A Labor Theory of Value

December 11, 2019

Of all the works of man I like best
Those which have been used.
The copper pots with their dents and flattened edges
The knives and forks whose wooden handles
Have been worn away by many hands: such forms
Seemed to me the noblest. So too the flagstones round old houses
Trodden by many feet, ground down
And with tufts of grass growing between them: these
Are happy works.

Absorbed into the service of the many
Frequently altered, they improve their shape, grow precious
Because so often appreciated.
Even broken pieces of sculpture
With their hands lopped off, are dear to me. They too
Were alive for me. They were dropped, yet they were also carried.
They were knocked down, yet they never stood too high.

Half ruined buildings once again take on
The look of buildings waiting to be finished
Generously planned: their fine proportions
Can already be guessed at, but they still
Need our understanding. At the same time
They have already served, indeed have already been overcome. All this
Delights me.

Bertolt Brecht


DISSENTERS—End War!

December 11, 2019

I’m helping launch Dissenters, a new anti-militarism youth organization. Will you join me in investing in this exciting new group of leaders?

A team of young organizers from different movement backgrounds has spent the past two years building a new anti-war organization that connects our global and local struggles for freedom from violence, occupation, and war. They spent years researching and strategizing how to build a movement powerful enough to ring in a bright new era of safety and healing. They have a long-term, multi-phase strategy to win, and now I’m excited to help them get it off the ground.

I just donated to their launch. Will you join me as a founding donor? I believe that if we invest in Dissenters, these young people will lead us to a world free from militarism and war.

You can read more and become a founding donor here.

Will you join me? Click here: https://wearedissenters.org/?source=email&

Thanks!


The Borderlands 12/2019

December 9, 2019

Bernardine and I spent a couple of compelling days in the Sonoran Desert (Desierto de Sonora) in Arizona last week with the brave and passionate border activists from No More Deaths (https://nomoredeaths.org/about-no-more-deaths/). These brilliant organizers and movement-builders work to end the suffering in the borderlands by mobilizing people to work openly and in community to advocate for a humane immigration policy, to raise consciousness about the rough reality faced by border travelers, to offer direct aid and humanitarian assistance through leaving water, food, and essential supplies for folks crossing through this treacherous terrain, to demilitarize the border, and to uphold fundamental human rights. Straight-forward, sensible, direct, just, and loving. In the longer run, these folks imagine a world without borders, which is an exercise akin to imagining a world without prisons—a lot would have to change for those dreams to become reality, but that’s precisely the value of unleashing our most radical imaginations.

Please stop before reading any further, and donate whatever you can to support the work of these loving warriors. (https://nomoredeaths.org/donate-money/)

The desert is vast (100,000 square miles), encompassing parts of Sonora and Baja California in Mexico, as well as stretches of California and Arizona in the US. Scanning the immense landscape—the boundless sky, the subtle colors, the wide variety of rocks and plants—was captivating last week. But from a different angle of regard, the desert appeared a manifestation of hell itself, an unforgiving site of torture and pain and agonizing death.

We slept an an isolated base camp under a dozen quilts and blankets as the temperature dropped below freezing; by mid-day the atmosphere was searing. And we drove down dirt paths and hiked dry river beds to deliver canned goods, and to replace empty water jugs with full ones.

Looking more closely, the desert is simply the desert—the killer is in fact the cruel, deliberate, and explicit policy of the US government, which is to channel people away from common and traditional border crossings into an area where they are certain to suffer, and then to deploy stories of their torment and slaughter as a deterrent to other travelers. Cruel and, sadly, all-too-usual.


The Brilliant Susie Day…

December 7, 2019
THE MAD ACTIVIST IMPEACHES WESTERN CULTURE

Dear Hot-to-Impeach Congressional Democrats,

I thought of you when I read “Why the Ukraine Scheme Matters,” the November 25 editorial in the New York Times. As usual, Times syntax and grammar are superb and the editors’ argumentation skills fully justify the current high tuition rates at name universities. So, congrats, Impeacho-crats! The Times delivered your message: What Trump did in the Ukraine – in his own self-interest – matters.

But I am a tired, marginal, aging, rad-lib lesbo activist moonbat, and I don’t care. What’s scary is, the New York Times can sense this. I bet you can, too.

Americans, the Times writes, now know for sure that Donald Trump “orchestrated a scheme”: he coerced or quid-pro-quo’d or bribed Ukraine’s leader – against U.S. administration policy – to dig up dirt on his political opponent, so that Ukraine could actually get the military aid that Congress had already promised. Crucially, Trump did this, “all for himself, rather than in pursuit of the American national interest.”

Here is where The Times worries that I am not taking your impeachment process seriously. I presumably don’t value our Constitution or the rule of law from which it came. I’m distracted or glaze over at details from impeachment hearings that “don’t map neatly into some Americans’ idea of wrongdoing.”

My “idea of wrongdoing”? They got that right.

See, I’ve been protesting and advocating for human and ecological justice – making an ass out of my broken heart – for years. Basically, all I want is universal dignity, equality, and a living planet: the essence of which you could find embroidered on a throw pillow at a PTA crafts sale.

But, although I’d love to see Trump OUT – heaved into deep space, there to be devoured by other killer viruses – I really can’t follow your impeachment proceedings. I guess I’m what NPR commentators like to call a “civic illiterate.” I’m too exhausted and heartbroken to know just which of Trump’s acts of bribery, treason, high crimes, or misdemeanors “matters.”

Like, I don’t understand why you Democrats are so shocked that, vis-à-vis Ukraine, Trump placed his own interests over those of his country, and acted like a king, rather than an elected official. Hell, I’d be shocked if he hadn’t. In fact, most of us here in Mass-America, along with all three branches of our touted democracy, have put up with Trump acting like King Tweet for years.

So, why have you waited, Impeacho-crats? Why didn’t you take Trump to Subpoena-City when he was pulling out of nuclear arms treaties or climate accords or mutilating the Supreme Court or gutting voting rights or eroding queer policy protections or implementing his anti-travel/Muslim ban or equating, as “very fine people,” Neo-Nazis with anti-racists? Could this possibly be because, technically, all those things are legal?

I’ve actually done some research, here, to wit: the Western rule of law grew out of the Magna Carta and the subsequent need of England’s revolutionaries to argue against the divine right of kings. Over the centuries, countless enlightened and beautifully crafted words have been written about civil liberties and the rule of law, a minor example being Declaration-of-Independence signer Samuel Adams saying: “There shall be one rule of Justice for the rich and the poor.” I also visited a U.S. Government website on Courts – which Trump doesn’t seem to have wrecked yet – and saw that there are four rule-of-law principles, one being that laws should be “consistent with international human rights.”

So here’s what I don’t get, Impeacho-crats. How was Trump not acting like a king when he ordered ICE to tear children away from their parents, to throw innocent people  – fleeing violence and poverty caused largely by the U.S. – into detention camps, and hold them indefinitely in lethally wretched conditions? How are these camps not “high crimes,” and why are they not mentioned as examples of “wrongdoing” in your hearings, which we’re now supposed to take seriously?

But maybe that’s just me being civically stupid. I know there’s some rule-of-law explanation. Like, legally, the president is allowed to build that border wall and destroy nonwhite immigrant lives because you figure that someday a Democratic president would want to do the same thing?

I know your congressional investigations aren’t only about the Ukraine, Impeacho-crats. There are also several House committees exploring other issues, such as Trump’s obstructing the Mueller investigation; his business profits while in office; tax returns; campaign finance/hush money; yadda yadda. But, to me, these focus more on power, finance, and bad boardroom behavior than on liberty and justice for all.

I also recognize that your legal strategy is basically de rigueur. Forty-five years ago, the House chose to hit Richard Nixon with impeachment articles concerning the Watergate break in, and not Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia or his collusion with the FBI to bring down SDS and the Black Panther Party. I guess I’ll have to trust that you are now well within correct legal parameters.

After all, are we not all backed up by that wise rule of law, which, for all its enlightenment, permitted a reality like slavery to stand for centuries as an essential component of a good and just society? So, what you are doing probably makes sense. The 21st-century takeaway from this is that, legally, genocide is not an impeachable offense.

Good luck with this, Impeacho-crats. I had wanted something more. I’m too tired to remember what it was. But I hope you can see why I’m just not that into you.

Sources:
Times editorial, 11/24-5/19, “Why the Ukraine Scheme Matters”:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/24/opinion/trump-impeachment-hearings.html?searchResultPosition=1

Trump and military aid to Ukraine:
https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2019-11-19/documents-show-nearly-40-million-in-ukraine-aid-delayed-despite-white-house-assurances

Civic illiteracy:
Cleveland.com, “Teaching Impeachment in an age of poor civic literacy”:
https://www.cleveland.com/opinion/2019/11/teaching-impeachment-in-an-age-of-poor-civic-literacy-lauren-copeland-and-robert-alexander.html

On the Media, ” A 2011 Newsweek survey found that 70 percent of Americans didn’t even know that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. And only 26% of those surveyed in 2017 by the University of Pennsylvania could name all three branches of government….”
https://www.npr.org/podcasts/452538775/on-the-media

Nuclear arms treaties, e.g.: “Trump Abandons Iran Nuclear Deal He Long Scorned”:
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/08/world/middleeast/trump-iran-nuclear-deal.html

“Trump Serves Notice to Quit Paris Climate Agreement:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/04/climate/trump-paris-agreement-climate.html
Supreme Court, “Gorsuch comes through for Trump and big business”:
https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/21/politics/gorsuch-comes-through-for-trump-and-big-business/index.html

Voting Rights, “Trump administration has Voting Rights Act on life support”:
https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/06/opinions/voting-rights-act-anniversary-long-way-to-go-clarke-rosenberg-opinion/index.htm

Queer rights, “Under Trump, LGBTQ Progress Is Being Reversed in Plain Sight”:
https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/lgbtq-rights-rollback

Travel/Muslim ban, “Statistics show that Trump’s “travel ban” was always a Muslim ban”:
https://qz.com/1736809/statistics-show-that-trumps-travel-ban-was-always-a-muslim-ban/

“Very fine people,” How Trump Changed After Charlottesville”:
https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/07/18/donald-trump-racist-rally-227408

Rule of law:
https://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/otist14-soc-maglaw/magna-carta-rule-of-law/#.XeQ8Wi2ZNgg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_law#United_States

Samuel Adams:
http://www.americassurvivalguide.com/rule-of-law.php

Rule of law, human rights:
https://worldjusticeproject.org/about-us/overview/what-rule-law

Immigrants and camps, “Trump Is Legalizing Concentration Camps for Immigrant Families”:
https://www.thenation.com/article/immigration-kids-trump-flores-concentration-camps/

“Detained. How the US built the world’s largest immigrant detention system”:
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/sep/24/detained-us-largest-immigrant-detention-trump

House investigative committees:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/11/26/trump-impeachment-inquiry-committees-investigations-ukraine/3919128002/

Nixon, impeachment, Cambodia bombing:
https://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/committee-rejects-tax-impeachment-for-nixon-july-30-1974-109517

Nixon, Black Panther Party (“”Found the tape, baby — smoking gun evidence that the Nixon administration, starting with Nixon himself, this dude was giving directives to get rid of these Black Panthers,” said Seale….”:
https://slulibrary.saintleo.edu/c.php?g=866778&p=6314903

# # #
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Cabrini Blvd. New York, NY 10040 USA
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50 Years Ago Today

December 4, 2019

50 Years Ago Today, Police Murdered Fred Hampton. His Activism Lives On.


12/6/2019

December 3, 2019
On the evening of December 6, please join us at this special event to support grassroots leadership developing innovative solutions to climate change, food insecurity, and poverty across Central America.
 
Rostros: Faces of Central America
at 1544 Broadway in Downtown Oakland
 
The event will feature Salvadoran community activist, organizer and EcoViva’s on the ground Policy & Program Manager, Douglas Chica. Douglas is an active community leader in the Bay of Jiquilisco and has worked extensively in community development, leading social, economic, and cultural projects with local Salvadoran NGOs.
 
We will also honor the work of activist leaders María Lucia Sarmiento, President of the Community Development Board for Red COMAL, Carmen Argueta, President of Asociación Mangle, and Rosa Aguilar, Founder and President of the Women’s Association of Barra de Santiago (AMBAS). These women work to build grassroots movements to create homes worth staying in for thousands of Central Americans. Come enjoy delicious authentic Salvadoran food, lively music, the opportunity to connect with old friends and network with new folks in the EcoViva community!
 
This event is a benefit for EcoViva, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting community-led social justice movements in Central America implementing innovative solutions to poverty, environmental degradation, and climate change.
Or call (510) 835-1334.

Klonsky on NOLA

November 27, 2019

http://michaelklonsky.blogspot.com/2019/11/half-of-schools-in-new-orleans-all.html