deborahjross: (Default)
Courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] suricattus, used with permission. Hits the nail on the head, doesn't it?

deborahjross: (Default)
I am convinced that Trump cheated and manipulated his way into being POTUS, in collusion with an unfriendly foreign power. I am willing to allow that he himself may not have explicitly given orders to rig the results, but having long since become a pawn on Putin and the extreme right (Pence, Ryan, Bannon, etc.), he played right into their hands and remains under their control. The Russians gamed our system; Trump was not elected by the American people. He is not a legitimately elected President.

Trump Tweets so explosively, we buy into his smoke screen. Ignore his histrionics -- pay attention to what's happening! The truth is that our country is now run by a gang of plutocrats bent on looting America for every penny they can get at the expense of the most vulnerable: women, the poor, working people, people of color, LGBTQ folks, immigrants, Muslims, and so forth.

I have run out of patience with "respecting the office" or "giving him a chance" or dancing around the truth. We are perilously close to a fascist plutocracy and about to plunge into the abyss.
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As the days post-election melt into weeks, I observe myself moving from disbelief to despair to relative calm . . . and now to feeling just plain annoyed. I am tired of the news being dominated by one horrible announcement after another, and even more tired of how much attention is paid to the continuous verbal effluvia flowing from the president-elect. I am tired of being jerked around emotionally by a bloviating buffoon whose chief delight seems to be keeping everyone else off-balance. I’m tired of every conversation about the news beginning with “Guess what outrageous thing president-elect/his newest appointee/some member of Congress just said?”

It’s one thing to be appalled and frightened by the statements of politicians now in power. There’s a time to focus on politics and a time for other parts of my life. It’s quite another to have my thoughts and days hijacked by irresponsible sensationalism. Not to mention counterfactual (aka “lies”) distortions. Remember the meme of the person who can’t sleep because somewhere on the internet, someone is wrong? When my brain gets taken over by provocative statements, that’s where I am, duped into a cycle of research and refutation. It’s a gazillion times worse if I give in to a lapse in judgment and actually reply to one of those folks-who-are-wrong. That never ends well, no matter how many times I persuade myself into believing otherwise. Social media do not, by and large, promote genuine discourse, but I get sucked into trying. Of course, the responses only get me more wound up. That’s my responsibility, because I know better. But I really would like to be able to glance at the news or visit a social media site now and again without having to fend off the lure of the outrageous.

Why is the fruitcake (and surrogates) dominating the news? I swear, every time he twitches a finger (especially in proximity to his cellphone), it makes headlines everywhere. On his part, the tactic of controlling the dialog by throwing out pompously outrageous lies is nothing new. That’s how he dominated the primary debates. He got billions of dollars worth of free air time during the general campaign by poking one hornets’ nest after another. Now he’s doing it on an international scale. And the news media buy into it every time, battling the hydra that grows a hundred heads for every one they whack off with facts. We’ve gone from sucking all the oxygen out of the room to sucking all the oxygen out of the news sphere and now the world.

I draw the line at sucking all the oxygen out of my head. Okay, I’m not hopeful that the media will take my suggestion to just ignore any sentence that includes “Trump” and “Tweet,” nor am I a good enough nerd to reprogram my computer to do that for me. Nor do I want to shut myself away from news of any sort. For one thing, I know myself well enough to admit that would be too anxiety-provoking. I will likely do better when I become better at not responding to trollishness.

But right now, mostly I’m annoyed to the point of being downright pissed. I recognize that anger can be friend or enemy. It’s energizing, which can be exhausting if I spend too much time wound up, or focusing if I master it. If I give in, I run the risk of descending into petty insults and ad hominen fallacies. Or I can use it to point the way to improvements in my own attitudes and behavior. What’s getting to me, and why? My anger can show me the line between things best shrugged off and those that call for action.
deborahjross: (Default)
My father, Allan Ross, was a union organizer (International Typographical Union) and printer. Along with my mother, Jane Ross, and two colleagues, he founded a small publishing house (Graphic Arts of Marin) which supported politically progressive causes. He worked with the Black Panthers in the early 1970s and with Nathan Hare and Robert Chrisman (San Francisco State) on the early years of The Black Scholar magazine. With a small grant, my parents began a program called Books Behind Bars, offering free books on politics, sociology, black history, and related topics to black inmates. After my father's death in 1974, my mother continued BBB until the stock of books was exhausted. Many of these inmates wrote incredibly moving letters about how the books had changed their lives. I donated the collection of letters to Howard University, so that these stories would be preserved.

Now I'm delighted to see their work recognized, if briefly:


Bay Area radical printshops
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Restraint | Book View Cafe Blog

"I have watched my country accept, mostly quite complacently, along with a lower living standard for more and more people, a lower moral standard. A moral standard based on advertising. That hard-minded man Saul Bellow wrote that democracy is propaganda. It gets harder to argue with him when, for instance, during a campaign, not only aspirants to the presidency but the president himself hides or misrepresents known facts, lies deliberately and repeatedly. And only the opposition objects."
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From Nathan Brown, Assistant Professor, Department of English:

I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.

The whole letter is here. Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi | UCDavis Bicycle Barricade
deborahjross: (Default)
From E.D. Kain at Forbes: Police Response to Occupy Wall Street is Absurd

I feel as if I'm in a time warp, and events hearken not only back to my time protesting HUAC and then the Viet Nam War, and my early memories of my father's union-organizing activities (and the years in which our family was a target of a McCarthy investigation) but stories of anti-union violence, such as when Massachusetts militiamen with fixed bayonets surrounded a group of strikers during the Lawrence Strike of 1912, or the 1927 Columbine Mine Massacre, in which state police and mine guards fired into a group of five hundred striking miners and their wives, or the 1920 Anaconda Road Massacre, when deputized mine guards fired upon unarmed picketers. These may seem distant and irrelevant, but the principle and the potential abuse of power remain the same. Whenever people organize themselves (even in a disorganized way, but act cooperatively and for a mutual goal), they pose a threat to the entrenched establishment, and the greater the disparity between rich and poor, the more threatened and desperate and irrational those establishments become. So it's striking that an essay appearing on the blog of such a business-oriented publication as Forbes minces no words about what is going on.

Kain writes:
All across the country, cops are cracking down on protesters with force. I may be a critic of Occupy Wall Street, but the police are public servants, and public servants have no business treating the public this way.

Certainly pepper-spraying protesters while they sit calmly in a row like this is a gross abuse of power. It should have our collective blood boiling, whether or not we even agree with the protesters themselves.


Will Shetterly posted this same video with the title: Barack Obama, OWS is your Egypt: shame on you!

deborahjross: (Default)


On first seeing this, several thoughts came up. The first was, "Sure, I'll download it and splash it all over my social media sites; go get 'em, ACLU." The second was, "Since when is this new?" With a bit of "I'm sure lots of other people with whom I'm networked will be putting it up" (and I have an aversion to "me-too-ism").

I found myself staring at the words. Dissent is fine. Diversity is even better. But Patriotism?

Is patriotism (aggrandized by capitalization) a good thing? Hasn't that been the rallying cry for wars resulting in millions upon millions of deaths over the years? Isn't that the bludgeon to enforce social conformity and unquestioning allegiance -- "my country, right or wrong"? Since when does a nation command -- not inspire, not evoke, not request, but demand blind loyalty?

Isn't that a form of idolatry?

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Deborah J. Ross

May 2017

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