The S Word: A Short History of an American Tradition…Socialism

I have referred to the book The S Word: A Short History of an American Tradition…Socialism before on this blog.

A few months before the 2010 midterms, Newt Gingrich described the socialist infiltration of American government and media as “even more disturbing than the threats from foreign terrorists.” John Nichols offers an unapologetic retort to the return of red-baiting in American political life—arguing that socialism has a long, proud, American history. Tom Paine was enamored of early socialists, Horace Greeley employed Karl Marx as a correspondent, and Helen Keller was an avowed socialist. The “S” Word gives Americans back a crucial aspect of their past and makes a forthright case for socialist ideas today.

I don’t think enough people are taking up my challenge to read this book to see what startling evidence there is for this viewpoint of our history. I am afraid that the only way I can convey to you what is in the book is to show an occasional image of a page from the book.

Page from The S Word: A Short History of an American Tradition...Socialism

Stop Candidate Forums Badly Done by   Recently updated !

I have started a petition on Stop Candidate Forums Badly Done by

Sometimes you need to warn organizations that you thought were your friends when they go off the rails. If they don’t give you an opportunity to give your feedback through their contact page, then you have to use whatever means they do give you. I thought the following petition was most appropriate.

Why people do not vote   Recently updated !

Alice Marshall tweeted me about her article Why people do not vote.

Poor and middle class people, the 99%, have no control over their rent or mortgage, no control over their bank, their utility company, their insurance company, children’s school, place of employment, or a host of other institutions that shape their life. Political parties are asking people to believe that once a year they can go into a booth, press some buttons, and materially affect their life. Nothing in their experience in life suggests that this simple act will have real consequences. So how can party activists at the local level change that? Well, it would be nice if Democrats who won elections didn’t instantly turn around and start attacking Social Security and other institutions crucial to the well being of the 99%. But even in the face of that sort of betrayal, there are things that local activists can do to drive up turn out.

If the above excerpt doesn’t give you enough incentive to follow the link to her article, then I don’t know what will.

Why poor areas vote for politicians who want to slash the safety net.

The New York Times has the article Who Turned My Blue State Red? The headline I used was the subhead of the article. The Daily Kos wrote about the article in a post titled The Most Important Article You’ll Read Today About The Democratic Party. Turns out that The Daily Kos might actually be right in their title, but it almost turned me off from reading it.

From the NYT article by Alec MacGillis, I give you the following excerpt:

It’s enough to give Democrats the willies as they contemplate a map where the red keeps seeping outward, confining them to ever narrower redoubts of blue. The temptation for coastal liberals is to shake their heads over those godforsaken white-working-class provincials who are voting against their own interests.

But this reaction misses the complexity of the political dynamic that’s taken hold in these parts of the country. It misdiagnoses the Democratic Party’s growing conundrum with working-class white voters. And it also keeps us from fully grasping what’s going on in communities where conditions have deteriorated to the point where researchers have detected alarming trends in their mortality rates.

In eastern Kentucky and other former Democratic bastions that have swung Republican in the past several decades, the people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. Rather, they are not voting, period. They have, as voting data, surveys and my own reporting suggest, become profoundly disconnected from the political process.

This is something that Bernie Sanders recognizes, and lays his hopes for the Presidency at the feet of being able to turn out these voters.

Another part of the article talks about the people who are a step up from these people who have disengaged to deal with why they do vote Republican.

The people in these communities who are voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder — the sheriff’s deputy, the teacher, the highway worker, the motel clerk, the gas station owner and the coal miner. And their growing allegiance to the Republicans is, in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns.

Many times I have run across the attitude that MacGillis describes in the article. So that really shouldn’t come as a surprise either.

I think Bernie Sanders’ address the issues, but he doesn’t state them explicitly enough. He throws out a bunch of numbers about income inequality and wealth distribution inequality from which the voter might infer reasons for liking Bernie Sanders’ program. That is assuming an awful lot about what voters may or may not know.

If he wanted to be explicit, as I think he should be, he would say something like the following:

The reason why there is income and wealth inequality is because the top 0.1% of the rich have rigged the system to get your money transferred to their pockets. You have a right to get your money back from them. The people lower down on the income and wealth scale are not the ones stealing your money. If you want to be angry at people because they don’t have the moral characteristics you think they should, then that is your prerogative. However, fixing the problem of your not having the income and wealth fairness would give you, your argument is with the people on the other end of the income scale. My programs are not intended to give a free ride to the undeserving. They are meant to claw back for you what is rightfully yours.

After he makes the point clear, he can toss in all the numbers he wants to prove that he is right in his analysis.

#NotInMyName: ISIS Do Not Represent British Muslims   Recently updated !

YouTube has the video #NotInMyName: ISIS Do Not Represent British Muslims.

Published on Sep 10, 2014

#NotInMyName: Young British Muslims at Active Change Foundation show their solidarity against ISIS and their actions. See how a simple message can be shared to show how ISIS is misrepresenting Islam.

“Not in My name” is a phrase I use, as a Jewish American, to decry what Israel does to its Palestinian residents and its Arab neighbors.

If you are angry that Muslims don’t speak out about the cruelty of ISIS, but ignore the instances when they do speak out, what does that say about you? How many videos have you produced against what people in some groups you are assumed to be in do stuff in your name?

El Niño Does Something It’s Never Done Before. Watch Out, California.

The Daily Kos has the story El Niño Does Something It’s Never Done Before. Watch Out, California.

A very stormy winter can be expected from California, across the gulf states and up the east coast. This year’s intense jet stream pattern will bring much warmer than normal temperatures to the northeastern United States and eastern Canada.

I don’t know if this means I can put my snow blower away, or if I need to buy more gasoline for it and my snow blade equipped lawn tractor.

A Russian Duo Story 1   Recently updated !

YouTube has the video A Russian Duo Story.

Published on Nov 20, 2015

The origins of Russian Duo

As a fan of the Russian Duo and a Kickstarter supporter, I don’t know any more info on the story behind why this video was made, but I do love the music.

Perhaps the credits at the end of the video help to explain this.

Cerdits for The Russian Duo Story

Bernie Sanders’ Major Speech About Justice For Minorities   Recently updated !

YouTube has the video Bernie Sanders speaks at the 2015 Presidential Justice Forum (11/21/15).

On Saturday November 21, 2015, the 20/20 Leaders of America, along with BET and Facebook, hosted presidential candidates at Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina. The topic was Criminal Justice Reform.

Compare my headline to the headline on YouTube, to the following headline Facebook uses when you post this video on Facebook: Bernie Sanders at Allen University, Columbia, SC (11/21/15).

It is not obvious from the Facebook headline, or the Facebook static picture of the video that they show, that this is a major talk by Bernie Sanders on Justice for the minority communities in this country. I hope my headline will make it clearer that this is an important speech worth listening to.

All people have to do is to hear what Bernie Sanders’ positions are on the issues, and I trust they will make a fair decision on whether or not to vote for him. He isn’t going to get these speeches and explanations out to people through the corporate media. We, the people, have to make sure that the truth is spread rather than be covered up. Each person and each action they take to spread the message is a step in overcoming the tyranny of the corporate media. There is a great amount of power in everybody’s hands if they just recognize the power that they have, and then use that power to change the thinking of the people who don’t have time to dig these newsworthy items up.

Education at a Bar Mitzvah   Recently updated !

When I go to a Bar Mitzvah, I don’t expect to get an education. I only go to join in a family’s celebration of a happy occasion. Today, I got two for the price of one.

I post the comments made by Elie Zimring at his Bar Mitzvah today. If you aren’t as steeped in the Jewish tradition as Elie is, you might want to keep WikiPedia opened in another window.

Elie Zimring is my cousin, a few generations removed.

The excerpt below is from the D’var Torah by Elie Zimring.

Anyway… when I was reading the parsha at my first bar mitzvah lesson, something struck me as strange. Bilhah and Zilpah are responsible for one third of the Jewish people. Bilhah gave birth to Dan and Naphtali, and Zilpah gave birth to Gad and Asher. A lot of the Torah would not happen it wasn’t for them. The Jewish People are what I am a part of & they include every tribe. Maybe I’m descended from Bilhah or Zilpah. But Bilhah and Zilpah are barely mentioned in the Torah, and they’re not remembered by us when we say the Amidah every day. This doesn’t seem fair to me. I think they deserve more attention — and they even deserve to be in the imahot. I decided to learn more about them.

Here are some references that give some context for Elie’s remarks. Parashat Vayetze 5776 and Haftarah for Va-yetzei.

‘Get him the hell out of here!’: Trump sics supporters on black protester who gets beaten and kicked

Rawstory has the article ‘Get him the hell out of here!’: Trump sics supporters on black protester who gets beaten and kicked.

It is not enough for us to realize that we don’t like Trump’s politics. We also need to recognize that this man is dangerous. We aren’t going to bring about peace in this world by rousing people to hate. Each of us must be responsible for our actions. If we appeal to the fear and hate in other people, we become as dangerous as the people we currently call terrorists. Trump is trying to quiet the protests by instilling terror into the hearts of the protesters. He will find that many people are too strong to be silenced this way (at least the people who haven’t suddenly become afraid to help Syrian refugees.)