Quo vadis, America? To where are we headed? by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
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.
False Idols and Other Affectations by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
It’s now been ten days since the launch of the Peoples’ Daily Brief and though participation was encouraging, it’s dropped off considerably, so the work I’m putting into it is difficult to justify.
Although I sometimes use the pronoun “we” while writing these reports, it’s just me, myself and I behind the curtain, so there is that…. and while there are ways to expand readership, they generally require either money, enormous time expenditure, or famous friends. Having none of the above, I’m going to have to stick with slow, steady growth.
In the meantime… and without any help, a daily report is proving too ambitious, considering the time required, both for research and for production… writing, editing, etc… so I’m going to reconsider, rethink, reschedule, repurpose, and possibly even rename the project and will, in a few days, announce the results.
We’re not giving up. So… watch this space.
For those of you who’ve been reading the PBD, thanks. We love you… all of us… me, my head, and all the many alter egos that therein dwell.
Peoples’ Daily Brief by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
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?
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.
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.
Peoples’ Daily Brief by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
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
Peoples’ Daily Brief by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
“Something wicked this way comes…” Shakespeare, Macbeth (Act 4, Scene 1)
Once upon a time in America, a man or a woman who wished to be their own boss had options and a reasonably high expectation of success… assuming they worked hard and were able to avoid criminal influences, natural and financial disasters, et al. Shopkeepers, grocers, craftsmen of all sorts, even small farmers, of whom there were many… they were all involved in what they perceived as an upward personal trajectory, a cut above working for wages. Even if they did aught else but maintain a reasonable living, they could count on a better life for themselves and their families.
Perhaps it was the Civil War that changed all that, by way of massive, sudden demands for war materiel to equip enormous conscripted battalions that sprang up as if overnight. The call went out for the production of weapons, uniforms, ships, cannons, tents, wagons, ammunition… all on a massive scale… enormous contractual demands that benefited… not the small businesses, but the larger ones who had access to capital and could always outbid them. And so they did, by the forces of economic advantage, political connections and the benefit of the modern methods of mass production, the factories and machinery that only a larger business could afford.
The smaller enterprises, small businesses and family farms, in their day and even in the shadow of the new industrial powerhouses, did well enough with local markets, but after the War, the bigger businesses, with the loss of their lucrative military contracts, took their advantages into those markets as well. Some of these industrial giants colluded one with the other to join forces in competition, driving smaller companies out of even those smaller local markets altogether. And when laws were enacted to outlaw the unfair advantages they held, they colluded again to influence legislation in their favor. Today? We have Wal-Mart and Amazon. Can you imagine how many small businesses were destroyed nationwide in the building of those corporate behemoths and others like them? Even the small family farm is an anomoly today, shut out by the competition of powerful agri-business entities in the corporate world.
Times change. Technology advances.
Moral imperatives can transform overnight accordingly.
All material things can be swiftly revised to fill new demands.
Perceptions and even principles can change.
People, however, do not.
My father was raised on a farm in Georgia. His father was a sharecropper and when the family, by circumstances that poor folk cannot control was forced to move to Alabama, they did so in a wagon. They grew their own food, slaughtered their own meat, baked their own bread and lived much as people had lived for hundreds of years before them.
My father was ambitious young man, left home, took advantage of military service in the heart of the Depression to educate himself and became an expert in what was then the latest technology, radar. After World War II, he left the Navy as a Warrant Officer and, as a civilian, took what he’d learned and made a decent career for himself in technology. Over the years, he continued to learn new things, ending his professional career as an engineer for NASA, building small computers for satellites. He was involved in the cutting edge micro-electronic technology that eventually served as the basis for personal computers, the device that changed life as we know it and launched what some people call, the Information Age.
In his lifetime, he went from that poor farm boy riding about on horseback through an agrarian subsistence to the launching pads of advanced technology. He saw elemental transformations in every aspect of life, cultural evolution that we can only imagine and he was part of the technical revolution that has placed humanity today on the edge of yet another new epoch, one that has yet to be defined, much less judged as beneficial progress.
But I can tell you this, that in his heart of hearts, he was no different in the way of his humanity than he was as a young man n that farm, retaining the rich values that formed his decent perspectives, unwilling and unequipped to be altered by the cynical and self-serving ways of modernity.
Times are changing once more and the people who drive our economy seem determined to render humanity obsolescent and superfluous in a strange new and sterile world. Science fiction in mid-century America was prophetic when it scanned future possibilities and found them frightening and the most frightening of all was the sterility and cold demands of robotic automation, labor-saving technology that today seems to threaten the labor itself and the laborer who supplies it.
Once upon a time the purpose of all labor in the earth was the benefit of all mankind, each man and women in their way taking part. What part will they serve, what role can they play in a world that no longer needs them, in a world that seems to place priorities and progress in the service of profits instead. Maybe it’s time for humanity to stop and take a deep breath, to step back and take a critical look at what we’ve wrought and where we are going… or more accurately… what it is that’s coming our way.
Make no mistake, something is coming our way and we’re not quite sure what it is and how it will affect us. Maybe it’s time for us to decide if we really want what it is that’s coming down that road. Maybe it’s time for us to pay some attention. More than ever before in the history of humankind, we need to be aware and informed.
Here is a good place to start, with an essay by William I. Robinson that paints a depressing picture in a graphic and realistic analysis of troubling social and economic trends. You can read the essay and judge for yourself by way of this link to the article on TRUTHOUT
Peoples’ Daily Brief by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Taking a break from the news today. No analysis today.
Just this… a kind of message. A message I’d just as soon not deliver.
This message is for white people in America… from an old white man in America who has seen too much of nothing being done… who has reached the limits of his silence… and decided to take a leap and say some things he’s wanted to say for well over fifty years. And these things I have to say? It likely seems presumptuous for me to be the one who says them, audacious, even… as though I am some icon of rectitude, a sanctified prophet, a voice crying in the wilderness… but I’m not. I’m just an old white guy… nobody, really, but I know things.
I know, for instance, that change has got to come. Not little changes, but big ones, change so elemental and profound that it may frighten us to imagine how our lives will be affected. But change needs to come. We just can’t let things go on as they are.
I know that it will take more than just black Americans standing up and calling BS on everything that’s been going down in this country since the first slavers brought black Africans in chains to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 to be sold like cattle and to serve like beasts in the fields. They served as the base of a slave economy, a labor force that grew exponentially as slave ships brought more black Africans to live as slaves, the people who actually built the Southland of America and brought enormous wealth to the white Americans who owned them.
Our glorious and Great American Experiment was a lie from day one.
Sanctimonious men declared themselves free of their king, based upon the vaulting and bravely progressive premise that “…all men are created equal… endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…” They signed a letter to their king declaring themselves free, even those among these men who held the deeds to the life and labor of other human beings and denied them those considerations they demanded of their king for themselves. They were hypocrites and despots no less cruel than their king, these men who owned slaves and gave them no credit as their equal… indeed, denied them their humanity… yet they dared to esteem themselves righteous… as we continue to do to this day, in spite of what we know of their hypocrisy and their petty tyranny.
These days, even white people applaud the pulling down of statues honoring Confederate generals, but statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson abound… and few of us, if anyone at all, would suggest that they deserve similar treatment. These icons of the revolution and of American independence were both slave owners, but they seem to have been given an exemption from the condemnation given Confederates. Do we discriminate now and in the near future between the statues of “bad” slave owners and “good” slave owners? How do you make that distinction? How much of our perspective of the American story is based upon exception derived from the hypocrisy of our perceptions? We judge Robert E. Lee for his sins, but give Jefferson a pass? On what grounds?
Slavery was a system of stolen labor and heartless, brutal oppression that did not end when these white men declared themselves free. It continued through the violent, racist Southland rebellion that was our nation’s Civil War. Yet even then… following that terrible War… even after slavery was abolished, a new and subtle form of slavery emerged, a system of economic slavery that was forced on those people whose rights were supposedly gained through the fiat of Emancipation, rights that were practically rescinded, rights that utterly vaporized when the Federal occupation forces who ensured and enforced them marched away from the Southland, leaving black men, black women, and black children at the mercy of their former owners. Former slaves were dominated once again in bondage, mercilessly exploited and oppressed in spite of their freedom and through violence, intimidation, and murder. That brutal injustice was reinforced in perpetuity by way of a system of laws that further stripped them of any rights they’d been given.
Think about this.
If you’re white like me?
What’s happening today?
It’s not about us… not about you or me.
Maybe it’s just time for white people like us to get over ourselves and stop believing that our “liberalism” or our “empathy” or any other “charitable” and condescending attitude we adopt and wear like a comfortable pair of jeans somehow exempts us from the guilt our nation bears toward the descendants of slaves. A guilt… and a debt… and it’s a debt that has never been paid. It’s long past due and if it isn’t your debt to pay, not mine, then whose debt is it?
You and me? We’re the ones who possess a privilege we’ve had since birth, an unearned advantage based upon nothing more than the color of our skin… and as long as we deny that advantage, this problem will continue to fester and boil and that very real debt will never be paid, but it will continue to accrue interest over time, an interest that will be paid in the currency of trouble and of strife. No. We don’t get a pass. We don’t even get an exemption for caring… for giving a damn.
It’s our debt to pay and we don’t get to feel like it belongs to some unknown others. We don’t get to be the collector. We owe a debt and it’s long past time for white people like you and me to pay what we owe… to do more than hold a candle on a street corner surrounded by the safety and security of our privilege, feeling all warm and fuzzy in our weepy, self-righteous skin, singing “We shall overcome.”
We don’t need to overcome. We need to surrender.
We need to surrender and accept our culpability.
We need to surrender our privilege.
We need to stop believing that even a truckload of our precious empathy is worth a mumbling dime or that it has any meaning or brings any value to anyone or anything but our own self-esteem.
We need to give up the notion that people of color need our help.
We need to understand that we need their help to get past this subtle self-deception.
For over 400 years, the message of America has been White Lives Matter. So… when someone tells us Black Lives Matter? If we say anything at all, let it be nothing more than “Amen !!” We need to sit down and shut up because it’s time now for us just to listen. We may think we’ve already heard this tune before, that with our “wokeness” we’ve earned ourselves the right to join the chorus. But I’m here to tell you we haven’t heard anything yet. We need to listen, not preach.
We don’t have the right. We haven’t earned the right to do otherwise.
When we hear the words, “Black Lives Matter”? We need to stand up and salute.
When we hear the words, “I can’t breathe”? We need to get involved, seriously involved and not after the fact. It’s not enough to stand on the sidelines and record the crimes of racist policemen. We need to put down that damned cell phone… and get in there and fight for the life that’s at stake. We need to intervene… to put ourselves on the line… at the risk of our freedom if that’s what it takes. Your outrage is otherwise worthless.
When we hear the words, “Defund the police”? We need to stop talking and listen.
When we hear the word, “Reparations”? We need to shut up and listen.
Everything else is hypocrisy because… we’re not the solution.
We’ve never been the solution.
We’re the problem.
But don’t just listen to me.
I’m white like you, after all.
Chances are I’ll never be able to say it in the way it needs to be expressed. And you don’t owe me anything. This debt that is owed is as much mine as it is yours. Just like you, I need to pay my debt and writing these words is not a part of that repayment. It is, however, acknowledgement that I owe it… putting my signature in the box of an IOU.
Listen to your neighbors who are black and who know this already. They live with this thing every day. Listen to people of color because they are the ones who have something to say and a righteous reason to say it. This race thing is not going to go away until we face those things we avoid. We need to stop pretending that we are any better than the racists we decry if, for one moment, we are content with what we have when what we have, we have not earned.
This message is for white people in America… from an old white man in America who has seen too much of nothing being done… who has reached the limits of his silence… and decided to take a leap and say some things he’s wanted to say for well over fifty years… and didn’t. Which omission… on his part… is unforgivable and renders him every bit as culpable as every one of us is culpable and will be until this damnable stain is removed from us by our efforts to make things right. Efforts… not words. Having said these things I’ve neglected to say for so long, there’s nothing more that I can add.
The time for words… for us… is over.
This business of change?
It’s not something you watch.
It’s something you do.
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.
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…)
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.
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….
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.
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.”
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
The Weekend Edition – “Defund the police”
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?”
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…
“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
In Baltimore, similar movements are underway as expressed in an article by Jaisal Noor in the REAL news network online.
“…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.