Transform VI – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

07.04.2020

 

Transform   VI

 

 

Change the names.

 

Take down the monuments and memorials.

 

Do it now.

 

There is plenty to be proud of in the American tradition, and much to be ashamed of. If we want to transform our culture into one of enduring justice then it is time for us to stop elevating what is reprehensible in our collective story and time for us to promote what is truly good and beautiful, the things that unite all of us and speak to our common humanity.

 

We must stop fetishizing the flag, the national anthem, the military, war.

 

Bravery is good. It is good that men and women are willing to put their lives on the line and even die for their brothers and sisters in arms, but war itself is reprehensible and always marks a failure of human beings to navigate the maze of their self-interest.

 

Slave holders, including men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson presented in history as the men that they were: brave, brilliant, despotic.

 

There was much to be admired in them, but also much to be abhorred and we should not shirk from our responsibility to tell their story in full.

 

What I was taught to admire in human beings was the quality of perseverance we see in human beings who have to struggle to overcome adversity, what we find in and women who rise to the challenge of their circumstances, when the world is set against them and they triumph as the underdog, while demonstrating grace in victory, humility and love for their fellow human beings.

 

Our memorials and monuments should be dedicated to men and women who display those characteristics, and it is the poor, the marginalized, the disenfranchised who possess those qualities in seemingly infinite capacities.

 

Just look at our “essential workers” our minimum wage-earning heroes and heroines who are keeping the economy running, the hospital cleaning staff, just as much as the doctors and nurses, all risking their lives to fight the pandemic.

 

We do no need monuments dedicated to men who broke treaties, enslaved their fellow human beings, justified that slavery with ridiculous arguments that were only intended to cover up their otherwise naked greed.

 

We do not need memorials dedicated to traitors the traitors that took our country to civil war, in order to defend their “right” to buy and sell human beings as property.

 

We do not need men and women holding office who cannot understand this, they should step down, and not run again.

 

Let’s begin the transformation of America now.

 

 

 

 

The Big City – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
06.27.2020

The Big City
I spent the last week in New York City.

I arrived there on Saturday morning, driving through the Lincoln Tunnel. I took the streets East through Midtown to Union Square.

On Saturday the city was still shut down, they were in Phase One, there was no sitting down in a restaurant to eat. But there was some street life, and there was curbside service for pick up, there was delivery.

The corner bars, of which there are many, those who had not shuttered their doors completely were serving drinks directly to their patrons on the street, through make-shift to go windows.

People gathered at those places where they would have gathered normally because in New York the average person lives their life outside of their apartment. Dining out, being out gathering together for their social life.

I have been travelling to New York once or twice a year for the past decade, and it is the friendliest city I can think of.

When I drove in last Saturday at about 2:30 pm. The streets were practically empty. Instead of vibrant, teaming, bustling Manhattan I might have been in downtown Minneapolis. That is how sparsely populated the sidewalks were…and the quiet, it was eerie.

Ninety five percent of the people I encountered were wearing masks. No body complained. To complain would have been unthinkable. There was a point at which New York was experience its greatest loss of life when 1,000 people were dying every day, and everybody knows someone who has passed away from having contracted the COVID-19, novel corona virus.

On Monday the city entered Phase Two, restaurants and bars opened for patio dining and limited capacity. We had breakfast outside at a Ukrainian diner, called Vaselka on 9th Street and 2nd Avenue in the East village, pierogis with eggs and kielbasa and a blintz.

It was delicious.

We were interviewed by a reporter for Univision who wanted to know how we felt about being able to dine out again; my friends were happy, and nervous and guarded. The instinctive mood was to be cautious and not let the rediscovered freedoms go to your head.

On Tuesday we went to the beach. We drove through Brooklyn to Far Rockaway. People were returning to work, the streets were busier, noisier, but still everyone was masked, social distancing, following the rules, getting along.

I saw it as an extraordinary exercise in civic mindedness, and I hope that the rest of the country can learn from it before they to have to experience the incredible loss of life in their own communities as New York has. Even on the beach where the wind was blowing hard, those people who were not wearing masks, had them ready to put on if they should get close to other people, or have the need to go into a store.

That kind of conscientiousness was not evident on the drive to New York, or back. I only saw people masked in the stores and gas stations that belonged to national chains with national policies to guide them.

During my time on the road, the virus has taken over the South and West on the United States, our fat is in the fire and things are only getting worse.

Driving – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
06.20.2020

Driving
I set out for a drive two days ago.

I woke up in Clarion, Pennsylvania today, its a small college town near the border of Ohio.

Yesterday I woke up in Meyerville, Indiana. I started my trip in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I will be New York City this afternoon.

I am being very cautious, practicing my social distancing, wearing my mask when I get out of the car, talk to hotel staff, go into the gas station, or even if I don’t go in, if I just fill up at the pump, I wash my hands, use wet wipes and try to keep things clean.

I have not seen a lot of people wearing masks.

There have been signs asking for people to practice social distancing, I have seen greater and lesser degrees of compliance with that but in the Holiday Inn’s wear I have stayed the night. The front desk staff were not masked, and I saw guests violating the social distancing rules with them, when they did there was no attempt at correction.

The greatest degree of compliance I have seen has come from people working in national chains, I have been to the drive through at three Star Bucks and one DQ, Masks were in use there, but not at the Holiday Inn’s, the Kwik Trips, or the Marathon gas stations I have been to.

I have seen only a few other people, like me, wearing masks conscientiously.

I took the Interstate from Minneapolis to the Port of Milwaukee, I was thinking of taking the ferry across Lake Michigan, but the timing wasn’t right.

I planned my route from their to avoid highways and toll ways and that took me on a slow drive from Milwaukee through Chicago, to Meryerville, Indiana.

I drove through Waukegan, Illinois past the Naval Station where I went to Boot Camp and attended Hospital Corps School. Then I through the wealthy suburbs North of Chicago, which gave me the feeling like I was in a John Hughes movie.

Pretty quickly after that I was driving through the ethnic neighborhoods of Chicago itself: Puerto Rican, Polish, Italian, and finally the South Side. It was stop and go traffic through the city, and nobody I saw, whether on the street in alongside me in a car was wearing a mask.

I get it, they are uncomfortable, and I wasn’t wearing mine in my car when I was driving, but what is happening here. Wearing a mask is a simple thing. It will work to protect you and protect others from you if you are infected.

It is uncomfortable, but it is easy.

I took back roads all the way through Indiana and Ohio, up until I passed through Akron, and got to Pennsylvania, in those places, which is trump country, I actually did experience hostility from folks because I was wearing a mask.

Dirty looks and sneers is what I was treated to. Nobody said anything to me, I’m too big for that but this is out of hand. Two hundred thousand Americans will have died from the COVID-19 by Labor Day, with no end in sight.

The ridiculous buffoon we have in occupying the oval office, the Fake President, is doing everything he can to undermine public health to fit his own misguided political narrative, and his vanity.

Instead of treating the virus as the enemy and rallying the people to fight it, he has treated public health administrators and science as the enemy and has rallied his base to work against their best advice.

It will have deadly consequences.

Transform, Part V – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
06.13.2020

Transform, Part V

Let freedom ring.

Stop the over policing of America, stop the over policing of people of color.

The police cannot prey on the people, their primary functions are to protect and serve, to protect and serve the people, to uphold the rights of the people even against the particular interests of individual police or police departments.

Let us begin with this:

1. Legalize and or de-criminalize the drug markets, regulate and tax it.
a) Treat drug addiction for what it is, a crisis of physical and mental health
b) Allow people involved in this trade the same tools to protect their business and their market share as any other store keeper.

2. Legalize or de-criminalize and sex-workers industry, regulate and tax it.
c) Stop human trafficking and give the people working in this industry the standing to go to court when they are aggrieved, with recourse to the law.

3. If and until we are able to keep America at full employment, we must provide a Universal Basic Income, this will keep people from turning to crime when they are unemployed and unable to find work.
d) Reform the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps

4. Provide Universal Higher Education, whether this is at a public or private institution, whether it is at a four year college, a two year college, a graduate degree program or a trade school.
e) Invest in the American people, help them discover their purpose and the meaning for their lives.
f) Sign a national infrastructure bill that transforms the entire country: roads and bridges, ports and rail, national and local rebuild America for a green economy.

5. Enjoin ever citizen in a program of National Service, in the United States Military or National Guard, Peace Corps or its equivalent operating in the United Sates.

6. End the injustice of detaining citizens in jail, if they have been charged with a crime and are awaiting their trial, unless they have been charged with a violent crime.

7. Empty Prisons of non-violent offenders. Pardon and or commute the sentences, expunge the records of people who are serving time for their participation in markets that will become legalized and or decriminalized.

8. Provide Universal Health. Every American citizen should have access to health care, from birth to death and every step in between.

9. Provide basic housing to every citizen, get people off the streets, give them shelter, food clothing and the care they need.

We can do all of these things, we can transform America, and if we do we will eliminate the need for much of what passes for police work today. We will refine the scope of their mission in a way that allows for the community to properly support their police, and for the police to properly protect and serve the community.

Transform, Part IV – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
06.06.2020

Transform, Part IV
From all across the nation we are hearing stories of police corruption. The stories are coming from the victims of police brutality, the victims of wrongful prosecution, they are accompanied by live footage of police in our communities beating up protesters, and doing it with a smile, pushing an old man down on the concrete and not stopping to help while he bleeds from the head.

This has to stop.

We need to transform policing in America and we cannot do it soon enough.

America needs to examine its conscience, all of us members of the white majority need to do it in the worst way.

We need criminal justice reform, no incarceration for non-violent crimes, we need to bring an end to the war on drugs, which only promotes illegal markets, and extra judicial gang-warfare to protect those markets.

We need to stop putting our brothers and sisters in prison.

Every hospital in America must undergo inspection and review of its policies and procedures, its best practices, by an Inspector General style investigation conducted by the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Hospitals (JCAOH), every single police force and Sheriffs department must undergo the same thing.

Police cannot be immune to prosecution, in fact or in practice.

Police must fulfill their mandate, to protect and to serve, they cannot run around acting like the biggest gang in town, but all to often that is what they are, criminals in uniform preying on the communities they are supposed to serve.

Change cannot come soon enough.

We must transform the police, their mission, criminal justice and the courts. We transform them now!

Transform, Part III – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
05.30.2020

Transform, Part III
The past week in my home city of Minneapolis we have been witness to events that have shown the world just how much we need a radical transformation of the social compact.

Minneapolis is the most culturally homogenous city of its size in the country. We are not just white we are ulta-white, northern European, Scandinavian white, this has made our social-compact fragile, brittle and as evidenced this week…broken.

On Monday, an unarmed African-American man was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer with cruel and calculated indifference. That white police officer was aided by three of his fellow officers.

They squeezed the life out of him, even as he pleaded with them, calling on his deceased mother to protect come for him, and protect him.

They police kneeled on his neck for nine minutes while he lay handcuffed, face down in the street, one officer applying that crushing weight, while two others held him at the midsection and at his legs.

He was not resisting.

Even as they were killing him, he was polite addressing them as sir, begging for relief.

They held him down for three minutes after he had become unresponsive, and did not register a pulse, while they denied an EMT access to him sixteen times, which might have saved his life.

They filed false police reports, even though it was all caught by their own body cameras, by surveillance cameras, and by the cell-phone video footage of bystanders who were witness to the killing.

The police officer who knelt directly on his neck, knew the man, they both worked as Security guards at a nearby nightclub.

They killed him in broad daylight, in public, in front of witnesses, they killed him with reckless indifference because in their heart they believed they would get away with it, and the sad thing is, that even though all four of them were fired and the worst among them has been charged with third degree murder, they still might get away with it, because justice is not impartial, our social compact is broken, our police behave like predators and kill with impunity, expecting and receiving the complicity of their brothers and sisters in uniform.

This corrupt and unjust system demands transformation.

There have been protests, without which the officers would likely still be employed.

Those righteous protests have been coopted by white supremacists and other bad actors who have looted and set our city on fire.

We have been burning for three days: police stations and post offices and libraries and banks, businesses and homes.

The smoke is thick in the air, I can taste it. It is horrible, but at least I can still breathe, unlike the man who’s murder set these events in motion, unlike George Floyd.

Transform, Part II – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
05.23.2020

Transform, Part II
It is much easier to point out a problem than it is to imagine a possible solution, and it is much easier to resolve a problem in your imagination than it is to formulate an actual plan to deal with it.

Even more difficult is implementation, and the difficulty increases by an order of magnitude as the number of people increases who have to be trained and oriented to the task at hand.

The most difficult thing of all is to evaluate your work and progress, this is made even more difficult when the goal is fluid, requiring a dynamic process of evaluation and change re-evaluation.

In order for us to come through the era of COVID-19 as a whole and functioning society, we are going to have to transform, we are going to have to have a plan, we are going to have to work together, and we are going to have to face the fact that the goal, more than being fluid is actually unknown.

We do not yet know where we are going, because we do not know the full scope of the problem, we are going to have to stay active, exercising our imagination in an ever changing present, forecasting our way to an ever changing end, evaluating and re-evaluating, imaging and re-imaging the path forward.

Nothing good will come from this experience so long as we are lying to ourselves about the scope of the problem, and deceiving one another to satisfy our petty egos and indominable IDs.

The first step we have to take is to admit to ourselves that we are all in this together, we need each other to make it through.

The next thing we have to do, and I mean WE the people of the United State of America, is to take control of our government, to make it work for us, not the political class, and the top 10% of money earners and wealth hoarders.

We have the power to demand the change we need to see happen, we can do it if we stick together, and over the next six months we have to focus on that task.

Many of us are out of work, we have more free time than we have had in a long time. Let’s get out there and win this election for the people.

Let’s pass Universal Health Care, let’s pass a Green New Deal, let’s pass Universal Education, let’s rebuild America, wipe out debt, repurpose empty office buildings to house the homeless, get our fellow American’s off the streets.

We can do it, we can return America to the people, we don’t have to put the top 10% of the money hoarders in the poor house, but we do need them to pay.

Our government is meant to represent the will of the people, by the people, for the people, of the people. We have to stand up as the majority and demand that the government exercise its mandate, to defend us from this virus and all the nasty things that will flow from this era of economic collapse and uncertainty, to promote the general welfare, and to ensure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.

Transform, Part I – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
05.16.2020

Transform, Part I
There is no going back to the way things used to be. We have to move forward and transform. The good old days were not that great to begin with, and there are better days ahead of us if we can muster the political will to make it happen.

Our so called “way of life” left to many people on the fringes, outside the margins, it denying to many of us, the full franchise of citizenship.

We had the greatest economy in the world, with the largest consumer base, and we acted like we were in a perpetual state of scarcity.

We acted like we could not afford to educate our people, allow us all to vote, provide for everyone’s basic health care, and ensure that everyone is fed, housed and clothed.

It was ridiculous, and we have arrived at the most absurd outcome when COVID-19 broke down that fragile system.

We need a radical transformation of society, and the economic engine that drive it.

Listen to me now; if anyone says that we cannot afford the work that needs to happen, politely inform them that they are ignorant.

Let them know that we can pay for the emergency relief funds that were just passed simply by undoing the Trump tax cuts. We can pay for the next round by undoing the George W. Bush tax cuts, bringing us back to the rate of taxation that we had under Bill Clinton, when the economy was booming and we were paying down the National debt.

We can go deeper than that.

We need to put tens of millions of people back to work, rebuilding our roads and bridges and a network of High Speed rail.

We need to bring textiles and other manufacturing back to the United States that we will never be dependent on our strategic adversaries for the supplies we need in an emergency.

We need universal health care, public education through college, we need an army of engineers to reinvent America, and no one can be left behind.

We need to transform; and we can do it. We need to start now.

We need a standard of living that allows one parent to remain at home raising their kids, dad or mom, it does not matter but we need to reduce the number of bodies on the manufacturing floors, in the offices, in the bars and restaurants.

We need small classroom that allow teachers to teach and provide for their safety as well as their students, we need to put those teachers to work and raise a generation of Americans who are critical thinkers, problems solvers and forward looking.

We need that green new deal.

We need a new agronomy.

We need to transform; we can do it. If we stand up and exercise our rights as citizens, we can vote in the women and men that will make it happen.

Listen!

There is a division in America, there are people who do not want change. Those people are telling you straight to your face that you should be willing to die for their lifestyle, go to work, get sick and die. These people are so ignorant that they believe they should throw away their lives as well, and the lives of their parents, the lives of their children.

They have been conditioned to view their self worth as inextricably linked to their consumer habits. They think of themselves as disposable, garbage, trash, unworthy of an education, unworthy of being cared for, whose value is linked to how much gasoline they burn, and corn syrup they eat, how much meet they can throw on the grill.

This has to change, we have to make the change happen.

Denial – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
05.09.2020

Denial

This week we learn that Pete Ricketts, the Republican Governor of Nebraska will not report confirmed COVID-19 cases coming out of meat packing plants, hampering his state’s epidemiologists ability to track the spread of the virus and protect the citizens his state.

Why would he want to do this?

Nebraska was late to impose any kind of stay at home order and among the first to lift them, against the guidelines approved by the pandemic task force at the White House.

Even though Donald Trump approved those guidelines, he has been working to undermine them ever since. Donald Trump Pete Ricketts and others among the Republican leadership are beginning to make a forceful argument that America just has to accept the risk and the loss of life, and they seem determined to withhold information and lie to us in order to justify it.

They are beginning to do what they accuse China of doing, hiding and concealing the number of cases of people who have contracted COVID-19.

It is disgraceful.

Ron DeSantis, the Republican Governor of Florida is doing the same thing, refusing to report out the spread of the virus, they do not want the people to know how dangerous it is to go to the beach.

Alex Azar, the Trump administration’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Pat Roberts, the Republican Senator of Kansas are blaming the workers at the meat packing plants and their social life for the spread of the COVID-19 in the work place, and not the working conditions themselves.

They want to pretend that the exponential increase in cases of COVID-19 in meat packing plants across the country has nothing to do with the way that work is managed and is uniformly the fault of lifestyle choices made by that population.

They are scapegoating; it is shameful and anyone who makes excuses for these criminals is just as shameful and disgraceful as they are.

Americans will suffer and die because of this malfeasance.

This week the Chief Justice of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, a Republican, was caught on audio suggesting that the lives of meatpackers are less important than those of so-called “regular” citizens, as if the meat packers were not entitled to equal protection under the law.

Let’s face folks, it is as I have always said, we are not people in their eyes, we are assets, things, not human beings, we are expendable, and the fools cheering these monsters on need to be stopped.

 

Under Threat – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
05.02.2020

Under Threat

When you show up on the steps of the capital with automatic weapons and tactical gear, you are not engaged in a protest, you are making threats.

When you show up at the home of a sitting governor with automatic weapons and tactical gear, you are not engaged in a protest, you are making threats.

When you force your way into the legislative chambers of your state government with automatic weapons and tactical gear, you are not engaged in a protest, you are making threats.

When show up in these places waving the flags of the enemies of the United States, the flag of the Confederacy, the swastika of Nazi Germany, it does not matter if some of the people in your throng also carrying the American flag, disrespecting it, wearing it on their clothes, dragging it around. When you do these things you are making it clear that you are un-American, and that you are a threat.

These people are dangerous.

It may be true that not all of them are white separatists, white nationalists, members of hate groups, and domestic terrorists, but it is certain that there are many in those mobs who are, and everyone else participating in these travesties are enabling them, providing them cover, carrying their water and furthering their sedition…that includes Donald Trump.

These are not good people, they are attempting to destroy the fabric of our society, the are dangerous, they are predatory and like all predators they should be stopped.