Peoples’ Daily Brief – Sunday Edition

21 June, 2020

We don’t even have to enumerate or declare the problems.  We live with them daily and even when we isolated ourselves in our homes at the height of the pandemic, the media surged its insistent edge of disease and Trump, Trump and disease… day after day through our phones, our iPads and our cable.  Unemployment, pestilence, strife and oppression daily, symptomatic expressions of something inherently wrong at the core of our lives.  What makes it worse is that we don’t get solutions, just problems.

We don’t have a government any more.  We don’t have that structure that offers us solutions.  The government we had?  Even if it was nothing more than lip service, they offered us solutions.  As near as I can tell, our government was taken over by hedge fund managers, a hostile takeover, a downright purchase of something that wasn’t supposed to be for sale… and in the manner of all corporate pirates, they’ve dismantled it top to bottom, selling off the assets as they do and leaving all the liabilities to its shareholders, the working men and women of America.  It’s not enough that they’ve screwed us in the workplace, broken the backs of our unions, now they’ve taken our government and put it up for auction, for sale to the highest bidder.

If anyone’s going to fix it, it will have to be us to do the work… so let’s talk solutions.  Just you and me.  For the moment let’s pretend we have the power to fix it.

Solutions are the elusive side of the equation, but sometimes?  Even the questions are tricky.  Personally, I’ve often used a simple declarative statement as a kind of colloquial expression to put a cap on a discussion that’s devolved into a standoff, something to the effect that, intellectually speaking, “…perspective is everything.”  And I seldom have to go beyond that simple premise, since we… or most of us anyway… can generally agree to accept our differences with the dispassionate understanding that we will not always agree.   As pithy sayings go, “perspective is everything” speaks clearly, seems simple enough, a rather basic and, perhaps, fundamental expression of the underlying imperative behind intellectual things in general.  Finding solutions for seemingly insoluble problems is an intellectual exercise after all.

Perspective is everything.

However… and for the purposes of this essay, let me specify that what I am saying in essence is this… “Every aspect of our culture, including at the very least, our social tendencies, our morals, our philosophy, our social constructs… including the bases for government and law, our biases, et cetera, et alia, are founded and ultimately dependent upon our collective acceptance of a common world view, or… the accepted perception of that view, our own and humanity’s place in the world or the universe at large, and in context and concert with one another.”

Having so specified that, let me now hit you with a corollary statement.

“When our institutions fail us and the need arises for either reform or deconstruction that must precede the building of new institutions, the first duty of those who would be the agents of change is to question the most fundamental perceptions on which that failed endeavor was constructed and, if necessary, construct a new foundation on which any new institution will be built.”

Fairly simple, right?  Well, not really.

People get upset when you challenge their notions and the people who establish the validity of a nation’s notions, at least here in America, although you could probably suggest it works that way elsewhere… the people in charge tend to be the people who are quite pleased with the way things are because… they hold the authority… the power, if you will.  They also tend to use that power to their advantage.

Revolutionary ideas are the hope of the dispossessed.  Their oppressors?  Not so much.  So, if the majority of people represent the dispossessed and the wanting… while a shrinking minority has all the money and all the power, who do you think will finally decide whether the foundations of that nation in which there is a large and growing disparity have failed?  The answer is obvious when the minority rules, so where’s the relief for the rest of us?  It will take a revolutionary idea to solve these insurmountable problems.  Do we need a revolution?  Must revolutionary ideas always be the source of revolution?  Good question, but for now, let’s leave it unanswered and try to determine how a neutral observer would see our situation.

In the academic arena, though one could hardly name Academe as neutral in these issues, since their existence seems to depend on the charity of wealthy individuals.  Spare us the objections otherwise, since the very premise of capitalism is the pursuit of money as the prime motivator of all human interaction.  Capitalism is not and never will be the engine of intellectual inspiration.  Value for value is the rule.  There will be exceptions, of course, but not enough to drive an idea that is inimical to the status quo and the power structure it supports.  It would be ideal, though, if the product of academic inquiry was valued according to the neutrality that guides it, but it does not.

Who influences research?
The people who pay for it.
Who pays for the research?
The government and corporations.

But if the corporations influence the government, which they do, and inordinately so, the answer to the question, “Who pays for research…” is then reduced by half.  Once again you could plead the integrity and subsequent neutrality of scientific research.  And once again, I will tell you that the prime rule of capitalism, which is the language and the religion of corporations, is… value for value.

“You give me what it is that I want and I will give you cash.”

And if I am perfectly happy with the way things are, will I give you money for research that I know will provide a conclusion that calls for a change?  Will I pay you to tell me that in order to solve the problems, I must surrender my privilege?  If I was St. Francis, perhaps, but I very much doubt that St. Francis would be working today as vice president in charge of research grants for a major corporation.  I really do.

Forget, for the moment that we will argue incessantly over what the solution may be, let’s just imagine that we have narrowed it down to a solution that brings equality and justive into our lives as realities, not merely the mumbled aspirations that have passed for a reality since the nation was born by a C-section from mother England.  The question is, “How do we get from what we have to what we want without the bother of a revolution?”

If we, the people, are ever to decide our fate by choosing to work inside the system to champion revolutionary ideas that would ultimately level the field in both social and economic influences, would we need an academic study that we can present to our government representatives… stating our case in order that they might fix the problem through legislation?  Do they even do things like that anymore?  I say… “What a waste of time that would be, since for every study that proves our premise, the statist elite could produce ten… and likely one of them would derive from the same university that gave us ours, but reach an opposite conclusion.”  Such is the power of wealth.

It’s a very old game, this oligarchy maneuver… and it works just as well within the democratic illusion as in the supreme authority once claimed for itself the divine right of kings.  Even Senators, Congressmen, and Presidents, when all else fails, still fall back on the old God Gambit with some measure of success because many among us still fall for the oldest trick in the authoritarian playbook.  It’s a shame, really, because we could trust an academic approach when it is honest, and who better to do the necessary groundwork than those who specialize in the study of change as intellectual historians, philosophers, ethicists… people like Quentin Skinner who wrote:

“The history of philosophy, and perhaps especially of moral, social and political philosophy, is there to prevent us from becoming too readily bewitched. The intellectual historian can help us to appreciate how far the values embodied in our present way of life, and our present ways of thinking about those values, reflect a series of choices made at different times between different possible worlds. This awareness can help to liberate us from the grip of any one hegemonal account of those values and how they should be interpreted and understood. Equipped with a broader sense of possibility, we can stand back from the intellectual commitments we have inherited and ask ourselves in a new spirit of enquiry what we should think of them.”

So… if we know that the system is corrupted… and many more do than will say so aloud… what is the remedy?  Maybe the complexities that we see in the systems we have inherited are confounding our perceptions… a purposeful and camouflaged field of smoke and of mirrors.  Perhaps the solutions are so damnably simple, so maddeningly obvious that a child, lacking the sophistication of indoctrination through education, could show us how it’s done.  The task then is not one of academic research, but of surrender.  The surrender of a nation’s notions when they fail to give us what we need.  It should be easy.

It’s not, though… is it?  Ask yourself, “Why?”
You know and I know the answer to that one.

Because it’s hard.  Damned hard.  You will have to work for it and you will have to fight for it and you will have to lay everything on the line for it… your time, your substance… maybe even your life.  That may well be the price of what you want for yourselves and your children.  That’s a risky proposition, no?  If you have the least amount of privilege working for you, you have something to lose, don’t you?
In that case, you might think it not worth the cost.  Many do.
The justifications for standing in the gap for the rich and the powerful are manifold, convincing, and rewarding enough to ease the pull of a “woke” conscience.

It costs most people nothing to go back to sleep.
Ultimately, only you can decide if it’s worth it.
So… is it?
Worth it?

It would be and it is to the many black men and women who have been demeaned, humiliated, harassed, beaten, jailed, falsely accused and even murdered at the hands of law enforcement for so long that no one can remember a time when justice stood for anything but a lie.  We could start by fixing what is the greatest and most pressing of all, since the oppression of any among us diminishes all of us.

Let’s fix the worst parts first and as we gather strength in solidarity, the rest of it becomes just that much easier.  So… where do we begin?

Defunding the police is only the beginning.

It’s time change the laws that criminalize poverty and create a conveyor belt from the schoolyard to the prison yard with such predictable ease and unquestioning justification that the least study could shock people who seem to never notice what is right there in their face… or is really ignorance… and not selective blindness?

I get tired of quoting facts that never seem to break through, but if you believe the Black Lives Matter movement is unjustified in its depth and span nationwide, then you are the problem and I’m wasting my time with you… and you with me, so walk away and have a nice life.  The truth will reach you soon enough.  I just hope that it comes from revelation and not from the trouble and the strife your apathy has purchased.

If you’re interested, watch this video from The Real News Network in Baltimore, titled, Why do police shoot people in the back?

Or listen to this interview from Reveal, titled, Uprising

If you want to take the time, go to this site for the numbers. The Prison Policy initiative

It’s not just a policing problem.  Our entire criminal justice system needs an overhaul and since 911 and the development of massive data collection by our government and the known abuses thereof, an intelligent observer might deduce that we are becoming, if not already, a police state that could rival that of the old Soviet Union.

Do some research.  It’s depressing.

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But wait !! There’s more !!

If you are really curious, you might want to read a few good books on the subject.  Over the next week I’ll compile a list and on Sunday, a week from today, I will publish a reading list.  Who knows?  Maybe this could be the cause you have been looking for.  We have a lot of problems, but if we tackle them one at a time, we don’t have to start a revolution… we will be the revolution.

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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 – Saturday Edition

We’re closed on Saturdays… one day a week.  We do it because we believe in a day of rest, not as a religious imperative, but as a simple human need.  We chose Saturday because we know everybody else usually chooses Sunday and we wanted to offer them a more in-depth analysis of the previous week, or editorial perspectives, on  their day of rest… a day when they have the time in which to read it.

On Saturday, however, we will give you something to consider, a link to an article or an op-ed that we read during the week and thought was important enough to pass on.

We chose this one today – On Juneteenth, Let’s Commit to Learning How to Abolish Oppressive Institutions/TRUTHOUT

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Hundreds of people pack into Columbus Circle to hear speeches against police violence while one of them holds a painted portrait of George Floyd in front of Trump International Hotel in New York City on June 14, 2020. IRA L. BLACK / CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES

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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 – 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 – 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 – 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.

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

It’s not really death for such a one as this… call it transcendence

d3d5f99cb910d8a66bbac7348a4da827635af288Every writer knows the truth about words… that of themselves and in their studied form… they are limiting, vague… that they can be chains that hold you back. A writer like Toni Morrison is able break the binds and strictures of language in such a way that the words become a liberating force within the reader… permitting a depth in simplicity that could never be otherwise achieved except within her flawless style. Such a writer is rendered thus immortal.

“No one ever talks about the moment you found that you were white. Or the moment you found out you were black. That’s a profound revelation. The minute you find that out, something happens. You have to renegotiate everything.”
Toni Morrison

Night Letters to America – 8/1/2019

From the Merriam Webster Dictionary online…
night letter (n): a telegram sent at night at a reduced rate for delivery the following morning.

Presidential Grandiloquence – Part One

When I think of the American presidency, I think of slogans and of epochs.  The duration of each administration’s sway upon the nation could be termed as an epoch, historically… a period of time that is often defined by the character and stated ideals of each individual President inevitably framed by slogans.  More often, however, the slogans are lost and their idealistic definitions are tempered in remembrance by the realities surrounding each administration, by facts rather than by the carefully chosen words they use to define themselves.

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Bob Daugherty, AP Archives

For instance, the administration of Lyndon Baines Johnson attempted to characterize itself with florid descriptions of his signature achievements in civil rights and social justice legislation, an idealistic political agenda branded with vaunting, and not necessarily inaccurate labels.  We cannot fault such ambitious programs as the War on Poverty and The Great Society, but all pretense comes to a crashing end and his happy place in history took a back seat to the stain of his one and horrific misadventure, the war in Vietnam, a can that had been kicked down the road by two previous administrations, but an issue he chose to tackle in the worst manner possible, with a war that was never actually declared, but was viciously and violently waged for a decade, killing over 55,000 Americans and untold hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese.

unnamedHis successor?  Recent revelations disclose the fact that Richard Nixon sabotaged Johnson’s peace initiatives by brokering a secret deal with North Vietnam before he was President as he rode to victory on the phrase, “Peace with honor” which was, in retrospect, a monument to cynical mendacity.  But then, Nixon was no stranger to the perversion of truth.  In fact, he earned a second term on a symphony of “law and order” with horns and percussion, played with verve and passion to his beloved audience, “the silent majority” of Americans who were dismayed by political and social upheaval over the war that Nixon had prolonged with his deception.  But no one quite imagined how cynical it might be for Nixon to run on a platform that invoked law and order until they learned that the thrust of his entire administration was marked with such incredible violations of law and disruption of order that his corruption and crimes eventually forced him to resign in disgrace.  Only a pardon by the next and quickly forgotten President Ford kept him from serving a justified term in a Federal prison.

jimmy-carterJimmy Carter’s presidency is difficult to characterize, since an honest man is not generally as glib in the realm of self-aggrandizement as the average politician, so he was more often defined by his critics and particularly by his successor in rather vilifying and dismissive words.  Nonetheless, Carter was possibly the most forward thinking President in terms of a national energy policy, a political agenda that recognized the growing dangers of indiscriminate and  poorly regulated use of fossil fuels and the very real cost of dependence on foreign oil.  But like Obama in his second term, however, Carter suffered from an animated opposition by a Republican-controlled Congress during his first term, a fact that essentially crippled many of his initiatives.  The death blow to his administration was certainly not of his making… a hostage crisis in Iran following a popular Islamist revolt.  The uprising was the result of an American led coup and regime change in the mid-1950s and the hatred of the revolution for the USA was fueled by subsequent, generous American support of an oppressive regime.  The hostage crisis was such an embarrassment to the nation that someone had to take the blame.  Carter became the perfect scapegoat.  His campaign for a second term quite collapsed when our military attempted to rescue the hostages and failed, the result of a peculiar regional weather event and an unfortunate accident in the wake of it.  Carter’s Republican opponent in the election, Ronald Reagan, took advantage of both the incident and the ongoing, ever-present embarrassment, the loss of national pride… and won handily.

ReaganBerlinWall130612Ronald Reagan?  Where can I start?  The apostle of “trickle down economics” who invoked an image of an old, disproved, and rationally absurd economic theory that favors corporations and the wealthy as “engines of the economy” declaring corporate success as “a rising tide that lifts all boats…” Riding this absurd metaphor like a boogey board, Reagan proceeded to dismantle America’s post-WWII prosperity by shifting the burden of all taxation to middle and lower class Americans… by destroying the influence of labor unions… by giving tax breaks to the wealthy… by reducing “unnecessary” programs of social welfare… and by de-regulating commerce… thus creating a new American aristocracy and initiating economic trends that have given us the greatest disparity in wealth and income since the Gilded Age.  Yet, even today, both Democrats and Republicans invoke his style with reverence as some sort of political benchmark for the ages.  Unfortunately, that benchmark proved to be built upon such unstable foundations that it became a formula for failure.  It has been the cause of unprecedented economic disparity and its philosophy can do naught but foment social inequity, based as it is on a lie… but let’s move on.

George H. BushThe first President Bush, the product of a more florid era of political rhetoric, had a particular gift for the iconic phrase… with such poetic entries as “a thousand points of light” which program was, essentially, another way to give awards to rich people who have so much money they can spend a little bit of it on poor people.  The theory is that philanthropy, the largesse of wealthy people can ultimately supplant the need for social welfare.  But the phrase that actually got him elected “Read my lips…” when he declared “…no new taxes…” is the phrase that eventually brought him down in his attempt for a second term because reality forced his administration to reconsider and he… you guessed it… raised the tax rate.

clinton-saxBill Clinton came in behind Bush on the merits of such sentiments as “It’s the economy, stupid.”  Clinton “…didn’t inhale.” And, he “…never had sex with that woman.”  In fact he was, as my sainted grandmother would put it, “…so full of it…” one has to wonder how he ever got away with as much as he did.  I don’t know what to say about Clinton, since this Democratic president, though adorned with the mantle of a liberal freely given him by his peers in spite of his apparent and obvious predilections to conservatism, managed to move the Party of FDR and the New Deal into territory once held by Republican elites.  How did he do it?  Charm and charisma?  The ability to smile and to tell us an absolute lie while doing the exact opposite of what he said?  Perhaps, but his legacy is written in the growth of policies that imprisoned more non-violent offenders and for such interminable periods of time that their lives were essentially destroyed.  Prison populations soared.  The war on poverty was lost in the Clinton administration through “workfare” programs and tough, even brutal attitudes toward crime and punishment.  And though his administration did more to oppress black people in America than was ever publicly acknowledged, his ability to play the saxophone and the audacity to wear sunglasses while doing so on television, earned him the erstwhile label, “America’s first black president.”  Charming.

bush_cheney-620x412The second Bush, pictured here in proximity to the toxic Mr. Cheney, was chosen by the American Supreme Court rather than by the electorate… the result of difficult and obscene mismanagement of the election in the crucial State of Florida where Bush brother Jed was Governor.  Little Georgie Bush had run on the notion of his Christianity against Gore, the Vice-President under Clinton.  The sitting President’s support of Gore was more or less withheld, since Clinton’s sexual indiscretions had finally caught up with him and made him politically toxic.  Bush was hardly charismatic, even a bit “unclever” when speaking in public and, for the life of me, I cannot remember much about his rhetoric on the run up to the election… though there was some talk about “compassionate conservatism” supposedly based upon the fact that Bush was a “born again” Christian.  However… in America and, to my recollection and personal experience, compassionate Christian evangelicals tend to be a rather judgmental group, given more to compassion within their own ranks than toward the public at large… but that’s not relevant here, is it?  Either way, following the 911 attacks, George H. W. Bush’s little boy, George was given unprecedented license by a too-generous and overly patriotic Congress and he used it to take America to war in Afghanistan to go after the Taliban, which harbored Al Qaeda, which was the group that planned the attack.  Then, for reasons known only to God, the Holy Spirit and Dick Cheney, Bush decided we had to go to war with Iraq, which had no connection whatsoever to Al Qaeda or the attacks on 911.  Following a subsequently relentless attack on Iraq, punctuated and propagandized with televised displays of “shock and awe” scorched earth military attacks… when Bush had utterly broken the governments and infrastructure of both Iraq and Afghanistan, such as it existed, he led America into a huge debt spiral from the cost of both wars and subsequent unaudited defense contracts which attempted to put the countries we had destroyed back together again.  When he saw what he had done… and in spite of the huge national debt… Bush decided to give enormous tax breaks to America’s rich people because… well who the hell knows why… but his Presidency very nearly caused a second Great Depression… which it was, although nobody was willing to admit it, so we’ll pretend it was not a Great Depression, but a really bad recession… even though most Americans who weren’t rich have yet to recover what they lost, but the rich people got richer, and they own all the media, so…   Anyway, we can’t really blame Little Boy Bush for the problem since, from what I hear, Dick Cheney was in charge, but hey…

Then came Obama…  But let’s save that for next week when we will continue to deconstruct everyone’s favorite president.

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.

Night Letters to America

UntitledFrom the Merriam Webster Dictionary online…
night letter (n): a telegram sent at night at a reduced rate for delivery the following morning

Back in the days when Western Union telegrams were a common method of communication across great distances, much of what needed to be said took more than the few words condensed and clipped into phrases that were applied to the text in order to save the sender money.  The sender paid for the service at a rate of so many cents per word with a minimum, usually of nine to twelve words.  These telegrams would be sent immediately and delivered by phone or by hand.  When a customer wanted to send more than just a line or two, they could pay a cheaper rate per word, with a minimum of about 25 words.  These longer, less expensive telegram were called Night Letters.  They would be held overnight to be sent the following morning in the early hours when traffic on the wire was light and were delivered the following day.

Before I began writing full time and while I was working in the daytime, I wrote whenever I could, usually when my wife and children were sleeping, sometimes long into the night.  It was difficult to write something like a novel and sometimes, when I was forced to work long hours in harsh physical conditions, I was too tired to take on a large project and wrote what could be called vignettes, short pieces that were complete and not reliant on sequential, periodic progression, not unlike the pieces we call flash or micro fiction today… vignettes that I sometimes referred to as night letters.

They kept me going, progressing as a writer, developing perspectives and a style that I would have lost had I entirely abandoned the idea of writing… the hope of becoming a writer… which is itself, these days, an abstract notion in terms of a profession.  More of a calling now, than a career, since few can make a living at it, commercial success being no great measure of quality in literature, but of value beyond its artistic appeal.  The art has taken a back seat to the value of writing as either a tool of influence in the marketing or political arena… or as one of many inputs to a cinematic product.  Even literature for the sake of literature as art is ordered and licensed in a rigid, somewhat cloistered academic construct.

To be sure, I am glad that I kept the practice going throughout my life and, eventually, I enjoyed some small success in publishing shorter works in literary magazines worldwide and, today, in addition to ongoing efforts to succeed as a novelist, I have written many essays, composed in those hours while others are sleeping… night letters.

Beginning next week, I will attempt to produce one serious essay per week and post them on my web page.  I’m calling them, Night Letters to America and invite you to read them and comment, as your feedback is helpful to me always.  I will announce on both Facebook and Twitter when the series begins and whenever there is a new posting.

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