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It's been a grim week.

So before I offer two crucial news essays for this week; Trump's profoundly ugly but successful use of ridicule humiliation and dismissal of all women who experience (and this is common), violence, assault, rape, humiliation; and the theory of the Baron de Montesquieu, an Enlightenment thinker on the necessity of keeping the three branches of gov't apart, representative of the majority of the people,and disinterested -- I'll try to lift our spirits by saying we should remember however powerful these people are becoming over a majority of us, they still don't speak for us: as Shelley said, we are many and they are few. I recommend that you play and listen to her words as your read. They will help remind you we are not as yet altogether powerless

Judy Small is a judge (!) in Australia.

The most important crucial news essay of this week was one which told of specifics of the US gov'ts corruption such that it is crumbling away before our very eyes: "The Suffocation of democracy" by Christoper Browning in the New York Review of Books

It's the destruction of the judiciary as a decent arm of gov't. Trump is busy destroying all agencies, putting at the head of these people ignorant of their mission and hostile to it, 205 of the federal force has left; many positions unfilled now. The congress is utterly gerrymandered and, taking into account the disproportionate representation of small states, is not at all representative, and now the judiciary goes.

The second contingent on the first, or part of it:

On TV millions of people watched as a congress made up of people who represent a minority of the US population disregard credible evidence not only from a woman, a professor Dr Christine Blasey Ford, who had been in high school assaulted, raped,&  humiliated by Brett Kavanaugh, a man nominated for a life-time supreme court justice, but from a group of sources the FBI deliberately ignored,which showed he did this sort of thing in high school and again in college for fun. With a group of like-minded admiring men, Mark Judge among them.

We had earlier seen him perjure himself in minor ways; now he perjured himself Writ Large with rage and anger all over him that he should be called to account for this behavior. Despite huge popular protest, the Republicans put him into office because he will not be an unbiased judge but a fierce reactionary partisan, eager to put in place whatever agenda Trump asks for This includes wiping away Roe V Wade, perhaps the right to contraception based on denying that individuals in the US have no right to personal liberty or privacy because it's not mentioned in an 18th century document which condones slavery and set up an electoral college to stymy a popular elected president across the US lest he abolish slavery.

Along with this The FBI has deliberately ignored, not followed up on, dismissed a number of stories about Brett Kavanaug, now made a supreme court justice for life, truly hideous behavior (it's emerging) in college as well as high school. From my little knowledge (really) of what my father told me went on among men as factory owners, I wonder what Kavanaugh has been doing all these later years with these same Prep friends. We have put a radical reactionary partisan ready to do Trump's bidding and absolve him of any crime (as a president is above the law as he is too busy to be bothered ), and  repeated rapist, humiliator of women (and perhaps men too) on the supreme court: Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow on the suppression of the FBI investigation:


And lastly, but never least, this not so much a news report as what happened: after Dr Ford's testimony, and Kavanaugh's rage, it seemed he might not be confirmed. Trump made a speech where he said listening to women tell of assaults and rapes is "dangerous" to men, and then he went out to rallies and ridiculed Ford, distorted what she said before the senate so it sounded like she remembered hardly anything, mocked, derided, and parodied her and -- to these people succesfully destroyed her by proxy humiliation. Nixon used to say in achieving a majority of people on your side you cannot go too low. It worked. Within two days, the male republicans and all but one female were prepared to erase Dr Ford.

Thus Trump has driven a stake into the heart of whatever purchase the #MeToo movement had -- not much as it depended on women who could get the public to listen shaming and either going or successfully threatening to go to court against men who are powerful but have a lot to lose who harass, rape humiliate punish them. Now Trump has shown that ridicule, mockery, humiliation, distortion works just as strongly as ever and we are back in the 18th-19th century situation. And he was backed by Collins who does what she does to gain attention -- she is a lying sniveling (how "concerned" she is before throwing the ACA under the bus) hypocrite: give-away when she called Kavanaugh a "moderate" and "good man." He still had to pretend to start an investigation but when other credible evidence started to appear (see the New York) the FBI suppressed and ignored all other witnesses. The third woman became " the third woman" (not a person, not an individual). The point is to inhibit women from speaking out. For himself he has paid millions in litigation to silence people who have accused him of fraud, asault, and other crimes.

It's now Open season on women. Open season on blacks began when Trump in his rallies threw African-Americans out and told his crowds to beat them and reporters up. He has succeeded in making open season on Muslims by his ban. He has committed his ICE to crimes against humanity by separating hispanic children from their relatives and putting them all in detentions centers for not following regulations or attempting legally to emigrate as refugees. Shortly after becoming president, he made it plain, cops can kill with impunity when he made a gesture and told them to rough people up; and now open season on women. To women Trump has said: Just dare and we'll so shame you you won't be able to show your face again. So, Go ahead guys ... have fun and control "women."

This is Susan Collins, look at her, see the lying hypocrite who for a second time drew enormous attention to herself by driveling on about how she is "so concerned": before for millions needing ACA, now for what?  over a liar (like herself) also thug. See how she dresses herself, how much time and care, how she loves the attention. She called Kavanaugh "a moderate." She betrayed all other women who are now at greater risk -- there is set afoot a new attempt to silence protest against violence. She grins with her petty power as she throws us all under the bus.

After reading Christopher Browning, the New Yorker article and thinking about what's to happen on the supreme court now that two radical right judges have been placed there by a minority party, I went over to Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesqueiu who invented in his Spirit of the Laws a three-part gov't where he argued to prevent tyranny all three branches of gov't must be independent of one another and answer to their constituencies by whom they are elected and from whom they come. Here are three of his central axioms:

When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise [rightly], lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.»

Again, there is no liberty if the judiciary power be not separated from the legislative and executive. Were it joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary controul; for the judge would be then the legislator. Were it joined to the executive power, the judge might behave with violence and oppression [having military might behind him]

A judge must be non-partisan; must not be allowed to serve for more than a short de-limited time, because "the power of judging is terrible," and he should have nothing to do with the prison system. He tells how to recognize dangerous corruptions, how the Romans lost their liberty.

The book is also about the spirit behind the laws; it's not enough to follow their routines literally; but your spirit must be for liberty, for justice, for true representation so commerce (social life, education), can go on. Montesquieu also pleaded for the abolition of slavery, and the harsh punishment of suicides (desecration of their bodies, seizing of their property by the state) typical of the era.

Miss Drake

An Instance of Male Bonding

This week's riveting story was that of Brett Kavanaugh's assault (with the help of Mark Judge) on Christine Blasey Ford when the three were teenagers in high school. There have been hundreds of analyses, commentaries, conversations, news-show and at last the showdown on Thursday before the Senate Judiciary committee. Ford was entirely credible, distressing for me to listen to because I had similar experiences as a girl in junior and high school; Kavanaugh showed himself to be unfit for the supreme court: he lied outrageous on Fox news, giving absolutist accounts, coming near tears, and at last in a raging, speaking words that suggested he felt he has a right to behave towards women as he has to Dr Ford (and apparently other women (at least three have come forth). he should not be allowed to decide cases about women's rights to personal liberty, control over her body, access of equal opportunity and earned rewards for her work.

Two essays in Slate rose above all others to make sense of the bully-rape culture Kavanaugh and his friends throve on as their way of bonding together as men: you achieve status and respect by humiliating and laughing at women while you are drunk and triumphing over them. Lily Loofborough called her essay:  Brett Kavanaugh and the Cruelty of Male Bonding; When being one of the guys comes at a woman's expense. Loofborough points out all the incidents lack penetrative sex, have male onlookers, and there is ever laughter about what they are doing. In each case the clumsy and bizarre behavior is done in a "manic pursuit of male approval."

I was immediately brought back to my teenagehood. I experienced a series of deeply traumatic experiences from age 12 to 15. I finally tried to kill myself and when I didn't manage that I retreated and retreat became my safety. It was the males who attacked but my experience was females didn't support me at all and I saw they didh't support others. Far from it, they spread rumors about one as a tramp, slut. When I had tried to find a friend and tell someone I thought was my friend, another girl came over and "as a gesture of friendship," told me mot to do that any more. That girl had promptly told others so they could all jeer together and triumph as "chaste" and "good girls." I never forgot that lesson. It was as important in understanding safety as keeping away from abrasive vile males of the Kavanaugh type and his buddies. SoI went anorexic and was left alone. It has taken me decades to eradicate some of this anorexia (like alcoholism, one never recovers fully.)

In the second also by Lily Loofborough, she discussed how frighteningly these (let us call them) Republican type and elite and lower class thug men have moved on from simply acting as if the woman is to blame, to admit to the shame, to where they are saying they have a right to assault a woman as part of growing up male. Also many ordinary men, men who do not act as bullies, predators, are not seeking revenge out of resentment still think men have a right to force sex on women in certain circumstances. This has emerged this week in reactions by men in public.

Now grown much older, blessedly unattractive (I think of Austen's funny words over that -- surely at 55 we may feel safe) and watching women bond, I think they bond over over support of normative values of ambitiion, what gives prestige and respect -- not like boys a matter of jeering. You have to buy into these norms and to stroke the others' ego. They run scared and will not support another girl lest they be singled out. Women seek safety. I have read more truthful graphic descriptions of these social scenes where someone (women mostly, but it could be a man)  is scapegoated (if it were a prison and he were gay among heterosexual men), or the woman is persuaded to accept assault as this is what is done.

I am just now following a course on Future Learn about violence against women and hope to report back what I learn. Imagine that: these men have fun by inflicting trauma on women because they can. Like some people enjoy kicking dogs or cats:  both intensely sensitive creatures who can't get back.

I can do twitter too: #Kavanaugh [Content]: A lying vile creep. Phantom-goblin conjured up by Trump except he's real & common & given power & (mark my words) will get back.
[Full stop ends it] She tweeted.

See my blog on blog style: The Recap Genre or Commentary w/o Pity.

Miss Drake
As each piece falls into place each morning and I see more signs i.e., concrete conditions, laws, attitudes of Nazi and/or fascist  states I grow more alarmed and depressed as I see how helpless the majority of the US population is against this -- and to say for now is to imply this will be easy to undo. Far from it, for this state has been forming since the 1970s when ALEC and the like saw their way to destroying what democratic ropes we had inside an oligarchic state.

Helen Keller at work in her study

This is this week's most crucial story: what do Helen Keller, Hilary Clinton and Barry Goldwater have in common?

Yesterday morning it was reported that Helen Keller may be removed from the Texas school curriculum; she is not alone: they are removing Hilary Clinton (so she never won the 2016 election if the majority vote mattered and no woman has run for president), Barry Goldwater (the only Jewish man to have run for president in the US) is to be erased under this state-wide plan. Most of the news-stories report the rationale is children have "too many names to learn," or they would do better to spend the 20 minutes "on something else."  But click on the story I link in and you will see:

It seems Helen Keller does not best represent the concept of citizenship. A military man does, a warrior (trained ot obey, kill or be killed), or someone doing an active heroic deed during an emergency crisis. Only men and fighting. A skewed notion of citizenship, no? And there are first and second rate citizens -- this sheer Nazi thinking. Next step, down the line less rated citizens don't deserve to go to school, nor maybe even live lest they marry in. In thought a fundamental betrayal of all humanity. Most of us are disabled in some way; all of us are vulnerable when infants, all when very old.

What's the next step? I know that police can abuse people with mental disabilities with impunity. I've seen this happen twice with my daughter who no longer uses her driver's license after an incident where a cop mercilessly bullied her for driving slowly (40 miles an hour) in the slow lane. I read of how when foolish people call the police because a mentally disabled person in their family is "being difficult," the police can and do shoot to kill when they come in. W

13000 children are now in jail, and Trump is moving money from FEMA to ICE which ought to be abolished. Private prisons are everywhere, and now detention camps are increasing, and the conditions in these are worse than Nazi Germany (no books allowed in effect, you have to pay exorbitant fees for a phone call, terrible food, you are forced to work for pennies or put into solitary confinement so slavery). Who are all these detention camps for?

Last night on PBS I saw that the gov't is supporting the spread of abstinence only health care clinics for women: they will not even help you to a contraceptive: an absolute lie as you can't tell what they are until you go in, probably have to register your name. Two officers in a car survived and the women they took up to "save" were "drowned" -  so don't be a powerless woman either. Diane Feinstein kept back from public knowledge that Kavanagh's earliest history shows him to have a ruthless thug towards Christine Blasey Ford; did Feinstein do wrong: Dr Ford now lives under death threats; she is target of ceaseless castigation; her life perhaps ruined. Most of all this is the glaring sign of Nazism; deep misogyny with women without liberty is central to such states.

Murdering the Yemenese goes on full throttle.

The US is now a Nazi state with a veneer of democracy, and is on the way to being a white supremacy: voting rights of all curtailed, but especially African-Americans (by jailing them, and that's easy), hispanic people with citizenship investigated to throw them out; immigration down to a trickle.  Severe prosecution for one woman an official discovered voted because she did think she had the right. She may think again for many years in prison.

Black people murdered with impunity.  Non-human animals included:  during the intense tropical storm that washed away some of the Carolinas and threw the pollution from abusive animal farms millions of chickens, turkeys, pigs (sensitive intelligent mammals I hesitate to say like us)

coal ashe coal companies refuse to remove from waterways: this one reminds me of the famous Lord Mansfield decision over how someone could not own a slave in the UK in the 18th century: the origin of the case was the drowning of hundreds of enslaved black people in the ocean because it was cheaper than transporting them to the US from Africa.  How the mostly black and poor white people living near these places have a high rate of cancer and other diseases from polluted local environments.

And not just white, but white Christian (see above Barry Goldwater). We are to remember the state of Texas is heavily gerry-mandered and this move does not represent the majority of people there at all. But that too is part of fascist dictatorships.

Most young adults I know work in jobs with no paid vacation, no paid sick leave, no pensions. Keep the average person deeply in need and exhausted from making a living. And charge high for healh care.

Reputable newspapers ask solemnly if the US is becoming a Nazi or fascist state, and mostly conclude not so. I say if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, it's a duck. Is there any cause in nature that makes these hard hearts? (Shakespeare, Lear). We can start with greed, desir for ceaseless money, no social conscience taught (quite the opposite) and strict patriarchy.

This week's crucial story is about the idea that people with disabilites are not worthy of embodying the concept of citizenship, and the thinking they are second class citizens and how this fits into the society now being imposed on a majority of US people who don't want this, but are acquiescing.

Evils that befall the world are not nearly so often
caused by bad men as they are by good men who
are silent when an opinion must be voiced ...

Miss Drake
It's not in the constitution; it's not protected by federal law since the demolishment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Quite deliberately, your right to vote is left to localities, which have,  except during the brief period from 1964 until the now deeply anti-democratic supreme court abrogated it, done all they can to stop large groups of ordinary citizens from voting: yes mostly minorities, but also women, and nowadays jail is added as a technique to stop you.

Read about it in a review of Allan Lichtman's The Embattled Right Vote in America reviewed by James Morone in the New York Time Book Review for this past Sunday, Sept 16, 2018: I cannot better his words:

Protesters marched through Marion, Ala.,
on a winter night in 1965. Suddenly, the
streetlights went dark and troopers charged
into the crowd, beating them with clubs and
blinding them with flashlights. Jimmie Lee Jackson fled with his mother and grandfather into Mack’s Café,
where the police chased after them, threw him
against a cigarette machine and fatally shot
him in the stomach — one more victim in the
battle for the right to vote in America.

Fast-forward 35 years to the Bush-Gore
debacle of 2000. Republican election officials
in Florida quietly dumped 180,000 ballots,
casting aside one in 10 African-American
votes, often for minor irregularities.
Republicans on the Supreme Court invoked
two centuries of jurisprudence when
they stopped a recount: “The individual citizen
has no federal constitutional right to vote
for electors for the president of the United States.”

Read on ...

I met a woman on Sunday who is inoculated against information -- indeed a whole group of peope at a table at the Jewish Community Center. It was a meeting of a club of disabled young adults. Instead of a picnic, since the budget had again been cut and there are no longer councilors to help with games on a beautiful day we were in a gym with two pingpong tables, boardgames and far too much junk food.

I found myself being looked at with derision when I asked a man who was boasting (probably) he goes to Okinowa a lot whether there isn't continual opposition to what he's doing. He smiled and said oh yes lots of demonstrations. He told how his identity had been stolen, a bank account which money was sent through by a crook. So I replied about the news about Manafort: he was caught doing this and it's documentable. A woman there asked me where I had read this and I said the NYTimes. She grinned and said ah, she never believes anything written in such papers; all lies. She looked at me & in her eyes i saw something strange. A kind of glittering hatred. I got up and walked away, saying I will not sit here. I can think of all sorts of things I might have said.

This is the first time I have met such people face-to-face. The room was probably filled by such people. I should not succumb to this but I couldn't help see the parents & many of the young people there as stupid when at least some of them were merely desperate. The stories a few told me about the job market were terrifying when I think of the possibility Izzy could lose her job. The few jobs available are for war or predatory tech companies.

At that table what was meant was everything in these two reputable papers are total lies. They were supporting Manafort! They looked at me with derision and mockery -- they were exulting in a superiority. That's what Trump gives these people. For decades they have hated liberals and elites and minorities and now they have license not only to do so openly but disbelieve whatever they hate believing. He is a dangerous man to have given them this. These people are angrily fixed in a set of delusions nothing will persuade them out of. No joy allowed for anyone.

Story after story of their young adult children having no jobs no social outlets.

I report another cut at the Pentagon: the civilian wellness program. I didn't realize the four hours a week Izzy gets to go to the gym are out of a civilian wellness program. It will be cut and she will not have an hour off in the middle of the day and an hour earlier off on Friday (she swims). How much is saved by taking this away? nothing. Numbers on paper. But relief from tension is not to be allowed. She'll have to stay an hour later to get exercise -- and the effect on the workday of all is lost.

Inform these groups of people they are disenfranchised, they turn away in mockery.

Miss Drake

I have been remiss and not brought to this blog the few news interviews, essays and journalists, anchors attempting to bring before the pubic eye a strike that went on in the US prisons for the last few weeks. Conditions in US prisons are frightful, thousands kept in solitary confinement (the retaliatory punishment for the leaders of these strikes, especially those going hungry), no medicine worth the name, forced labor at slave conditions, inadequate supervision so people inside are at the mercy of the worst kinds of people there.

A rare crowd in California

In all this time I never saw one story in the NYTimes or Washington Post, nor did Judy Woodruff and her group at PBS mention it --- she did have a story on some improvements in a Louisiana prison, not the hell hole it was once was. I've no doubt this was her way of trying to notice the strikers' complaints -- the upbeat of course.

So here are a few articles and an interview: I'll begin with The Conversation where they point out now that it's over the prisoners are most in danger and they were being retaliated against before it ended.


The only way to end slavery is to stop being a slave. Hundreds of men and women in prisons in some 17 states are refusing to carry out prison labor, conducting hunger strikes or boycotting for-profit commissaries in an effort to abolish the last redoubt of legalized slavery in America. The strikers are demanding to be paid the minimum wage, the right to vote, decent living conditions, educational and vocational training and an end to the death penalty and life imprisonment.

These men and women know that the courts will not help them. They know the politicians, bought by the corporations that make billions in profits from the prison system, will not help them. And they know that the mainstream press, unwilling to offend major advertisers, will ignore them.

But they also know that no prison can function without the forced labor of many among America’s 2.3 million prisoners.

Here is the story as told through interviews on DemocracyNow.org

Prisoners are striking around the country as part of a nationwide protest demanding improved living conditions, greater access to resources and the end of what prisoners are calling “modern day slavery.” In Tacoma, Washington, immigrant rights advocates say 60 immigrants detained at the Northwest Detention Center continued their hunger strike Thursday. California prisoner Heriberto Garcia is also hunger-striking at New Folsom State Prison. He recorded video of himself refusing food in his cell, that was then posted on Twitter. Meanwhile, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, protesting prisoners issued a statement in solidarity with the U.S. prison strike. The statement said the prisoners were “warehoused as inmates, not treated as human beings.” Organizers also report actions in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida as the national prison strike moves into its fourth day. This comes as 10 prisoners have died behind bars in Mississippi this month. Activists and family members are demanding answers for the spike in prisoner deaths. The IWW’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee tweeted about the deaths, “Why #prisonstrike? Because at this point it’s about survival.”

Common Dreams: details of the prison strike:


Strikers and spokespeople for the movement urged patience from the outside world and noted that "although there aren't widespread reports of actions coming out of prisons that people need to understand that the tactics being used in this strike are not always visible."

"Prisoners are boycotting commissaries, they are engaging in hunger strikes which can take days for the state to acknowledge, and they will be engaging in sit-ins and work strikes which are not always reported to the outside," said Amani Awari, Jared Ware, and Brooke Terpsta, who have been involved in covering the strike and spreading information to the news media. "Departments of Corrections are not reliable sources of information for these actions and will deny them and seek to repress those who are engaged in them."

A dispatch from Folsom State Prison in California showed inmate Heriberto Garcia refusing food on the first day of the strike.

According to the Guardian, 200 inmates have reportedly joined protests at Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, while about 100 prisoners at Hyde Correctional Institute in Fairfield, North Carolina assembled in the prison's yard carrying signs reading "Parole," "Better Food," and "In solidarity."

Why was no attention paid?

The relative lack of attention to the strike underlined the continued indifference to widespread claims of abuse and inhumane conditions inside the nation’s prison system, observers and prison activists told The Crime Report.

Miss Drake

Where a great proportion of the people are suffered to languish in helpless misery, that country must be ill policed, and wretchedly governed: a decent provision for the poor, is the true test of civilization.   --               Samuel Johnson

"Want to blow an hour and a half," said the TSA man to me once my baggage had been taken from me and evidence of the crime, a banana (thus I was transporting agricultural goods across the border), secured. What he meant was any more protest, and I'd be forced to sit for hours with three rows of a group of people in the back of the area. He was waiting for me to explode so he could perhaps arrest me. I caught this luckily, fell silent and when the machine before me was placed for me to put heavy baggage on, I did so in silence. I maintained silence until the guy came over and gave me back my bags, and I was permitted to go on my way." That baiting is what is done to black young men or women and when they rise to it, they are shot with impunity. See below

Friends and readers,

I've been writing about my travels on my other blogs: the culture of it on Ellen and Jim: Lake District and the Borders (2), (3), the people there on Sylvia II. But I don't want to imitate the NYTimes  -- except occasionally when they condescend to give you useless advice on how to put up with abuse and avoid going to jail because you don't want to kowtow to TSA bullying. The purpose of this blog is tell what's important and usually or often left out, ignored.

The New Yorker almost saw it again -- except not quite, as we have a petty criminal being handcuffed by an obviously black TSA man (so that absolves the TSA people) and they are making a joke of the opening of cases with Winnie-the-Pooh as exemplary. What bullshit. Or is this one of their lightly-touched upon miseries? Pooh is helpless. His neck in a noose. But what a good boy, to take it with such acquiescence.

I am not prepared to ignore the astonishing abuse passengers accept from airlines who are not prepared to pay extortionate fees (this time I was struck how the tiny seats make for a complete lack of any privacy), the trip itself both ways was uneventful except that I arrived home an hour later than I had said since I made the mistake of forgetting I bought a banana, thinking to eat it in case I was to be starved for 8 hours in the KLM plane (I will not pay high fees for inedible food) and was "caught" transporting agricultural produce during the harassing process of passport control. It was absurd to keep me there but they did it for half an hour -- why? because I didn't look grateful to them when they discovered what the dog had sniffed and I clearly had not committed a crime, was a native born US citizen from my passport and probably on some computer someone with no crime record -- on one level the explanation is there is nothing worse than people in petty authority (as Shakespeare told us long ago).

Why write about this? because the same indifference to us as people with civic and human rights now pervades our hospitals, our schools, is at the core of the cruelty of our criminal injustice system. Why you can't get someone from the bank on the phone to answer your question. Why Expedia can fleece you for another $1800 and you have no recourse. Charging someone for bail who can't afford to pay, and then putting them into jail in miserable conditions.  Debtor's prison resurrected. No recourse when the DMV takes your license and ability to get to work away for a minor infraction.

So here are some dialogues from face-book:

When it was time to get a boarding pass the day before I learned a new dirty trick:  At least for a third time or third trip, I had been told there was no "economy comfort," but when I went to click on my boarding pass and get a seat, I was suddenly confronted with the "option" of economy comfort for a mere $88 either a seat both ways or just the one way. Being too nervous while I am doing this clicking and anxious lest I do something which gets in the way of checking in, I do not try for this economy comfort, but I see them on the plane. I questioned others in the Road Scholar group and they confirmed this is the latest ugly trick of the airlines. They will not offer economy comfort until the last moment in the hope they can fleece you for business class or let's put it ransom you into 1st class. Disgusting, sickening. I was also told a bill was introduced in congress actually to regulate a minimum size seat for all human beings, and Republicans killed it. May each one of them rot in hell or their graves for all eternity. I know there are far more serious calamities going on in the world but this is even dangerous -- it shows an indifference to the passenger.

On the way back from Amsterdam, I was in an economy seat in a KLM airplane where I felt just about squashed and crushed because next to me were two very heavy women in impossibly little chairs. The one right next to me, an African-American, had with her an enormous Bible (a leather cover looked much worn) and a book which professed to interpret the Bible but was an exhorting self-help book: with chapters on how to curb anger and bitterness, or the value of socializing. I felt embarrassed to see how child-like the prose was and would lay a big bet there is no audiobook or ebook or kindle. It had a hard heavy cover. I couldn't avoid seeing this book nor how she was trying to genuflect and was having what I'd call a very pious experience "getting off" negative feelings she must have. In effect I was forced to invade the privacy of this woman, and to judge her spontaneously when I didn't want to.

I once paid the upcharge for economy comfort only to have part of the exit door practically in my lap. I had to contort my legs to even have room. I cannot believe they charged me the same as the other two passengers next to me, in unimpeded seats, but they did! I've never been so uncomfortable and it was an international flight. Awful.

Me in reply:
Thank you for telling me that. I did think these "economy comfort" seats were simply economy seats in "better spots." So they don't vet them individually. I would like to add though all this sounds trivial, that these people are able to get away with this conduct and profiteering underlies how and why ICE gets away with psychological and social torture and ruining lives. It's the same acceptance by a majority of Americans and morally/socially speaking the same behavior in its fundamentals. What makes it important and different is all Americans experience it, are subject to it, it's intimately known, but if anyone extrapolates we don't hear about this on the news.

LLisa:  I chose that seat specifically because it was the "window" seat. This window could only be utilized if I had knelt on the seat, bent over, and nearly did a handstand on the lap of the person behind me. Airlines get away with skewering passengers, you're right. It's a misery when you're stuck in this tiny space for hours and hours

Enforced socialization, said my friend Byran, like the military

Ah. Once a long time ago I found myself in a seat by the emergency exit. I found myself told what I was to do in case of an emergency; all these procedures are false, idiotic, will save no one. I would not go along with pretending and found a couple of people nearby horrified by what I said and insisting someone else should take this seat. So I said, why not one of them. I forget now if one of them took it, but remember that I refused to sit there. I stood up, and another seat was found for me, and presumably someone else took that seat. This was before the present systematic abusive behavior of airlines to passengers had begun. I didn't mention that the black woman next to me had a breathing problem and, once seated, asked if she could be moved -- of course to a better seat. The stewardess denied there were any other free seats and made a big deal out of offering to give this black woman cups of hot water. Pretending enormous concern. The fact was (as I saw later) there were empty seats towards the back. Now they were as small, but it may be a couple of empty seats were back there or could be arranged. I think the staff are told to be hard and obdurate and refuse all requests for help except if in their judgement someone's life is suddenly at risk. Why? as Voltaire put it about the firing squad death of an admiral, "pour encourager les autres." The staff are trained to be inhumane.

I find the remark this is enforced socialization insightful. It may seem silly that I do -- maybe it's so obvious to others but not to me. It tells me why I hate and find the airline and airport experience such an ordeal. The only option is 1) take a boat but then there are very few; 2) train if one has the time; 3) a car, but most people can't drive that many hours in a row; or 4) not go. I know people who won't travel because they won't subject themselves to airplane travel but they usually say what bothers them is that airplanes are so dangerous. To this others reply with the usual statistics: remember three kinds of statistics? A few who have money enough have told me they pay the extortionist amount to at least free themselves in specially apart areas in the airport and again in the airplane. I also find irritating the attempt to shrug or makes jokes of TSA and the airlines.

I was of course accused of being personal, hysterical, not seeing the uses of this, not thinking about the poor people hired by the airplanes and TSA to do these things. The system is just fine. Very clever insinuations about me.

So I replied:

My view is if the plane falls out of the sky, everyone is probably dead. The videos about the gas masks and the rest of it are ludicrous. I am not in a state of overwhelming stress when I am i a train or train station; decades ago, plane trips did not overwhelm me. I never wanted to travel, but that's another set of motives that don't actuate me immediately. I thought Bryan made an insightful comment for me: enforced socialization. That's what I find so grating: to be actually making skin contact with a woman I found very alien culturally (let's say) and find I cannot erase from my eyes or consciousness what she is doing. I now realize why passengers get so angry at babies aboard. That dead dog seems to me important as it's an instance of what will happen to a creature utterly powerless to protect itself without any one who is willing to protect it responsibly. I don't think anyone is persecuting me individually; but I do think the system is set up to control the public by intimidation and harassment, quite deliberately by the higher authorities; and on top of that we are exploited and fleeced and abused by the airlines to wrench money out of us at every turn.

My friend Kathryn:
Ellen, I also hate flying for all the reasons you have discussed, BUT I worry about you. I know of one professional woman in our age group who was not very nice when questioned by TSA at Dulles. She did not do anything really wrong, just responded angrily to their requests. They wrestled her to the ground, arrested her, and held her overnight. She could have been seriously injured, but fortunately was all right. She ended up having to do anger management training and community service. Since that happened I've been very careful not to show that anything bothers me when flying, going through security, etc.

I did stay controlled when I realized that these people were going to behave as if I had broken some serious law. I admit I did not kowtow and showed irritation, and that it was an effort to remain calm. I was not overtly angry and did immediately remember the banana, and blurted "Oh I never ate the banana," and the woman actually said, as if this was some kind of trial, that I immediately turned over the banana and did not try to hide it matters. And then she opens this heavy door and invites me to walk through. I understood then something was afoot. It took a couple of minutes for me to realize there were three rows of people on seats waiting their turn (at least an hour and a half). I suppose (as I recall this morning with a half-grin on my face) I should have laughed it off inside, but I couldn't. I was controlled, just strained; I am aware my race, age, obvious lack of crime wouldn't matter if I truly bucked them. I didn't. I was exhausted, and one of them remarked as I stood waiting at some checkpoint that I looked very white (not racial word, but just drained). I am aware now since reading (and hearing) about the "quiet skies" harassment policy that it has not just been random that twice I've been picked out. Once was after a woman almost denied Izzy and I a seat because we checked in late: I had a meltdown right there, and suddenly she had the seats after all, and then we had to go through security. I would not do well in prison and had better be careful insofar as I can. What can one do? take a plane only when there is no other way and only when I really want to go to this place where there is no other way but a plane. I will not go to Reyhavik again (Icelandic airport). I now know what the little dogs are for in the corridors of the security clearance places.

There is also a principle at state, but I'm not such a fool as to chose this battlefield to make my sense of violation known. At no point did I refuse to do anything they asked and I said hardly anything at all, as few words as possible

How clever this one:

I couldn't defend what's going on in the flight industry, or the hidden policies and collapsing infrastructure of the whole thing, or the blind incompetence of the people who run it. The airline system is broken, pretty much everything is ruined except that (bottom line) the planes mostly get where they're going in one piece. (So far.) And Diane has a good point in supporting those who shout out about the abuses - except that, of course, it is a truth pretty much universally acknowledged already, what the flying experience has become. My only point really is as usual individual not systemic: that a person traveling gets less flak by being civil, sympathetic and even friendly to those trying to do their jobs (even if one's teeth are gritted the whole time) than by protesting. I do make huge efforts to be deliberately super nice when I travel, even though usually I'm sleepless and cranky, and although I fly a lot and have had my share of problems (lost luggage, etc.), no one has ever treated me badly, and most staff goes out of their way to help me. I am sure you will think that going the false charm route is loathsome and standing up for injustices and miseries is important. Some truth there, and each to her own method, but I am only concerned about getting safely from Point A to Point B. You can write and protest about the horrors later (as you are doing)! Everybody knows these things are happening (your banana story had me gasping) but the goal at hand is to get there. If the hangar's crowded, sit on the floor. If there's an awful intrusive person next to you - well that's a tough one! I don't think I've ever been quite unlucky enough to have a pain in the neck as bad as the person you describe as seatmate, but this is one of the big airline problems. In these small spaces stories are even rife about FIGHTS between passengers over things like seats pushed too far back! Sometimes there are ways around sticky situations, but if not - well, keep in mind that it is only for a few hours, not a No Exit situation

Each to his own. You are here talking take care of yourself. My talk is other directed too. But why do you persist? to have the last word? to scotch something as in the case of the new critical biographer of the Little House books? Let us keep in mind that woman denied medicine, the dead dog, dying up there, and yes the woman sitting next to me refused the choice of another seat when there were others as that's what these agents have been told to do. Following orders? now the man who baited me was going beyond that.

Diane Reynolds offered this larger perspective:

I am flying through Iceland to get to Malta this February: it never occurred to me that might be a problem, but I shall be forewarned. Diana, I agree that lashing out at the employees, who often are, as you so well describe, suffering under impossible conditions, is lashing out at the victims, but the frustration is that the people making the policies are hidden. There's no reason why employees can't be treated better--there are plenty of ways to do it that don't impact profits--and at some point, human decency is more important than saving that extra 3 cents. We know airlines do respond if the actions are egregious enough, like that poor doctor who was slugged, concussed, and dragged off his flight, but we do need to keep raising the chorus of protest. I conform to what is expected as I am not an idiot, but I hate having to knuckle under to nonsense. I hate that flight attendants jobs are no longer defined as making the customer comfortable and happy, but as keeping us "safe," as if they are security guards. I hate that on some flights you only get a meal if you pay. I was really hungry, as was my husband, when we had to take a sudden Norwegian Air flight home from Prague via Sweden and took what we could get--well, you couldn't get dinner unless you had pre-ordered it. In our rush, we hadn't. We had to wait more than an hour (close to two) while others were served their meals to get $10 cheese sandwiches that were a slice of processed cheese between 2 piece of bread. We all need to keep fighting back and I am glad Ellen speaks out and hope she will be supported. It doesn't have to be this way. It didn't use to be this way. If we don't fight it won't change.

But there's another; it's about the core politics of American life nowadays. On the phone with another friend who didn't have a horrors of today's hospitals story to tell me but about how she too was baited, almost fell for it because she was "caught" with a couple of items of food and protested. She also protested sudden add-on costs for her baggage about 3 years ago when that started happening. I discovered a bill for $113 extra for a bag at Dulles coming home. Rien a faire.

I know I have not been writing about the prison strike and the retaliations going on at the prisons -- the only newsstory covering this is DemocracyNow. Next time and what stories and reports I can find. This is just in terms of the recent death of Aretha Franklin and thoughts about her and the situation of anyone who wants to protest peacefully today but I will try to get more about the past and what is literally happening today in US prisons and in the new era of draconian cuts to Obamacare.

Miss Drake

McCain has died; remembering Humphry

The New Yorker has now said he's the American religion -- or he stood for it:  On the funeral.

I voted for him once. In 2000 in a Republican primary, I dared to stand against the bullying at that polling place (the first time I saw that) to stop democrats from voting. In Virginia you need not be registered in a party to vote in a primary, but you are not allowed to vote in the other party's primary for the same office that year. So I couldnt vote in the democratic primary for president but I was that worried about Bush becoming president. I knew how bad Bush would be -- and he was, people are forgetting what he caused. I thought it more important to use my vote to try to stop Bush.  McCain would not be as bad it seemed to me, not as stupid, not as blood thirsty, no spite (as I saw on stage in Bush II). Then nothing became McCann like the losing of an election aka when Obama won and McCain conceded; and this morning Obama has put a beautiful tribute to him on twitter. McCain was not a great man, had made many bad votes and manifested all sorts of flaws of complicity, compromise, and belief but though he did not come out for impeachment (one must be realistic about a republican here), he wanted to be decent and could be and was on occasion since the present criminal and his supporting openly indecent, ruthless and amoral regime took office. We must not forget his record of militarism and misogyny, but he was not one of them.

Parallel cases: in 2000 the better man was pushed and manipulated out by huge amounts of money, powerful political brokers who wanted to get into office someone who would look our for their (individual) interests: McCain would have made different decisions from Bush; so in 1960 Hubert Humphry, a good man who could have been another FDR was pushed and manipulated out by huge amounts of money, powerful political brokers who wanted the Kennedy clan to get in ... Bush was an ex-drunk, crony type the worst favored because he was inferior; again voting for McCain was a stopgap; to prevent spreading evil from ratcheting up.  By contrast Humphry's idealism and  nobility was disliked by some Americans -- it is not in the American grain to be socialist it seems, but he would have built upon FDR and LBJ's legacies. And been another great and good president.

No false dignity. In 1960 West Virginia was democratic and I remember the day Kennedy beat Humphry there, him strumming on a banjo an old Negro spiritual, or maybe it was a Union or Woody Guthrie type song, folk, very touching.

Let us remember neither of these men became president and so Cunningham asks:

But for all of the scorn heaped on Trump— his stupidity, his ugliness -- whose name was never mentioned outright—there were questions left unanswered at the service. First: Is it really possible for a person to rise to power in a country with which he has absolutely nothing in common? Isn’t it more likely that Trump, whose most fervent devotees are white evangelicals and proponents of the fraudulent prosperity gospel, is just as archetypically American as McCain, embodying an alternative set of equally real national principles: anxious acquisitiveness, a distaste for deep thought, endless aggrandizement?

Then, too: Even if the American religion is good, and inclusive of certain eternal truths, if it can be thrown so quickly into crisis, turned so violently on itself, how sturdy was it, really?

Nixon beat Humphry, let us remember - in 1972 he pulverized and mocked McGovern by a huge majority..

Update, 9/2/2018: having listened to Obama, Bush reading speech written for him, Liebermann, McCain's daughter, moments from McCain's funeral, I felt to myself what a relief to hear these principles and voices. It may be that a lot that was said was not sincere (funerals are political events), but it was good to drown out the viciousness that is daily thrust at us. I wanted to listen to Amazing Grace, Swing Low Sweet Chariot (as except for Obama's presence, there was nothing of black and hispanic people nor Asian, come to think of it, at the funeral) and reread RLStevenson's poem (non-militarist) about the sailor home at last.

Miss Drake
And I saw no video program tell about him, though both the NYTimes and Washington Post published obituaries. The first is short and tells little; the second includes many words and qualifications intended to trivialize and cast Mr McReynolds in a negative life (such as he was not a communist, but a socialist -- the implication is to equate him with a communist). Both use the same photo from decades ago. There is more information and a list of books and essays on McReynolds at wikipedia.

It's the aim of this blog to help circulate however meagrely (that is, I don't have a mass readership to say the least) important essays and public media that might not come to the attention of many people.

So for my first blog in this vein for nearly a month, here is the story of David McReynolds in a series of video clips, which include him talking at a younger age and more recently:

As far as I can tell the above relatively recent photo appeared in The Guardian

First, the opening summary:

Longtime pacifist and socialist David McReynolds died Friday at the age of 88. Known to historian Howard Zinn and many others as a “hero of the antiwar movement,” McReynolds was a staff member with the War Resisters League from 1960 to 1999. There, he focused on counter-recruitment and helped organize one of the first draft card burnings. He went on to play a key role in some of major demonstrations against the Vietnam War and campaign for nuclear disarmament. McReynolds ran for president in 1980 and 2000 as an openly gay man. For more, we speak with two of his close friends. Ed Hedemann worked with McReynolds for decades at the War Resisters League. Jeremy Scahill is an investigative journalist and co-founder of The Intercept.



Then transcripts of just McReynolds talking in 2000 while he was running for President of the US.

I joined the Socialist Party at UCLA in 1951. I joined the War Resisters League about the same time. I was arrested for refusing induction during the Korean War, not the Vietnam War—won that case on a technicality. Went to work for Liberation magazine in 1957 under A.J. Muste and Bayard Rustin, Dave Dellinger, Roy Finch, Sid Lens. I went on the staff of the War Resisters League in 1960 and worked for that until January of 1999, when I retired. And I’m now running as the Socialist Party’s candidate.

My history, I’m afraid, does not include any dramatic military service, but a number of arrests over the years and, in the course of the Vietnam War, a visit to Hanoi and Saigon, and, in the course of the Gulf War, a visit to Iraq, shortly before the main assault there, and other visits to other parts of the world, the Soviet Union during the period when it was about to break up. I was in Prague, by sheer good luck, during the invasion. You don’t often get a chance to be there during that kind of thing. So, that’s the summation of my history.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Dave, How do you respond to those who would say that your quest for the presidency is even more quixotic and irrelevant than Ralph Nader’s or Pat Buchanan’s? And what do you hope to gain by running?

DAVID McREYNOLDS: Yeah, and let me add one thing to that record, so I’m not accused of avoiding it. I came out as a homosexual in 1969, so I think that was one of the first open statements.

Look, the presidential election is a referendum on ideas. That’s really all it is. I’m trying to present the concept of socialism, put it back in the American dialogue. I think it has a right to be in. I’m tired of hearing we’re anti-imperialist, anti-racist and so on, and not know what we’re for. And I am for democratic socialism, an idea as old as 1901, when the party was founded, goes back to the last century. It’s not rooted in Moscow or Lenin. …

The real struggle is at the congressional level, at the legislative level, and it’s in the streets. We’re not—I don’t think people really are aware. Many of those who are backing Nader, for example, I don’t think are aware of the power of the structure they oppose and the cost it will take to change that structure. If you look at any really serious social change, from India under Gandhi, which I take as my example and my methodology, there were large numbers of people killed, and there were massive arrests. And Gandhi spent a large part of his adult life in British prisons. If you look at the Southern movement, you’re looking at a trail of blood and horror, and children killed in their schools, and beatings and brutality, that only if you were in the South during that time can you understand the slogan that said that many atheists went to the South, but none returned as atheists, because of the impact of the Black Baptist Church. But those struggles were not won in the courts. They were not won simply by votes. That was part of a dialectical thing. But they are won on the streets.

Here, many years later, he tells of how he first joined the socialist party and after saw first hand the devastation war causes:

I came into the Socialist Party partly because of poets like Kenneth Patchen, who had—who were very powerful in their poems: “No man can own what belongs to all. No man can lie when all are lied to.” I also became a socialist from my economics class, which as a good professor explained that 3 percent unemployment was the lowest you could expect under capitalism, and that was necessary. And I thought 3 percent unemployment was too high. But I became a socialist because it struck me that capitalism is a lousy system.Among other things, it made my father work as an advertising man, when he would have been much better off doing something else. He would have preferred to be a minister. He was a devout Christian. He was a salesman because he had to put bread on the table for the family. And it didn’t do good things for him. To see what the system had done to him, what it had done to so many people—most of the work that people do is pointless work, and they do it because they must earn a living to provide food. And I want a society where the people are more able to work—and work hard—but at jobs that they enjoy and that make a contribution to the world around them. And we don’t live in that kind of society.

In high school, at George Washington High, as a student, I was fascinated by current events. And I followed the war with enthusiasm, with fascination, the map showing the Russian retreat or advance, where the Allied forces were. And I remember two headlines. One of them was “1,000 Bombers Make Hamburger of Hamburg.” And another was “800 Bombers Blast Bremen.” Germany had been so devastated that they couldn’t cover all the damage.

So then, in 1951, I’m walking through Germany. And at first my reactions are entirely politically correct. I’m looking at the destruction and realizing this was the result of the capitalist drive for power, that the working class suffered the most, which is true, that the large business corporate structure was back in business. But it was seeing Bremen, seeing the damage, realizing I was the kid who had been so enthusiastic about the bombs falling, and then seeing the chaos the bombs had caused, I really had a profound, genuine religious experience. And I went up to an old lady, and then I pointed at the ruins, and I said, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” And I broke down.

The nature of violence and war embraces both sides. It embraces both the Nazis and what we did during World War II. And it was the point at which I really had an insight into war: I was the one who had dropped the bombs.

This third transcript comes from a PBS documentary called The Draft:

They were saying it is illegal to burn your draft card. They made it a federal offense if you burn your draft card. And basically, we said, “[Bleep] that. The war is a profoundly evil thing going on day after day.”

COUNTERPROTESTER 1: Why do you let those people over there picket in front of the United States recruiting office? Why don’t they go to Vietnam and fight? It’s a disgrace to the United [inaudible] scum picketing over there.

NARRATOR: Hundreds of protesters face off in one city block

COUNTERPROTESTER 1: Aren’t they pro-the United States? Are they a punk or what?COUNTERPROTESTER 2: [inaudible] over to Vietnam.

DAVID McREYNOLDS: Yeah, of course, we were tense. You have counterdemonstrators everywhere screaming, “Burn yourselves, not your cards!”

NARRATOR: As the cards ignite…
REPORTER: There goes the first one. They’re burning the draft card, first, of Thomas Cornell
NARRATOR: …fear flares up.
TOM CORNELL: Someone had infiltrated the crowd, carrying a pressurized cylinder
REPORTER: And now from the crowd comes—ooh!
TOM CORNELL: We didn’t know what was happening after this. A jet of fluid comes, and we don’t know: Is this volatile?

DAVID McREYNOLDS: Is it gasoline?

TOM CORNELL: Are we going to be just going up in flames with our draft cards?
REPORTER: As the pacifist audience breaks into freedom songs, the fires get bigger and bigger. Five men are smiling.
NARRATOR: A few pieces of burning paper spark resistance to the draft.

DAVID McREYNOLDS: We weren’t shooting anybody. We were not breaking any windows. We were burning a card, which was being used by the government to send young men to Vietnam by the tens of thousands.

And then fourth, an interview about his life as an openly gay activist: where it begun, who influenced him: Alvin Ailey and Bayard Rustin:

1949 was a very significant year for me, partly because that was the year that I had met Alvin Ailey in the men’s room at UCLA and decided that I was homosexual. I was 19, and Alvin Ailey was 18. He was not famous. He was not yet a dancer. We met in a bathroom, which was a gay meeting place at UCLA. And I became involved with Alvin. I wish I could say we had had a long love affair, but we did not. But I got to know Alvin very well. I would go over to his house in—about once a week and talk about poetry. He introduced me to the poetry of E.E. Cummings, of William Carlos Williams, of Kenneth Patchen. I certainly was very much in love with Alvin. And Alvin then went on, of course, to become a major choreographer, founded the Ailey dance company.

But I owe him an enormous debt. Alvin helped me accept being homosexual, because he was not guilty, he was not nervous, he was not ashamed. And I had viewed the whole business of homosexuality as very deeply shameful and very, very wrong. And Alvin was the first person I met who was sweet, charming, good-looking, but absolutely seemed free of guilt, and that was very liberating to me. That in itself was remarkably liberating to me.

I think my real commitment to pacifism occurred when I heard Bayard Rustin speak in 1949. He was, in many ways, an essential part of the civil rights struggle, along with A. Philip Randolph and Martin Luther King Jr. He worked with them both very closely. Bayard was an absolutely essential figure of the two people in my own life that I owe my thinking and my analysis to, and A.J. Muste was the other. And my relationship with A.J. was that of one of his lieutenants. He was an adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. He was the figure around whom the Vietnam movement coalesced. But these were the two men who meant the most to me personally and did in fact change my life and direct it.

A clip of a video made for his 80th birthday by his friend,
Anthony Giacchino.

He loved animals and especially for companions cats. A beloved long time friend, companion cat, Shaman, he kept alive by two shots of insulin a day died when David collapsed and was not found for two days.

He loved and enjoyed life and wanted others to enjoy life to the full too: that was and is the purpose of socialism and pacificism: to make a world where all can live in peace and know happiness.

Miss Drake

Summer interlude

Friends, here are my two beloved cats, Clary (the tortoise) and Snuffy (aka Ian, all golden) photo taken by Laura yesterday before she and Izzy and two friends went to the Kennedy Center to see HamiltonThose volumes to the sides are a stack of printed Persuasions; and of course a dictionary (no room without its dictionary); they sitting in my still new sun-room just within the range of a sun-puddle

The day before izzy had gone to her fourth exhibit about Hamilton in DC: it was at the central DC Post Office at Union Station (transportation hub); as it happened there was a free concert of music, colonial and modern there that day so she stayed and enjoyed. (POTUS wants to privatize aka destroy the Post Office; anything anyone takes any joy from he wants to kill as since he knows no good emotions himself he does all he can to prevent anyone one from having any content unless he can inflict pain too.) Anthony Trollope whom I have spent years reading, writing about, teaching, devoted 37 years of his life building a non-corrupt post office in the UK .... he did say he feared his angelic mission was insufficiently appreciated.

The first magnolia on one of my trees in my new little classical (all symmetry, clarity, order, harmony) has bloomed --

a brief life I see is all any of us know ... below my beloved husband, Jim, at Glastonbury Cathedral, August 2005, photo take by Laura:

I tried to take time off from politics but discover as Orwell and Eliot (George) and Sand (George) said, all art is political

Miss Sylvia Drake
In an interview segment following a series of film revealing Trump surrounded by his appointed teams and republicans who support him unqualifiedly or at rallies, or with foreign gov't officials, telling all sorts of lies, citing some of his tweets, Judy Woodruff hosted a talk between three people who talked of what this means: an assault on common reality prevents all effective action against tyranny. He is erasing common ground.

The segment can be watched here:


You can listen to it here:


As I listened and (on the PBS site)( watched I remembered President Obama's comment at a South African memorial service for Nelson Mandela where he said you cannot negotiate with a man who when presented with a lecture says it's an elephant.

 I plucked out the transcript where Peter Wehner discussed what is happening to truth and reality in the US today:

Judy asked Peter Wehner what is different from previous administation's games with truth, mislead people, tell lies at times
and Peter Whener who worked for three previous Republican administrations:

Well, what’s different is that we don’t have a run-of-the-mill liar in the White House. We have a pathological liar.

This is a man who lies on personal matters, political matters, domestic, international. He lies morning, noon, and night. And it just is never — never-ending. So that’s one thing. We have never had a president who is so pathologically — lies so pathologically, and lies needlessly often. That’s one.

The other thing is the number of people in this country who believe in the lies, who have accepted them. This has tremendous damaging effects on the political and civic culture of the country. A self-governing nation can’t run if you can’t have a common set of facts, if you can’t agree on common realities.

What you have got is a man in the White House who is engaged in not just an assault on truth, but an effort to annihilate truth.

It’s true. It’s not just the lies. It’s that he’s trying to destroy the categories of truth and falsity.

And that’s really why he goes after the media, right, because the media has always been the institution in American life that has kept presidents accountable when it comes to what’s true and what’s not. And he knew from the outside of his presidency that he had to delegitimize the media, so he could get away with this kind of thing.

And this has an enormous seepage effect in the life of a country.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Pete Wehner, as we look back over the last year-and-a-half of the president in office, are there moments, are there statements of — where something wasn’t borne out by evidence that you think in particular stand out?

  • Peter Wehner:

    Yes, there are several. I mean, there’s so many, it’s hard to — I would say the Charlottesville event was very important, when he said that there were good people on both sides.

    I think the attacks on the Mueller investigation are extremely important, because this is an investigation trying to discern truth, and he’s trying to destroy it. The one where he said that Hillary Clinton one because three million illegal votes were cast.

    I will tell you one that might strike people as trivial, but I think, in retrospect, was extremely important, that was the original lie at the dawn of the presidency of Donald Trump. And that was the crowd size, when he insisted and sent his press secretary out to insist it was larger than Barack Obama’s.

    In one sense, people will say this is a trivial matter. What is it? Who cares?

    The reason it mattered is that this was right out of the box, not just a lie, but it was an assault on empirical, demonstrable facts. There were pictures that showed the difference.

    And that was the tell, as they say, in poker. That said that this guy was something different. He was going to go after truth in a way. And it’s been a sustained, relentless assault on truth.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Pete Wehner, finally, what does this mean for our democracy? People talk about a democracy is built on a foundation of accepted truths, reality.

    What is this doing?

  • Peter Wehner:

    It is hurting democracy. It’s weakening the foundations.

    And that’s why people have to stand up and speak out. Democracy is about persuasion, right, not coercion. And you can’t persuade people if you can’t agree on facts, you can’t even agree on common problems.

    Beyond that, when you enter this realm, it deepens polarization, it deepens the sense of political tribalism. All of the anger, all of the divisions are made worse.

    But I would say a couple of things. Viruses create their own antibodies. And the public can do something about this. You can do it in your individual lives. People can do it in social media. They can make a commitment not to put party loyalties ahead of the truth when they’re in conflict.

    They can vote against…

    I think you are starting to get a reaction. I’m sure you’re getting a reaction against it, because people understand both the disorienting effect of this — that’s one thing

    But there’s something else going on as well, which is everybody knows in your individual life you can’t live if you don’t have a common understanding of truth. And that’s true in a national life as well.

    I think Donald Trump, the effect of all of this is exhausting on the public. I think they’re embarrassed, as was said earlier. And I think they’re ashamed of what’s happening. And I think there will be in 2020 and maybe in 2018 a reaction against.

    This is not as if America has a terminal disease and nothing can be done. Individual lives matter. If one person does something, it may not, but if a lot of people act together, you can change the political and civic culture. That’s happened before, and it can happen again.

    I was prompted to try to share and (I hope) help distribute this news program when I read Trump's statement at a rally directed at the representatives of the news media there to report on the event:

    "What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what is happening." Disbelieve all tapes and visual photos and films where you see Trump behaving like a crook, liar, trying to repress all news about his criminal behavior to all sorts of people, his treasonable behavior over his income since he's been president, things he's done that under the constitution break the law and undermine the US republic, while attacking groups of people he deems his enemies, or simply don't vote for him, who his economic and social policies are intended to hurt or destroy.

    Posted by Miss Drake

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October 2018



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