Fly’s Under Glass

The Representative from ________________,
it’s his turn to speak.
Polished shoes, Armani suit,
Be-like-me prestige.

Shows the evidence.
Makes his promises.
Fact or fiction, please.

It’s a jungle out there.
Faces familiar, to
the mad signposts pay no heed.

Fly’s under glass, trapped.

(3/21/2017 – Adams Point, Oakland, California)

Hypocripolicy

The Soviets are spying on us.
The highest form of flattery: surveillance.
Look at their leader – he’s totally nuts.
The Soviets are a lot like us.
The Soviets are a lot like us.

Hypocripolicy ain’t foreign to you & me.
Look out world – let America lead.
Just don’t do what we do: do what we believe.

The Mexicans are a meddlesome bunch.
Doing the hard work we don’t want.
Living with cousins, aunts & uncles, Grandpa.
That’s what I call un-American.
That’s what I call un-American.

Hypocripolicy ain’t foreign to you & me.
The truth’s not important as what you perceive.
Follow our cue, put your mind on your sleeve.

The Chinese are a short-sighted crew.
Pay their workers squat so we don’t have to.
Always inventing new ways to pollute.
That’s transpacific deja vu.
Yes transpacific deja vu.

Hypocripolicy ain’t foreign to you & me.
In fact, it’s central to our plan domestically.
Watch how it takes us back in history.

Violence all over the Middle East.
Why can’t they talk it out, let each other be?
If only they had conceal & carry
they could have a country as peaceful as we:
Land of the Gun, the Brave & the Free.

Hypocripolicy ain’t foreign to you & me.

(2/28/2017 – Adams Point, Oakland, California)

Progressives Should Start Listening to Ralph Nader…Again!

Over the last 50 years, there are few American citizens & activists that have done more to enhance American democractic society than Ralph Nader. It’s time self-identified progressives, “D”emocrats, & other citizens looking for concrete, constructive ways to resist Trump and the rise of the corporate political class start listening to Mr. Nader once again.

Sadly, many people of my generation have taken the bait of the centrist Democratic party of the 2000s and binary mainstream media in choosing to remember and regurgitate deceptive messages about Nader as the “spoiler” of the 2000 Bush-Gore presidential election instead of recognizing his instrumental role in the architecture and passage of many of the most pivotal citizen and consumer protection laws in modern federal history. Chief among them:

  • Clean Air Act
  • Clean Water Act
  • Freedom of Information Act
  • Law establishing Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Automobile and Highway Traffic Safety Act
  • National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
  • Pension protection law
  • Safe Water Drinking Act
  • Whistleblower Protection Act

For those interested in learning more about the life and career of Ralph Nader from birth until 2006, I highly recommend the film An Unreasonable Man. Stream it below via the link above and be sure to donate $ to him or another progressive cause for good karma.

Thankfully, Nader is still leading legal and political efforts to break through corporate power and empower American workers and taxpayers as effective activists for peace, prosperity, and justice in the 21st century. In recent months. I’ve noticed a crisis of confidence in Democratic leadership and heard many conversations on the left and in the center about which leaders to turn to, honor, encourage, and challenge in order to strengthen a truly progressive movement and tradition across the United States. In addition to celebrating young, non-coastal, and nonwhite voices in and outside of the party, we could do much worse than turning to Nader in this unprecedented political era.

Nader’s most recent scheme to organize change and work together to derail the many ways in which wealth manipulates politics, labor, media, the environment and the quality of national life today is incredibly simple and relevant. In his most recent book Breaking Through Corporate Power, Nader draws on dozens of examples from US history to show how small groups of politically engaged citizens have created profound & lasting political change and outlines a methodology for organizing such groups in the immediate future:

WHO: 1% of the American populace

WHAT: Adopt political & civic activism as their #1 hobby, organizing themselves into local watchdog groups & communities which focus advocacy on putting political pressure on the 535 members of the US Congress (US House of Reps & Senators)

HOW: Communicate directly with the offices & staff people of our Congressmen & women about votes and pending legislation; organize town hall meetings and send summons to your representatives with clear agendas outlined & proof that events will be well-attended; meet regularly within local watchdog groups & communities to plan, evaluate effectiveness, & conduct meaningful outreach to non-engaged citizens to continually build a base of support.

In these times of resistance, it’s crucial we listen to voices, consider structures, and pilot practices that have been marginalized, dismissed, or ignored in the past by the mainstream Democratic (and Republican) parties. Nader’s voice, ideas, wisdom, and experience are tools which should be (re)considered those who are discouraged by the current administration and it’s heretofore oppressive political agenda. As he has constantly shown throughout his career and continues to remind us to this day:

BREAKING THROUGH POWER IS EASIER THAN WE THINK!

Check out his website & nationally syndicated weekly Saturday radio show (in podcast form) below:

https://nader.org/

https://ralphnaderradiohour.com/

A Week After the Women’s March…

“It is essential that we end the double standard that exists between public and private morality. We must ask of our country what we ask of ourselves.”

– Patricia Marx Ellsberg

Last Saturday, I was thrilled to see the streets of Oakland and other cities across the world flooded with women, young families, youth, and men in solidarity – many of them having their first experiences as activists in public.

What a promising sign for the vitality of democracy and social justice! I have spent the last week reflecting on how we can continue to build a movement for peace, equity, and opportunity.

The above quote from Patricia Marx Ellsberg is a great synthesis of some of my thoughts on how to live out our activism on even our busiest days. What it says to me is that politics is personal; our daily actions with other people and ourselves should reflect our expectations for our nations, institutions, and corporations; and our own mindfulness can have a positive effect on the behavior of others and society. Political accountability is a two way street!

We should especially keep Ms. Marx Ellsberg’s words in mind when talking to or about those who don’t share our same views or opinions at present. Compassionate action, caring speech, thoughtful listening, and living our politics every day are the most effective methodologies for turning others on to efforts that grow peace, equity, and opportunity. It won’t work every time, but I’d say it’s worth a try.

The fact that the quote comes from Patricia, the wife of Daniel Ellsberg (famous journalist and whistleblower of Pentagon Papers fame), is also an important reminder that alongside many of the most influential and “newsworthy” men there are their partners who are just as wise and powerful. This gives me hope that the women in the White House, in Congress, and in communities everywhere can continue to guide our nation and world towards more humane, healthy, and heartfelt policies.