Archive for the 'Democracy?' Category

“US Not Like The Developed World”

Friday, February 2nd, 2018


I just read a strikingly accurate assessment of ways in which the US is not like the developed world in an article that quotes Korean leader Pyongyang. He correctly notes that the US is behind other wealthy nations in many areas as well as being “the gross violator of human rights”. The link is below:



Saturday, January 20th, 2018













This was at Revolution Books up in Harlem.  You can’t see her, but Deborah is beside me with another of these signs.  We were there to hear Andy Worthington, British activist and authority on the US prisoners held at Guantanamo, give a talk about them.


Sunday, January 14th, 2018

   Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using the tactics of nonviolence and civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs and inspired by the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi.

He led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, serving as its first president.

He helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech.

He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

King helped organize the Selma to Montgomery marches and took the movement north to Chicago where he worked on segregated housing.

In his last years Martin Luther King worked to oppose poverty and the Vietnam War, and, unfortunately, alienated many of his liberal allies with his “Beyond Vietnam” speech in 1967.

On April 4, 1967, accompanied by Amherst College professor Henry Commager, Union Theological Seminary President John Bennett, and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel at an event sponsored by Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam, King spoke to over 3,000 at New York’s Riverside Church. King’s address emphasized his responsibility to the American people and explained that conversations with young black men in the ghettos reinforced his own commitment to nonviolence.

He was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C. when he was assassinated by James Earl Ray on the 4th of April 1968 in Memphis. There were riots in many US cities as a result.

James Earl Ray, his assassin, fled the country, only to be arrested two months later at London’s Heathrow Airport. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison and died in prison of hepatitis.

King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. MLK, Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states and made a US federal holiday in 1986.


Monday, January 1st, 2018








In January of 2017 the New York Times ran an article about Trump’s ban on entry of Muslims into the United States and said it was “Cowardly and Dangerous.” Several of his actions were called cowardly as well.

This school bus was one of the casualties of a driver who ran off the street onto the sidewalk and careened into other vehicles. Children were hurt. The cowardly driver could not face the challenges of his life and chose to victimize many, including school children.

In Mexico, a news reporter Gumaro Perez, who had reported on local crime and drug trafficking, was shot dead at his son’s school Christmas celebration just before the holiday vacation.

What could we do to have fewer of these disasters in 2018?


Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Below are remarks by Philip Alston, U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, reported by Common Dreams on 19 December 2017

Among the things he noted are:
U.S. inequality levels are far higher than those in most European countries;
U.S. infant mortality rates in 2013 were the highest in the developed world;
America has the highest incarceration rate in the world;
In terms of access to water and sanitation the US ranks 36th in the world.

Alston said the US is out of line with the developed world and insists its human rights “do not include rights that guard against dying of hunger, dying for a lack of access to affordable healthcare, or growing up in a context of total deprivation.”

Alston spoke with politicians and political appointees. Some of them, he said, clung to “caricatured narratives” of who the wealthy and poor are—narratives that falsely portray the rich as industrious, and the poor as lazy people who merely need to pull themselves up by the bootstraps in order to make it.

“I wonder how many of these politicians have ever visited poor areas, let alone spoken to those who dwell there,” he stated.

Census Bureau data he cited say more than one in eight Americans –40 million people–live in poverty; Alston said that figure appears to be by design; “…at the end of the day, particularly in a rich country like the USA, the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power. With political will, it could be eliminated.”

What can we do to change this?  I am contacting my senators, who may or more likely may not do anything about it.  What else can we do?


Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

There is considerable expert opinion that the United States is sliding into fascism. Dr. Brian Klaas, an American scholar who is currently a fellow in comparative politics at the London School of Economics, says that Trump’s willingness to flout the law and attack democratic institutions puts the US on line with the early stages of authoritarian regimes.

He says “This is a threat to our democracy and to the core values we stand for.” Klaas says that Trump hasn’t become a despot “but he clearly wants to be one.”

Klaas also wrote: “Trump demonizes the press, He issues calls to ‘lock up’ his political rival and brazenly deploys divide-and-rule tactics, whipping up nationalist anger against Muslims and migrants. He surrounds himself with family members and cronies, riding roughshod over long-accepted ethical standards. And he belittles our democratic allies while bizarrely cheerleading for brutal despots across the globe.”

All Dr. Klaas writes is true and frightening to me. What will become of the United States if we the people do not rise up against Trump who is clearly doing damage to our country?

Dr. Klass asks “What if a smarter, savvier and more disciplined Donald Trump 2.0 comes along. Trump has paved the way for such a figure. Imagine an authoritarian populist who borrows from the Trump playbook while avoiding its more obvious divisive and self-defeating qualities. Imaging someone with Ronald Reagan’s charism and Barack Obama’s polished rhetoric peddling ideological Trumpism. The Trump presidency could serve as the rehearsal for someone far more dangerous.”

Frightening! What can we do to avoid such a successor to Trump? How can we begin to repair the damage to our country Trump is doing?


Thursday, November 23rd, 2017


Above is a photograph of one of the floats in the Macy’s parade here in New York today, Thanksgiving Day, November 23rd 2017.  There is not a flake of snow on the ground and the high temperature was 49 degrees.

To me this is alarming.  Thirty or forty years ago, there would have been snow and temperature below freezing.  Clear signs of global warming.

When will we begin to address this issue?  Is it already too late?  Is planet earth going to become uninhabitable by human beings?


Saturday, November 18th, 2017

Since he assumed the office of President, I have been expressing disapproval of Donald Trump who, as you may remember, actually received fewer votes from the people of the United States than Hillary Clinton did and was only elected because of the outmoded system of the “electoral college” in the US.

Below is part of an article by Richard E. Frankel, Associate Professor of Modern German History at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where we read:

“…Trump has proven unable to let go of his obsession with his defeated rival. In early November 2017—nearly one year after his election victory—he was not only continuing to attack Clinton, but also calling on the FBI and the Justice Department to investigate her. He was ‘very frustrated’ by the fact that he’s unable to order those agencies to ‘go after’ his former opponent—something he said he would very much love to do.

“It was a horrifying moment as the President of the United States, perhaps more clearly than at any previous time, expressed the thoughts and desires of an autocrat. And today, with the announcement that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will explore the possibility of creating a new special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton, those thoughts and desires have moved that much closer to being realized.

“Such open calls for criminal investigations of political opponents are truly unprecedented in American history—and for good reason, since they would undermine the very foundation of liberal democracy. If the president could order the FBI to investigate Hillary Clinton, where would it stop? Anyone who spoke out to criticize such a brazen act would be vulnerable to the same treatment. And then any individual or any group—regardless of whether they had actually done anything—would be at the mercy of Trump’s politicized justice system. The president would be able to exclude anyone he wished from the national community. The road to dictatorship would be wide open to him. We know this because it was such a system that helped destroy democracy in Germany and helped Hitler establish his Nazi dictatorship.”

Richard Frankel

Professor Frankel

I am indeed horrified by the revelation of these “thoughts and desires of an autocrat” who is the president of my country.  Since his election, I have been encouraging my elected representatives to institute impeachment proceedings against him.  I will continue to do that.


Thursday, November 9th, 2017

World Trade Center Towers Burning

On September 11th, 2001 my house in Brooklyn, where I lived at the time, was under the huge smoke trail that you can see in this image above.  We could smell the smoke for days after and New York City was in turmoil for quite some time.  The subways did not run and many aspects of life here were affected.

Lower Manhattan Today

Sixteen years after the attacks, lower Manhattan has been restored and most of us here in the city rarely think about that dreadful time.  Today, however, I want to remember the brave US firefighters and police, some of whom gave their lives in that attack and its aftermath.  I want to remember the people in the tower and in New York City who died in that attack.  And I want to remember all of us in this city who were traumatized by that dreadful event.

Especially today, I want to be thankful for the restoration of lower Manhattan and for a return to what passes for “normal” in this city.  I am proud to be a New Yorker and grateful for all the good things here and for all of the people here who make life good.


Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

Today is voting day in New York City and Mayor de Blasio, holding the Italian flag during a parade not long ago honoring Italian Americans, is up for re-election.  I went out before lunch to my polling place, a school two blocks from my house here in Manhattan.  I think no one is very far from their polling place in this city.  There were plenty of poll workers and voting machines, so we were moving through at good speed.

One of many things I like about New York City is that we vote very close to where we live. Dense population no doubt accounts for that.  I have lived in places where it was rather a trek to where I could vote.  Not here.