Tag Archives: voting

Let’s Try It!

Ever since I encountered Malcolm X’s writings in the 60s, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the phrase “by any means necessary.” I’m reasonably sure what Brother Malcolm was referring to was the right of the Black community to defend itself, violently if necessary, against any and all attacks on their rights.

I’m also pretty sure a lot of people interpret the phrase as a general call-to-arms and an incitement to violence. I beg to differ. I believe the phrase should be interpreted (ironically) literally, i.e. whatever works is what we do if we want to make positive, progressive change in this country.

We have a tool available to us and we don’t use it very effectively. I’m referring to voting. Historically, since the early 20th century, less than half the eligible population has voted in midterm elections. In 2018 it was 50%, for the first time since 1914.

If you don’t think there’s a correlation between voter apathy and the quality of representation we get, I’ve got a Louie Gohmert to sell you.

Voting is a “means” at our disposal. Protests, demonstrations, general strikes are “means” as well, but they’re not mainstream and, therefore, are far more difficult to pull off. The whole damn country votes on (or, thankfully, around) the same day every two years.

I know there are those who say voting doesn’t matter. I’m sure there are plenty of cases in which that’s true, but that doesn’t make it a universal truth. Regardless, when 50% or less of the eligible population bother to vote it’s much easier for a small but organized and cohesive group to take over the governance of your city, county, state, or federal government. Maybe even your HOA!

Please vote. Let’s give it a try. Make sure your friends and family know how important it is. Not just in this upcoming election, but from now on. From The standpoint of availability and feasibility, it’s the most “necessary” means at our disposal. Let’s wield it intelligently.


What Are We Afraid Of?

A quote from Howard Zinn regarding the power of the people
Power To The People

This has been my pinned Tweet since last November. I think the concept scares the crap out of most people. We have the power, but lack the organization and, perhaps, the will to use that power. Things will change in a heartbeat if we rise up. The question seems to be, how do we go about doing that? Supporting unions is one way, IMO. Voting can be pretty helpful as well, especially in local and state contests.

Building an economy and a society that uplifts instead of denigrates, that offers real support instead of behind-the-back snickers, and that creates opportunities for all isn’t beyond our reach. It does, however, seem to be beyond our imagination. The biggest bogeyman of my time—the “Red Scare”—is alive and well, and it’s still the biggest impediment to progress, IMO.


Removing The Toddler-in-Chief

I just have to share this interesting, evocative piece of art. I’m really looking forward to the day I can (we all can) essentially forget this asshole ever existed.

I know we’ll still have the RepubliKKKlan Party to deal with, but I’m pretty worn out having him clutter the media landscape so thoroughly.


Useful Advice

I have now received a link to this video from several different sources and I think it’s a valuable resource for any American concerned about the continued viability of our government. I don’t believe it’s crazy to be prepared for the worst, because it’s been made pretty clear over the past four years that nothing is sacred to the “most powerful man in the world.”

The video I had linked to (below) has apparently been removed and is no longer available. Fortunately, I found a website that contains the very information that was in the video, which can be accessed here.

!BE PREPARED!

The reality is, he may be powerful (he does have the weight of the federal government, including the military, on his side . . . theoretically) but the true power of any nation resides in its people. Without the consent of the governed, especially the way we’re organized politically, economically, and socially, keeping things running would be near impossible.

There is one more thing that’s necessary for the people to be able to control their own destiny, and that’s organization. Without being organized, connected, and communicating we won’t be able to assert our authority, our will over the powers-that-be.

With that in mind, I’m sharing the video above. If you haven’t the time to watch (it’s 7:02) below is a list of those ten things you need to know to stop a coup. Watch the video for a little more detail. One more thing, you can learn more at https://tallyrally.org/allourvotes/.

  1. Don’t expect results on election night
  2. Do call it a coup
  3. Regular citizens stop coups
  4. Act quickly—and not alone
  5. Focus on widely shared democratic values, not on individuals
  6. Convince others not to freeze or just go along
  7. Commit to actions that represent rule of law, stability, and non-violence
  8. YES! A coup can happen in the United States
  9. Center in calm, not fear
  10. Prepare to deter a coup before the election


Better Understanding The Franchise

We’ve taken voting a little too much for granted, methinks. That would include yours truly, though I have never missed a vote since June 4, 1968, my 21st birthday. I think I made the mistake of believing all that mattered was that I voted and I encouraged those close to me to vote as well. I’m pretty certain that’s no longer good enough; probably was never good enough, but it took the tender ministrations of the tangerine shitgibbon to make it clear we need to take the franchise a bit more seriously.

What, perzackly, that entails is unclear to me, but I’m sure a lot of us have ideas and many are already working on it. That’s what VR and GOTV are all about, no? But I am thinking a little beyond those two things, which we’ve been doing for a long time. We need to talk more about what it means to be an informed citizen. We need to find ways to present it that aren’t tres wonky. Therein may lie the greatest challenge.


Worst of the Worst!

Never forget that Trump, the spoiled three-year-old rich kid, comes with nothing less than the dregs of society, the worst of the worst; the greedy, unscrupulous, selfish, narrow-minded, bigoted, misogynistic malcontents. And don’t for one moment forget their white supremacy, which masks their white fragility. Trump, and as many Republicans as possible—especially in the Senate—must be soundly defeated come this November.

The only way we’re really going to accomplish what needs to be done is if a substantial percentage of people who normally sit out elections, step up and make their voices heard. Everybody needs to vote in this general election. Everybody . . . or at least a substantial percentage more than has been the case in the last dozen elections. Voter participation hasn’t exceeded 60% since 1968. This is no way to preserve a democratic republic, folks.


Let’s Clean Our Own House!

I posted the following on Facebook late yesterday, partly in response to all the angst that’s being spit out by the chattering class about Bernie and Fidel:

How come, when we talk about the suffering of Cubans, Venezuelans, and others from dictators and (horrors!) socialism, we don’t also talk about the role of U.S. Imperialism and historical colonialism?

So far it’s been liked by over thirty of my friends and it’s received nine comments and four shares. As of now, that’s after 14 hours since I posted. I don’t know if it will get more, but the response is interesting. What I was attempting to point out is something that really chaps my hide about my fellow Americans. A lot of y’all are really uninformed; either that, or you’re abysmally stupid and incapable of understanding history, economics, and society.

Now . . . to temper what I just wrote, let me add that I’m of the opinion most of us can’t be blamed for this ignorance of our history and what we’ve wrought in the world wherever—and whenever—we’ve put our grubby little money-making hands to work. As I was writing this, I noted another post by a friend who had liked the post I refer to here. She shared a comment from someone else and I think it’s quite relevant to the point I’m making here. Here’s what he said:

“There’s been a lot of criticism of Bernie Sanders for his praise of the Cuban literacy program that was initiated very soon after the 1959 Revolution. Under this program, young people who had been fortunate enough to learn to read and write were sent out into the rural areas, where most people hadn’t, armed with literacy materials and a kerosene lantern. During the day they helped their host family with whatever needed to be done; at night, they taught reading and writing. Cuba became one of the most literate countries in Latin America.

“According to the critics, this was a bad thing. The people learned to read, but they couldn’t read anything they wanted, and what they were given was propaganda extolling the virtues of the Revolution. So there’s 60 years of this evil stuff going on in Cuba. I’d just like to point out that we in the US have a much longer history of propagandizing, extolling the virtues of our system of predatory capitalism in classes like ‘civics’ and ‘social studies.’ The virtues include denying health care to many, keeping many from full involvement in the political and economic life of our country, enculturating people into the happiness that is being less-than-living-wage laborers at the mercy of shareholders and CEOs.

“Nobody in the US has any business calling what other countries do ‘propaganda’ unless they are willing to acknowledge our own long history of it.

~ Ronald Kephart

I’d like to point out that, although I am a Marxist (i.e. a socialist) I’m not much of a Bernie Sanders supporter. Nearly four years ago I posted my reasons for voting for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary of 2016. That post is located here. I just voted in the California primary for this year’s election and, again, I did not vote for Bernie. However, as I stated back then, should he secure the nomination I will vote for and support Bernie with gusto. Despite my misgivings, he’s head and shoulders better than Trump or any Republican currently in office. I’d even vote for him if he was running against Bill Weld.

So . . . the point of this post is not necessarily defend Bernie but, rather, to point out the incredible hypocrisy of those politicians (including Democrats running for POTUS) and pundits who are criticizing him for what he said about Fidel and the Cuban revolution.

There’s a doctrine in equity called “The Clean Hands Doctrine,” which states that one can’t complain about, or seek equitable relief from, an offense when one has participated in or supported actions that are as offensive as the action being complained about. I think it fits rather nicely into the common trope about socialist countries and leaders who have wrongly punished their opponents.

I shouldn’t even have to list anything the United States has done to make this point . . . but I will list a couple of the most egregious ones:

  • Our treatment of native Americans
  • Slavery & Jim Crow
  • The Chinese Exclusion Act
  • Japanese internment camps

I would also suggest that anyone who wants to really understand how the United States, by its actions (mostly done to protect predatory economic interests) has created most of the problems we’re now dealing with, especially those issues related to immigration from the southern half of our hemisphere, should read “The Enemy: What Every American Should Know About Imperialism,” which can be found here.

We may not like what Fidel did after the revolution in 1959, but we drove him into the hands of the Soviets back then by being indecisive in our dealings with Cuba. We later initiated an economic blockade that was unwarranted and immoral, IMO. There are literally dozens of other actions we’ve taken over the years throughout Central and South America that resulted in the deaths of thousands and that kept the economies of numerous countries from thriving. Felix Greene spelled it out a half century ago. He wasn’t wrong then . . . and his analysis is still instructive today.

PS – I’m leaving out the effects of our Imperialism in the Middle East, as that’s another clusterfuck that’s likely going to come home to haunt us. Perhaps I’ll address it at a later date.


A quinceañera adds voter registration to her celebration to boost Latino voting

This is such a great idea. It should be done for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs (though there will be far fewer of those) and confirmations . . . at any rite of passage. Isn’t citizenship and participation at the very heart of a strong, functioning democracy? Isn’t it?

For a few moments, Aleida Ramos, wearing her rose-colored tiara, coral dress with the scalloped bell skirt and cowgirl boots, floated above family and friends, uplifted by tradition, community and family.

It was Aleida’s quinceañera — her 15th birthday celebration — and at this moment, the men and boys had lifted her straight up as her guests applauded, a high point in a day dedicated to her.

But even though she had permission to soak up all the attention, she dedicated a part of the event to a bigger cause. In the entry of the family-owned event hall where her party was being held, Aleida had made room for the Latino youth advocacy group Jolt Initiative so it could register her mostly Hispanic guests to vote.

Source: A quinceañera adds voter registration to her celebration to boost Latino voting


The Consequences of NOT Seeing Systems

Senge on Seeing Systems

Want to understand Systems better? Check out Peter Senge, Russell Ackoff, W. Edwards Deming, or just search Google for some info

When I first started this blog, one of my goals was to bring a systems perspective to my posts. Circumstance made that goal a bit difficult at times, and my interests are a bit too eclectic for me to stay in a single lane, but it is a perspective I feel most comfortable with and believe is useful in understanding the world and human society and relationships.

It’s long been clear to me that many people haven’t the faintest idea how systems work and how not understanding the interplay of their aggregate parts makes it virtually impossible to make quality, informed decisions.

In order for democracy to be spread and actually implemented in ways that are meaningful to ordinary people (who are often really afterthoughts to our institutions and those who lead them) I am convinced we need to become not merely critical thinkers, but also “systems thinkers”, i.e. we need to learn how to “see” systems. We, meaning “the people”, need to recognize how all things are parts of systems and that smaller systems are parts of other, more encompassing systems. Whether closely or remotely, we need to recognize how things are related to each other, such that we can appreciate the ways in which they affect and sometimes transform each other.

When this happens without our fully (or even partially) understanding these effects, we call them “unintended consequences.” However, these generally come about not because we failed to appreciate their possibility, but because we didn’t even see how they were related. It is our ignorance — in the non-pejorative sense — that’s causing us harm, because we just don’t see the subtle interplay of forces or the way they interact with each other. I plan on continuing to touch on this subject, as well as the other things that interest me. Stay tuned!


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