Start throwing rocks

I’ve been saying for almost 2 years that the only way to stop Republicans is to have a mass movement literally out in the streets (and in factories, and other strategic positions) shutting down business as usual. Unfortunately, there is currently no organization or leader that can mobilize people on a mass scale, and most people are comfortable enough with what they have that they aren’t willing to take confrontational direct action.

I was hopeful about the Parkland kids or Rev. Barber to be that catalyst, but they are too invested in the current system. They seem to think we can vote and sing our way out of this. If democracy was functioning, half the Republican leadership would be prison. But Democrats are still counting on laws and facts to influence greedy nihilists.

There are more of us that are outraged than there are of the greedy haters, but we let them control the media and the government because it would be too risky or inconvenient for us to actually stop them. I’m speaking of myself here too! I have a lot to lose.

Fascists win by making us all think we’re alone, we’re sick because we have no healthcare, we’re exhausted from working 3 jobs, we’re scared because we’re gay/trans/immigrant/Jewish/female/outspoken, we can’t think straight because the news makes no sense, we’re paranoid because our neighbor might be a nazi/narc, we’re poor because the 1% is stealing everything. None of this is an accident.

We can’t wait for the movement anymore. Just start throwing rocks whenever you can. But ALWAYS take care of yourself and your people first. We need to practice as much solidarity as possible just so that we can hope to survive this.

big fish chasing small fish, small fish getting together and chasing the big fish

There are more of us every day

The sickest thing about this whole episode (the latest being the sham Kavanaugh hearings) is that the vast majority of Americans don’t support these power-mad Republicans nor their draconian agendas, but they and the media have got us thinking that we are in the minority! They have taken our power away from us like taking candy from a baby.

There are less and less of them every day. And every day they will try new, more desperate tactics to cling to power. If the people only had a sense of our vast, collective energy, we would be unstoppable.

I’m still not sure whether we are going to make it through this. We have strayed so far from anything resembling democracy I can’t see the way back.

Disinformation agents attack NC Women’s March

As soon as I RSVP’ed to a Facebook event for the 2019 Women’s March in Raleigh, I knew something didn’t smell right. The page owners were posting weird, partisan memes that seemed totally out of character, and no-one would reply to my messages asking who was in charge. This week I decided to get to the bottom of it, and by way of friends of friends I found that the page is in fact a scam!

This is exactly how the Russians/Republicans have been manipulating our communication, politics, and elections for over 2 years now. The fake “Women’s March Raleigh NC 2019” page on Facebook has a fake event that has thousands of RSVPs for the wrong march date! And by spreading questionable memes they may be manipulating sentiment in ways we can’t even predict or understand until after the fact.

One of the real Women’s March organizers replied to me about this on Facebook:

we’ve reported the page as spam several times. It’s 100% not managed or set up by the WMOR organizers, they’re at Women’s March On Raleigh. Last year we had a similar problem when a vendor set up a FB page posing as the WMOR group to sell t-shirts. This page and it’s event aren’t legit

Read my Facebook post with all of the receipts in the comments:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10160753082835321
White woman fainting

White feminism can’t save us (and neither can removing Trump)

Amy Siskind’s heinous White Feminism was on full display this week when she responded to some very valid criticism about her oblivious White privilege and about her Republican-friendly past by attacking very intelligent and well-respected Black women like Imani Gandy instead of owning up to her mistakes.

Siskind said and did some patently horrible stuff in the past, including supporting Sarah Palin and collaborating with Alex Jones. Seems like she should take responsibility for herself and acknowledge where she was wrong. If she’s changed, she could just say so. If she hasn’t, people should know where she stands.

My friend Max raised another important issue about Siskind’s very problematic All we have to do is get rid of the Orange Menace, and we can go back to having brunch” attitude.

I’ve seen a lot of this from Democrats and “never Trump” Republicans, and it makes me a little queasy when they talk about impeachment. It’s not like Trump is the only problem. He’s just a festering symptom of the greedy, nihilist Republican cancer. Of course Trump is a criminal and deserves to be impeached, but Congress will never do that (not even if corporate Dems make midterm gains) and more importantly, it won’t solve the problem of being ruled by a party that lies and cheats to enrich and empower themselves with no care for democracy or the future.

On the banality of life under authoritarianism

I used to watch movies and documentaries and wonder how people could live seemingly-normal lives in repressive states like the Soviet Union, Afghanistan, China, etc.

Now I’m living it in the US. Now I know how we get there.

Although the urge to scream and lie down in the middle of the highway to stop everything rises in me daily, the inertia of daily life is stronger. I have a child I have to keep functioning for.

I have a good job, a good family, and a good house, which I don’t take for granted.

I know it’s only an accident of fate that I can keep going about my business and enjoying my relatively-easy life because I’m white and middle class, because my family came here a century ago instead of a week ago.

I have a lot of privilege, compared to some.

But I also know that it would only take some small slip of fate to put me under the boot of Republican authoritarianism. I live in constant fear that the shoe will drop.

I finally understand the human need to keep on keeping on, even when all around us is dehumanizing.

So I continue to enjoy my privileged, middle class comfort while feeling increasingly guilty about it and wondering when my bubble will pop.

Most of the time I feel powerless to stop fascism, but I keep a flame of resistance burning for the future.

Happy birthday, America.

Excerpt of "Home" by Warsan Shire

Home

Home by Warsan Shire, 2011

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

the
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying-
leave,
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

Children leaving the Lodz ghetto for the death camp at Chelmno

This is not the bottom

Friends, please stop assuming things can’t get any worse. We got to this nightmare through complacency. Let it stop now. Things can and WILL get worse than this. We need to be prepared and act accordingly as soon as possible to stop this crazy train.

I’m glad to see some resistance starting to form now, in spite of the dearth of anyone seriously organizing it. Wouldn’t it have been great if people had listened when we said resist and don’t normalize19 months ago? How much suffering could have been avoided?

I have the sense that millions of people would be willing to participate in strategic direct action to stop migrant family separation right now, and as far as I can tell no-one is organizing them! Last year I was hopeful that Rev. Barber’s new Poor People’s Campaign would be able to channel people’s frustration into direct action. I appreciate what they are doing, but their actions are inconveniencing no-one, they are aren’t spreading the message beyond existing supporters, they are stopping business as usual.

This year I my hopes were raised by the students who survived the massacre in Parkland, FL. But it doesn’t seem that they’ve been able to hold the national attention, and while they have been expanding their vision and starting to see how many issues intersect with gun violence, they are not in a position to lead a national movement against Republicans as a whole, which is what I think is needed right now.

Note: There will be actions across the country on Saturday June 30. Visit familiesbelongtogether.org to find one near you. If there isn’t one on the map, organize it!

totalitarism

Trump didn’t create this empire

We have got to stop acting like Republican greed, deceit, and cultivated ignorance started with Trump! Here’s a Bush advisor in 2002:

We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out.”

They tell us this over and over and we still don’t listen. It’s been going on for many decades. Dems don’t even fight back.

Democrats and the media still want to fuck around with “civility” while Republicans are literally creating an empire (a death cult) based on greed and hate. People are fucking dying.

Trump is most certainly an imperial president with no clothes, but he didn’t create this empire. He’s just the perfect fruition of decades of Republican greed and nihilism. I hope he’ll be the empire’s downfall, but I’m not sure we have enough democracy left to fight back, especially as long as the only opposition party is so consumed with incrementalism and protecting the sanctity of the same institutions that got us here.

"The greatest most beautiful clothes the world has ever seen."

Two men in fatigues, one standing in the garbage bin

Stand up against the jerks, no-one else will do it for us

I was disgusted to learn today that progressive tech leader Clay Johnson has been harassing women he worked with with almost no repercussions for years. I’m appalled that I never knew about any of this in spite of being in his professional orbit the entire time. I even know some of the people quoted in the story, although not very well. We have to learn to tell the truth, shout it if we have to, and stop covering for people.

The fact that this stuff started so long ago and that even Clay seems to agree he should have been fired from the Dean campaign, but instead he was able to build an entire successful career on it while continuing to abuse people is such a great illustration of how tolerance of chauvinism systematically holds women back and keeps us out of leadership positions while simultaneously reinforcing itself by promoting these men ever higher.

Reading about his behavior at the Sunlight Foundation you can see that it wasn’t a secret. In fact the staff had to band together to alienate him since the organization wasn’t protecting them from him.

Every man that gets ahead while abusing people is keeping at least one other person from succeeding, and is taking up space that should go to people with better judgement than his. Then people look around and wonder why they don’t see as many women “qualified” for top leadership positions! Women are missing the opportunity to build our careers because we are trying to protect our dignity and bodily integrity from creeps who some other men think are geniuses.

I’m not mad at people for not exposing this sooner, because I know how hard it is (was?) to go public. I’m disgusted at Clay himself, but even more sick of the systems that just continue this culture and people who refuse to think beyond their own tiny bubbles. (ie: Well he’s not harassing me or anyone I care about, so I’m OK.) Of course I’m disappointed with Joe Trippi, but I wouldn’t expect any better from him. People like him are the reason I avoid certain lines of work.

Of course we should be able to expect our leaders to do better, but given that most of them are men that got there by succeeding in the current culture (if not actual harassers themselves) or women who got there by not rocking the boat too much, I’m not counting on them. The rest of us need to take care of each other by speaking out as publicly as we can when we find out about this stuff.

Hopefully people speaking out will eventually put more and more pressure upward on leaders to do the right thing in the first place before their new hire becomes the latest scandalous headline. Unfortunately I don’t expect any of this to change significantly before my son comes of age in about 10 years. I’m thinking of how us non-leaders can develop a strategic defense against the tsunami of bullshit.

Leaders like Zephyr Teachout are calling for better (or any) processes to address harrassment in political campaigns, but this problem is much bigger than the culture of political campaigns and nonprofits that take advantage of people’s dedication to the cause to keep them quiet. I’m not going to assume any of these institutions have my back until they have shown me that.

People need solidarity with each other, we can’t wait around for some brave leaders to save us. They’re not coming to help unless we force them to. I loved the way the Sunlight staff responded. I’d like to see much more of that.

 

Much of this post was initially written in conversation on Facebook with my friend Zephyr Teachout, hence some disjointedness.