Posts by jameslloyddavis

James Lloyd Davis, a Vietnam veteran and former electrician, shipfitter, pipefitter, boilermaker, ironworker and engineer, currently lives in Ohio. He has returned to writing after a long absence, is working on two novels, and experiments with short fiction in various forms.

Peoples’ Daily Brief – 18 June, 2020

(( The featured image above, a photo map of the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, and other photos suppied below were copied from the Black Rose Anarchistic Federation Twitter Account. The link to the group’s web site is:  https://blackrosefed.org/ ))

It’s not easy to get any credible news from corporate media about the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, but it’s out there in the ether of the internet if you look for it.  On Monday, I found a decent article from Jane C. Hu that debunks much of the mythology and hype that’s provided by cable new and the bigger newspapers concerning events there.  The article gives you a true sense of what’s happening in an eyewitness account and you can read it here at  SLATE

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The pictures posted here are from the 8th and 9th of June, but the article was written on the 16th.  As you can see and read in the referenced article, the Autonomous Zone is not yet in flames or the scene of crime, chaos and hunger as has been suggested elsewhere and, as far as I can tell, Trump’s military intervention hasn’t shown up as yet.  Maybe he’s waiting to announce that the tanks are rolling into Seattle at his rally in Nuremberg Tulsa this weekend, raw meat for his fans.  Or, he may do nothing at all because he is an impotent gas bag.  It’s a toss-up.  No one can confidently predict what he will do or what he will say.  In order to distract attention away from the release of John Bolton’s book, Trump is liable to do anything… and in his mind, the more outrageous, the better.

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If I lived in Seattle, I would think it wise to stay away from the Autonomous Zone on Saturday when the Oklahoma rally is in full swing.  God knows what Trump will do to get a rousing ovation from his mob of vengeful minions.

69fillmorewestSpeaking of which, I saw pictures of Trump enthusiasts who’ve already already begun waiting for Trump since Monday… lined up with camping gear, sleeping bags, barbecues and lawn chairs outside the BOK Center in Tulsa.  They looked like Dead Heads lined up outside Fillmore West back in the old days, only better-fed and considerably less hirsute.

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Anarchism in the United States has a surprising depth and length to its history, dating back to the nineteenth century with adherents and spokesmen who were recognized as seminal thinkers in their movement worldwide.  Regardless, the average American, the product of its public schools and even its universities, is generally unaware of it.  Socialism, anarchism, and other populist movements are, after all, inimical to the American institutions that have been so carefully constructed to contain and control any equalizing factors, socially and economically.  Notions we hold iconic and dear, such as “democracy” and “liberty” and “freedom” hardly describe the realities our institutions have produced.  In the nation that most of us recognize today we see injustice and inequality at the very core of American life.

Our nation’s notions, taken as a theme, paint a lovely picture of “equal opportunity” and “liberty and justice for all” while the reality of our lives is better expressed by the institutional murder and mass incarceration of the poor… and of them, primarily of our people of color.  We live a lie in the light of these faux notions, though our institutions maintain them with a brutal and, for them, necessary containment through suppression of ideas.  Socialism and anarchism are considered “dangerous” concepts because they offer viable alternatives to the injustice that affords both privilege and profit to the “exceptional” few while the rest of us compete for the scraps that fall from the tables of these “movers and shakers and job-creators” who are the only true benefactors of our institutions.

It’s not an anomaly or difficult to perceive that socialism and anarchism, which concepts are anathema to the present institutional product of injustice and exceptionalism, are considered taboo and labeled unAmerican… even in our highest academic institutions, where intellectual freedom is also and subtly constrained, regulated by the dictates of funding.  (A thesis for another day.  Soon?)

Voltairine_de_Cleyre_(Age_35)If Americans were to understand the way in which their lives and even their thoughts are manipulated to the benefit of a privileged minority, they might decide to make use of the real power that is forever in their hands through organization, solidarity, and the recognition of a common interest in opposing that which does not serve their common welfare.

Consider the words of Voltairine de Cleyre, the world-famous feminist and anarchist of her time, whose name most Americans would not recognize today.

She wrote…

“The most that a working-class party could do, even if its politicians remained honest, would be to form a strong faction in the legislatures which might, by combining its vote with one side or another, win certain political or economic palliatives.
“But what the working-class can do, when once they grow into a solidified organization, is to show the possessing class, through a sudden cessation of all work, that the whole social structure rests on them; that the possessions of the others are absolutely worthless to them without the workers’ activity; that such protests, such strikes, are inherent in the system of property and will continually recur until the whole thing is abolished — and having shown that effectively, proceed to expropriate.”

What is happening in Seattle today and what happened during the Occupy Wall Street movement, indeed what is happening whenever Black Lives Matter events and demonstrations around the country disrupt the hypnotic deceptions of our everyday life, is the expression of a hunger for the two very basic things our society and our institutions cannot, have not, and will never provide, universal justice and true equality.

Something to consider.  Maybe it will spread.

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 Creative Commons License Peoples’ Daily Breif by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Peoples’ Daily Brief – 17 June, 2020

Taking a break from the news today.  No analysis today.
Just this… a kind of message.  A message I’d just as soon not deliver.

This message is for white people in America… from an old white man in America who has seen too much of nothing being done… who has reached the limits of his silence… and decided to take a leap and say some things he’s wanted to say for well over fifty years.  And these things I have to say?  It likely seems presumptuous for me to be the one who says them, audacious, even… as though I am some icon of rectitude, a sanctified prophet, a voice crying in the wilderness… but I’m not.   I’m just an old white guy… nobody, really, but I know things.

I know, for instance, that change has got to come.  Not little changes, but big ones, change so elemental and profound that it may frighten us to imagine how our lives will be affected.  But change needs to come.  We just can’t let things go on as they are.

I know that it will take more than just black Americans standing up and calling BS on everything that’s been going down in this country since the first slavers brought black Africans in chains to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 to be sold like cattle and to serve like beasts in the fields.  They served as the base of a slave economy, a labor force that grew exponentially as slave ships brought more black Africans to live as slaves, the people who actually built the Southland of America and brought enormous wealth to the white Americans who owned them.

Our glorious and Great American Experiment was a lie from day one.

Sanctimonious men declared themselves free of their king, based upon the vaulting and bravely progressive premise that “…all men are created equal… endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…”  They signed a letter to their king declaring themselves free, even those among these men who held the deeds to the life and labor of other human beings and denied them those considerations they demanded of their king for themselves.  They were hypocrites and despots no less cruel than their king, these men who owned slaves and gave them no credit as their equal… indeed, denied them their humanity… yet they dared to esteem themselves righteous… as we continue to do to this day, in spite of what we know of their hypocrisy and their petty tyranny.

These days, even white people applaud the pulling down of statues honoring Confederate generals, but statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson abound… and few of us, if anyone at all, would suggest that they deserve similar treatment.  These icons of the revolution and of American independence were both slave owners, but they seem to have been given an exemption from the condemnation given Confederates.   Do we discriminate now and in the near future between the statues of “bad” slave owners and “good” slave owners?  How do you make that distinction?  How much of our perspective of the American story is based upon exception derived from the hypocrisy of our perceptions?  We judge Robert E. Lee for his sins, but give Jefferson a pass?  On what grounds?

Slavery was a system of stolen labor and heartless, brutal oppression that did not end when these white men declared themselves free.  It continued through the violent, racist Southland rebellion that was our nation’s Civil War.  Yet even then… following that terrible War… even after slavery was abolished, a new and subtle form of slavery emerged, a system of economic slavery that was forced on those people whose rights were supposedly gained through the fiat of Emancipation, rights that were practically rescinded, rights that utterly vaporized when the Federal occupation forces who ensured and enforced them marched away from the Southland, leaving black men, black women, and black children at the mercy of their former owners.  Former slaves were dominated once again in bondage, mercilessly exploited and oppressed in spite of their freedom and through violence, intimidation, and murder.  That brutal injustice was reinforced in perpetuity by way of a system of laws that further stripped them of any rights they’d been given.

Think about this.
If you’re white like me?
What’s happening today?
It’s not about us… not about you or me.

Maybe it’s just time for white people like us to get over ourselves and stop believing that our “liberalism” or our “empathy” or any other “charitable” and condescending attitude we adopt and wear like a comfortable pair of jeans somehow exempts us from the guilt our nation bears toward the descendants of slaves.  A guilt… and a debt… and it’s a debt that has never been paid.  It’s long past due and if it isn’t your debt to pay, not mine, then whose debt is it?

You and me?  We’re the ones who possess a privilege we’ve had since birth, an unearned advantage based upon nothing more than the color of our skin… and as long as we deny that advantage, this problem will continue to fester and boil and that very real debt will never be paid, but it will continue to accrue interest over time, an interest that will be paid in the currency of trouble and of strife.  No.  We don’t get a pass.  We don’t even get an exemption for caring… for giving a damn.

It’s our debt to pay and we don’t get to feel like it belongs to some unknown others.  We don’t get to be the collector.  We owe a debt and it’s long past time for white people like you and me to pay what we owe… to do more than hold a candle on a street corner surrounded by the safety and security of our privilege, feeling all warm and fuzzy in our weepy, self-righteous skin, singing “We shall overcome.”

We don’t need to overcome.  We need to surrender.
We need to surrender and accept our culpability.
We need to surrender our privilege.
We need to stop believing that even a truckload of our precious empathy is worth a mumbling dime or that it has any meaning or brings any value to anyone or anything but our own self-esteem.
We need to give up the notion that people of color need our help.
We need to understand that we need their help to get past this subtle self-deception.

For over 400 years, the message of America has been White Lives Matter.  So… when someone tells us Black Lives Matter?  If we say anything at all, let it be nothing more than “Amen !!”  We need to sit down and shut up because it’s time now for us just to listen.  We may think we’ve already heard this tune before, that with our “wokeness” we’ve earned ourselves the right to join the chorus.  But I’m here to tell you we haven’t heard anything yet.  We need to listen, not preach.
We don’t have the right.  We haven’t earned the right to do otherwise.

When we hear the words, “Black Lives Matter”?  We need to stand up and salute.
When we hear the words, “I can’t breathe”?  We need to get involved, seriously involved and not after the fact.  It’s not enough to stand on the sidelines and record the crimes of racist policemen.  We need to put down that damned cell phone… and get in there and fight for the life that’s at stake.  We need to intervene… to put ourselves on the line… at the risk of our freedom if that’s what it takes.  Your outrage is otherwise worthless.
When we hear the words, “Defund the police”?  We need to stop talking and listen.
When we hear the word, “Reparations”?  We need to shut up and listen.
Everything else is hypocrisy because… we’re not the solution.
We’ve never been the solution.
We’re the problem.

But don’t just listen to me.
I’m white like you, after all.

Chances are I’ll never be able to say it in the way it needs to be expressed.  And you don’t owe me anything.  This debt that is owed is as much mine as it is yours.  Just like you, I need to pay my debt and writing these words is not a part of that repayment.  It is, however, acknowledgement that I owe it… putting my signature in the box of an IOU.

Listen to your neighbors who are black and who know this already.  They live with this thing every day.  Listen to people of color because they are the ones who have something to say and a righteous reason to say it.  This race thing is not going to go away until we face those things we avoid.  We need to stop pretending that we are any better than the racists we decry if, for one moment, we are content with what we have when what we have, we have not earned.

This message is for white people in America… from an old white man in America who has seen too much of nothing being done… who has reached the limits of his silence… and decided to take a leap and say some things he’s wanted to say for well over fifty years… and didn’t.   Which omission… on his part… is unforgivable and renders him every bit as culpable as every one of us is culpable and will be until this damnable stain is removed from us by our efforts to make things right.  Efforts… not words.  Having said these things I’ve neglected to say for so long, there’s nothing more that I can add.

The time for words… for us… is over.
This business of change?
It’s not something you watch.
It’s something you do.

Amen?

Peoples’ Daily Brief – 16 June, 2020

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Graphic depiction of the Covid 19 virus from the CDC web site.

According to data made available by Reuters, new cases of Coronavirus infection are increasing cumulatively nationwide in the US and in some states the rate of increase is dramatic, even alarming. We are aware that our Federal governmnt is acting as though the pandemic is essentially over, so I can imagine some of you may have doubts, but you can review the specifics as they affect the nation and your home state, with all the latest available data here at… Reuters – Coronavirus/Trends USA

You will note that the data is over a week old.  Nonetheless, the graphs reflect the latest figures available.  It is difficult, and in some cases, nearly impossible to locate timely data as those Federal government agencies devoted to science and the provision of data seem to have lost their former ability to provide accurate, timely data and we checked and found that even the CDC’s figures have the same time delay as we found in most reporting agencies one can find in the media at large.

Not one to speculate, we won’t suggest that there seems to be a reluctance… or a lack of motivation, perhaps… on the part of governors in some states, notably those where the GOP holds sway, to provide timely data on the pandemic.  Not one to speculate, and though we might be inclined to assume that these governors find the numbers embarassing, given that those states could probably benefit from more responsible methods of containing the pandemic… methods that have proven successful in other states and in nations worldwide, but we won’t make that assumption.  Not one to speculate, we will refrain from suggesting that some of these governors, notably those in states controlled by the Republican Party, in an effort to restore profitability to American corporations are endangering the health of their constituencies by ignoring experts who warn of a resurgence of Coronavirus infections.  No, in the name of journalistic integrity, we won’t make such accusations and will exercise editorial restraint accordingly.

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In the meantime, the Trump administration is full speed ahead with his first big political rally in months, which is to be held at Nuremberg… or, rather… Tulsa, Oklahoma, where, Trump claims in a Tweet, “Almost…” a million people… willing to sign a pledge not to sue Trump or his campaign for a Coronavirus infection as a result of the crush from the crowd… have tried to register for attendance at the campaign event.

“Come on now.  He didn’t really say that, did he?”
Well, we went on Twitter to check and we copied this Trump Tweet, pasted it below so you could judge for yourself…

“Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
Almost One Million people request tickets for the Saturday Night Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma!
9:28 AM · Jun 15, 2020”

Of course, we have no idea how Trump’s concept of “Almost…” applies to “…One Million” in specific mathematical terms and, given his history with numbers… well, you know.  Perhaps we could have surveyed the over 227,000 Twitter followers who “liked” the above Tweet to get a sense of their desire to attend, but we are told by our PDB tech staff that they do not believe, “…the algorithm driving these bots does not afford them the capability to respond to a specific request.”  Something about parameters…

We’ll just have to take Trump at his word on this one. ( truth, but hey…)

Trumping in the rain Jonathan Newton the Washington Post

Jonathan Newton/Washington Post

Trump and his “team” have pretty much decided to pretend that the pandemic does not exist, despite the recent spikes in activity following relaxation of stay-at-home directives in many states nationwide.  I wondered about his justification for the accelerated risk involved in commencing his practice of mass rallies in a raging pandemic, but read yesterday in the Washington Post what I believe to be the most incredible pronouncement Trump has made in the past three and a half years he’s been in office, perhaps the most puzzling and outrageous statement to come from any American Prsident in history… ever.  He actually told reporters during a photo-op at a Cabinet meeting when about the risk of Coronavirus that, “If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any.”

Yes, America, he said that.

Breathtaking, innit?  We spent a good ten minutes trying to grasp the significance… the enormous implications surrounding that simple declaration from the Leader of the Free World in order to be able to provide you with some sort of intelligent analysis in response, but failed.  In fact, words fail us altogether on this and… perhaps there are no words to add here and the only intelligent and appropriate response is a long and stunned silence.
Accordingly…
(silence)
(silence)
(silence)
(silence)
(silence)

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In other news, and for some insight, we took a brief and magical mystery tour of the Trump/Pence campaign web site, careful not to push any buttons or links thereon for fear that the contents of our computer’s hard drive could be exposed to corrupting influences in the form of “cookies” that will eventually and perpetually thereafter load up our digital mail box with God-only-knows-what in the way of right-wing campaign literature and assorted commercial offers for hair restoration and “male enhancement” products, but we did notice that they have a page devoted to recruitment in various coalitions of voters for Trump and we thought to make a list and pass it on to you, our readers, though without the links that might pull the content of your computer’s hard drive into the Trumpian ether, nevermore to return.

If you want to find his web site yourself, you don’t need our help and you won’t have any trouble at all.  Just follow the yellow brick road….wizard-of-oz-original1

But the list…  Trump’s campaign web site offers Trump supporters the opportunity to join several coalitions, each of which has an invitation to text a specific and, apparently, well-considered tag to a common number.
They are as follows…

Women for Trump (Text EMPOWER to _____)
Latinos for Trump (Text VAMOS to_____)
Black Voices for Trump (Text WOKE to_____)
Veterans for Trump (Text FIGHT to_____)
Evangelicals for Trump (Text STAND to_____)
Cops for Trump (Text COPS to_____)
Democrats for Trump (Text DEMOCRAT to_____)
Pro-Life Voices for Trump (Text LIFE to_____)
Workers for Trump (Text WORKERS to_____)
Irish Americans for Trump (Text SHAMROCK to_____)
Greek Voices for Trump (Text GREEK to_____)
America’s Sheriffs for Trump (Text SHERIFFS to_____)
Catholics for Trump (Text CATHOLICS to_____)
Military Families for Trump (Text FAMILY to_____)
Moms for Trump (Text MAMA to_____)
Asian Pacific Americans for Trump (Text ARISE to_____)

Now, to be sure, while there is nothing wrong with soliciting groups and voting blocs in pursuit of a vote, the trouble with listing them altogether on a single web page like that?  Well, it tends to bring attention to other and specific political, social, ethnic and religious groups that are not included for solicitation of support.

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Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images 2018

Noticeably absent from the list, for instance, are these groups…

Muslims for Trump
Mexican Americans for Trump
LGBTQ Voices for Trump
Tenors for Trump
Baritones for Trump
QAnon for Trump
KKK for Trump
Very Fine People for Trump
Russians for Trump
Despots, Oligarchs & Tyrants for Trump
…and so on.

Not that we want to suggest that Trump’s campaign is not soliciting the support of those groups that were omitted from his list, or that he does or does not intend to represent their interests in the White House if he is elected for another four years.  After all, he has been undeniably and extraordinarily helpful to both tyrants and Russians during his Presidency… more than any other American President in the history of the universe… more than Obama… more than anyone… ever.

Once again, let us say that, in the interest of safety, we are not supplying links to the Trump Campaign web site nor to the various coalitions of voters for Trump that we’ve copied and listed above for your edification.  We do that so that you can avoid the risk of visiting the site yourself.  In that respect and not unlike war correspondents, we are citizen journalists here at PDB who are more than willing to take the risks required in order to bring you accurate and timely reporting from the oft-hazardous battlespaces of the internet.  However, since we are not accommodating the Trump campaign by providing links… and in the interest of fairness, we won’t provide any links to the Biden web site either.

We do so in an entirely unnecessary, somewhat cynical, but quaint acknowledgement of the old Fairness Doctrine which, though nobody pays attention to it anymore, was a good idea.  Of course, if we were really serious about following the equal time mandate, which was the central theme of the Fairness Doctrine, we would be providing similar coverage of the Biden campaign.  But in all fairness to them, the less said the better.

That’s it for today…
Be careful, America.
Pay attention and remember…

“A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”
Theodore Roosevelt

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Creative Commons License Peoples’ Daily Brief by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Peoples’ Daily Brief – 15 June, 2020

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BRITTA PEDERSEN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

We begin to take for granted that which has always been the cornerstone of our lives, and in America, we always assume access and protection under the universal and all-inclusive privilege of what we consider to be the most  basic human rights while… in this present moment in America… those same rights are daily challenged by powerful forces at work to undermine them.  Not all at once, but just a little bite here, a little bite there.  Not in a comprehensive, all-out assault on our freedoms, a thing you can grab hold of and fight, but in the small, unnoticeable steps that mark the progress of the inevitable, movement so slight we hardly notice… until one day we wake up, notice the lack of something that was always there for us before and wonder, “What the hell happened?”

Fascism will not overtake us when we are aware of its presence, but when it works behind the scenes we hardly even notice its advance.  It’s a deadly game of Simon Says, creeping up behind us by degree.  Freedom of speech, as it is exercised in the freedoms of the press that we take for granted, is one of those metaphorical, but no less substantial cornerstones on which all other liberty depends.  Knowledge is power and when the people are uninformed, they are doomed to be exploited.

Americans tend to disregard events overseas… as though, somehow, events in other nations do not concern us.  We are, after all, “America!!” and we often assume that we set the course for all the world.  Nonetheless, events in other nations have… historically and significantly… affected Americans in ways that have forever altered our trajectory as a people.

“Surely,” you may think, “the troubles of one unfortunate journalist in the Philippines, a tiny, insignificant nation… all the way on the other side of the planet from Pittsburgh… cannot possibly affect me.”

You would be wrong.

We have a President who is acutely aware of the power and methods used to advantage by the leader of that tiny, insignificant nation, methods that propelled him to a position of virtually unchallenged authority, methods that align him with historical tyrants of mythical proportions.  Donald Trump has even expressed a profound and public admiration for the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, just as he has expressed admiration for and affinity with the likes of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.

Journalists in America and worldwide should view the successful prosecution of a journalist for doing her job in the Philippines with the utmost alarm.  More specifically and especially here in America, where our President, the one man holding the highest position of authority, has proven himself to be a profoundly antagonistic critic of journalists, going so far as to call them collectively, “the enemy of the people” jounalists should decry this abuse of human rights in the Philippines and its assault on the freedom of the press… not only journalists, but all Americans as well.   We claim that our nation is served by a government of, for, and by the people and any nation that even pretends to be governed by democratic processes cannot possibly survive an assault on the free press that informs it.

Pay attention.  Read this article from James Risen at the Intercept…  Maria Ressa’s Libel Conviction Is a Blow to Press Freedom



Creative Commons License Peoples’ Daily Brief by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Peoples’ Daily Brief – 14 June, 2020

The Weekend Edition – “Defund the police”

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(Ragan Clark / AP Photo)

Law and order.
Crime and punishment.
What do these phrases really mean?

Without sinking to the over-simplified and nouveau cynical sophistry of a second year Philosophy Major at the University, how do we go about deconstructing the bases of our failing system of justice and the institutions of law enforcement that have purported to serve us in that regard for so long that we can scarcely manage to consider an alternative without some sort of populist panic attack at the mere suggestion thereof…

“Defund the police ?!?!”
“Are you insane ?!?!”

Well, no, actually… and even the staid and somewhat conservative corporate media in America have begun to take a second look at what might have been considered the pipe dream of anarchists only two weeks past.  For instance… in an article from Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) which organization is dedicated to serving as a watchdog for the media and calling out its pretentious bias, I read about a Washington Post editorial that surprised me, because the Post seldom embraces even normative progressive notions much less so radical a concept as “defund the police”…
From the FAIR article…
“The Washington Post editorial board (6/9/20)—not known for its friendliness to revolutionary ideas—called the “provocative slogan…a welcome call to reimagine public safety in the United States.” The editorial asked whether police really ought to be responding to mental health emergencies, dealing with homelessness, and funding local governments by “extracting fees from citizens,” and opined that “onlookers are rightfully alarmed at plans to slash social services while sparing police budgets.”

Even though the conversation in the media at large is not being ridiculed as a rule, the “defund the police” concept is more often “described” in ways that tend to remove its more startling implications and the coverage often downplays its radical intent.   Here is the link to the full article from the website at  FAIR.ORG

It always makes me nervous when people begin to talk about the times we live in as one of those mist-inducing “historical moments”… an evocative phrase that often serves to presage decades of disinterest… or, at the very least, an accelerated blowback of regret following what I like to call “conceptual sticker-shock.”  Cultural paralysis sometimes accompanies radical movements like a shadow.  It’s brought on by the eventual recognition of the cost, the enormity of the tasks involved.  It’s a process.  First, there’s a brief period of euphoric dialogue replete with bright, new, shiny buzz words.   “Experts” start to emerge from the wainscoting like Carolina cockroaches in a house afire and they are everywhere, writing books, showing up on MSNBC.  There is a fervor that lasts for a while, but the harsh reality of the hard work that’s needed eventually triggers mind-numbing public apathy.  Yes, every good and worthy idea has its moment, but it needs more than champions or enthusiasm.  These days, new ideas need a think tank and think tanks are funded by people who piffle and tosh at the mere mention of those pulse-quickening, often revolutionary phrases and slogans that clash with their privilege.

“Defund the police ?!?!”
“What… are you some kind of anarchist ?!?!”

The concept is not new by any means, but it’s not a subject that has reached the public discourse until recently and, as often happens when the public is made suddenly aware of a new and radical concept, especially as it pertains to extreme alteration of existing institutions, the public is more immediately exposed to explanations about what it means by the people who are opposed to those ideas at the outset because they are unsettling to people whose lives derive purpose and a sense of security within existing circumstance.  They enjoy enormous benefit and privilege from the status quo.  Because they oppose it, their interpretation is distorted to fit the negative frame through which they would like us to view it.

So… back to the question.  What is actually meant by the words, “defund the police” when they are used by protesters against police aggression and the seemingly constant threat and growing incidence of violence from law enforcement officers, more specifically to black men almost everywhere in America?  More importantly, when you hear those words… defund the police… what do you think it means?  Sometimes the answer is obvious, self-evident, but not in this case… or rather, it’s meaning may be obvious but it is also an incomplete statement.  The people who advocate the concept within the larger context of its origin in the prison abolition movement… what do they say it means?

“Say what ?!?!  Prison abolition?  Now you want to shut down all the prisons ?!?!  What?  You wanna put Charlie Manson back on the street?  What’s with you people?”

Not really. 

Let’s take a look at the movement and what it is trying to accomplish.
Angela Davis, a longtime advocate for both the abolition of prisons and radical alteration of our policing institutions, speaking with Amy Goodman during an interview on DemocracyNow! said this about defunding the police and what is meant in terms of the abolitionist movement…

Angela_Davis_en_Bogotá,_Septiembre_de_2010

By DILINHOS – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

“Well, the call to defund the police is, I think, an abolitionist demand, but it reflects only one aspect of the process represented by the demand. Defunding the police is not simply about withdrawing funding for law enforcement and doing nothing else. And it appears as if this is the rather superficial understanding that has caused (Former Vice President and Democratic Presidential candidate) Biden to move in the direction he’s moving in.
“It’s about shifting public funds to new services and new institutions — mental health counselors, who can respond to people who are in crisis without arms. It’s about shifting funding to education, to housing, to recreation. All of these things help to create security and safety. It’s about learning that safety, safeguarded by violence, is not really safety.”  (Italics used for emphasis here are mine.)  Here is a link to the full interview with Angela Davis at  DEMOCRACY NOW!  It’s an excellent discussion.  Worth the time it takes to listen.

Meanwhile… let’s get down to simple things… facts unimpeded by rhetoric.  An honest assessment informs us that we employ the police to do our dirty work.  We expect them to handle the people who embarrass our sense of civility and order. 

What is the nexus of the circumstance, though?  Where do we derive our justification for the punishment of crime as opposed to the social failures that create behavior and circumstances, conditions we define as “criminal”?  Is our perception of the problems even based on truth… on the substance of facts?  For instance… is there a drug problem?  Or is there a hole in peoples’ lives they seek to fill with narcotics of every description… with or without a prescription?  Is there a homeless problem with people sleeping in doorways, parking lots, abandoned homes and alleyways?  Or is there a growing number of people living on an economic edge… such that every economic crisis bumps more of them out of their jobs and out of their homes, renders them desperate, friendless, and out on the street in far less time than it takes most people to recover?

Isn’t it simpler to skip the research, grab a handy answer and ignore the real cause of any embarrassing segment of the population than to solve the problems that create their loathsome situation?  It’s definitely more profitable for some people when we look the other way and let someone else do all the work.  And considering the optimistic projections of growth in the for-profit prison industry, the business of crime and punishment is indeed a lucrative investment. 

We’ve made the victim of our social failures a criminal by way of laws invented for that purpose.  We put him in prison and… voila!  A ready-made profitable source of cheap captive labor.  Never mind that with our lack of interest, we’ve enabled an institution that could be called a twenty-first century brand of slavery, but hey… talk like that would be too honest.  Nobody wants to imagine they bear any responsibility for something like that.  However, in a government that purports to be of, for, and by the people, we are very much responsible for the perverse actions of our institutions.

Don’t l;ook to Congress to do anything about this.  They are… and they have been the enablers.  The prison-industrial complex has lobbies that are financially outgunned by no one else on the Hill… other than those who work in the military-industrial complex, but that’s a whole ‘nuther smoke.  To be sure, for-profit prisons have many friends in Washington… and in both major Parties.

So… this is the endgame.  If you outlaw poverty… outlaw drug dependency… you can build an entire and uniquely profitable industry.  It’s the American way.  Capitalism in its highest form.

But times and perceptions are changing.

Perhaps the most obvious sign of that change that I’ve seen is a trend that popped up in the last few days… that of cable networks cancelling the cop shows, those real-life, light-em-up, chase-em-down cop shows, you know.  You’ve seen them yourself, the ones where a cast of somewhat photogenic, but genuine cops are shown forever tagging people for suspicious behavior.  They tag people driving, tag people walking, tag people standing on corners… forever tagging people with conditions that more often than not include being poor… or a POC… or both.  These cops are lighting them up, pulling them over, checking them for wants and warrants, “smelling” marijuana in their cars, calling in Officer Bruno with the biceps and his drug-sniffing pup… dismantling the people’s cars on the side of the road while the people sit handcuffed, perplexed on the curb.  Entertainment.  It’s been going on for years… cops arresting people, driving them off in the cubicle cage on seats without cushions in the back of their squad cars.  Driving them off to the labyrinth of plea-bargaining, intimidation, exploitation, and endless incarcerations that we have the stones to call our criminal “justice” system.

Non-violent crime mostly.
“Bad boy.  Bad boy.”  Really?
Petty crime.  Pay the fine or do the time.
But if you don’t have any money, you’re screwed.

People have problems, but instead of helping them deal with their circumstances, we hold them to standards that require them to have some measure of personal wealth.  Poverty is a crime.  Homelessness is a crime.  Dependency and just plain bad damn luck… all crimes.  We criminalize their conditions, circumstances that are a reflection of our own disinterest… the result of society’s failure.  We can no longer deny the violence and the racism that exists as a serious and dangerous problem in many police departments and in many law enforcement agencies, some of which have an institutional flair for bigotry. 

It’s out there and it is self-evident… an uncomfortable and nagging presence in our public discourse.  It’s in your face, America, now that cameras are everywhere and it can no longer be hidden by lies.  Though some may be willing to condone the oppression, the violence… the greater majority of Americans, the people who either understand their own culpability or, by virtue of the color of their skin, they see their own present danger in that very real threat and are no longer willing to tolerate the injustice.  Their voice is loud and their demands will be heard.

“Defund the police.”  What does it mean?

Only this… and it’s not a mystery… deconstruct the failing institution and replace it with other and better and more focused institutions(plural) that serve humanity, not the sacred pillars of American exceptionalism, profit, and privilege.  Address the problems not the symptoms. Help the people who are presently oppressed by our laws and the enforcement thereof instead of criminalizing their existence and their needs. 

It’s really that simple. 

And for those of you who think the Founding Fathers were using their Bibles as a foundation for our Constitution, you’ll be pleased to know that this kind of a fix is right in line and in perfect agreement with the ideas and precepts that are outlined in your leather-bound King James Edition… especially the parts that are printed in red.

It’s really rather simple.  Well, maybe not so simple to get it done, considering how much work is involved and how difficult it is to gt people to act… but it’s easy enough to understand.  The hard part is overcoming the fearful reactions of people who are not now affected by the injustice inherent in the system, the ones who want to know if their property will be safe without an army of men suited up, locked and loaded, ready at the drop of a dime to kill or be killed in order to protect what they have.  Safety… as though what we have at the present time comes anywhere near to a condition that could be described as “safe.”

“Okay, enough.  I get it… so how do we fix it?”

That’s not something we can cover without some background in depth.  A sound byte won’t do the job.  We’ll talk about that some more next week on the Weekend Edition of The Peoples’ Daily Brief, but for now, let me leave you a link to a recent op-ed that explains the thinking of activists who are involved with fixing the problem today… right now… in Minneapolis. 

Here is a relevant extract from an op-ed describing their work, from Jae Hyun Shim, as it appeared in Truthout…
“No sweeping, structural change can happen overnight. And the transition to a police-free Minneapolis will be intentional, measured and collaborative. Right now, it is important to understand that Minneapolis residents have already been taking care of each other, and we will continue to. It’s also worth recognizing that prison abolition is not a reaction to a moment, but a long-time movement backed by decades of Black radical thinking and experience.
“In the past two weeks since Mr. Floyd’s brutal murder at the hands of the MPD, Minneapolis has seen community members step up to fill the gaps where our city, state and county systems have failed us. We’ve created community fire brigades, a people’s ambulance, a transit support system, food banks and hot meal bars, and community safety and defense teams. There have been informal teach-ins, and petitions to cut MPD contracts from museums, business events and schools. Neighbors are talking to each other and actually getting to know who lives on their street.”
Want to know more?  Here is a link to the full article on-line at TRUTHOUT



TXT061120_noor_police_webIn Baltimore, similar movements are underway as expressed in an article by Jaisal Noor in the REAL news network online.
He writes…
“…activists argue grassroots-led efforts that operate on a shoe-string budget have far better results in reducing violence than Baltimore’s scandal-ridden police department.
“’We know for a fact that programs like Safe Streets, community mediations…work, and need to be brought to scale,’ said Hayes.
“Studies have found the Baltimore Ceasefire movement, which fights violence through outreach, connecting vulnerable populations with resources and by building community,  reduced shootings by 52 percent. Meanwhile Safe Streets has been credited with reducing shootings by over 50%.
“Hayes says opposition to defunding the police is rooted in racist views that Black communities need policing instead of the investment in education and other social services given to affluent, white communities.
“’It shows that they are not ready to redefine what public safety looks like,’ says Hayes. ‘I challenge them to follow Black leadership, and trust we have thought about this for a while and that we’re ready to create a pathway to make that happen.’”
Here is a link to the full article at The Real News

People are dying.  Too often, black men are being murdered by the very people we have ordained to “serve and protect” them.  The old message of reform has proven to be little more than lip service that results in more funding, more police, more weapons, more oppression, less safety, less service, less protection, less justice and, now… murder.

That’s enough of that.  Get radical.  Get real.

Defund the police.  It’s time.



Creative Commons License Peoples’ Daily Brief by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Peoples’ Daily Brief – 12 June, 2020

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AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Is the Seattle protest becoming the modern-day equivalent of the Paris Commune?  President Trump seems to think so.  While the protests there are turning peaceful after the police decided to tone down their aggressive tactics against protestors, Trump appears to be threatening a military invasion to stem the “anarchists” who dare to declare their  Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, a two city-block area in Seattle a “No Cop Co-op.”

Oh, anarchy !!   However, according to an Associated Press news release, the most dangerous activity these anarchistic terrorists are engaged in presently is a “…street fair with political discussions and a drum circle.”  Oh, yes, and a few vendors.  What is a street fair without a few vendors supplying the utter essentials, eh?

They are, however, setting up street barricades, à la manière de Les Miserables, the Victor Hugo classic novel that finds its climax in the revolutionary Paris Commune that ruled large portions of the city of Paris for a few months in the spring of 1871.  Alarmez!

Although I am reasonably certain Donald Trump is not aware of historical references, he is, apparently, alarmed that the sane, though to him seemingly cavalier response by local leadership is not “dominating the battlespace” of those two city blocks.  He is distressed to the point that he issued a Tweet, threatening… or so it sounds to me… to send troops, saying, “Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will.”

He said that, really.  Here is his full Tweet… verbatim:

“Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
Radical Left Governor @JayInslee  and the Mayor of Seattle are being taunted and played at a level that our great Country has never seen before. Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stopped IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!  2:08 PM · Jun 11, 2020”

“…ugly Anarchists…”
Is that even a thing?

Read the full story here at the  Associated Press

Donald Trump’s dangerous stance on the use of the military for the enforcement of “law and order” within our boundaries is a clear indication of more than misunderstanding their role in line with the Constitutional provisions for the nation’s defense.  It’s not a matter of ignorance.  Simply put, and like all tyrants, he simply does not care.



Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas

REUTERS/David Becker –

So… given the President’s predilection for pomp, hyperbole and theater, is it real?  Should we be alarmed or merely shake-of-the-head and cluck-of-the-tongue bemused, saying, “Christ on a cupcake, Donald, go play with your toys and leave us alone.”

That tendency on our part has given him infinite license over the past three and a half years and he has taken use of our bemusement and distraction in the interim to dismantle our government and even to deconstruct the norms under which our government has operated forever.  Maybe it’s time to take this man at his word.  Maybe it’s time to start worrying.  Better yet, maybe it’s time to get serious enough to impeach him and…. No, wait…!!

Marjorie Cohn has written an excellent analysis of the current situation.
Read it here in  Truthout



Creative Commons License Peoples’ Daily Brief by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Coming Soon -The Peoples’ Daily Brief, news & analysis from your very own CIA

download (1)“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

James Madison

We sometimes forget this essential truth, but… in a nation whose government purports… or at least aspires to be, as stated by Abraham Lincoln in his brief, but continuously relevant Gettysburg Address, a “…government of the people, by the people, for the people…” the American electorate is infinitely more important than the people they choose to represent them.  Even more important than the one they choose for the White House.  Those Presidents we elect are afforded the very best relevant and timely information gleaned from sources around the world, summarized and provided daily with analysis in a concise but comprehensive report from professionals in the Central Intelligence Agency.  That report is known as “The President’s Daily Brief” or the PBD.

z01Should not “We, the people…” also be as well-informed and as often, in similar depth and by analysts of our own, people who are willing to cull the infinite sources of news and provide a concise report on the issues that affect us… especially when it is “We, the people…” who will judge this President according to what we know about him at the ballot box every four years?  We used to have such a report and it was called the “daily local paper”, available in just about every town and city in America.  These newspapers have declined in number and significance and are disappearing at an alarming rate, creating “news  deserts” and forcing many Americans to rely on media increasingly controlled and dominated by people who use them to propagate an agenda.  Be it political, social, or financial, the motivations of these journalistic conglomerates do more to contribute to disinformation than small independent dailies could have ever accomplished, which generally they did not because their integrity was a huge part in the sum of their value to their readership.  For those of you who weren’t there when daily papers were the main source of the news in this country, the words “journalism” and “integrity” were once synonymous, a thing we quite took for granted, if not true universally in fact, at the very least in universal aspirations.

Today?  I mean today, this day… as opposed to yesterday.  So many “things” are going on and grabbing the attention of the corporate media which is available and on line 24/7/365… a flood of troubles and strife… such that so many other “things” are slipping under the radar. In order to remain intelligently informed, the average American would have to have an analyst on staff in the kitchen just to keep up with how their government is slowly slip-sliding away into oligarchy.

Consider me your own personal Kitchen Cabinet CIA analyst. And when I say CIA, I am saying that I will be an analyst of events from your very own Citizens’ Intelligence Agency and I will cull multiple news outlets and give you considered analysis of what the media seems to be missing.  I’ll do it as often as I can and if it catches on, I will do it on a daily basis

These reports will be posted here my web site and it will be known as the CIA/PBD… or more specifically, the Citizens’ Intelligence Agency’s report, the People’s Daily Brief… your very own CIA/PBD, not unlike the President would get if our President bothered to read anything at all beyond a Tweet or a headline.  It will be comprehensive, complete with links and references to relevant and timely articles from multiple news sources at home and abroad… and not merely links to those sources but a perspective and thoughtful analysis of the events as I perceive them.

Follow my reports and I will keep you informed.

Watch this space.

Creative Commons License The Citizens’ Intelligence Agency’s Report and The People’s Daily Brief by James Lloyd Davis are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

New stuff is on the way

Presently working on an anthology of published and unpublished short fiction, a 2guysonballpersonal selection of my best work, going back as far as 1973… including a new short story that has never before seen the light of day.

My wife, MaryAnne Kolton and I have both been widely published in literary magazines, in the USA and abroad.  I know the market, follow the vicissitudes of the industry, so of course I know that short story anthologies these days are just about as hot as a minor iceberg… and as welcome in the slush piles of book publishers as Covid-19.  Agents?  Forget about it.

Accordingly, I’ve done some research on the available alternatives and will likely self-publish one anthology of my work and one of hers as well sometime this year.  KDP Amazon seems, for us anyway, the best venue, since there is no real investment involved, no cost to us other than our time, though a lot of time is required.  I have plenty of that and I want to get a collection out there for the least reason that everyone who knows my work is hounding me to do something.

This seemed like the answer to that small demand… plus, I am fascinated by the possibilities here.  Were I a young man, I would probably start a publishing company:

1:  Because I’m crazy.

2:  Because writing is my passion.

3:  The industry is fundamentally changing, quite ready for a tectonic shift… and now is the time to leap into it, when everybody is moaning about the demise thereof and one can define the way forward, for better or worse.

4:  The available technology is incredible and anyone who possesses the least technical capability can literally launch an empire with little or no capital or resources other than a decent desktop and a willingness to learn new ways of doing things.  Add some creativity and an artistic predilection and you too can be a media magnate.

Or something like that.

New short story from James Lloyd Davis

DSCN1802
My new short story, “Way Cross, Georgia, 1937” is now available in Thrice Fiction Magazine Issue Number 26.
It’s a different kind of story, hard to describe or categorize.  The style? “Faulkner, Ray Bradbury, and Steinbeck walk into this bar… get drunk… write a screenplay.”
Definitely mumblecore.
Two con men come to an unhappy end in Georgia.
Thanks to RW Spryszak and his friends at Thrice Fiction.

Letter to Virginia – 8/31/2019

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Dear Virginia,

Been a nostalgic week for some reason.  Who knows where these recollections come from, how they are triggered, but there it is… the Sixties.

Although I faked it whenever it suited my purpose, I never was a flower child… you know?  1968… I’d already been to Vietnam and back, tried acting like I’d never been there, since nobody really cared… just wanted to blend in and start all over from scratch.  Did I ever tell you what I wanted to do when I got back from the war?  Don’t laugh, but I was hot to be and really tried to become a photo-journalist… tried going back over there to Vietnam because life back home… life Stateside… was like a vacuum, a round hole and I was utterly square-shaped with very hard edges that simply seemed never to quite fit into place, though God knows I tried.

No… I guess I never told you about that, since I never had the chance.  I left Norfolk shortly after I heard you got married.  Nothing to keep me there, so I left.  Moved across the river to Newport News.  I know you knew I’d been back, but… who knows?

Me?  James the Recently Returned?  He wanted something exciting, something dangerous, something different in his life… but all he got was the sporting goods department at Sears & Roebuck and they fired him… long story.  Not worth telling.

I bought cameras, took pictures… got pretty good at it.  Sent letters to newspapers all over the country, told them I’d be willing to work for them as a photojournalist overseas… in Vietnam or Israel, wherever there was a war because… I don’t know… adrenaline?  Told them I’d work cheap, but nobody offered me a job and after Sears fired me, I pawned all my cameras and guns… and my television set, my stereo.  Took a four-month sabbatical and tried to write a novel.

When the money ran out, I got hungry… so I went to work for the shipyard.

Was living in a tenement then, three-story brick buildings… right across the street from the yard.  While I was living there, I went through about three lifetimes in a year… a crazy year… long story, but it was during one of those lifetimes that I tried becoming a flower child, hanging with a group of people who lived in my building, in a huge basement apartment where other people, kids mostly, down from Richmond and DC would party every weekend.  The group was led by a guy from California, a guy whose name I can’t remember… some rich guy who’d been to Vietnam and was knocking around the country with another guy… from Minnesota, I think.

They were trying to start an urban commune… called themselves “the Real People.”

Long story.  But I didn’t fit in there either.

Two years in Newport News… then Ohio and three or four more lifetimes in a couple of crazy years before I finally caught my breath… Readers Digest condensed versions of a life each… little novellas just waiting for an ending that never quite arrives.  Lifetimes that felt a little like Purgatory, or like waiting for a bus in a Greyhound station that never, ever comes.  Purgatory… Greyhound waiting rooms… they are interchangeable, I think.  You meet interesting people, but you’re forever in transit, like those little eddies of current in a river, that circle and circle and circle for hours before they ever slip back into the mainstream again and get on their way downriver.

Don’t know where you went after you and what’s-his-name got married.  I know you guys didn’t stay together.  I don’t know why.  God knows… he was a pretty good guy.  I knew him pretty well, but your life was a total mystery to me, a book I’ve always looked for, but could never find.

The Sixties.  I’d always imagined you’d get caught up in the whole flower-child thing… but in a good way.  Not the whole drugs and sex and the Green Tambourine thing, the me-me-me culture, but something like that quintessential catcher-in-the-rye rejection of self-aggrandizement, that higher place… a role you seemed born to assume and I know you were looking, always looking… so many did.  Somebody had to find it.  Not many would, but I always thought that if anyone could, you’d be the one.  I hope you did.

Best always… your old friend,

James

 

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