Words from Eleanor Roosevelt

“There can be no real democracy unless there are three basic things: 1. Economic security sufficient to give at least some minimum to make living worthwhile. 2. Sufficient education to understand the problems before the country and to help solve them. 3. The sources of information must be free — press, radio, movies.”

To remain free, “we have to watch other factors…such as bankers, subscribers (by which she meant donors), and advertisers. They have to be watched by the people as carefully as government is watched.”

As reported in the 3d volume of Blanche Wiesen Cook’s Eleanor Roosevelt biography.

The End?

There was a brief, shining moment:

In the beginning, the President (a Republican) sought to preserve public lands and break up monopolies which were oppressing the people. During this time, citizens, acting through their townships and states, established and spread free public education for all American children.

Another President (a Democrat) sought to secure the basic welfare of the people with Social Security.

Another President and Congress welcomed our GIs home from a war that saved the world from fascism by giving them help to attend college, buy homes, and healthcare for life.

Another President (a Republican) enforced desegregation of our schools and connected our country with a great interstate highway system.

Another President (a Democrat) guaranteed healthcare for the elderly and extended health care to the poor while also enforcing voting rights and nondiscrimination in the commercial sphere.

Another President (a Republican) signed laws to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Another President (Republican) signed a law to bring the disabled into fuller participation in our society.

All of that took place over about 90 years.

More recently, for a briefer moment (not 17 years, but 8), another President (a Democrat) extended health care to millions, starting with children and then even more recently to adults.

But to some of our citizens, all of these are simply “costs” not moral imperatives. The power of this minority of citizens has grown while the indifference of the majority has swelled. It’s not clear to me that the majority can be rallied to continue the greatness of 20th Century America. The crass minority has been very good at providing circuses while getting slowly more miserly with the bread they provide. The majority needs to rally or one day they will wake up to find barely enough to live, and many of them will find death.

America is at a crossroads, do we go back to paying for public goods because this is the moral thing to do. Or, do we follow a false slogan? #MAGA is a lie.

Inspired by: The End of the American Experiment

Review of 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History by Jay Winik

1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History by Jay Winik

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m really a 4.5 not a 4-star on this book. It’s not as good as his April 1865. But it is very good. The title somewhat misleads in that the book covers a lot of history before 1944; however, it’s point is the consequences of the decisions made, or avoided, in 1944. A bit repetitive at times: The beginning tries to capture the reader by previewing all to come — not a good technique in my opinion.

I’ve read a lot about FDR and WWII and this covered some new territory for me. If I hadn’t covered the previous territory with authors such as Rick Atkinson and Doris Goodwin, I might have been lost. So, maybe the 4 is just right.

View all my reviews

Non-Violent Extremism

I am reading a fine book called This Is An Uprising: How Non-violent Revolt is Shaping the 21st Century, by Mark Engler and Paul Engler. Mark Engler will speak in Flagstaff next week. Reading the book reminded me of a Facebook Note that I had written on Martin Luther King Day in 2011 — before I was using this blog. Here’s what I said then:

“When one lives through history, perhaps you tend to be less curious about it. Or I least I have been. Also, there really isn’t historical perspective for at least some decades after events. At least in the first 20 years or so, I’d class whatever we say about current events as political commentary.We’ve now reached the point where there is some good historical perspective on Martin Luther King.

In recent years, there have probably been several good books about Martin Luther King’s life. The one that most grabbed me was: To the Mountaintop: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Sacred Mission to Save America 1955-1968. The book reveals that King’s inspiration for embracing the “extremism” label his critics had given him was a woman, Lillian Smith, who bemoaned moderation as “the slogan of our times,” and a dangerous myth that was no longer affordable in the conditions of fifty years ago. (Mountaintop, p. 183.)  I think that is true again, where the slogan of our times has become “civil discourse.” Civility by those who are right cannot prevent injustice and immorality by those who are wrong. Non-violent extremism must be embraced to save our country.”

At the time, in 2011, I was thinking primarily of the drive for equal marriage rights. That battle seems to have been won. Nonetheless, the thoughts apply today. This Is An Uprising quotes briefly from Dr. King’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail. This letter, one of his most inspiring pieces, was  written in 1963 in response to local ministers, so-called liberals who complained his appearance in their community was “unwise and untimely.” Here’s some of what King wrote:

“I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms….I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here I am here because I have organizational ties here. …But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here.

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

“You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes.

“You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling, for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise….

“Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

“But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”….. Then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

“I must make two honest confessions to you….First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

“…we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with an its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured….

“….We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this ‘hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.

“But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label….So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?”

You can read King’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail, written in 1963, in its entirety here: http://abacus.bates.edu/admin/offices/dos/mlk/letter.html

#JeffHangsUp #AnotherDramaticOverreaction #WheresMySafeSpace #GetYourColoringBook

Yes, it really is another “dramatic over-reaction.” 1) Thorpe’s staff tells his constituents that he doesn’t do town halls BECAUSE he does a lot of radio shows. 2) Constituents try to ask questions on the radio shows and get cut off. 3) Right-wing radio show host claims his show is bombarded by some national left-wing plot.

Here’s the question about Rep. Thorpe’s priorities that I wanted to ask and was cut off from asking: “Other Republicans around the country are meeting with their constituents in town halls, why is your priority to appear on right-wing talk radio instead of meeting openly with your constituents?”

#WheresBob #JeffHangsUp Talk about “snowflakes,” these guys are pretty darn sensitive.

JeffOravits.com

During and after Fridays Show with Representative Bob Thorpe, Twitter went wild with a response by some over my show after I refused to take a few calls and had to let one caller go after they told one thing to the screener and proceeded to ask an entirely different, and already asked question.

The hashtag “#JeffHangsUp” popped up real quick.  Yet #AnotherDramaticOverreaction from the crowd that’s making overreacting a regular occurrence.  I knew before the show that they were planning to bombard us with calls to ask “#Where’sBob”, part of national top down effort to swamp Republicans as they return to their district.  They are free to do so, but on my show we screen callers to make sure they stay on the topic we’re discussing, to make sure they’re not boring, to make sure they can make a concise point, to make sure (in this case) they’re not repeating…

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#TrumpPressConference

This is trending on Twitter even this morning. It took the two lead stories on NewYorkTime.com. Why would the so-called Leader of the Free World spend 90 minutes giving the kind of performance he gave yesterday? Why would whoever is pulling his strings, if any of the rumors on that are true, let him?

My theory is: Don’t watch Trump when he does something like this. Watch what he’s trying to distract us from. Yesterday, any of these other stories merited top news coverage:

17harward-master768Trump’s Pick to Replace Flynn Turns Down the Job. Robert S. Harward, retired Vice-Admiral and former Navy Seal, turned down the job to replace Michael Flynn, who resigned in disgrace as National Security Advisor less than one month into the job. While the official story was “personal and family commitments,” the back story is that this man steered away from working with Trump and his cronies, fearing that he wouldn’t be allowed to do the job effectively. This is another, and very serious, example of the fact that qualified people do not want to be drawn into the hot mess that’s going on in the White House.

House G.O.P. Leaders Outline Plan to Replace Obama Health Care Act.  “Outline” is the operative word here since Ryan’s press conference failed to tell us how the changes would be paid for or who would lose coverage. What is clear is that state budgets will be stressed and the plan intends to rip apart the 1960’s Great Society Medicaid program. Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act’s formula for subsidizing the purchase of health insurance will be tossed out in favor of tax credits to those who purchase health insurance. And the tax credits will be based on age rather than income. So, rather than provide funds at the point of purchase, people will need to wait months to get their tax credits, and if their income is low enough, they won’t get the tax benefit at all. Big story? Not when overshadowed by a 90-minute show in the White House Press Room.

Also yesterday, Trump finally conceded his Travel Ban loss in the courts, with Justice Department lawyers withdrawing their prior plan to seek a rehearing before the full Ninth Circuit. Instead, the Administration will issue a new Executive Order next week. They are probably hoping to get more sympathetic judges in the next round.

The EPA was proposed by President Richard Nixon and began operation on December 2, 1970, after Nixon signed an executive order. The order establishing the EPA was ratified by committee hearings in the House and Senate. In 1970, Congress also enacted legislation substantially strengthening federal powers in the face of what was then a national emergency caused by air and water pollution. Many people today are too young to remember the condition of the Great Lakes, many rivers, and the air in our cities — and they would not tolerate it today. But Trump intends to remove the controls that prevent those conditions from returning. Scientists, environmental lawyers, and policy experts are taking the unprecedented step of calling their members of Congress to oppose Trump’s nominee for Administrator of the EPA – even if they are employees of the EPA. This didn’t come up in the Trump Press Conference yesterday.

Restaurants and other businesses across the country closed yesterday On A Day without Immigrants. This would have been a lead story on many days. But not with the Trump 90-minute presser.

Meanwhile, in Congress, a constitutionally co-equal branch of our government, Trump’s new head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement dictated to Members of Congress who would be allowed to attend a meeting those Members had requested from the Agency.

“Later today there is a bipartisan meeting with the acting Director of ICE, Thomas Homan.  ICE has told the Speaker that they will designate – you may remember, yesterday we had Members of the Judiciary Committee, the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, a representative of the [Congressional] Asian Pacific American Caucus addressing some of the issues on the raids and the ban and the rest, and they were supposed to have a meeting yesterday with the acting ICE Director.  They canceled the meeting and said, “We are not having any meetings just with Democrats.  We are only having bipartisan meetings.”  So that meeting is scheduled for today, but ICE said they would designate which Democrats could attend the meeting.

It’s a stunning thing.  I mean, we’ve never seen anything like that, nor have we ever seen other issues that relate to nondisclosure agreements between people who work on the Hill and work with the Administration.  But in any event, not good.” Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the House.

So, that’s what #TrumpPressConference covered up yesterday. What will his rally in Melbourne distract us from today?

 

March On

The Women’s March(es) last Saturday were fabulous. Over three million Americans marched in opposition to Donald Trump, and millions more around the world. What are those people doing today?

The Women’s March should not become the new Occupy Wall Street. Instead, it must grow if we are to rescue ourselves from Trumpism. Peaceful revolutions take time, but they are more likely to be successful than violent ones. (Engler and Engler, This Is an Uprising.) To be successful, however, we must recruit many more to join us. Three million marchers (some say it was four) is an impressive number; however, we need 11 million activists to achieve a successful uprising, according to Engler and Engler’s historical research. (3.5% of a nation’s population.) That’s what it took in India and Serbia. Don’t be discouraged by this. Be challenged. If each Marcher enlists just four more people, we’re there.

And, we Marchers must be patient. The first wave of feminists fought for more than 70 years before they won the right to vote; their original standard-bearers — Anthony and Stanton — were dead. African-Americans fought for generations to achieve what they have. And both groups are still fighting to obtain true equality. LGBT citizens fought for decades for the right to marry, but they still don’t have the right to work in most places. We must be patient, but we must act.

So, do you think the first of the March Sponsors’ “Ten Actions for the First 100 Days” — sending postcards — is enough? I certainly don’t. The March webpage devotes many beautiful graphics to urge March participants to buy postcards from iTunes for this first “action.” They will tell us about the second action in 10 more days.

The group “Indivisible” seems to off to a more aggressive start. Tuesday, January 24, is deemed a National Day of Action where Indivisible and MoveOn followers are urged to visit their senators’ offices and demand that Trump’s cabinet appointees be rejected. Indivisible also has three actions listed for the week — all involving keeping the pressure on Congress with phone calls and emails.

Phone calls, emails, and even postcards and tweets are important — note how the destruction of the Ethics Office was called off under pressure and how the confirmation hearings for Sessions and DeVos have been postponed. But these actions do very little toward recruiting more activists to join and work for the cause. People may notice a demonstration and decide to join, but the very best way to recruit more people to our cause is to ask them, directly, in person.

I know that’s hard and that’s scary, but you do want to be effective, don’t you? You can start by talking with your friends and neighbors. Don’t assume everyone is as attuned to the blitzkrieg of horrors that are issuing daily from the Trump Administration. The first step to fighting tyranny is disseminating correct information. Friends don’t let friends succumb to lies. We’ve let too much of that go by in the last campaign.

The next step is getting your recruit to act, to join in the emailing and postcard sending and marching. And, most importantly, voting. Until we turn out the Republicans who control Congress, the White House, and most of our State Houses and Governorships, the country is under threat.

Did you know that it takes three-quarters of the State Legislatures to amend the U.S. Constitution and the Republicans are just one state shy of that number? Imagine an amendment removing The Right to Free Speech from the First Amendment and limiting Freedom of Religion to State-Approved Churches? Does that sound extreme? Did you think it would be too extreme for an Administration to order the EPA and the USDA to stop issuing public health warnings? That happened on Day 1 of the Trump Presidency, we discovered it on Day 4.

The Election of 2018 can’t come soon enough, but we must be ready for it. The Republicans control the U.S. House of Representatives today because of work they did in 2009 in reaction to the election of Barak Obama. If we want to control the House of Representatives in two years and the Presidency four years from now, we must do the work beginning now. We must not only register voters, we must convince them to vote. Trump won with only about 25% of the eligible voters. Most people didn’t vote against Clinton, they just didn’t vote. If we let that happen in 2018, much less 2020, our country as we’ve known it will be gone. I really believe this is not hyperbole.

Did you hear Michael Moore’s speech at the Women’s March on Washington? He said everyone can run for office, “Shy people, there is an office for you. Precinct delegate. Run for precinct delegate.”  In Arizona, the “delegate” is called “committeeperson.” We have a lot of open slots for precinct committee persons in Coconino County. We’re training new committee persons now. March on over and join us. It may seem like a long way to 2018, but compared to the 70 years the first wave of feminists waited for the 19th Amendment, it’s no time at all.

 

womens-march-oliver-contreras-photo
Oliver Contreras/WaPo