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Number of posts: 15,134
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The night before he was to be put to death on a trumped-up murder charge, labor organizer Joe Hill sent a telegram to his friend Bill Haywood of the IWW: "Goodbye, Bill, I die like a true blue rebel. Don't waste any time mourning. Organize!"
Many of us will die.
When the hard-fought gains of decency, humanity, and equity are ripped from our nation's statutes by the greed of oligarchs and their lackeys, we will die.
When the hope of a better future is crushed by the selfish fear of the privileged, we will die.
When it becomes clear that we will not be silenced, we will die.
When they cannot sweep us from the streets, we will die.
When they cannot still our songs of freedom, we will die.
When they cannot make us acquiesce to our own oblivion, we will die.
But for this to happen, we have to understand the price. And be willing to pay it.
Death will not be demanded of all of us.
Prison will not be demanded of all of us.
Pain, privation, destitution, will not be demanded of all of us.
But those things might be demanded of any of us.
And what WILL be demanded of all of us is to ORGANIZE.
To be willing to pay that price, and to put our time, our energy, our creativity into the fight. To be willing to risk the harder sacrifices, and make the hard choices.
I promise you this, this truth which has been proved through generations, from Joe Hill to Martin Luther King, and before and since: IF we do this, IF we are willing to look out over the devastation, dry our tears, take one another's hands, and march into the future together, determined to bring back all that we are losing now, no matter what the cost to ourselves...
WE WILL PREVAIL.
And not only will we win back what we lose tomorrow, but we will take the next steps, into a greater future yet. A future of compassion, equity, sustainability, dignity, humanity, and common well-being.
A future of knowing, caring about, and being cared about by our neighbors, our communities, our institutions, and our leaders.
A future where the legacy of those whose work is being rolled back now will be raised up in respect and love.
So take Joe's words to heart.
Some of us will die.
If it's me, I'm proud to stand with Joe. So don't mourn!
Posted by TygrBright | Fri Jan 20, 2017, 01:19 AM (4 replies)
My stepfather taught me two important lessons I will be grateful for, for the rest of my life. The first one is "If it seems too good to be true, it's too good to be true." (That's kept me out of a lot of MLM scams, bad loan terms, and other pitfalls.)
The second one was "When the stakes are high, don't listen to what people say. Watch what they do."
The stakes-- for our Party, our nation, and our grandchildren, have never been higher in my lifetime. I find myself using the term "existential threat" a WHOLE LOT.
In his blog "Whatever," writer John Scalzi posted today on "The Beginning of the Trump Years":
I think a lot of people opposed to the Trump administration are still in oh shit oh shit oh shit mode, as opposed to fuck you, letís do this thing mode. Trump and his agglomerated assemblage of assholes are hoping the left (which in this case would include large swaths of the middle) are still shell-shocked and/or content to be a circular firing squad rather than focusing fire on them.
I am well into the "fuck you, let's do this thing" shift, but one of the difficult questions to answer, for me, is "do what?"
And let me tell you, the impulse to pick up the same weapons they've been using for the past eight years, turn them 180 degrees, and LEAN on the firing stud is a powerful, powerful one. The news wouldn't even have to be all that "fake." The trolls could simply add a drop or two of sarcasm, irony, or venom to the material already so abundantly provided.
The jokes DO write themselves... ask any of the late-night comedy show hosts or writers.
But really, it's like tossing lit matches at a toddler who's already playing with a flamethrower.
That one will take care of itself.
But what about the rest of them? What about the ghouls and greedheads who are now romping gleefully through the Legislative Branch?
They're more difficult targets, only partly because there are so many of them.
Even so, when it comes to the arc of history and how it bends, I'm tempted to take advice from the man who picked up Martin Luther King's dream and marched it the furthest it's made it yet. To the hatred and fury and backlash of the terrified melanin-deficient Americans clutching the tattered rags of privilege in their rageful fists. To the pride and honor of his name, his legacy, his leadership and his inspiration.
This week has been his valediction.
And in the face of that existential threat-- which he is better equipped to understand, in greater depth than any of us, he chose to end his term with a powerful act of compassion. An act he knew he'd be pilloried for, by the same terrified, yammering cowards who've been fighting every step of progress and blocking every attempt to build a better future for all Americans-- including them.
And today he chose to stand before the media and demonstrate the power of caring and competence again. Of maturity, dignity, and grace.
I shall not be going low.
In the long run, the arc continues to bend.
And we shall overcome.
Posted by TygrBright | Wed Jan 18, 2017, 06:10 PM (1 replies)
He owes the Russian mob millions, maybe even billions.
He has no way to pay it back.
Being President is the only way to keep himself alive and (hopefully) manage some payback.
After all, who is better protected from 'fatal encounters' than the President of the United States?
Even Pootie would think twice about such a takedown, if there was the slightest chance it could be traced.
The Septic Sphincter is playing for the only thing more important than his desperately fragile, hyperinflated ego: His life.
It's the only thing that makes sense.
Posted by TygrBright | Wed Jan 11, 2017, 05:40 PM (11 replies)
As a cash-strapped student, I drove the kinds of cars cash-strapped students drive, to get me to and from work and classes. I particularly remember a Chevy Nova that had a totally solid engine, but an affinity for breaking and losing peripheral bits. Like mufflers. Or the steering wheel, which came off in my hands while trying to parallel-park into the last available space outside the location of the class I was trying desperately not to be late for.
For the most part, my stepfather, who picked out the car for me and helped me buy it, left me to deal with such things on my own. (He did recommend, after it had dumped the second muffler onto the highway, that I take it to Midas. I got two free mufflers from them.)
For the most part, I let what I considered "non-essential" repairs wait until I had the cash. And my stepfather let me, even when it meant getting an expensive noise ticket for one of the bad mufflers, or having to bundle up into three layers of down outerwear to commute, the winter the heater fan went kaput. My car, my cash, my priorities.
But then one day, apropos the casual "How's the car running" regular query, I mentioned how the current repair-on-hold was connected with something called a (if I recall correctly) "universal joint." The mechanic had recommended it be fixed as soon as possible, but it was a pricey repair, and the car, after all, still ran pretty good.
You gearheads reading this probably reacted just like my stepfather. He wanted me to hand over my keys, NOW. When he calmed down, he agreed to help pay for a tow (the Nova was in his driveway) and work out a loan for the repair.
"Sure, you can keep the car on the road... until it kills the car AND you."
The Constitution of the United States is an amazing document. It lays out a meta-structure for self-government of a geographically and culturally heterodox group of fiercely independent former colonies that had little real trust among themselves and all kinds of intra-group economic and social conflicts already baked in.
And it's kept the old girl on the road for more than two centuries.
But the "universal joint" of the Constitution leaves it with a built-in failure point. To bring those colonies together into a viable unity, the framers HAD to work from common ground.
And the common ground they had most of, naturally, was Y chomosomes, melanin deficiency, and real estate assets.
It's not that they didn't BELIEVE in the Equality of Man. They did, devoutly. They wanted our Constitution to reflect that. So they wrote it, in English, a language which structurally renders a full half of humanity invisible and disregarded by its very pronouns.
The "Equality of Man", indeed. Because, after all, "man" includes women, who are the possessions, objects, adjuncts of their male paterfamilias.
They squirmed a bit harder on the melanin deficiency parts.
And they got called earlier, and more effectively, on the real estate assets business.
But if you look at the document today, with all of its various amendments over the past 230 years, it becomes clearer and clearer. A repair here, a patch there, some tightening up on the nuts and bolts... they've kept it on the road, although for those of us who were never part of that initial "common ground," the vibration has been obvious all along.
For all its strengths, the Constitution was essentially written to allow white male property owners to run things among themselves. Hopefully, with plenty of high-toned roses to be flung at the rest of us, at least enough to keep us quiet.
But now the roses are withered, the vibration is clanking and the steering is juddering, and we're in the heavy traffic of an increasingly chaotic, conflicted, and nationalist world.
And the white, male property owner who's been handed the keys sees no problem, no problem at all.
Posted by TygrBright | Mon Jan 9, 2017, 05:13 PM (4 replies)
I make no bones about it. There is enough evidence, real and circumstantial, to make me believe that an American running for high elective office knowingly colluded with a foreign power intent on preventing his opponent from being elected.
That is treason.
It would be treason even had it failed.
But it didn't.
And that has put a high elected official of the United States under the influence of a foreign power, compounding the treason further.
I use the term "treason" with measured care, because although we are not at war with Russia, that power is not only actively opposing American interests in economic, political, and cultural spheres throughout the world, but it has historically regarded itself as as opposed to American influence and actions on the world stage. And the foreign leader most involved in this shameful betrayal started his own career in espionage against NATO, and against America and its allies.
This morning, January 7th, only two weeks before he is due to be sworn into America's highest office with an oath to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States," this traitor took to the netwaves. He did not apologize for his treason, nor renounce the office obtained by lies, collusion, and betrayal to a foreign power, nor did he repudiate his Russian masters. No, he took to the netwaves to tell Americans that only "stupid people" don't want a better relationship with the foreign power that has perpetrated malignant and criminal espionage against us.
The Betrayer of the United States has made his choice. Doubtless he would have to catapult such propaganda to keep his Russian master happy, in any case. But the terms he's chosen also reveal a profound and shameful ignorance of history.
And not "history" in the sense of long-past events involving dead-and-gone people, but "history" that falls within his own lifespan. The Betrayer of the United States apparently doesn't even feel it's important to understand that history and how it affects the nation and the people he aspires to control.
There's a profound irony here, because I spent a considerable part of the 1970s and 1980s making the case against reflexive enmity with the Soviet Union, and pleading to open channels of communication and cooperation with Russia and its people.
As a Democrat, a progressive liberal, anti-war activist, anti-nuclear proliferation protester, I regarded the whole paranoid "Reds under the bed" mentality as an artifact of hard-line Cold Warrior psychosis.
But even then I never denied the very real threat to American interests represented by the USSR and its oligarchy of political bosses.
Even then I understood their pragmatic need to have America be their enemy. I did not dismiss their genuine frustration with America's technological and economic hegemony, their fear of American ideological influence, and their determination to compete, control, and win a dominant position on the world stage at the explicit expense of America, her prestige, her prosperity, and her arrogant assumption of superiority.
When communism crumbled in upon itself, I admit I cherished some naive hopes that Russians would seize the moment, reinvent their governmental structure, and forge new relationships with their former satrapies based on mutual respect and independent alliances. And perhaps, eventually, re-negotiate the rules of the "spheres of influence" games that had dominated East/West conflict for so long, to render the balance more stable and less toxic.
I said they were naive hopes.
They didn't last long. The West did little, if anything, in the way of bold or visionary outreach to restructure the channels of economic and political opportunity. The brief heyday of possibility ended with the same formerly-communist oligarchs, now transformed into burgeoning predator capitalist oligarchs, back in control.
The "Soviet" labels have been painted over. The economic tyranny of authoritarian Stalinist "communism" has been replaced with the economic tyranny of predator capitalist oligarchy, but the same people are in charge, and essentially the same rules apply.
Russian culture is rich and beautiful. The Russian language is sonorous and inspiring. Russian writers, philosophers, and artists have made amazing contributions to human evolution and the wealth of the spirit. Russian parents love their children and want the best possible futures for them. When you cut Russians, they bleed the same red blood Americans do. They suffer, they love, they laugh, they aspire, just as we do.
I don't hate Russians, and I would love to have better relationships with Russian people.
But not with Russia, the nation, and Vladimir Putin, its President. Not with the relentlessly ambitious cabal who have decades of hostility, deception, malice, and treachery towards America to fulfill. Not with a predator capitalist oligarchy that can operate only in terms of a zero-sum game where they can win only by defeating, degrading, and destroying my country.
I've lived through too much, seen too much history in my lifetime, and, unlike the Betrayer of the United States, the soon to be Traitor-in-Chief and his cowardly, unpatriotic followers, I have paid attention.
I'm not letting this one go.
I'm not dropping this.
Treason it is. Treason it remains.
Posted by TygrBright | Sun Jan 8, 2017, 01:27 AM (17 replies)
To them, "Repealing Obamacare" sounds GOOD! It means they won't have to pay a penalty if they keep not having insurance, they won't see more rate hikes (heck, they expect their premiums to go DOWN,) their taxes will go down because those "undeserving" people will stop getting freebies, they won't have to scratch their heads trying to figure out all the complicated implications of the "silver" versus "gold" plans and what the different kinds of deductibles are, and they won't have to worry about whether the doctor they like will stop taking their insurance, and a whole lot more delusional bullshit.
Yes, it's delusional bullshit, but they believe it.
Because, let's face it, the ACA is COMPLICATED. It does have some downsides (mostly as a result of GOP whining and compromises and court cases and so on, but they're there and they do hurt.)
So when they hear "repeal Obamacare" they jump for joy because a) That will "fix" everything that's wrong with their current health care and b) it'll stick it to that uppity Kenyan who stole the WHITE House for the last 8 years.
We have to stop saying that repealing the ACA is bad, repealing Obamacare is going to hurt people, they'll be sorry, blah-blah-blah, and reduce it to simple, easy-to-grasp one-liners:
Repeal is the GOP giving your insurance company permission to drop you if you get sick.
Repeal brings back the prescription drug "donut hole" for seniors on Medicare.
Repeal will allow your insurance company to stop offering any plans you might qualify for.
Repeal will remove rate hike caps and make your next rate increase BIGGER.
Repeal will let insurance companies stop covering anyone with a "pre-existing condition."
Repeal will let many health care providers "balance bill" you for whatever insurance refuses to pay.
Repeal will crowd the hospital emergency rooms with uninsured people seeking care.
Repeal will kick your children off your policy when they turn eighteen, leaving them uncovered.
Repeal restores lifetime limits on insurance benefits, when you hit them, you're uncovered.
Repeal takes away your free preventive care.
I prefer pounding ONE of these one-liners at a time, but they could also be bullet-pointed under "10 Ways the GOP Congress Wants to Screw You by Repealing ACA/Obamacare"
The main thing is to KEEP IT SIMPLE.
They don't have much cognitive capability, your average Deplorable.
Posted by TygrBright | Wed Jan 4, 2017, 04:47 PM (39 replies)
That is all.
Posted by TygrBright | Wed Jan 4, 2017, 03:04 PM (0 replies)
I can just imagine Pravda Spice meeting with some of his Congressional opposite numbers:
"Comrade Vlad says we must look INDEPENDENT of one another!"
"Yes, yes! Comrade Vlad is WISE... he knows... about our Swiss bank accounts and the rent boys..."
"So we must do something that makes us look INDEPENDENT! We must not always be agreeing and appearing to coordinate our actions."
"But... isn't that what our base of deplorables WANTS?"
"Maybe so, and we will give it to them, but we can't LOOK as though we're acting together. The non-deplorables and the media we don't have completely in our pockets yet will suspect something."
"Don't be more foolish than you can help. Have Congress and the Executive Branch EVER worked together in recent memory? Even when they are controlled by the same party, it is always a power struggle. That is how the people know we are INDEPENDENT. Not being coordinated from Moscow."
"Oh. Okay. How will we do this?"
"Easy. First you do something that looks "extreme" and we criticize, and you walk it back."
"Why do we have to go first?"
:: Pravda Spice sighs:: "We have not been Inaugurated yet..."
"Oh, right. And then, when you are, YOU'LL do something "extreme" and WE'LL criticize, and you'll walk it back."
::long pause:: "Oh, sure."
"And then when the media has praised us all for acting INDEPENDENTLY, we just quietly get on with doing whatever it was we were criticizing each other for."
"Comrade Vlad will approve."
Posted by TygrBright | Tue Jan 3, 2017, 01:55 PM (0 replies)
"Do not interrupt your enemies when they are in the process of defeating themselves." ~variously attributed to Sun Tzu, Napoleon, etc.
Let's start here: The GOP has majorities in the House and Senate. A GOP-branded circus is about to take over the Executive branch. The Clown-in-Chief will appoint the a new Supreme Court justice, which will be approved by the GOP Senate.
Let's add another reality check: Mass communications/entertainment media are completely free of any regulated obligation to do anything other than pursue the splashiest short-term profit margins possible, in order to make their chief executives and major shareholders even wealthier.
And another: A network of right-wing funded organizations has effectively seized control of the most popular social media channels for the past few years, resulting in yeast-like growth of fake news, hate-mongering, and RW propaganda spin on every conceivable issue.
And a final one: The GOP's goal of turning the education system over to its capitalist Oligarch owners for privatization is almost achieved, through decades of degradation of the public education system, leaving large numbers of poorly-educated (at best) voters vulnerable to the propaganda of the Right.
Put all of these facts together, and to me they read like this:
There is NO conventional political or ideological strategy that can be applied within the context of any branch of the Federal Government that will effectively "stop" them from doing whatever the fuck they want to do, and there is NO conventional media-based educational, hearts-and-minds-focused strategy that is likely to change the minds of those who believed it was a good idea to vote for Trump, for any reason.
Got that? a) We can't stop the GOPpies in the Federal government from turning the U.S. into a fourth-rate world power and a complete laughingstock and/or catastrophic threat to everyone else in the world. And b) We can't "get the Trump voters to see sense/face facts/perceive reality."
This is, in the weirdest possible bass-ackwards way, GREAT NEWS!
Because here's what it means, if we accept those two things: We can stop being distracted, divided, and disabled by our attempts to accomplish the un-accomplishable.
'But Bright,' I hear some of you saying, 'isn't it our obligation as decent human beings to at least make the attempt to stop the GOP from trashing democracy and dismantling the Constitution and maybe fucking up the whole WORLD? And shouldn't we, as compassionate individuals, at least try to throw at least those Trump voters whose reasons seem marginally less horrific than outright apocalyptic hatred a lifering of accommodating understanding?'
It is, repeat after me:
We don't HAVE to try and take down the GOP. They are already well on the road to total self-annihilation as it is. Think about this. There are so many built-in conflicts of interest, greedy self-aggrandizing assholes with wildly differing agendas, foreign powers that hate each other backing their own horses in various branches of government, and apocalyptically incompetent buffoons about to be set loose in complicated, interlocking arenas of influence, that even something with an inertial drag as massive as the Federal bureaucracy can't save their asses.
We STAND BACK, and let them do it. We attempt to stop them, we give them someone to blame for their own failures: us.
(Someone out there right now is whining about how "But if we do nothing to try and stop them people won't love us, either!" Take a deep breath, and THINK. First, "people" don't love us already, and second, getting blamed by the massive RW propaganda machine for messing up the GOP's Magic Pony Delivery Schedule isn't going to win us any new friends, either.)
We will find the leaders we need to unite around (and I assure you, it will be leaderS, plural,) not in the halls of power and the smoke-filled rooms, plotting strategies in Committee meetings and court challenges and duelling press releases, but in the streets. In the places where we least expect them. In states, and cities. On school boards, in churches, in art and literature and entertainment. In the places where conscience resides, in the small-scale laboratories of compassion and hope and progressive change.
And as the GOP crumbles, without help or opposition from us, the pain they will unleash, especially if we've given them no scapegoats to portion out the blame to, will make the case we cannot make to those Trump voters who are salvageable.
And if, in the mean time, we stop bickering among ourselves and pretending we have "A Plan" or "An Answer", and simply demonstrate by who we are, and what we do, that we care about our neighbors, our neighborhoods, our town and cities, our communities, our states, our country, and our ideals, then they will find their way into the discussion with us.
And not "A Plan" will emerge, but many plans, many efforts, many attempts, a blizzard of push-back and change-pressure and hope and determination and focus on the basic principles of liberal and progressive self-government and participatory democracy. It will power the swing of the pendulum, again, away from the Randian greed, self-aggrandizing ego, zero-sum-game school of politics.
If we seize this opportunity, and walk this path, we will be ready for that swing back, and be able to rebuild an America that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren can sustain and balance in a sadder and wiser world.
So, think about it.
The easy paths of expediency and laziness got us here. The big guns of hate and fear, manipulation and gamesmanship are on the other side.
I believe commitment, compassion, vision, and participation will lead us out, if we are strong enough to take that road.
Posted by TygrBright | Sun Jan 1, 2017, 04:42 PM (8 replies)
It seems like all I read about these days is people who shouldn't be dying, dying.
I can't sign on to the fucking Internet without some headline about someone I admire, someone who's brought Light into the world, flickering out.
I can't open my fucking email inbox without some email from someone helpfully passing along a link to an article about an icon from my youth or childhood passing from experience into memory.
For fuck's sake, I can't even open a god damn HOLIDAY CARD without getting news of the death of some friend's family member (my god, imagine outliving your own child, I can't even contemplate that level of pain without sharing the tearing void...) or even a close friend I didn't know was ailing, passing on.
Everywhere I look, everything I read, hell, it seems like every phone call I answer that isn't from a robot or a telemarketer includes yet another Death Notice.
They say that Bhutan is one of the happiest countries on earth, and the people there attribute their happiness to daily awareness and contemplation of death.
So what is this, a fucking crash course in happiness?
Well, that's not what I'm learning. Provide a goddamn syllabus or some interpretation or enrichment or something, Universe. This isn't so much a "learning experience" as an exercise in pain and endurance.
Yippee-skippee for that.
I would love to believe that what's going on is some kind of Universe-level Event of Balancing, some Earth-human-Western-date-related Conspiracy related to the year 2016. So that the tick of the clock between 23:59 on December 31st and 00:00 on January 1st would constitute a Cosmic Signal to Stand the Fuck DOWN, to the Grim Reaper.
But I don't think so.
I do not fucking think so. Whatever's in store beginning 00:01 on January 1st, I don't think it's the resumption of a less-painful pace of loss.
I'd love to be wrong.
Sorry to be Debbie Downer but, sometimes, y'all are my safety valve, yanno? So, thank you for that.
Posted by TygrBright | Tue Dec 27, 2016, 02:47 PM (10 replies)