking trump for his behavior, such as with the recent tirade he put on at a conference with Democratic leaders which was supposed to be about infrastructure, then going to the Rose Garden for a hissy-fit in front of the news media. Pelosi has also said trump wasn’t worth the bother impeaching, in a tone of “He ain’t nothing!”; but she sounds like she’s willing to hear discussions of impeachment from the rank and file of the caucus. There is also the rise in anti-abortion legislation, such as in Georgia, Alabama, Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri, which does not totally prevent abortions but only allows them after a certain period of time, long before a woman knows she’s pregnant, and by then it’s too late to have the abortion, so they would either have to carry the baby to term, or else go through some dangerous act-coat hangers, bleach, or worse-and risk life and health, or prison time. There are many fine people who differ on abortion and when life begins-at conception, or at birth? Scientists and theologians have debated for millennia when life begins, and they still haven’t decided; so why should a gang of political hacks in a state legislature have the power to decide? I believe a woman has the right to control her body and her reproductive system-end of story. We are in a dangerous situation in this time. Climate scientists warn us that there are only ten to fifteen years left before irreparable damage in done to the environment-the air, water, and land which we all depend on to live. Far-right, racist “populist” movements are on the march in the US and Europe, and they’re not above using violence, including murder. But, thank God, I see some serious fightback against this, and I’m proud to be part of it, and I hope you join in. Bye!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Mason Missile, April 21, 2019

Greetings! Since this publication takes a good deal of work and time, I welcome any donations, and I am willing to discuss ad space. Plutocracy on the march! The scandal emerged of the actors Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman paying bribes of $500,000 to the University of Southern California to have their children admitted; additional charges were of money laundering and fraud. The federal grand jury also charged 16 other parents, including Loughlin’s husband, fashion designer Massimo Gianulli. Laughlin and Giannuli have been in denial of the severity of the charges against them, and refused to go for a plea deal, thinking the judge was “bluffing.” Laughlin and Gianulli tried to have their daughters placed into the rowing team, but one of Laughlin’s daughters Olivia Jade Gianulli, had an indifferent attitude about education, saying in a video, “I don’t know how much school I’m going to attend, but I’m going to go in and talk to my deans and everyone, and hope I can balance it all. But I do want the experience of game days, partying, I don’t really care about school, as you guys know.” There were reports that Oliva Jade was partying on a yacht owned by a trustee of USC when the charges came for her parents. (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/lori-loughlin-olivia-jade-money-education_n_5c8f5e9de4b0d7f6b0f5723c) The issue of college admissions favoring the wealthy over talented poor kids goes beyond USC, Huffman, Laughlin, and their daughters, it is endemic. The march to oligarchy goes one step further with the report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) showing the several Fortune 500 companies not only paid NO taxes-after billions of profits- but attained tax refunds. These include such corporate behemoths as Amazon, IBM, General Motors, Molson Coors, and Netflix. (https://itep.org/wp-content/uploads/04119-Corporate-Tax-Avoidance-Remains-Rampant-Under-New-Tax-Law_ITEP.pdf) Meanwhile, schools, roads, libraries, and public health are falling into ruin-we the working and low-income people are paying for this, and our finances are depleting. Georges Clemenceau once said, “War is too serious a matter to be entrusted to the military.” I say capitalism is too dangerous to be left to the capitalists, who donate to candidates and lobby for bill to their liking-many times the lobbyists sit with legislators to write the bills. The idea, promulgated to death by Ronald Reagan and too many others, that if we left the capitalists to do their capitalist thing without the government-i.e., the public-interfering, the economy would flourish, and we the workers and consumers would flourish right along with them. Case in point: In February, General Motors announced layoff of 4,000 workers in their North American plants. (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/01/gm-readies-to-make-4000-involuntary-layoffs-next-week.html) Meanwhile, GM CEO Mary Barra was reported to be among the top 20 highest paid CEOs, with an annual compensation of $21.87 million, 281 times higher than the average GM employee. (https://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/general-motors/2019/04/18/gm-ceo-barra-compensation-22-million/3415415002/). THIS is the game rigged against workers, folks. It’s a common idea in American history-the cult of the Businessman, the economic wizard who builds an industry or corporation, and we need him to apply his genius to run our government in a “businesslike” fashion. We had this during the 1920s, with the talk about running Henry Ford-union-hater, anti-Semite, and friend of Adolf Hitler-for President; then came the Depression of 1929, and the corporate elite were shown to be useless in dealing with the problem, other than repressing workers’ struggle to organize, and fighting Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs-which included the Wagner Act, the basis for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the legal carte-blanche for workers to organize. Again, the Cult of the Businessman revived, and we have Donald trump touting his business and deal-making skills for negotiating trade deals favoring American workers, saving their jobs. Now we have Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, talking about running for president, publishing his manifesto book (mandatory for presidential candidates today) and threatening to run if the Democrats run a candidate too “radical” for HIS liking, deciding all by himself what the “center” (whatever that is) is, again associating his profits with the good of the nation as a whole. (For myself, I’m boycotting Starbucks until Schultz stops his silly campaign to nowhere.) These politics of corporate dominance and public exclusion have got to come to an end. The only way is for us to-right NOW-get politically active in our local communities. In Philadelphia, I’m engaged in local elections for Mayor, City Commissioners (in charge of the election system), City Council (district and at-large), Register of Wills, and judge-ships. Becoming active in politics at this basic level is great education for engaging in politics at the federal level, as with voters vetting the upcoming presidential candidates throughout the primaries. Together, we can reclaim our democracy-what’s left of it-and expand on it. Bye!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Mason Missile, march 31, 2019

Greetings! Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has submitted his report into the meddling of Russian intelligence systems into the 2016 presidential election favoring trump-I’ll never show him respect!-to his superior, Attorney General William Barr, a longtime Republican asset. Barr released a four-page digest with his own idea of summarizing the report (of at least 300-plus pages)-I, and so many others, would prefer to see the actual report, just as, during the Watergate scandal of the ‘70s, we read the White House tapes. But, even Barr’s summary said that Mueler’s report “does not exonerate him (trump).” I don’t want to dismiss Mueller, or hype him up; he has been a dedicated and honorable public servant, and I respect his work. It is fortunate that he had to work with a thoroughly corrupt regime. But fear not-there are the investigations of the Justice Department’s Southern New York, and the congressional committees at work, showing the trump doesn’t have the entire federal government under his control-yet; he still has his dictatorial dreams, wanting to be like Putin, Kim Jong Un, Bolsonaro in Brazil, and Viktor Orban in Hungary. I am galled by the Republicans claiming, with Barr’s four-page summary of two years of investigation, that trump is fully exonerated, while he is not; the Republican base, and its media like Fox News, is talking to itself and listening to itself. I believe even they have a good understanding of how corrupt trump and his crew are, including Ivanka, Don Jr, Eric, and Kushner; but do they care about the future of this country and of the planet? The lessening of health care, education, and job opportunities in this country? Are they also bullies who worship someone who pretends to be powerful, and so live vicariously through him? Feeling their sense of entitlement to rule the government without thinking of anyone else’s opinion, the Republicans have demanded that Adam Schiff (D-CA) resign as Chair of the Judiciary Committee-but he’s stood fast against them. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) spoke against the “condescending” and “arrogant” tone of Barr’s letter, and she demanded the full report-as do we all. (https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/29/politics/mueller-report-secrecy/index.html?utm_source=fbCNNp&utm_content=2019-03-29T12%3A32%3A07&utm_term=link&utm_medium=social&fbclid=IwAR15IldRQdmU6-w_2IvfS1lKZCf7U85ZQ7__FL0rpZ1hCqTe8QdqS_zyZbA) (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/dems-demand-muellers-full-300-pages-mock-scaredy-cat-gop_n_5c9d447de4b0474c08cb2671) Recently, I joined other Jews, like in my synagogue, Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir (http://www.leyvhair.org/) in celebrating Purim, the rocking, rolling, riotous holiday where we celebrate the downfall of the wicked Haman (Boo!), through the work of the beautiful Esther (Woo hoo!), honoring the downfall of puffed-up despots who want to be worshiped as the gods they’re not. (Like someone we heard of). In a few weeks we will celebrate Pesach, AYA Passover, where we celebrate the liberation of the Jews from slavery-an ongoing theme in history that constantly has to be celebrated in every nation, in every faith, in every era. Let us maintain the spirit of those two wonderful holidays as we fight to win back our country for the people. Bye!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The Mason Missile, March 5, 2019

Greetings! I’m sorry to be so late; I’ve been doing my work as a Committee-person for my ward in South Philadelphia. Politics, the process of electing persons who run the community’s affairs, are the concern for all of us. I was delighted by the defeat of Amazon, in its attempt to establish its second headquarters in New York-specifically, Long Island City in Queens-by neighborhood people protesting the disruption of their neighborhoods and the massive tax breaks, up to $3 billion, that the City and the State would have given the company-a company said to have $11.2 billion in profits (including the upscale grocery store chain Whole Foods), and whose CEO Jeff Bezos is worth $130 billion-rich enough to organize his own private space program, SpaceX. There were also worries by the community and the unions-still the best hope for working people-of low-wage work under stressful conditions-there were reports out about those practices at Amazon facilities-and of disruption of neighborhoods and gentrification. Working-class and low-income people standing up to a corporate behemoth that, for a while, was valued at one TRILLION dollars, (https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/04/amazon-hits-1-trillion-in-market-value.html), is something to be proud of. Organizations for tenant’s rights, immigrant rights groups like Make The Road NY, and neighborhood groups joined together to stand up to Amazon and for their community. (https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/02/19/organizers-oust-amazon-hq2-new-york?cd-origin=rss#) Amazon also serves as a poster child for the challenge to the idea that giving corporations tax breaks stimulates the economy, and so state and city governments must offer these to corporations to establish themselves I their communities. That was the way Amazon played it-several cities, including Philadelphia, were on the list to be the site for HQ2, and cities and states offered the company billions in tax breaks. A report by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) shows that Amazon, with all its billions, has not paid a single cent of federal income taxes last year. (https://itep.org/amazon-in-its-prime-doubles-profits-pays-0-in-federal-income-taxes/) Moreover, Amazon has received a tax REBATE of $129 million. Another bad example of corporate socialism is Foxconn, the Taiwan-based manufacturer of pasts for Apple. The original deal was that, according to Governor Scott Walker (with Donnie trump going along), Foxconn would set up a factory that would create “up to 13,000” manufacturing jobs, mainly for display panels; for that it company would have the incentive of tax breaks from the state, worth $3 billion, along with three-quarters of a billion from local municipalities. But all of a sudden, Foxconn executives announced that the company would make the site into a research and development “hub,” which would hire approximately 1,000 technical employees. Billions of dollars lost, elected officials groveling to foreign capitalists, hopes raised for jobs for workers who have no jobs-for nothing. ( https://thinkprogress.org/factory-wisconsin-foxconn-billions-to-build-eea422ff0cef/) May I introduce you to one of the most influential-and malignant-economic thinkers you never heard of: economist James McGill Buchanan, who did his work out of George Mason University. (https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/meet-the-economist-behind-the-one-percents-stealth-takeover-of-america) . Buchanan, like Milton Friedman, Friedrick Hayek, Ayn Rand, and Ludwig Von Misis, has been an influencer to the economic elite, advocating absolute “free market” capitalism, at the expense of workers and community people. Buchanan has projected upon workers, social activists, and similar enemies of conservatives the traits of utter selfishness-to him, they are people who want to take property away from its owners for their own benefit-but are the capitalists, the owners of said property, not being selfish in bleeding workers and community people for their profit being selfish? Property owners-oligarchs-must, said Buchanan, be protected from working-class and low-income voters standing up for their rights-which, to Buchanan, would lead to tyranny, and so protecting the property of plutocrats-who wouldn’t be where they were without their workers-was defending liberty. And in defending his idea of “liberty,” Buchanan had the support of Charles Koch-you know, of the Koch brothers-and worked against such threats to “free enterprise” as the environmental movement, feminism, public education, Social security and Medicare, and the civil rights movement-blatant racism was a loser in publicity, so Buchanan’s patrons utilized the arguments of “controlling government spending.” Buchanan’s ideas were antithetical to the idea of utilizing the state apparatus for progressive ends, for the public weal; but he was happy to be an advisor for the brutally repressive Pinochet regime in Chile, and he supported the repression of low-income and working people organizing themselves for their benefit. The 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has come and gone, and there was none of the defense of tradition that is supposed to epitomize what “conservative” is supposed to mean. There was the old scare of “socialism,” updated to include terrifying pictures of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes, and distorted interpretations of the proposed Green New Deal. One rock-star speaker was Sebastian Gorka, a former trump advisor and member of the Vitezi Rend, a Hungarian group founded by that nation’s pro-fascist (and anti-Semitic) dictator Miklos Horthy; members of the group were declared “Inadmissible” into the United States by the State Department. ( https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/trump-anti-terror-adviser-a-sworn-member-of-nazi-allied-group-1.5449737) But that did not stop Gorka from raving against how he interprets the Green New Deal; “They want to take your pickup truck, they want to rebuild your home, they want to take away your hamburgers! This is what Stalin dreamt about!” said one of the deep thinkers of conservativism today. Michelle Malkin, another right-wing pundit, raved about the “invasion” of immigrants, both legal and illegal; “Both parties are to blame,” Malkin proclaimed, “and yes, I’m looking at you, retired Paul Ryan. And yes, I’m looking at you, Mitch McConnell. And yes, I’m looking at you, Bush family. And yes, I’m looking at you, the ghost of John McCain.” The crowd cheered at that-an attack on people who were as conservative as themselves, but they disowned them when it suited their purpose. ( https://www.huffpost.com/entry/cindy-mccain-john-mccain-cpac-speaker_n_5c7c225ae4b0614614db7900) The fear of the “Other,” of dark-skinned immigrants, who don’t look like themselves, was in Malkin’s speech. (Malkin, by the way, is of Filipina extraction, yet she used rhetoric worthy of David Duke. Hmmm…) Blatant white nationalists-like Peter Brimelow, of the racist web site VDare; Gavin McInnes founder of the Proud Boys, the white nationalist thug gang; and Faith Goldy, who has been on podcasts of the racist web site Daily Stormer- people who conservatives of an earlier era would have shunned, roamed the halls of the conference, denying the value of diversity and treating it as a plague. And during the conference, there were reports of harassment of Muslims and LGBTQ people by CPAC attendees. (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cpac-harassment_us_58b7360fe4b0284854b3a2a4?fbclid=IwAR3B2uOpF77FJXBsq5NRV36bJYREya5R887z7y37RBdylEZ61CYFt3UJp5E) THIS is what there up against; and our commander in chief is their enabler and hero. Let us continue to organize, to study the issues, and fight against this menace to our liberties. Bye!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Mason Missile, December 29, 2018

Greetings! I hope you’re enjoying your holidays. Unfortunately, there is the new December tradition-along with caroling, the ugly sweater, and Aunt Clara’s fruit cake- of religious extremists demanding everyone say “Merry Christmas,” complaining that they’re not allowed to talk about Christmas. For conservatives, it’s a zero-sum game for them: more rights for traditionally oppressed minorities-like Jews and Muslims in this country- means less rights for the traditionally dominant groups, as if rights were a tangible commodity. The reality doesn’t matter to them, it’s their perception of reality; they project what they want to impose on others-like the dominance of Christianity to the exclusion of other faiths, or no faith at all- upon others. It’s like the homophobic bully who beats up gays because he himself is afraid that he’s gay (like it’s a bad thing). Look at Wisconsin and Michigan- Democrats have won governorships in those states in 2018, and the lame duck Republican legislature- “elected” from heavily gerrymandered districts-got to work in passing legislation stripping the new governor of his authority to make appointments to certain agencies; in Michigan, Republicans did the same to the newly-elected governor, attorney-general, and secretary of state (all women). In 2016, in North Carolina, Roy Cooper, the Democrat, defeated Pat McCrory for governor, and the Republican legislature proceeded to strip the governor of some of his authority. Fortunately, the efforts by Republicans are being challenged in the courts and by grassroots activists-did they think we would just take it lying down, allow ourselves to be oppressed and repressed? Apparently they do, they act like there would be no resistance. In Georgia and Florida, during their gubernatorial elections, there were voting applications placed “on hold,” voting stations closing, efforts to discourage people from voting-like when, in Georgia, county officials ordered people at a senior citizens’ center off the bus taking them to the polling station-and absentee and mail-in ballots all of a sudden going missing. Remember, Brian Kemp, who ran against Stacy Abrams in Georgia, was still serving as Georgia’s Secretary of State, supervising the election system. Remember this when Republicans whine about “elitist” Democratic liberals, and pretending to be of, by, and for the people; if they were so damn confident about their popularity, why repress voting? Do they expect us to, like I said, just take it? Are they just trying to wear us down, drain our financial and emotional resources so we give up? There might be a hiatus, a time-out, but we get back into the fight. (Still, burnout, wearing one’s self out, is a problem among activists. We need to take care of ourselves; don’t worry, there will be others keeping the fight going while we’re on vacation.) Frontiers of Free Enterprise- General Motors, like the other auto giants, took a bail-out package from the federal government after its bankruptcy in 2009, costing taxpayers $11.2 billion, after the government spent $49.5 billion to save the company. (Last I heard, there were no cries about “lazy welfare moochers” then.) (http://time.com/82953/general-motors-bailout-cost-taxpayers-11-2-billion/) Plus, the tax cuts the Republicans passed in 2017 were-the same old line that nobody believes-to stimulate the economy, rebuild equipment and hire more workers. BUT- Right after Thanksgiving, GM announced it would close down five of its plants in North America, thereby laying off 14,700 workers. (https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/nov/26/general-motors-set-to-cut-workforce-as-slowing-sales-and-steel-tariffs-bite) Meanwhile, GM CEO Mary Barra received a salary on $22 million. (https://moneyandmarkets.com/barra-most-unpopular-ceo-gm/) Even while crying poormouth, cutting salaries and jobs for workers, and demanding tax breaks, corporate executives continue to attain huge perks. The same holds true for another venerable American brand, Sears, under its CEO Eddie Lampert, formerly of Goldman Sachs, a disciple of Ayn Rand, and with no experience in retail sales; applying the idea of cutthroat competition to units of his company (which acquired Kmart) and demanding they compete with one another. (https://www.salon.com/2013/07/18/ayn_rand_killed_sears_partner/) Sears under Lampert sold off and closed hundreds of Sears brand and Kmart stores, and laid off thousands of employees-while paying its executives $9.9 million in perks. (https://thinkprogress.org/sears-lavishes-ceo-with-pay-and-perks-while-laying-off-workers-and-bilking-taxpayers-d6dabcf9762d/) Instead of more employees, fewer and more laid off; instead of more facilities, stores and plants closing. Corporate executives prosper from their incompetence, and workers get nothing. That was the same model practiced by Bain Capital, under Mitt Romney. The ideas put forth in the Preamble of the Constitution of the Industrial Workers of the World are even truer now than back when the IWW was founded in 1905: “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life. “Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.” I’m not entirely into the IWW program, but the idea is the same-we workers, and low and middle-income people must educate ourselves and then organize to reclaim what remains of what we call “democracy” in this country, and to move it further. And on that note, Happy New Year!

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Mason Missile, November 23, 2018

Greetings! I hope everyone within the sound of this newsletter voted. I did my modest role in the process; as a committee-person in my division, I handed out flyers throughout my ward, and I served as Clerk in my division’s election board, taping up posters and helping take the information from the machines after the election. In my division, it was an epic turnout; serious issues were at stake in this election, such as the environment, tax codes favoring the wealthy and placing the tax burden on already stressed working families, dilapidated schools, and aging infrastructure-along with a commander-in-chief who runs the government like a mafia family, who does not honor military veterans or people who died in the service of their country, and whose deepest thoughts are on Twitter (nothing against social media, he’s not that deep a thinker). But it shouldn’t take an impending national catastrophe to motivate people into voting; politics, and the issues of the community affected by politics, are the concern of each person. Now that the election is (for the most part) over, we can take a breather-burnout and wearing down are problems for activists-then continue our work on educating ourselves on the issues and meeting to plan strategy; politics is not about elections, it’s about working with, and on, the governing system for the benefit of the entire community. I’m pleased with some of the results; we didn’t get the Senate, but we have the House, with a new cadre of women members-over 100 at last count; recounts have added to the number. A definite, long-overdue sea change is coming to our politics. We have Sharice Davids in Kansas (Native American and gay), Deb Haaland in New Mexico (Nate American), Rashida Tlaib in Michigan (Muslim) and Ilhan Omar in Minnesota (Muslim and Somali-American), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York (Hispanic and the youngest female member elected). In Colorado, Jared Polis (Democrat) will be the first openly gay man to be elected governor of a state (Kate Brown of Oregon is already the first openly bisexual governor of a state). Marsha Blackburn will be Tennessee’s first female US Senator. The question-Should there be new leadership for congressional Democrats? Often congressional Democratic leaders, like Steny Hoyer and Chuck Schumer, have gone along too much with accommodating Republicans, giving up too much to them; and Majority Leader (and possible Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi does not want to take the radical measures necessary for the country and the economy, like “Medicare for all,” to make our health care system closer to Canada’s single-payer system, preferring to stick with the Affordable Health Care Act (“Obamacare”). Alas, taking corporate money, and the Clinton “centrist” tendency to imitate the Republicans in accommodating corporations with “free trade” deals detrimental to workers, like the North American free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), have rendered the Democrats incapable of challenging the Republican program. And so we have been taught that “free trade” is the new normal, the reality we have to accept, and any challenge is just plain silly. Oh? This new crew of Democrats in Congress hopefully could challenge this belief. But do we have to accept Pelosi as Speaker again? Would any attempt to dislodge Pelosi weaken the Democrats in Congress, at a time when the Republicans are now weakened by their own President, and may not ever recover? This is a great test of political skills for the new crew, to be ready to deal with the established leadership, but from a position of strength, to advance their agenda within the framework of the party caucus. The party leadership would have to consider first the needs of the American people and the issues Americans face on a daily basis, and the leaders would have to finally be weaned away from the corporate trough. The new members represent the American people as they are-not so affluent, not so white, mainly female, many not heterosexual, and not all of them identifying as Christian. Eventually, with practice of political skills like committee work, public speaking, and negotiating, these newbies will attain leadership positions. The new congressional crew will have to deal with such serious issues as income inequality, health insurance, dilapidated schools and infrastructure, the environment, factories closing and jobs moving to low wage regions, then overseas (a phenomenon dating back to the fifties and sixties, supposedly a golden age for the American worker). For the good of the nation-seriously-the new crew and the old heads must come together for the people’s welfare. (I’m not an either-or thinker; the new crew and the old veterans have their virtues, skills, experience, and energy.) This election has also exposed the terrible reality of voter fraud, particularly in Georgia, Texas, and Florida, during their senatorial and gubernatorial campaigns. How interesting it is that while people were exercising the most simple and basic act of a citizen-voting-machines, lost electric power or were not open on time, absentee ballots were misplaced until the deadline for counting them passed, and people suddenly found themselves NOT on the voting rolls, even though they voted for decades. Fortunately, the results of these voting suppression schemes are observed and challenged. And IF these candidates are “elected” by fraudulent means, like Brian Kemp in Georgia (who, while running for Governor, was still the state’s Secretary of State, in charge of the voting system), we don’t have to accept them as the legitimate holders of those offices. This is not about “being a good sport” and “you lost get over it.” This is serious business, not a kid’s backyard ball game. These offices affect how people’s lives work-law enforcement (will it turn into state repression?), pollution, discrimination, you name it. And do the conservatives think that we the people will take this? NO! We will continue our work of activism, agitation, education, and voter mobilization. Rest assured I’ll do my part, and if we all come together in this work, we can and will win. Please forgive the cliché, but “Many hands make light work.” Bye

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Mason Missile, August 27, 2018

Greetings! Upcoming is Labor Day, the holiday commemorating the working men and women of America. What is there to celebrate lately? Here we have a “populist” President, supposedly the champion and voice of (white) working-class Americans-always assumed to be white-who signed a tax bill favoring the wealthiest Americans, and fighting against the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.” trump’s attitude, and the attitude of plutocrats in this country, is one of condescension towards(white) working people, that they are too addicted to opioids and the drug of racism to see who their real enemy is-the same plutocratic class- and they feed working-class people with racially-coded fears of “law and order,” “crime in the streets,” “lazy welfare bums,” “affirmative action programs taking jobs away from deserving white workers,” etc.-trump updated this tactic to rail about “MS-13” and “rapists” coming over the border with Mexico- not mentioning that our tax policies have been long skewed in favor of corporations and the wealthy-people who pay lobbyists to alter the tax code in their favor, and to approve federal contracts with certain defense industries. (The news media, also large corporations, have played along with this; however, I think they’ve been pretty good lately at standing up to the trump tantrums.) Along with this is the Supreme Court’s decision on the Janus case, which limits the ability of public-sector unions to do their work in representing their clients; I have no doubt the learned justices of the Court welcomed this decision, for they sympathized with the corporations-and the Koch brothers-trying forever to weaken and finally destroy unions in this country. The decision upset me terribly. However, I have been buoyed by the Labor victories throughout the country, the successful teachers’ strikes in such conservative states as West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona; and the voting down of the referendum in Missouri for “right-to-work” (for less)-in Missouri, another conservative Republican state. We have to overcome the idea that the plutocratic class would automatically rain their blessings on us proletarians, that they know what is best for all of us with their nearly total control of the economy; as a Democratic Socialist, I believe that we the people should have a say in the economic destiny of the nation, since it deals with OUR jobs, OUR ability to pay our bills and purchase OUR groceries, etc. An editorial in the New York Times of May 9, 2018 tells about Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, is now the wealthiest man in human history, worth $131 BILLION! (I could live easily on one lousy billion.) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/09/opinion/jeff-bezos-spend-131-billion.html Since Bezos can’t spend all that money, what does he plan to do with it? Not charitable donations, like the old Robber Barons like Carnegie and Rockefeller carried out with their fortunes (made with the sweat and muscle of workers they overworked and underpaid). Bezos’ bright idea is space travel, including regular trips to space-space tourism! We have problems aplenty on THIS planet-global warming through the use of carbon-based fuels, illiteracy, unemployment, infrastructure (roads, bridges, electric power stations) collapsing, famine, genocide-and Bezos wants frequent-flyer points to Mars! Bezos can do whatever the hell he wants with his money, okay, I’m cool with that; but with the constant deregulation of business practices, the weakening of trade unions, the tax policies favoring people wealthy enough to buy and sell members of Congress, it has led to widening extremes of wealth and poverty-the likes of which eventually leads to violent social upheaval-let’s say it, revolution. We HAVE to educate ourselves on the issues, organize at our communities and our worksites, and get out and vote this November Also upcoming are the High Holy Days, Rosh Ha-Shana and Yom Kippur, where we re-assess our lives, give up what no longer is good for us, and realize whatever good is in us and around us. Currently we are in the Hebrew month of Elul, when we sit back and reflect on our lives over the past year. Self-improvement is a long process, taken step by step; if you slip and fall on your way to advancing and improving, that’s okay, it’s all part of the learning process, just get back on your feet and keep walking. An excellent guide to the High Holy Days, and the other Jewish holidays, is Seasons of our Joy: A Modern Guide to the Jewish Holidays by Arthur Waskow, one of the leaders of the Jewish Renewal movement and head of the Shalom Center (https://theshalomcenter.org/). On that note, I bid everyone L’shana tova, a sweet, happy, and prosperous year to you all.