Time to be scared? Let’s hope not

 

world-fed-club

This photo appeared in 1947 Cardinal Pennant, the Wauwatosa, Wisconsin high school annual. These students had hope for world peace. Is that hope dead?

I am as scared today for the future of humankind as I have ever been in my 87 years.

Mind you, I’m not personally scared; I’ve far too few years left for that. My fright, of course, is for our children, grandchildren and the generations to follow.

In three weeks, President-elect Donald Trump will be inaugurated, elected on a wave of xenophobic sentiment that bodes ill for any form of peace in the world.  He wooed his crowds with promises of tough talk to destroy ISIS (the Islamic State) while welcoming an “arms race” that he says the United States could easily win.  Trump threatens to seriously decrease, and perhaps end, U.S. support and involvement in NATO and the United Nations.

Most seriously, he has called for beefing up our nuclear weapons arsenal, ending a process toward ending nuclear proliferation that began more than thirty years ago in the Reagan Administration and has been embraced as a bipartisan policy of this nation since.  Such action on the part of the United States would certainly lead other nations to do the same and eventually plunge the world into an “arms race” that no nation could win.

*****

To the present day, the nuclear nonproliferation treaties have stopped nations from developing these devastating weapons, a policy that led to the recent treaty that halted Iran from advancing its nuclear weapons program.  Such world-wide consensus on nuclear weapons (except for the outlaw nations like North Korea) has saved the world from nuclear devastation.

The president-elect further wants to spend billions more on the military and close our borders to all but white Christians and Jews, vows that won wide hoorays from his worshippers.  It appears his goal is to mold the United States into a bunker mentality – a situation of false security.  He’s too young to remember the Maginot Line created by the French after World War I to protect it against invading Germans; the fortress of cannons shooting from concrete bunkers failed miserably in World War II when the Nazis simply maneuvered around it to invade France and march triumphantly down the Champs Elysees in Paris.

Repeatedly, Trump blamed President Obama for creating a “mess” in the world, blaming him for weakness and indecision.

*****

In this old man’s view, President Obama has done remarkably well in maintaining a modicum of peace in an extremely “messy” world.  We need go back no further to President George W. Bush’s ill-advised Iraq war against non-existent weapons of mass destruction to see that Obama inherited a world in which terrorism would be nutured.  The invasion of Iraq helped to build a sentiment among many Muslims that the United States was engaged in a “holy war,” and became a rallying cry for those terrorists who wished to spread their hate and violence throughout the world.

One can argue with some of the tactics of Obama (his ill-advised drawing of a “red-line” in the Syrian use of chemical weapons, for instance), but if you believe in a peaceful world you can’t argue with his general strategy of building coalitions with like-minded nations to fight terrorism and by seeking to strengthen the United Nations.

Trump’s “go-it-alone” strategy would change all that, forcing this nation to bear even greater military and armament costs, possible loss of military lives and the ill-will of much of the world.

To be sure, Trump is an enigma and has a facile ability to do just the opposite of what he promised.  Maybe all of his bluster and braggadocio was merely campaign talk and he will become a more serious leader; so far, he hasn’t exhibited such a possibility.

Meanwhile, the Far East is in turmoil with a bellicose North Korea, a growing expansionist threat from China and unrest in Malaysia.  President Obama has been seeking to build up our presence in the area and it’s an area we can’t neglect.

On January 20th, our new president will inherit a tense world.  It is my hope for the coming New Year that he will shed his ego, his pettiness and tendency to act without thinking and listen to wiser heads.  In any event, it’s up to the rest of us to do what we can to sound off in the best ways we can to head off our new President from his worst nature.

*****

Seventy years ago, the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 – a date that has lived in my mind all these years.  The devastation to that Japanese city was unbelievable to my sixteen-year old mind.  It was then that the possibility of a World War III became unthinkable. In my junior year in high school I joined with about fifteen other kids to form a school-sanctioned chapter of the United World Federalists, then a popular movement that called for ending the nation-state that led to wars.  In its place we believed we should create a “United States of the World,” a one-world government.

While our idealistic dream never came true, it did form the basis for the belief that peace can only come by breaking down borders and by realizing that America may be a “great ” nation, but that it is not the only great nation and that we must learn to live with all the nations of the world.  Donald Trump appears to have different ideas.  I believe I am right to be scared for our nation and our world. — Ken Germanson, Dec. 30, 2016. 

 

 

Hiroshima: A memory persists for 70 years

Perhaps no date stands out more in my long life than August 6, 1945.  It was two days before my 16th birthday and it had been a warm summer day.  I had biked home, carrying my ragtag golf clubs on my back after playing 27 holes of golf.  It was six o’clock and my parents sat in the living room listening to a news report on radio. They had shocked expressions.

I heard the radio announcer state in somber words, describing “a bomb equivalent in size to 100 blockbusters.” What was that all about? I asked my parents.

My dad said that we (meaning the U.S.) had dropped something called an atomic bomb on a Japanese city called Hiroshima.  “It may mean the end of the war,” he added.

The relief I might have felt by the possible ending of World War II was blunted by my realization that our country had caused terrible devastation, even though at that time I th-2believed, along with just about everyone else that “the Japs deserved it.”  Hadn’t we sung — and hadn’t I plunked out the song on the piano — “We’re Gonna Have to Slap the Dirty Little Jap?”   (I feel shamed today to write “Jap,” but feel it’s needed here to show the tenor of the times.)

The concept of 100 blockbusters blew my mind. That would mean 100 blocks were destroyed by one bomb; the United States had instituted the use of blockbuster bombs on German cities late in the war and it was not until many years later that I learned of the terrible devastation Allied bombers had done to cities like Dresden.

President Obama has announced that he will be visiting Hiroshima at the end of May, the first US president to make such a visit since the tragic bombing more than seventy years ago. A debate has arisen over whether the President should apologize for the devastation.  Whether such an apology is necessary or not, it’s not mine to answer.

There are lessons we should learn from Hiroshima. I remember seeing early news photos from the bombing and noting there was but one relatively tall, slender building still standing among the devastation.

One year later, one of our next-door neighbor’s sons showed snapshots he had taken while in Hiroshima as a member of an army occupational force.  Even though his black-th-3and-white photos were of the tiny-size typical of the era, the impact couldn’t have been more striking.  There, standing like a lone sentinel was the same singular building amid the rubble, a tragic symbol of the bombing that cost some 200,000 lives.

More than anything else the killing of those Japanese citizens, including many women and children, dramatized the terrible losses that are foisted upon all of us by war.  A scene from Erich Maria Remarque’s famous book, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” has further pointed toward the terrible foolishness of war.  That book, written from a German soldier’s point of view during the First World War, has the hero seeking shelter in a bomb crater and finding a dying French soldier in the same shelter.  After a few tense moments, the French soldier dies.  Guiltily, the German soldier searches the dead man’s pockets, finding a wallet, containing a small picture of a smiling woman and a young child.  It was obviously the man’s family, a family not much unlike his own.  The German solder cries.

Some of us hoped immediately after World War II that we could take steps to end the terrible nationalism that brought about the wars of that Century; why not form a federal world government — modeled after the U.S. Constitution that in 1787 developed a process to bring together our disparate states into a central government that could ensure peace between the states?  The dream failed, though a hamstrung United Nations emerged.

Wars haven’t ended; in fact today’s world is spawning an epidemic of violence.  Now, however, added to the fear of one nation fighting another, we have tribes and terror groups that know no borders engaged in hateful killing sprees.

Those of us who preach peace and urge restraint on “revenge” and “retribution” are castigated as being “weak” and “dreamers.”  Let’s reject that: we recognize the need to sometimes bear arms to enforce peace, but we must resist the inclinations — so often stirred by ambition politicians — to act first in starting a fight, to use a pledge of “making America great again” as an excuse to start bombing again — and killing many innocents along the way.  Ken Germanson, May 15, 2016.

A Religious State?

As the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops continued to try to force its medieval prohibitions to contraception down the throats of Americans this past weekend, it’s time to consider the story of a Saudi journalist, Hamza Kashgari.

He was detained by the Malaysian police on Feb. 9, when he was stopped at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at the request of the Saudi government.   Since then, despite hurried efforts of supporters to halt the return of Kashgari to Saudi Arabia, he was secretly returned to his home country.  (Read more)

No he is not a murderer.  He merely wrote something which the Saudi government considers blasphemy, which is punishable by death.  According to Daily Beast, Kashgari wrote about an imaginary meeting with the Prophet Mohammed on Twitter.   The offending word addressed to the Prophet were:

”On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you.”

Yes, in Saudi Arabia, blasphemy is considered a crime punishable by death; and the courts there are renowned for the authoritarian rulings; thus Kashgari has little chance of a fair trial, and may face death.

I considered this as I read about the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who are still not satisfied with the compromise offered by President Obama over the contraception issue.  Now, I have written something critical of the bishops who pretend to speak for the Church that I was baptized into, confirmed by and married in.

Perhaps my mere mention of my feelings that the Bishop’s view is “medieval” would bring a death penalty upon my head if the Catholic Church — or any other religious institution, like the burgeoning evangelicals — began to run our government.

Yet, that’s just what the Church seems to want to do, as it tries to ram its views on contraception down the throats of the general public and more specifically the hundreds of thousands of its own

John F. Kennedy speaking to religious leaders in Houston on Sept. 12, 1960.

employees in hospitals, schools, nursing homes and other enterprises throughout our nation.

President John F. Kennedy, in his great speech in Houston, Texas, in his 1960 campaign for President promised he’d keep his Catholic faith out of his government decision-making.  And he did!

Now, the Bishops, coupled with the entire Republican leadership for obvious political reasons, are seeking to make their view of things the “law of the land.”  All Christians, non-Christians and atheists alike should fear the creation of a religious state, as it is neither supportive of family values nor compassion but rather just another dictatorial state where a mere “tweet” could bring death.  Ken Germanson, Feb. 13, 2012.

Old Forgers contemplate dogs, cats, jobs

Of all the Old Forgers, Billy Simpson was the contrarian of the bunch, always disagreeing with everyone of us, it seemed.  Well, for one reason he always – and I mean always – voted Republican.  As for the rest of us, I guess you can figure how we voted.

Yet, Billy was a generous guy, always ready to lend a helping hand, to spend a Saturday helping someone move or to come over and help paint a room or fix an alternator on my old Ford.  Besides, when he wasn’t talking politics, he could be funny, quipping back into his old Kentucky dialect.

As we straggled into Sophie’s Forge Café on the Tuesday after Labor Day to occupy the round table at the front of the place, I could see something was bothering Billy.  He was already there when I arrive, sitting alone, glumly looking into a cup of Sophie’s dark coffee.

“What’s up, Billy?” I asked, taking a seat opposite him. 

Before he could answer, the front door of the café opened letting in a waft of cool September air along with another of the Old Forgers, Albert Henry Strassmann (known only among us as “Al”), who joined us.

“Looks like my daughter and her family, both dogs and a cat and our grandson are moving in,” Billy finally replied.

“He still hasn’t found a job?” Al queried.

“Nope, and it’s been two years now and he’s really been looking.”

*****

We were well-versed on Billy’s family situation; his son-in-law was laid off from the forge over two years ago when the place downsized and anyone with less than 15 years’ seniority was tossed out.  We’d all gotten to know the son-in-law, a quiet but nice guy named Sam, since he worked at the plant and usually came to union meetings.  He was a good worker and always on time, but the guy had “no real skill and had only a GED to show for his education.

“I suppose his unemployment ran out?” Al asked.

“Yeah, and my daughter can only find a part-time job at minimum wage,” Billy said.

“It’s been tough all over, Billy,” I said, quickly sorry I made the not too comforting comment.

“And now they’re about to be evicted,” he said.  “And it’s either we pay their rent, which we’ve done for a couple of months now and can’t really afford, or have them move in with us.”

“That’s tough, Billy,” I said, hoping to sound more sympathetic.  “Do they have to bring the dogs?”

“My wife said ‘yes,’ the dog’s come too,” he said, a resigned look on his face.

“Guess who’ll be on poopy patrol, Billy,” piped up Wayne Huntsinger who had since joined the conversation.

“It better not be me,” he said, laughing a bit, trying to find some humor in the situation.

“I got almost the same problem in my household,” Wayne said.  “My single daughter has moved back in with us since she was laid off from the school.  You know she was one of those teachers laid off when the state cut back on its school funding.”

“She got dogs, too?” Billy asked.

“No, just two cats.”

Al shook his head.  “You know, the President or some of those people in Washington should come to this breakfast table with us and find out what’s going on in the real world.”

“I don’t think any of them have a clue,” I said.

“Yeah, what happened to the times when you could raise a family on the man’s income alone and still have money for a two-week vacation in the summer?” asked Wayne, who was nearly 80 years old and clearly the oldest among us.

*****

“Blame it on Reagan,” Al said.  “He fired the air traffic controllers 30 years ago to start it all.  Wages and benes have gone down, down, down since then.  And then with all the BS about ‘getting the government off our backs,’ all it did was to free up big business to do whatever in hell they wanted, and workers and the public suffered.”

“Whoa boys,’ Billy interjected.  “If business had fewer regulation we’d have more jobs and if they could keep the profits instead of paying high taxes, they could invest in more jobs.  I blame Obama.”

“Oh Billy,” Al replied.  “Profits are higher than ever now and where are the jobs?  Right now business have plenty of moolah available to invest in jobs, but since none of us are buying new stuff they don’t need more workers.”

“Trickle down doesn’t work,” I echoed Al’s words.

“You guys are just buying into that union BS,” Billy said.  “Obama’s spending us into deep debt, and our grandkids and great grandkids will have to pay.  That’s why there are no new jobs.”

“We need jobs, Billy, and that’s why maybe we gotten spend a little now,” I said, hating to disagree with Billy, realizing the lousy personal situation he was facing.

“Yes, Billy,” Al added.  “As President Obama said, we have a jobs crisis, not a deficit crisis.”

“Then why doesn’t Obama show a little guys and get that message across,” Wayne said.

“Amen,” Al said.

“See even you guys agree Obama is at fault,” Billy crowed.

“He and a lot of other people, too, Al concluded.

On that we could all agree.

— Ken Germanson, September 7, 2011 

An incident on the Lakeshore Limited

It was surreal, almost like a scene from a World War II movie in which trains are stopped and troopers run down the aisles checking everyone’s papers.  I was awoken from a fitful sleep by the squawking of some radio message and the clumping of shoes in the wee hours of the morning on Train No. 49 – the Lakeshore Limited from New York’s Penn Station on a 20-hour trip to Chicago.  I squinted up to see a large man in a dark green uniform shirt stomp down the aisle, his police radio loud in my ears.  I muttered to myself “what’s that idiot doing awakening this whole car?”  I looked out the window, could see a sign showing Rochester, realizing the train had stopped at this aging New York State community to take on passengers.  My watch said 1:20; it was Monday, July 25.

Soon I heard more commotion, and a voice from the front of the railroad coach saying “Are you a U.S.citizen?”  There was a grunted reply, and then another request, apparently of some other passenger, “Are you a U.S.citizen?” And on and on down the car.

By the time a couple of the uniformed folks got near me, I could see emblazoned in yellow, “U S Border Patrol” on the back of the dark green shirts.

They didn’t awaken everyone; they skipped me!  I’m a very white old guy; they tend to leave us alone.  But trains these days are full of people who speak little or no English and apparently don’t look “American,” whatever that is supposed to mean these days

What were the “past-midnight” marauders up to, I wondered.  The tones of their voices were authoritative, but not particularly nasty.  Nonetheless it was a shock to see how they roamed the aisles randomly awakening passengers with the question, “Are you a U.S.citizen?”

How pervasive, I wondered, is this new U.S.mentality prompted by fear to assure no one is here illegally and perhaps ready to cause mayhem?  We were in Rochester, New York, nearly a hundred miles from the U.S.-Canadian border and I wondered what the U.S. Border Patrol hoped to find on Train No. 49.

It got me to thinking that we have become a nation that is accepting of more and more police-state actions.  It appears too that President Barack Obama has done little to alter the course of begun in the Bush years, and, in fact, may be intensifying them, much to the chagrin of those of us who felt Obama’s more enlightened ways would curb this readiness to step up surveillance of our people.

To me, at least, the appearance of the Border Patrol on Train No. 49 in the early hours of July 25 was most alarming indeed and a sad portent of where this nation has been going.  – Ken Germanson, July 27, 2011.

NOTE:  After I wrote the blog, I decided to query the U.S. Border Patrol, a part of the Department of Homeland Security.  The Patrol maintains a quality website and even invites complaints.  So I queried them raising the question of why such searches were necessary.  Less than two hours later, I got a long response, part of which I reproduce here:

“Border Patrol checkpoints are a critical enforcement tool for securing the Nation’s borders against all threats to our homeland. The National Strategy recognizes that control of the border cannot be achieved by merely enforcing at the line and therefore includes a substantial defense-in-depth component. We will not be able to achieve control of the border unless our apprehensions demonstrate the futility of attempting to enter the United States illegally in the first instance. For that reason, some of our enforcement actions will take place away from the physical border, at interior checkpoints, and lateral from those checkpoints. . .

“All persons, baggage, and other merchandise arriving in or leaving the United States are subject to inspection and search by CBP officers and agents. Various laws (including 8 United States Code (U.S.C.) § 1357, 19 U.S.C. §§ 482, 1581, 1582) enforced by CBP authorize such searches. . . All Border Patrol checkpoints operate in accordance with the Constitution of the United States and governing judicial rulings. . .

“Thank you for your consideration when traveling through a Border Patrol checkpoint. We appreciate your cooperation in allowing us to continue to safeguard our Nation’s borders.”

You are welcome to draw your own conclusions.

What to do when demoralized?

Dems can’t afford to ‘cave-in’ as Indiana did in 83-20 defeat

Many liberals and progressives are demoralized over the results of the November 2nd elections, ready to give in to the corporate-supported public policy agenda that is being rammed through by smug, arrogant Republicans.

Case in point: The waffling by the White House and key Democrats regarding ending the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.  True, they’re basing this indecision on the belief that in order to continue tax cuts for the rest of us they’ll need to compromise and continue it for the wealthy as well.

Why are the White House and so many Democrats caving in so easily?

It makes no sense.  Virtually any rational person who looks at the facts will come to the conclusion that continuing to give the wealthy a tax break will do nothing to help the country climb up and out of it’s economic valley.

Just consider what Nicholas Kristoff wrote on Nov. 7 in The New York Times:

The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. . .   C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent. . . . The richest 0.1 percent of taxpayers would get a tax cut of $61,000 from President Obama. They would get $370,000 from Republicans, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. And that provides only a modest economic stimulus, because the rich are less likely to spend their tax savings.

Also, continuing the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% would add perhaps some $700 billion over 10 years to the deficit; secondly, it affects about 2% of all small business owners, and thirdly, the amount of extra cash the wealthy will receive will be hardly incentive enough to prompt any of the businesspeople to hire an additional person.

OK, the Dems say, that all may be true, but we can’t continue ANY tax cut unless we compromise.  Perhaps true, but don’t give in without a fight!

There’s wide evidence to show that if the Democrats put up a fight, they’d begin to win back some of the independents they lost in November.  Only a minority of Americans supports continuation of the tax cuts for the wealthy; if the facts were more widely trumpeted (and they would be in a prolonged fight), the truth might conquer.

The tax cut issue is but one example of how the White House and the Democrats are retreating, like a dog in a losing fight, slinking off with its tail between its legs.

Did the Democrats really get a “shellacking,” as the President said on the day after the election?  Not really, since on the average 47% of the votes cast nationwide went to Democrats, indicating at least half of all Americans still support the party candidates and more liberal issues.  That’s enough to build upon for the future and enough to encourage the remaining Democrats to stand up to the corporate onslaught.

A real “shellacking” is what happened to the Indiana Hoosiers on the Camp Randall football field in Madison, Wisconsin, on Nov. 13 when the highly ranked Wisconsin Badgers beat it, 83-20.  It was a gruesome sight to behold, watching an under-manned and talent-shy Indiana team put up a gallant fight for the first 20 minutes of the game, only to fold so completely.  The TV announcers said the “fight seemed to go out” of the Indiana team, as Wisconsin capitalized on a turnover in the second quarter and the Indiana star quarterback was injured.

The Democrats seem to be acting like a bedraggled second-rate football team, spiritless and demoralized.

If ever times called for some new “fight,” it’s now.  The stakes in the future are too high.  Democrats still have the facts on their side, not only on the tax cut issue, but also on environmental reforms, health care, education and on and on.

Sadly, I suspect, however, these political leaders will slink off, seceding the playing field to the Republicans and their greedy corporate cohorts.

That’s why we – as liberals, progressives and many others who believe in rational, good government – need to do more than cheer on the sidelines (though that helps); and we better not leave in the 3rd quarter when the score on the field is against us.

We need to raise our voices, through supporting groups like Move On, by getting the facts out through letters to the editor, through blogs and other Internet gimmicks, and by sounding off whenever and wherever we can.  Many of the cards in the fight are stacked against us, due to the undue influence of Fox News (an oxymoron, if ever there was one) and talk radio.  Let’s not let that deter our effort, but make us speak out louder and louder.

The real fight in the long run is for the minds of the nation’s people.

In the short run, some issues may be lost including the tax cut issue.  Even then, we should not be demoralized.  Remember, when a good football team suffers a loss, it goes back to the locker room to regroup and comes out even stronger to win the next game.

Kenneth A. Germanson, Nov. 14, 2010, Milwaukee WI

Change, but what kind of change?

In the past century, the 1900s, two major changes occurred in the United States — the improvement in living standards for working people and the growing inclusiveness for minorities, principally blacks.

In both cases, the nation was better for those changes.  In the first incidence, a strong middle class was developed putting money into the hands of ordinary workers and in the second millions of Americans found opportunities that had been denied them (although we know many still are striving for those opportunities).

Also, both changes came about mainly because the people pushed for them through mass movements.  In the 1930s, it was the workers who realized that only through collective action could they have an impact on the policies of America; they realized unions were the only way to effectively gain their share of the pie, and once unions organized, the entire nation thrived up until 1981, and the election of Ronald Reagan began the decline of the middle class.  In the 1950s and 1960s, it was the civil rights movement when masses of people rallied behind the cause and the courageous actions of individuals like Rosa Parks in the Montgomery bus boycott and the Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins.

If the nation had looked to its leaders to effect these changes, it would never have happened.  Most in leadership oppose change and those who support it are often too timid to push for it.  Franklin D. Roosevelt was not necessarily enthusiastic at first to embrace passing landmark legislation that gave working people greater rights to organize unions, but eventually pushed for it, since collective bargaining promised labor peace in response to strikes and riots of those years.  And, in the case of civil rights, the mass  demonstrations drew national attention (and horrendous reactions like the dogs and fire hoses that Bull O’Connor sent against demonstrators) which slowly dramatized the rightness of the cause of equal rights.  John F. Kennedy spoke eloquently about civil rights but history tells us he was timid about pushing the political establishment toward action (only his tragic assassination and the realism of Lyndon B. Johnson helped propel the nation to pass both the landmark Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of the mid-1960s).

Today, the prospect of  change is coming from the Tea Party, and the change this group offers is frightening.

Yet, the Tea Party has been popularized by a press mesmerized by the outlandish behavior of some of the tea partiers.  The press has fallen completely for the belief that it is a “people’s movement,” rarely mentioning that its birth and growth would not have been possible without the guidance of old Republican warhorses like Dick Armey and the  fat bankrolls of corporate giants like the Koch brothers.

The Tea Party, sad to say, is onto something here.  It has indeed drawn in tens of thousands of frustrated Americans, many of whom sincerely believe the nation has lost its way.  It’s easy to see why people turn to it in hopes of improving their lives, since many have  faced loss of incomes, homes and even lifetime savings.

But, is it a true “people’s party?”  Look at who is NOT at the Tea Party rallies: obviously, the minorities are not there (except for a handful of misguided souls); the poor are not there, nor are the unemployed, or the low-paid workers.  Surveys have shown clearly the typical tea partier is white, above average income and with higher education levels.

What is really needed now is a counter “people’s movement,” a movement of working people, of people of color and of people in poverty (as recent reports show there now are plenty of people living in poverty, more than 14% of all Americans, the highest rate since 1986 when data was first collected).

The Tea Party members, if you belief the surveys of their participants, are not hurting as badly as those in poverty, the working poor and minorities.  Yet, these same poverty-stricken and near poor folks are strangely subdued, or even silent.  Why is that?

Have so many of us been bought off by the glitter of capitalism, the promise of  huge flat screen TVs and the numbing effect of rightwing propaganda that we are too paralyzed to move?  Have some of us, even in poverty, grown so obese that it’s difficult to move off the couch?  Have so many lose hope by living in neighborhoods where gunshots outnumber the gleeful joys of children playing?

It’s time for a true People’s Movement, like that of workers in the 1930s and civil rights campaigners in the 1950s and 1960s, to take control of the national mind and move change in the right direction.

President Obama promised “change you can count on.”  We think he was sincere in wanting positive change, but whether it was his own political caution or the steadfast promise of Republicans to say “no” to everything, the fact is his Administration has offered only limited change in the right direction.  What Barack Obama needs, more than anything, is the knowledge that the people truly want change, and not the backward-moving change promised by the Tea Party.  That’s why it’s up to us to organize from among ourselves; no one higher up is going to help.  That’s the lesson of history!