Night Letters to America – 8/11/2019

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The purpose and the spark of a humane and civilizing influence is some ineffable quality for which we strive… and its existence serves as foundation for all of our religions, our liberating philosophies, our governing documents, our laws, our visions and our dreams.  We labor above all to attain first, but thereafter to retain that quality in our culture, in our lives, if not for ourselves, then for our children.  Call it innocence… call it grace… call it joy… it springs from a desire for peace and safety.  It thrives in love and it is the goal of every good gesture, every act of courage and every evolving, intelligent impulse within our social constructs, a product we will call… for the sake of definition, an observable innocence of mind.

Innocence is a delicate and a finite resource, however, difficult and… at times… impossible to regenerate once it has been destroyed.  It can be mimicked, but only at the cost of what is true, since every time we produce some false sense of security in safety, it requires the dismantling of innocence in proportions dictated by some unwritten metaphysical law.

The “right to bear arms” in the twenty-first century is the perfect example.

One of many justifications used to oppose the regulation of firearms in America is the manufactured illusion that an armed citizenry creates a safe and secure society, requires the same sort of delusion, though on a global scale, that drove the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union in the decades following World War II, each nation arming itself to the degree that each could destroy its rival and the entire population of the world many times over and in so brief a period of time, the very notion of this competition was called a “balance of power” through the capability of “mutual destruction.”  The cost of this tenuous purchase of national security was a generational nihilism that essentially destroyed the innocence of its participant nations and robbed all neutral parties of their own safety and security and the incessant ignition of small proxy wars in the Third World.

Let’s put that horrendous example into the perspectives that have evolved through the auspices of the National Rifle Association and their benefactor, the gun manufacturers of America.  Based upon a premise within the vague wording of the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and fueled by money supplied to them by gun manufacturers, the NRA has become one of the most powerful propaganda agencies, marketing influences, and political lobbies in the entire free world, convincing a huge swath of the American population that they need to live like their pioneer forebearers, who, at least in popular fiction, were surrounded by hostile populations of men and beasts… a dark force in a lawless frontier that perpetually threatened not only their fortune, but their lives.

In the name of this… heritage… they have convinced Americans and bribed their politicians to vindicate the notion that our freedom, our “heritage” and our personal safety demands that every American has the right to bear arms without regulation, license, or constraint.  The result?  One hundred Americans die on any given day by way of gun violence.  Think about that… one hundred people… human beings, men, women, children.

What does that look like?  One hundred people.

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X

Every one of the Xs above represents a human being murdered by a gun… one hundred Xs, a fair representation of the sum of any one day’s average slaughter by guns in America.  However, it is not a fair representation of the victims themselves, nor the broad expanse of grief, hardship and loss that each death implies.  These Xs stand for people… individuals with lives that affect others.  They represent mothers fathers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters all… baby girls, baby boys, sweethearts, friends, lovers, the innocent and the not so innocent, but each one of the was a living human being one moment and a nameless cipher in the news a day later.

For me?

X = Charlie

He died, according to a police report, on 06/25/1991.  His death caused by ”… a single gunshot wound to his head while sleeping.”  Charlie was the youngest of four siblings.  He was my brother.  He was 35 years old and apparently on the upswing after hard times.  Hopeful.  His parents, my mother and father, were forced to do that which any parent shudders to imagine… to bury one of their children.  He was loved by many people, and by everyone in his family, each one devastated and unalterably affected by his sudden and violent death.  But it’s one thing to bury your brother after the devastating effects of some disease… quite another in the wake of a senseless murder by person or persons unknown, a random crime with no apparent motive, no witnesses, no suspects.

One hundred violent deaths every day of every week of every month of every year in America causes a rippling effect touches the lives of others, such that each single death must surely effect at least a hundred others, friends, families… a hundred times one hundred lives affected in the wake of a death by gunshot.

What does that look like?

I won’t waste the space just to give you a visual representation of 10,000 Xs, but I think you can imagine page after page after page… and I’m willing to wager that most people in America have lost someone to gun violence in their lifetime, but how many more who are wounded, physically and mentally traumatized.  The numbers reach incomprehensible proportions.

Today?  Mass shootings are becoming more frequent and occur in places where none would expect… classrooms, movie theaters, concerts, festivals, churches, synagogues, mosques, temples… anywhere people collect and expect to be safe from harm.

America is a war zone.

How did that happen?

It would take volumes to describe the perfect storm that has culminated in this age of violence and insecurity, where no parent can be certain that their child will not be killed on any given day in a classroom… where no one can be certain that their prayers in any church, any synagogue, any mosque, any temple, any sacred place of worship will not be suddenly and violently interrupted by the sound of gunfire.

When do we say, “Enough.”

Not this time… apparently.  Here it is, but mere days following the murder of 22 people and the injury of 24 more in a Wal-Mart in El Paso by a lone gunman armed with a military assault rifle and, the news cycle changes, the outrage takes a back seat to the suicide of a storied, sex trafficking billionaire, whose life has launched a hundred rumors… and whose death has launched a hundred more.

And so it goes.

No one will long remember El Paso.  Who’s fault is that… if not yours and mine?

 

Creative Commons License Night Letters to America by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

I hope you will become a regular reader and I heartily invite you to comment below.  I love your feedback, even when it’s criticism.  It makes all the trouble worthwhile and it keeps me honest.

 

What can I do? They own the media…

 

It is bad enough when bigotry and ignorance prevails in the nation of your birth… worse Untitledyet when the institutions that serve it are corrupted… when they become the authors of deception.  Last night on Fox, Tucker Carlson stated that white supremacy is a hoax perpetuated by Democrats.  He said, “They’re making this up.  It’s a talking point, which they are using to help them in this election cycle.”

Fox News dominates cable and the networks. Consistently, more Americans watch Fox News than any one of the other cable or broadcast networks. Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson have a bully pulpit for their corrosive, dangerous lies. Theirs is a huge audience and this is the kind of propaganda they feed them on a nightly basis. Is it any wonder that so many Americans have no concept of what is happening around them? This is the very reason that an amoral, bigoted, utterly incompetent, and dangerous criminal sits in the White House today.

Someone asked me today… “What do you do to stop it?”
This is what I do:  wherever I can, whenever I can find the time… I seek out the truth, write what I find, and I put it out there on the internet, the only place where ordinary Americans can possibly be heard beyond the confines of their social influence.
And so can you.

The power of disinformation, the strength of a lie resides in constant repetition within an unchallenged venue. The greatest weapon against it is truth. Just as it is in violent warfare, the battle for dominance between truth and a lie depends upon the power and the strategic application of the armament involved. If the lie enjoys a position of power, then truth is an insurgent… and it must be everywhere at once and unrelenting.

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“If the truth shall kill them, let them die.”   Immanuel Kant

The Green New Deal in a readable format and a video…

For the purpose of clarity and for my own use in comprehending the content, I copied and pasted the text of the legislation for the Green New Deal (House Resolution 109) into an MSWord .doc file and reformatted the language in less daunting form so it can be read more easily (hopefully).  It contains the same language, but in a smoother context, one that I find renders it less intimidating so I could actually make sense of it.

I thought I would pass it on to you, so hopefully you’ll take the time to read it.  Granted, it’s not much in the headlines these days, given the feud and fuss over the de-fanged and blacked-out Mueller Report, which, it turns out, is quite an indictment of Trump as it is… but rest assured, the people who rolled out the Green New Deal are not about to give up and neither should you.  The problems it points out are not going to vanish and the solutions it presents are bold, viable, and absolutely necessary for the future of us all.

I’ve included links to both the original text and my own format below:

If you like to read legislative text in the raw, (some people are like that) go here:
https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-resolution/109/text

But if you are legislatively challenged and want to read the MSWord outline I created for easier reading, go here:
Click here to read the Green New Deal in plain English format

Feel free to copy it and pass it on to anyone who might benefit.  The more people who are aware of what it actually says, the less chance there is that Koch and Exxon funded think-tanks can fool us by trying to put out disinformation.

I’ll be writing more about it in the future, but I thought that this profoundly interesting and even engaging introduction to the content of the program might be worth a look:

Mobs, momentum, consensus, and the race to be the first to cast a stone…

Senator Elizabeth Warren is calling aloud for impeachment and a Republican group is buying advertisements on Fox that call for accountability.  The media, of course, is aflame with indignation… somewhat slow to arise, but welcome nonetheless.  How sad that it took so long for the “I” word to surface with any substance behind it, if indeed, the mob sounds and pitchforks can be considered substance,  Yet, even now, before any of these leaders have surely had sufficient time to read, much less digest the entire Mueller report… and before they have seen the likely most damaging information that the frog-faced Trump-friendly philistine Barr has seen fit to withhold from intelligent eyes, they are ready now, after more than two years of obvious and in-your-face criminality and corruption, to finally call up the posse, to saddle up and ride.  Sad that it took so long for our Congress to finally grow a spine.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m happy they’re so motivated now, dismayed perhaps… knowing that such lynch mobs sometimes lose their steam… knowing that the courts could now become the new and crippling blockades to action… knowing that the candidates and the righteously indignant whoevers will then point to and blame the judiciary as the new stumbling block to justice… knowing that this is but the beginning, so far from the end of it… assuming that Trump is no Nixon, having neither the wit nor the will to resign, but will fight this to the bitter end.

In the meantime, he will continue to fragment and dismantle what remains of our Federal government, a task that pleases many of those who now decry and defame him with newfound zeal for integrity, born-again passion for justice.  And by the time the mob starts to gather, it’s not really about integrity or courage… is it?  Life goes on and Pence is waiting in the wings.  The cure could be worse than the cancer.

Me?  I wanted the man impeached from day one, but I’m still reading the Mueller report and I don’t have a staff to do all the reading and write me a summary… and I never really trusted the media, so I’ll get back to you later with the substantive stuff.

For now?  Save me at least one very big stone that I may guiltless in good conscience cast with all righteous indignation and wrath.

Nancy Pelosi vs Franklin Delano Roosevelt… will the real Democratic Party please stand up !!

In a 60 Minute interview that aired on Sunday last, CNBC reports that Nancy Pelosi said, “I do reject socialism.  If people have that view, that’s their view.  That is not the view of the Democratic Party.”  All due respect to Nancy Pelosi, de facto leader of the party in minority that ascended once again to control at least the House, sailing into control on the winds that filled their sails… winds of change that emanated from progressive Democrats and other activists within her party determined to reverse the trends of economic inequality, corporate control of politics, and right wing hegemony, including candidates who were willing to openly identify themselves as democratic socialists… but, perhaps she’s not listening, or even knows the electorate as well as she believes.

It’s obvious, however, that the Democratic Party, the same Party that gave America its longest running, wildly popular President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, is no longer the party of the New Deal, nor the kind of party that could so embrace the common good of all its members, giving Americans a legislative agenda that offered us Social Security, the WPA, the FDIC, the National Labor Relations Board, the Glass–Steagall Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Tennessee Valley Authority and countless other bold social programs designed to lift our nation up from the economic collapse in 1929 that was caused by the unparalleled greed of irresponsible bankers, financiers, and monopolistic industrialists.  These programs were vilified by conservatives in their day as a dangerously anti-American socialist agenda which, even in the current conservative climate, are today accepted as inevitable, necessary, beneficial programs that are every bit as American as Mom, the flag, and butter crusted, cinnamon infused, and sugar topped, sweet apple pie.

Nonetheless, and for years now, particularly during the past four decades… since conservatives in both parties canonized Ronald Reagan and began to sing his profane little tune of corporate welfare and the mythology of trickle down economics, Democrats have moved increasingly to the right with their economic policies, suffering a major tectonic shift, claiming territory once held entirely by Republicans, during the Clinton administration.

To be sure, these neo-liberal Democrats retained those “radical” ideas that were inviolable in the minds of most Democrats, like equal “opportunity”, abortion rights, women’s rights, and other fashionable causes célèbres that identified them with a liberal brand, but only in so far as they did not compete with a conservative economic agenda that favored the heavy corporate donors who were so enamored of Clintonian Democracy.  These neo-liberal disciples of the apostle Billary now control the DNC and operate the strings of the corporate media like puppet masters in a Punch and Judy drama in which they assume the role of “Not Trump” as opposed to, say, the Party of Economic and Social Reform. So… where does that leave the progressives in the Party?

What does that bode for the future, when the leadership of the Democratic Party has no desire to aid or entertain the “green dream” of so many of its younger membership, now clearly the more active, not really interested in neo-liberal politicians who pat them on the head and tell them to get in line and accept the same sort of incrementalism and corporatist theories that have made paupers of the majority of working Americans.  Big labor pays Nancy’s freight while corporations spend millions in an effort to make unions illegal.  And our college-educated minority?  They are, too many of them, in debt and in servitude to their student loans for life… like most Americans who try to get ahead… saddled with crippling debt and no clear path to the elusive, if not mythic, American Dream.  Our aged are in danger of being priced out of medical care, in spite of Medicare… and they will be for the unforeseeable, and for some, very short future… for as long as pharmaceutical companies act like mafiosi with medications that should be as inexpensive as clean water, which is less expensive and much less clean than it was forty years ago… and in some areas?  Toxic.  Does any of this sound familiar?

But why talk about distressed populations?  They were abandoned long ago for lack of political clout, worthy now of little more than lip service.  Nancy Pelosi says in effect, if not with the words, “Let them eat cake.”  Does she imagine herself so correct that she no longer listens?  It’s time for the Party of FDR to go back to its roots.  Let’s hope that it’s not too late.  If the Democratic Party of today seems impotent now in relation to Trump?  Where will they stand next year when they demand more loyalty of the electorate than they’ve ever given us in return.

The parallax view from here….

“As an American citizen of German birth I finally testify that I am painfully familiar with certain political trends. Spiritual intolerance, political inquisitions, and declining legal security, and all this in the name of an alleged ‘state of emergency.’ … That is how it started in Germany.”  Thomas Mann in response to accusations by the House Un-American Activities Committee that he was a communist.

74a72e9d61ef6e8fb175031b4318632dThe novelist who gave us a classic novel, The Magic Mountain, was an early and fierce critic of Adolf Hitler and the poisonous culture of the Nazis.  Because of his public, even fearless words against them, he was forced to flee his native Germany in 1933, eventually finding refuge in the United States where he became a citizen in 1944.  Yet, even in America, he found himself similarly threatened and hounded by the forces of McCarthyism as he publicly protested and wrote against the oppression of American writers and intellectuals during the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee hearings that amounted to nothing less than fear mongering persecution, eventually leading to blacklisting and even to prison sentences as in the case of the Hollywood Ten.  As a result of his public criticism of yet another fascist movement, he was finally forced to leave the U.S. and return to Europe.

The McCarthy era was a low point in American history, proving beyond doubt that the fears of those Americans like Sinclair Lewis, who in 1935 imagined the seed of fascism could find fertile soil in the American psyche, were more than prophetic,  The House Un-American Activities Committee and the later McCarthy hearings in the Senate demonstrated that “it can happen here” and it did to the extent that the foundations of intellectual oppression and propagation of fear was laid.  All that was lacking was the proper demagogue, a role that McCarthy tried desperately to fill.  Thankfully he was thwarted.  The saving graces of our nation at the time were the decency and strength of its leadership, as exemplified in people like attorney Joseph Welch who challenged McCarthy at the Army hearings, and the power of the free press, the courage of journalists like Edward R. Murrow.  The eventual shaming of the demagogues who very nearly destroyed the character and intent of our Constitution was inevitable, but not before they exacted a terrible price on their victims, literally destroying the reputations and careers of thousands of people on the basis of lies and baseless accusation, creating an environment of fear and mistrust.

All of that seems now to have returned and we are once again faced with the ugly specter of fascist intent and unprecedented demagoguery in the person of Donald Trump.  Time and again, this amoral, despotic individual has proven himself invulnerable to every criticism, moving by incremental steps toward autocracy by pushing against the moral and institutional constraints that we always believed were inviolable.  He toys with Congress, attacks our courts, vilifies his critics, challenges and ruthlessly mocks the authority of anyone in our government who tries to oppose him.

On any given day, one could point to any one of a dozen of his actions as a dangerous precedent, the sort of behavior that would eventually bring down any previous politician… and yet, it almost appears as if he draws strength from every cry of “foul” that comes his way.  What is it that makes this man invulnerable?

Has he so wearied his critics with his lack of shame that they simply give up in frustration?  We know well enough that for all his faults, his enablers are willing to forego any appearance of personal integrity for the rewards they receive when he satisfies their corrupt intent, giving them the license they’ve always craved in pursuit of autocracy.  But now, even his greatest critics within the government seem impotent, utterly restrained from meaningful action against him.

Is it possible that they too see opportunity in the phenomena he’s unleashed?  Are they afraid of him?  Or merely and similarly as jaded as his enablers. The answers may not come from a normal perspective.  Perhaps they will come from a parallax view, an unpopular and skewed perspective from the fringes of our society, from a perspective that may no longer exist in our contemporary culture.  Perhaps it will come from the distance, from the past, from the echoes of what we once held dear but seem, somehow, to have lost.

Where is our Sinclair Lewis?
Where is our Thomas Mann?
Where is our Joseph Welch?
Where is our Edward R. Murrow?

Or have we become the very force that feeds the beast we fear, if not through outright support, then with silent acquiescence?  Is this present circumstance the sum of our failures, the substance of our corruption as a nation?  If we hope to survive, we’d better find out just what it is we have lost and regain it.  And soon.

Time is not our friend.

The next revolution will be televised… but will it survive the competition for ratings?

National priorities are too often shaped in a centralized fashion and in circles of focus and influence that entirely eliminate the application of a democratically discerned and representational administration of the will of the majority.  Too complex?  Simply put, then, we have allowed a culture of autocracy to usurp and assume not only the responsibilities of the self-governed, but the lion’s share of the economic benefits we have produced through our collective productivity.
Not unlike the same brand of top-down priorities that compelled the first Americans to write a firm letter to King George telling him to take his taxes and a hike simultaneously, while acting as though it was quite within their rights to govern themselves bottom-up without that divinely inspired autocracy the crown represented at the time.
At the time, it was one hell of an idea, and remarkably successful.  A fluke, perhaps, due to the fact that all the crowns in Europe were too busy competing with one another in global warfare over this and that trade dominion in other backwater continents and had not the time to care about a few British bumpkins in Boston and Philly… ordinary farmers and tradesmen with delusions of democratic grandeur.
We got lucky. Look what happened to the French.

They did not fare so well by half for all their fundamental revolutionary esprit.
Perhaps that’s why, as a nation, we eventually got soft, insulated as we were from the tyrannies and terrors of European conflict… until such time as our war profiteers saw profit to be had in our involvement, plunging us all into so much overseas warfare that we somehow got the idea it was our raison d’être, that we were the anointed defenders of… what? Freedom?
Under that curious brand we became the world’s unpaid mercenaries, this uber-militaristic nation with some apparent national will to martial all our nation’s resources toward maintaining a military power unparalleled in our time, quite at the expense of our own common welfare, in order to wage incessant war for this or that “ally”… though less, if at all,  in the name of some idealistic purpose than for commercial access to and control of such needful commodities as oil which belong to poorer, weaker nations… warfare in the name of profit… though we are quite in denial of the true reasons… and for the sake of what? Appearances? Hard to tell, but in so doing and by continuing to allow it, we’ve managed to create for ourselves an ever more parasitical autocracy than mad King George could have ever hoped to effect.
Maybe it’s time for another Philadelphia Brand course correction.
Maybe it’s time to write another letter… an email, perhaps, but this time with a lot of BCCs.  Not to the people who supposedly represent us in the seat of our government, but to all the CEOs of all the global corporations that own them and pull their various strings.
What, after all, do we really have to lose? And… who knows? Like those earlier Americans, we just might get lucky.