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Friends,

My last blog with general content from articles or youTubes was Feb. 7th. I've not written here in a long time because recent political developments in areas where power is exercised have been so discouraging and dismaying. But I feel impelled tonight. I have much to share about the evil that is being done across the US: what is happening is small amounts of improvement and progress towards a fairer prison system, justice system, for the environment, for women's rights were being put in place (the latter at leat theoretically) and everything is now overtly being made worse.  All agencies set up to try to get justice for the average person thwarted.



Paul McCarthy at last week's mass demonstration March for Our Lives, reminding us John Lennon lost his life in 1970: a single bullet to the head was all it took.

As you read, remember last week's massive numbers of people come out to demonstrate against the slaughter of themselves.

What has been happening and not happening in the corridors of power?

An ignorant, bigoted sociopathic continual law-breaker is in charge whom it is clear those with power to remove him will not. Trump does not bother to hide his debased and mean point of view; his brains see everything from the most base, lewd and lawless standpoint so that nothing fazes, nothing humiliates him since he does not recognize that anyone has any integrity, or moral principles. This on the Stormy Daniels TV segment on 60 minutes.  It is newly realized the body of white people in the US calling themselves evangelical Christians do not require in the least that the man in charge behave morally in the sexual or financial areas. Comically (?), the New Yorker offers the hope that one thing that might result is the end of non-disclosure agreements

A remarkable number of people have been summarily fired, others resigned or resigned in protest from important jobs/tasks/offices in the US. I saw a list of several hundred if you include lesser known officials across the govt. Here are the most famous from the New York Times. Since leaving office, some have written eloquently of how they were threatened (Trump made vindictive attempts to deprive people of pensions after decades of work) and what they saw happening all around them during the time they tried to stay on. If replaced (I've read lists of agencies intended to serve the public either forbidden to by law or de-funded, with department after department left with no one in charge), by whom?

Tonight large groups in Sacramento, California are continuing to demonstrate to try to get the local police to arrest a policeman (or men) who murdered a unarmed black man in his own backyard. To this hour, despite other demonstrations and hypocritical words coming out of elected officials, those who murdered that man have not even been arrested. In another similar case, the jurisdictions has said openly they will not indict the murderer. A familiar image: the black family or group standing before microphones,disbelieving, enraged, crying.

Privatizing the VA will immediately corrode whatever health care veterans have and make the jobs of those providing health deeply insecure and so make them work in a bad atmosphere. Every time a vote is held the majority of voters vote against charter schools and privatization; nonetheless, these private are spreading after studies have shown no gain from paying money and indeed losses include demoralization of teachers (who are not required to have the same certificates showing years of training).  Teachers are going on strike in states where there is possible, and sometimes winning.

*********************


No one stopped Roosevelt from interning thousands of Japanese US Citizens

I have five essays to share tonight, the first crucially important: read Jed S. Rakoff who demonstrates that the long history of the court system in the United States shows judges have preferred to not exercise the responsibility to control the legislature and executive which the constitution meant them to have, especially in the areas of military action and what can be placed under the label "national security." The essay appears in the NYRB, 65:6 for April 5, 2018, and is called "Don't count on the Courts." The courts are not going to save us from a slide into a dictatorship now being reinforced by every technique in the power of Repubilcans, now an utterly corrupt group (impeaching judges, disenfranchising voters, intimidation at the polls, egregious gerrymandering). I know it's behind a pay wall; pay the small fee or contact me below (make a comment) and I'll send you a copy.

This is the most ironic: David Cole tells you how Jeff Sessions has been doing his level best (and alas effectively) to resume mass incarceration, put in places the harshest sentences possible for non-violent crimes, deprive people of rights when they are being arrested, allow police impunity in whatever they want to do to citizens, all of which has been shown (as if proof were needed) to be counterproductive, expensive. He has stopped defending civil rights, abandoned enabling access to the ballot, is now the opponent of LGBT rights and a champion of religious discrimation. And Trump loathes Sessions publicly insulting and denigrating him at every turn. Why? because Sessions recused himself when it came to the investigation of the Russians's influene and possible collusion with Trump to win the 2016 election. All Trump cares about is himself finally. Read this in the NYRB, 65:7, April 9, 2018: Trump's Inquisitor (not appreciated). This too is behind a paywall and this too I will share with anyone who wants to read the text.

These are publicly online:

In the same issue, Adam Hochschild,"Bang for the Buck," describes the origins, present pervasive and (if nothing is done) continuing spread of iindividual weapons of mass destruction (not just guns, the AK 15s meant for battle); also the political aims of those who have created this situation and those who continue to profit (quite literally) from the proliferation of white male militias. In case you were curious.

Jacqueline Rose's "I am the knife," this time it's the LRB, 40:4, 22 February: Rose demonstrates the #MeToo campaign has not made any advances in areas of daily life for women, in their experience of growing up, schools, marketplaces, their bodies. She explains why. What are the underlying roots of misogyny and reviews some remarkable books, especially Laura Kipnis’s Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia comes to campuses, and Roxanne Grey’s Hunger: a Memoir of my Body, how women's bodies are policed. What to do? If you can, refuse to be coopted?

And don't neglect:  Mary Beard on Women and Power and Kate Mann on Down Girl.  Open to all from the TLS for March 27, 2018.
Manne provides an analysis of the logic of misogyny; why these particular branches proliferate over and over from the same root; Beard argues women have got to stop imitating male models and take power as females. Instead of trying to be males, projects another image of power; take power and be taken seriously on their own behalf as their concerns are central to the society.

Robert Reich on YouTube closes out with the underlying economics:



*****************************
Closing images:

The US embassy in Cuba is now closed; all the people, a couple hundred thousand a year who used to come there don't any more. No more VISAs to travel back and forth to families; many lost the$160 they paid months in advance to book an appointment. Now JetBlue flights are empty.  When Occupy Wall Street settlements were destroyed  -- in Obama's era, emptied out too.

I admit last night I had a bad dream my house was broken into.  I live in a one floor house on a cement slab. Some of my neighbors in their desire to have more police (!) have been inundating the neighborhood list with stories of local vandalism. I imagined someone with a gun casually killing my cats or me or my daughter or maiming us. Today someone invented a scheme to contact the programmers of Waze on Apple phones and ask them to make a new algorithm which misleads people so no one will come into the neighborhood. The person was not ironic. The atmosphere gets to me as prelude to what's to come.

Oh yes I'll vote, and write blogs and voice an opinion. If there is a demonstration when I'm here in my area, I'll go to it.

One has to try to recall Shelley's Mask of Anarchy as quoted by Orwell: We are many, they are few.  As It happened I was in Italy last week when the demonstration among a people (Italian) as yet held together by a genuine adherence to a sense of common good, which in this country is being attacked as concept and reality.

As I lay asleep in Italy
There came a voice from over the Sea,
And with great power it forth led me
To walk in the visions of Poesy.

  2
I met Murder on the way--
He had a mask like Castlereagh--
Very smooth he looked, yet grim;
Seven blood-hounds followed him:

  3
All were fat; and well they might
Be in admirable plight,    
For one by one, and two by two,
He tossed them human hearts to chew

  4
Which from his wide cloak he drew.
Next came Fraud, and he had on,
Like Eldon, an ermined gown;
His big tears, for he wept well,
Turned to mill-stones as they fell.

  5
And the little children, who
Round his feet played to and fro,
Thinking every tear a gem,   
Had their brains knocked out by them.

  6
Clothed with the Bible, as with light,
And the shadows of the night,
Like Sidmouth, next, Hypocrisy
On a crocodile rode by.

  7
And many more Destructions played
In this ghastly masquerade,
All disguised, even to the eyes,
Like Bishops, lawyers, peers, or spies.

  8
Last came Anarchy: he rode   
On a white horse, splashed with blood;
He was pale even to the lips,
Like Death in the Apocalypse.

  9
And he wore a kingly crown;
And in his grasp a sceptre shone;
On his brow this mark I saw--
'I AM GOD, AND KING, AND LAW!' ...

 What art thou Freedom? O! could slaves

Answer from their living graves   
This demand -- tyrants would flee
Like a dream's dim imagery ...

  53
`Thou art not, as impostors say,
A shadow soon to pass away,
A superstition, and a name
Echoing from the cave of Fame.

  54
`For the labourer thou art bread,
And a comely table spread
From his daily labour come
In a neat and happy home.   220

  55
`Thou art clothes, and fire, and food
For the trampled multitude--
No -- in countries that are free
Such starvation cannot be
As in England now we see.

  56
`To the rich thou art a check,
When his foot is on the neck
Of his victim, thou dost make
That he treads upon a snake.

  57
`Thou art Justice -- ne'er for gold  
May thy righteous laws be sold
As laws are in England -- thou
Shield'st alike the high and low.

  58
`Thou art Wisdom -- Freemen never
Dream that God will damn for ever
All who think those things untrue
Of which Priests make such ado.

  59
`Thou art Peace -- never by thee
Would blood and treasure wasted be
As tyrants wasted them, when all  240
Leagued to quench thy flame in Gaul.

  60
`What if English toil and blood
Was poured forth, even as a flood?
It availed, Oh, Liberty,
To dim, but not extinguish thee.

  61
`Thou art Love -- the rich have kissed
Thy feet, and like him following Christ,
Give their substance to the free
And through the rough world follow thee,

  62
`Or turn their wealth to arms, and make  
War for thy belovèd sake
On wealth, and war, and fraud--whence they
 Drew the power which is their prey.

  63
`Science, Poetry, and Thought
Are thy lamps; they make the lot
Of the dwellers in a cot
So serene, they curse it not.

  64
`Spirit, Patience, Gentleness,
All that can adorn and bless
Art thou -- let deeds, not words, express 
Thine exceeding loveliness.

  65
`Let a great Assembly be
Of the fearless and the free
On some spot of English ground
Where the plains stretch wide around.

  66
`Let the blue sky overhead,
The green earth on which ye tread,
All that must eternal be
Witness the solemnity.

  67
`From the corners uttermost   270
Of the bonds of English coast;
From every hut, village, and town
Where those who live and suffer moan
For others' misery or their own. 

  68
`From the workhouse and the prison
Where pale as corpses newly risen,
Women, children, young and old
Groan for pain, and weep for cold--

  69
`From the haunts of daily life
Where is waged the daily strife   
With common wants and common cares
Which sows the human heart with tares--

  70
`Lastly from the palaces
Where the murmur of distress
Echoes, like the distant sound
Of a wind alive around

  71
`Those prison halls of wealth and fashion,
Where some few feel such compassion
For those who groan, and toil, and wail
As must make their brethren pale--  

  72
`Ye who suffer woes untold,
Or to feel, or to behold
Your lost country bought and sold
With a price of blood and gold--

  73
`Let a vast assembly be,
And with great solemnity
Declare with measured words that ye
Are, as God has made ye, free--

  74
`Be your strong and simple words
Keen to wound as sharpened swords,  
And wide as targes let them be,
With their shade to cover ye.

  75
`Let the tyrants pour around
With a quick and startling sound,
Like the loosening of a sea,
Troops of armed emblazonry.

  76
`Let the charged artillery drive
Till the dead air seems alive
With the clash of clanging wheels,
And the tramp of horses' heels.  

  77
`Let the fixèd bayonet
Gleam with sharp desire to wet
Its bright point in English blood
Looking keen as one for food.

  78
`Let the horsemen's scimitars
Wheel and flash, like sphereless stars
Thirsting to eclipse their burning
In a sea of death and mourning.

  79
`Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,   
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war,

  80
`And let Panic, who outspeeds
The career of armèd steeds
Pass, a disregarded shade
Through your phalanx undismayed.

  81
`Let the laws of your own land,
Good or ill, between ye stand
Hand to hand, and foot to foot,
Arbiters of the dispute,   

  82
`The old laws of England -- they
Whose reverend heads with age are gray,
Children of a wiser day;
And whose solemn voice must be
Thine own echo -- Liberty!

  83
`On those who first should violate
Such sacred heralds in their state
Rest the blood that must ensue,
And it will not rest on you.

  84
`And if then the tyrants dare   
Let them ride among you there,
Slash, and stab, and maim, and hew,--
What they like, that let them do.


  85
`With folded arms and steady eyes,
And little fear, and less surprise,
Look upon them as they slay
Till their rage has died away.

  86
`Then they will return with shame
To the place from which they came,
And the blood thus shed will speak  
In hot blushes on their cheek.

  87
 `Every woman in the land
Will point at them as they stand--
They will hardly dare to greet
Their acquaintance in the street.

  88
`And the bold, true warriors
Who have hugged Danger in wars
Will turn to those who would be free,
Ashamed of such base company.

  89
`And that slaughter to the Nation  
Shall steam up like inspiration,
Eloquent, oracular;
A volcano heard afar.

  90
`And these words shall then become
Like Oppression's thundered doom
Ringing through each heart and brain,
Heard again -- again -- again--

  91
`Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number--
Shake your chains to earth like dew  
Which in sleep had fallen on you--
Ye are many -- they are few.'




Van Gogh, Spring

Hold on, hold out, resist in whatever small way is available to you.

Miss Drake

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
misssylviadrake
Apr. 1st, 2018 07:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I'd like a copy ....
Since I can’t post to Missy Drake, I just wanted to say I was glad of the blog post and poem—poetry has been becoming more important to me in the past few years—and do continue to worry for our country. I would like a copy of the Rakoff—and thanks for doing this, Ellen.

Diane
misssylviadrake
Apr. 2nd, 2018 03:16 am (UTC)
It can't happen here by Sinclair Lewis
It is very much to the point to read Bryan Alexander's analaysis (and my comment pointing out there are fewer differences than Alexander outlines and these should not bring us comfort):

https://bryanalexander.org/politics/fascism-and-imagination-reading-_it-cant-happen-here_-in-2018/

I can copy and paste my comment:

Lewis's fictional paramilitaries sound to me like the armed militias around the US: white supremacist groups, which Trump does threaten to use as rioters. I also think that because Trump does not aim himself at communism does not mean he is not prepared to at a moment’s notice. He used the word for Sanders.

I grant that Trump’s way of destroying our democratic gov’t is not pro-active: he’s not taking over other state gov’ts, abolishing elected bodies. Instead he is simply letting the gov’t agencies rot by not filling positions or filling them with people hostile to the very mission of the agency. He and the Republican party are also transforming the agencies and our processes (like elections, the courts) by a whole group of techniques which undermine and make them hollow.

I would not take comfort in the differences between what Lewis imagines and the realities today. We don’t have concentration and exterminationn camps but this is a country where black people can be casually murdered and no one arrested in a world of mass incarceration where they are disenfranchised, enslaved, thrown into solitary confinement.

Thank you for the detailed description. I used to read Sinclair Lewis when I was much much younger: his Arrowsmith, Dodsworth, Babbitt, Main Street are all spot on analyses of aspects of American culture. I think of Elmer Gantry since Trump was elected.

Edited at 2018-04-02 11:09 am (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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