False Idols and Other Affectations

As you go through life and learn things, you begin to recognize that there are fables and mythologies that we use in substitution for the realities we’d rather not enshrine with acceptance.

War, for instance, is always the result of an imposition of one or more nations upon another, institutional armed robbery and murder on a massive scale disguised by some sanctifying metaphor, such as the bombing of Iraq into the Stone Age by way of a magnificent display of “shock and awe” we label as necessary in “…the defense of freedom.” Or, the enthusiastic religious conversion of entire indigenous nations in the Americas by hordes of passionate armed and armored “missionaries” by way of the sword and the cannon “…in the name of the Prince of Peace” and to save them all from their pagan depravity. And then to bring the civilizing influences of compulsory, uncompensated labor and perpetual subjugation to those few who managed to survive their conversion.

Hypocrisy permits more crime and hides more violence than ever did honest, if criminal intent, but we manage to enshrine the most militant and murderous among us for the sheer chutzpah they display in their zeal for oppression.

Is it any mystery that when the tyranny of these cruel, avaricious and self-serving men is recognized for what it was that people are ready to tear down their iconic images enshrined in bronze?

“But it’s George… and everyone knows that George was an honorable man, the father of our nation.”

Nations have many fathers… and mothers.

Judge a man by his actions, not his aspirations or his words. Whatever high minded principle those men we call our Founding Fathers chose for their particular camouflaging mythology… in their case the divine imperatives in a statement that “…all men are created equal…” which did not include the black men they owned as a farmer owns cattle or sheep. Nor did it include women of any color. Washington owned people. More specifically, he owned black people… men, women, and children who made him rich with the unpaid and harshly compelled labor of their hands. And while he owned them, they could never enjoy the liberties, rights, and privileges for which he fought. Make no mistake, our nation was not birthed by men who took any of their mythologies to be inclusive, but fought for the sovereignty of their own and personal wealth in order that they could be richer by half and not taxed into want and commonality by a king who gave them no respect.

Hypocrisy is the father of all nations. Hypocrisy has killed more people than we can possibly count. Hypocrisy enables oppression, genocide, and tyranny. It’s time we stopped sanctifying and sheltering the icons of false idols.

It’s time to wake the hell up.

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Creative Commons License False Idols and Other Affectations by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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 – 16 June, 2020

outbreak-coronavirus-world-1024x506px

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.

e67460-20180720-trump-putin

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

freedom-press-1

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”

defund-police-protest-ap-img

(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.

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.

195px-Immanuel_Kant_(painted_portrait)

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

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.

“What? Another damned literary magazine? Are you quite mad?”

Short answer?  Absolutely.

Although it’s just an idea I’ve been kicking around for a while and never really considered it a personal priority, I’m actually getting serious and presently researching the possibilities… even looking into the actual costs involved in establishing a writers collective that would be centered around the production and publishing of a regional quarterly literary review and… possibly… an annual foray into book publishing… anthologies, perhaps, or even novels.

Logistical support for this venture would be limited, physically, to Northeast Ohio, specifically to the area in and around Cleveland and Akron, however, technology enables participation from virtually any location these days. Accordingly, if those who wish to be involved in the collective possess the necessary skill set and the equipment required, their location doesn’t really matter. 

In a month or so, I will have the draft of a business plan that would summarize the scope of the project and provide an outline of the specific literary perspective for the quarterly journal.

If anyone is interested in getting involved, send me an email and I will put your name on a list to receive the prospectus when it’s ready. You need only give me your name and what manner and level of involvement you would consider (i.e. editor, columnist, essayist, writer, fiction or non-fiction, graphic arts, etc.)

I’m not looking for investors, but if you have a few million laying around and you don’t know what to do with it, you could consider underwriting the project and earn yourself the gratitude of the writers and artists who may decide to get involved and maybe even a full page dedication in the first issue, but hey… your name on page one and artistic gratitude, along with $5 might get you a fair cup of coffee and a donut… or maybe even an eclair, but not much more than that.

Anyway if you think you might be interested in getting involved with this project in any way at all… send your email to me at:

jameslloyddavisalf@gmail.com

There’s no guarantee this thing will ever get off the ground, but if there is enough interest, it might be worth the effort. Of course, even if it did get underway, projects like this are a dime a dozen and they tend to fall flat more often than not, so there is that. But hey… if you believe in writing and the arts, what’s to lose?

At least you can’t say I promised you the moon.

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.

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