The Monsters Are on Maple Street

If you’ve never watched The Twilight Zone episode: The Monsters are Due On Maple Street check it out. https://vimeo.com/168014736 This prescient episode aired in 1960 at the height of the Cold War. It opens on a late summer afternoon on Maple Street in anywhere small town America. A swoosh of a meteor like object draws the neighborhoods’ attention skyward and from that moment, nothing is the same. The radios, tvs, cars and all modern gadgets cease to work. Alarmed, Maple Street residents send one of their group, Pete Van Horn, on foot, into town to find out what’s up. As evening falls and Van Horn doesn’t return the neighborhood begins to eye each other with suspicion accusing one after the other of being an “alien.” At the height of the hysteria, in the darkness Van Horn returns and one of mouthier men, shoots him dead fearing the approaching figure is an invading alien. Once the error is discovered pandemonium breaks out and the episode ends showing the hysterical crowd in the process of destroying themselves. The irony, as we the viewers learn, is that the disruption was indeed caused by aliens who conclude that these earthlings can be conquered simply by sowing  fear, suspicion and confusion. Once done, the enemy can sit back and watch them destroy themselves – no need for an invading army or bombs-the aliens need only create the environment and we will destroy ourselves.

Isn’t this what the Russians have done? The Cold War taught the Russians they can’t defeat us with armies or bombs. They tried that during the Cold War and it didn’t work. Putin and his crew learned from that mistake. The path to our destruction lies within us.   All they needed to do was install a demagogue great at branding, corrupt the political party of their hand picked tool (asset), sit back and watch. And isn’t this what is occurring? Trump and his vile gang are trying to convince us to destroy our institutions, our Constitutional safeguards and respect for the Rule of Law. Now it is up to We The People to step in and stop the Russian puppet  before it is  too late.  The #NewAmericanRevolution is here and it must be led by us.

http://amzn.to/2jblZ7G

What’s Behind Door #3: White Supremacy

Charles Blow in his Ope-Ed piece got it right: ” The lowest white man must be exalted above those who are black.”  http://nyti.ms/2DhfjzZ If you didn’t or don’t believe this just look at Barack Obama’s eight years in the Oval office. The assault on him, his legitimacy, was not waged on the basis that he did not receive the majority of the popular vote and  the Electoral College, but on the legitimacy of his right to occupy that office because he was a fake American. Donald Trump, with the assistance of the GOP’s Tea Party wing   and silent complicity of most Republicans, used this canard to dislodge our ethical and brilliant president. Their ability to engage so many in this farce was rooted in that ever present American virus: white supremacy.

White supremacy is America’s original sin. Its origins go back to Virginia’s Bacon’s Rebellion (1676) when white indentured servants along with black indentured servants, black slaves and poor free whites, led by the privileged Nathaniel Bacon, burnt Jamestown to the ground. At the heart of this uprising was the lack of opportunity for whites not already established. The rebellion ultimately failed, but in its aftermath Virginia plantation owners turned away from using  white indentured servants for their labor in favor of black enslaved labor. The result was that by the early 18th century Virginia’s black population which, for most of the 17th century was under 10%, had risen to 40% and was now 99% enslaved. Ironically, most of the colony’s white population continued to be poor but the fatal result of  the failed Bacon’s Rebellion was an unspoken “deal” white plantation owners offered poor whites: “the lowest white man will be exalted over every black person.”

After the Civil War that “bargain” continued anchored by Jim Crow and later the subtler dog whistles and practices of the post- Civil Rights Act era. Now the GOP and their chosen leader, Donald J. Trump have boldly come out from behind their curtains to “Make America White Again.” And “whiteness,” as those individual Jews, Muslims, Latinos,  LBGT etc. backers of Trump and his GOP will ultimately discover is, and will be, defined ever more narrowly in Trumpland. Buyers of this ideology  beware.

On this MLK Day, where the nation stands on a precipice, we need to acknowledge that the ideology of white supremacy, to our lasting national shame, is deeply rooted in America’s very structure and has been from our inception. Digging it out is a daily struggle, but if we don’t dig deep the lasting and tragic consequences are today on our doorstep just waiting for that door to be fully opened.

 

 

America: A Nation of Immigrants from “Shithole” Countries

Donald Trump, in is own very inimical way, paved the way for a long over-due conversation about how so many of us got to be American. Almost all of us, regardless of when our ancestors came or from where, are descendants of a “shithole” country. Why? Because with few exceptions, the well to do, the comfortable, the secure, do not leave family, friends, language and their known world behind to immigrate.

Immigration is not an easy undertaking. It is scary. It is difficult. More often than not, the immigrating generation works their fingers to the bone in dirty, backbreaking and ill-remunerated work. Ask Donald Trump’s mother, Mary Dunham, the daughter of a fisherman who grew up in a large, struggling family in the “shithole” village of Tong, Scotland. Like millions of immigrants she was the product of chain migration linked to the United States by a sister already resident in New York. Mary was also unskilled and made her way in her adopted country as a domestic servant. In other words, Trump would not exist but for an unskilled, impoverished parent who came to this country through chain migration because the conditions in her “shithole” country motivated her to leave. Dunham, except for her whiteness, epitomized everything Trump despises in so many of  today’s immigrants.

Most Americans, except for Native Americans, are not too far removed from some version of  Trump’s mother’s experience. It would behoove this president, and all of us, to remember this before we close our doors to the process that has served us so well for hundreds of years and without which America would never have prospered or (until the ascension of Trump) been the envy of the world. I say etch in your mind, heart and soul the words engraved on Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Emma Lazarus

 

 

 

and with it the spirit, values and access to the human capitol that have made America great.

BEGGARS AT THE GATE; CRUMBS FROM THEIR TABLE

I am continually amazed that every average American (those not part of the glorified 1%) do not rise up in unison again the Republican proposed tax heist. What promises to be the biggest transfer of wealth to the top will have the rest of us scrapping for the few crumbs that fall from their table. But it doesn’t end there! To add insult to injury, within 8 years most remaining provisions benefiting the middle class will sunset (be eliminated) to offset the ballooning deficit created from this enormous transfer of wealth.

When asked about the super sized tax savings to a corporate America already awash in cash and to the 1% who already have more than they can spend in 10 lifetimes, Republicans remark casually: The average American will be grateful for even a few hundred dollars in savings. In other words, we have so few expectations we will be grateful for the few crumbs they let fall from their richly provisioned table.

The GOP is now so excited over the prospect of creating an entrenched economic oligarchy that each day seems to bring another gruesome addition to the tax bill. The latest would end the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate thus delivering the final blow to the ACA which will result in huge premium increases and throwing millions off of health care. The Republicans promise this will thin the roles of Social Security recipients as well resulting in big savings!

But all this, as horrible as it is, is only the beginning. The real goal of the Republican party, since the 1930s, is to kill the New Deal, which ushered in liberal America. So here’s the GOP tax plan’s real objective: grow the deficit to such a large number that the GOP will be able to force the termination of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as we know it and every single program benefiting the middle and working classes. “Gee,” they will intone, “look at the deficit we have no choice and we can’t take the job creators as that will tank the economy.” They wrote this script long ago finally they see the opportunity to read it.

Of course, the GOP is banking on the fact that within the decade  most Americans will have been economically ground into dust, barely surviving financially and will be too fearful and beleaguered to speak up. We will have become the “Please Sir, Can I have some more?” society; mere beggars at the gates of the rich and privileged.

Women as the Sacred Chalice

Trump’s Chief of Staff, retired general John Kelly, recently lamented: “You know when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore…”

Sacrosanct? Women? Really? Was I sleeping through that chapter of our history? I guess my 5th grade teacher who kept touching me during class, or the college football players who threatened to forcibly take me to a “party,” or the guy who didn’t want to let me leave his apartment… all simply viewed me as a sacred chalice from which they wished to partake.

The sad truth is that Kelly’s comment was more a revelation to men than to women. We know the deal. And while few of us have the platform those so-called powerful women at the upper echelons of corporate America, politics or Hollywood have, all of us know (literally) the score. In the end, as that tired adage goes: “it’s a man’s world.” While so much has changed for the better since the days so missed by the John Kellys, the all boys club known as the “GOP” and, of course, our Abuser-in –Chief, Donald Trump, too much remains status quo as seen by the tweet hashtag #MeToo.

The irony behind the tens of thousands tweeting #MeToo is that I have never met a woman who was not, at some point in her life, sexually abused and/or harassed. The surprise would we to find that woman who could say #NotMe. It’s time to end this cruel and unspoken female “initiation” rite.  It’s time for all of us, women and men, to say #NoMore

 

 

 

Vote or Lose it All

The chaos president has us jumping from crisis to crisis. He wants to keep our eyes off the prize: voting the Republicans out at every level of government. Our only hope lies in the ballot box and not just on the federal level but also on the local and state level. From the PTAs that are purging textbooks to corrupt county governments that have shortchanged public education, to state governments passing voter suppression laws, these Republicans have got to go. The emphasis  has been on the 2018 Congressional elections but we must get out and vote this November 2017. We must begin to retake local and state governments and that’s mostly during off Congressional and off Presidential election years. Register to vote. Take your friends, help a neighbor get whatever documentation needed and get out and vote this November.

Vote this November before it is too late.

Looking for information on voting? Go to:

Votelocal in Spanish: https://www.facebook.com/VOTALOCALMENTE/

Vote local in English: https://www.facebook.com/votelocaltaketheequalpledge2017/

Look for your local candidates and issues and let others know about your local elections:

New England: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont https://www.facebook.com/groups/1531319183586004

MidAtlantic: D.C., Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York https://www.facebook.com/groups/1383179565052352/

Great Lakes: Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin https://www.facebook.com/groups/1914341472121374/

Midwest: Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota https://www.facebook.com/groups/1794407224205434/

Southeast: Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida https://www.facebook.com/groups/811288802363783/

Southeast Central: Kentucky, Tennessee Mississippi, and Alabama https://www.facebook.com/groups/1693165557659202

Southwest Central: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana https://www.facebook.com/groups/146538415900696/

Mountain: Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada https://www.facebook.com/groups/455392028165443/

Pacific: California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Alaska https://www.facebook.com/groups/1691400461155891/

Misdeeds of Powerful Men: I’m Surprised You Are Surprised

One of the most common comments since the Weinstein sexual harassment story broke has been: “It was common knowledge so why wasn’t it exposed earlier?” Seriously? Is there a living American male or female that doesn’t know the answer to that question?

The American workplace is still dominated by men and it has become the dominant force in our daily lives. It’s more competitive, more insecure than ever before. It is understood that you either park your rights and feelings outside the corporate door or lose your job. And this includes keeping your mouth shut if the  boss leers, pats, makes lewd jokes, or even attempts (or does) lay his hands on you. It’s been going on since time immemorial despite the occasional high profile scandal. Remember Anita Hill? Isn’t her abuser still sitting on the nation’s highest court? And that was twenty-six years ago. My, how times have not changed.

Still surprised Weinstein’s behavior went unexposed for so long? Didn’t America just elect serial abuser and sexist par excellance Donald Trump as its president? And that vote came after we all heard him admit to all manner of lewd, crude and theoretically illegal behavior on an Access Hollywood tape. And wasn’t it the same Donald Trump who mocked, threatened and continued to harass the brave women who came out to corroborate his history as a serial abuser? Their reward for stepping up: he was elected president.

So, let me ask again: are we really surprised that Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, or Bill Cosby got away with such behavior for so long? No, they are just the tip of the iceberg, which, I bet, will stay firmly in tact long after earth’s last glacier has melted.