The Hell-Raiser's Blog: Protests can be so unseemly ...

Protest of George Floyd's murder, near Seattle's City Hall, after George Floyd's murder
(Photo: SounderBruce)

Protests are so unseemly ...

…  Unprofessional.  Useless.  So say people who don’t know any better. 

But when every day in the U.S. seems like a Twilight Zone episode whose plot was inspired by A Tale of Two Cities   when we continue to accommodate the ever-metastasizing dystopia created by our government …

… then the usual resistance   voting out the bad guys, petitions, emails to Congress, posting a call for McConnell’s/Pelosi’s resignation on Facebook – is not enough.

It’s time for an intervention. Consider: 

Tents, battered cars, pick-up trucks line the road. Next to a battered truck, a bucket filled with water and a sponge...  a muddy doll… what remains of a camp fire.  A scene from The Grapes of Wrath or 2020-style affordable housing? Yes.

A thought leader proposes that some people die for the good of the nation’s economic order. Fiction or reality?  Yes. Jonathan Swift suggests that poor parents sell their babies to rich people to eat (“A Modest Proposal," 1729).  Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick suggests that getting people back to work and “restoring” the economy is too important to let the potential spread of COVID to seniors - whom it might kill - get in the way.  Unlike Swift, he meant what he’d said.

In the U.S. (as of today, July 23, 2020), there are four million known cases of Covid and nearly 143,000 related deaths, 30 million about to lose the $600 they receive in lieu of pre-pandemic paychecks, and 28 million people on the brink of homelessness. 

So what’s Congress doing? Not much. But to be fair, these are huge problems, and there isn’t much time for our leaders to work on them, what with their two-week July vacation and their month off in August. 

What about the president? The presidential candidate challenging him? They have been busy - hawking beans and hiding out. And the public? They are stunned! By Kanye’s presidential bid, not by the contempt, cruelty, and callousness permeating D.C. in the middle of both a  public health and an economic crisis, each of historic proportions. 

When the public puts up with a pandemic that the president appears to treat first as a profiteering opportunity, then as a campaign annoyance … when Mitch McConnell laughs at the prospect of extending the aforementioned $600 lifeline before it expires … it’s time for protest. Time to follow the lead of Black Lives Matter and other activists – e.g.,  Seattle’s Fight for 15 folks and Tax Amazon activists – whose work often has meant the difference between real progress and unity commissions, pragmatic incrementalism, bipartisan “compromise,” and the like. Protest breaks the silence, validate outrage, galvanize activists and allies, and redefine what is possible.

Yes, protests are unseemly. They have to be.  Owen Keehnen, an LGBTQ historian and ACT-UPorganizer, talked about the group’s in-your-face approach to AIDS activism:  “There were people [allies] who feared we’d lose everything we’d gained if we weren’t cooperative and nice.” ACT UP’s response was, according to Keenhen,  “… cooperative and nice is killing us.”  


The Hell Raiser's Blog: General Strike!

Catalonia, 2019


                      General Strike!

Minneapolis, 1934
Hong Kong, 2019

A general strike occurs when most of a city's/region's/nation's workers refuse to work, shutting down the operations of daily life.

Although general strikes have been around for over 100 years, the concept may be new to you: If you want more info, here (below) is a quick, helpful read that discusses the who, what, when, where,  why, and how of general strikes. You'll even find examples of at-home "striking" to use during the current pandemic.

The link:

Here are more links to recent discussions of general strikes and protest -  short and sweet (and by "sweet," I mean interesting).


The Hell-Raiser's Blog: A post-holiday carol for when you’re taking down the tree…

Here's my riff on the classic holiday carol, "Silver Bells":

"Silver Bells (50% off,  2-hr. delivery)"

City sidewalks, shitty sidewalks
It’s no better to drive
In the air, there’s stink from car emissions

Selling plasma, kids with asthma
Working way, way past five
All around this great nation you’ll see


Road-side tents, *Old RV’s
Christmas trees in their tarped windows
Endless war, more ODs
But the economy’s great!

Cuts to food stamps, Send- ‘Em-Back! chants
Drinking water with lead
In the air, record carbon dioxide

Kids in cages, piss-poor wages
Can’t keep families fed**
More reports of spikes in suicide

But you’ll find fulfillment
Center work if you are lucky
No pee breaks, no week-ends
Just grueling work and Depends***

*There should be something like a “Cry Me a River” (CMR) Act. CMR would enable homeless folks to use the D.C. offices of certain Congress members as overnight shelters. I refer to those members who veto funding for shelters and other taxpayer-funded “handouts,” whine about how they can’t afford D.C. rent (on $174,000-$192,000/year), and use their offices as de facto apartments (i.e., taxpayer-funded housing handouts). 

** Hundreds of people (and lawyers, in case folks get arrested) could show up outside of the fundraising dinners of candidates for public office who advocate cuts to food assistance (e.g., SNAP). They hand arriving dinner guests empty to-go containers on which is written: “Please help us eat tonight: After dinner, get your uneaten steak/lobster/other to-go. On your way out, while waiting for the valet to bring your car, just leave it under the sign that says, ‘Let Them Eat Leftovers - the new SNAP.’  Thank you!”

***I wonder if labor rights groups could walk up and down the sidewalks in front of the worker entrances of Amazon fulfillment centers and hand out Depends.

#holiday #post-Christmas  #SilverBells  #BedfordFallsOrPottersville  #Depends #FulfillmentCenter #CryMeARiver #SNAP