Just imagine if this was your son ….. * And still, friendship survives under the occupation …


First Christmas Away From Home


I will be back in my hometown of Buffalo on Monday night. Christmas brings up all kinds of mixed emotions and expectations. I will be seeing my mother and my older sister and my nephew and his family. This is a season of dread, becoming nauseated after hearing yet another version of Silent Night at the mall. This is an annual pilgrimage for me seeing what changes have taken place back home and working role in the family dynamics. I might see if it’s possible to stream a black holiday classic movie.

This year is more challenging than ever as I have fought with my body to achieve a certain level of health. My two main presents are to myself: I had tied to quit working a few months ago and then I accepted a job a few weeks ago that begins in early January.  My new supervisor has called several times and I have filled out all kinds of paperwork so I guess this is going to happen. The second gift is that of my functioning mostly pain-free body. I have an appointment with the VA on Monday to get the remainder of my ear wax removed before getting on the plane.

I am quick point out to all who will listen that this holiday is something very different for everyone. There are the people seeking asylum who are facing family separation and even death trying to find a better life for themselves and their families. There was the hear wrenching story of a young girl who died in a prison camp yesterday. There are the pictures of hundreds of Yemenis on the brink of starvation. There are the survivors of the journalists who were killed attempting to shine the light of truth upon the evil deeds of powerful people. There are the people whose stories were told in the song First Christmas of loneliness, abuse and fear.  There is the loss of democracy caused by the state legislatures in Wisconsin and Michigan. And finally there are people being spat upon by racists who don’ even know them but feel cIt is a time to reflect on our hopes and dreams and resolve to find a way rejoice and be glad in it.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Outrage and calls for action are growing over cellphone video posted online showing police officers yanking a child from his mother’s arms at a Brooklyn city agency building. The mother, 23-year-old Jazmine Headley, can be seen in the video holding tightly to her baby son as three NYPD officers try to…

via Outrage, Calls For Action Grow In Response To Video Showing Police Officers Taking 1-Year-Old From Mother — CBS New York

How brutal can you be?

model-2425697_1920Today I was routinely checking my twitter feed when I saw a story about a viral video. A young mother can gone to a center in New York to request child care vouchers. Because there were no seats in the crowded room she sat down on the floor with her baby. She was not causing a disturbance but for some reason the police were called. Onlookers urged the police to leave her alone but instead they were violently tugging at her to get her child. And the police waved a stun gun at the crowd and the mother. She was arrested and falsely charged but public outcry will probably force the District Attorney to drop the charges. More needs to be done to ensure this never happens again. Human services workers need to be retained. I feel strongly about this because I was victimized in a similar incident in Milwaukee years ago. I went to the Human Services building where poor people go and I was looking for a friend who was applying for food stamps and the sheriffs were called on me for standing instead of sitting. Poor people need help not arrests and those who call the police without cause should be disciplined. Brutal police like the ones who violently traumatized the young woman in the viral video in New York should be fired. This is not the kind of America we were promised. Here is a link to a news report about the arrest. https://abc7ny.com/society/officers-pry-1-year-old-from-moms-arms-during-arrest/4868592/

From Miles to Ruby My Dear even music sounds better

saxaphone player

I have rocking out listening to Miles Davis, Carmen McCrae, Ray Charles and Kevin Mahogany, barely able to contain myself. This is only the second day I have used cannabis oil for relief from arthritis and I am truly shocked by the instant relief. I just wish I had tried this before. It almost feels like my body’s receptors are more open to the music. Whatever you are, it’s great to rock out. Find a way to fix what is ailing you. As a bonus I am also freed from headaches.

Remembering the progressive era


The Senate race in Florida and the Governor’s race in Georgia in November spoke of the difficulties of overcoming racism. There were so many articles remembering the racist history former president Lyndon Baynes Johnson you would have thought he was still alive. The roots of the struggle for progressive politics in south go way back. I listened to an inspiring podcast about the struggle to organize black and white steel workers at a plant owned by US Steel in Birmingham, Alabama. Codeswitch the NPR people of color podcast, told a fascinating story about a radical miners’ union that fought against the government, the Ku Klux Klan and the steel company to achieve racial justice and improved pay and working conditions.

This story was especially enlightening because my old home town Buffalo had a steel mill where black workers traditionally performed the toughest, most physically demanding jobs.  I worked there briefly during a summer. The story of the steel workers was told in a pamphlet years ago called Blast Furnace Brothers by Vince Copeland. Although the locations and the industries are different, the goals of the corporations remained the same to earn as much profit as possible on the backs of their workers.

The union practiced democratic principles to insure that black and white workers would be able to stand together and win. Eventually the union folded into the United Steel Workers Union and continues to this day. They organize workers in other industries. An interview with a current steel workers union official talked about the need for the union to do more in speaking out against racism. We should commend NPR and the Codeswitch team for bringing us this look at American history. Those who do not want workers to organize together don’t want us to hear what we can achieve when we put our backs into it.

The Good Fight


This week I went to a meeting about the Republican power grab in our state of Wisconsin. Republicans have had things their way in Madison with majorities in both houses of the legislature and the governorship. Scott Walker was at the top of his game limiting the power of unions and Democrats. He even attempted an ill-fated run for the presidency. However, since 2016 the trends have started to favor democrats and their candidates. They won a series of special elections with including the race for Senate in Alabama and a couple of open seats in Wisconsin. Things became so bad that Walker began delaying calling for special elections, to keep the republicans from losing their grip on power.

He sounded the alarm that democrats were out to get him after years of cuts in education and health care and the growing opposition to the republican policies in Washington. There were predictions that 2018 would be a blue wave year sweeping in democrats across the country and in many ways it was. Democrats won all the statewide races a couple of weeks ago and they received the majority of votes in the legislature. However, because of unfair election maps, they actually lost a seat. The Republicans have become more ideological because they haven’t had to sit down and make any deals to pretend that they are bi-partisan. This unwillingness to compromise was displayed in a horrible fashion in Wisconsin and Michigan when Republican legislators rammed through bills that would severely limited the power of the incoming Democratic governors and attorneys general.

Democrats across the state rallied, testified against the bills and sent emails. Newspapers wrote editorials shaming the power grab. This graceful show was a leading topic on social media. The satirical newspaper The Onion published a story about the Republicans burning down the state in order to prevent Democrats from coming to power. Even some Republicans like wealthy businessman Sheldon Lubar denounced the bills. The stage is set for a prolonged fight over the next for years with lawsuits planned if Walker signs the bills as expected. I will do my part to resist the forces of conservatives and attempt to restore our state’s battered reputation for progressive politics.