Watch that WHCD clip with Michelle Wolf – #poetry

Watch that WHCD clip with Michelle Wolf – #poetryWatch that WHCD clip with Michelle Wolf

You will feel better.

It doesn’t matter
whether or not you agree with her, or you
think everything she said
is in good taste.

She told the truth
in a series of extended thoughts you actually
have to follow
past a second or two.

Just figuring out if you’re offended by what she said
is a worthy exercise. As is
googling it, or searching YouTube to find
the full 19-minute-plus version
without commentary
from the damage-controlling peanut gallery.

Everybody’s got something to say about what
she said.
Said / we said / they said.

Make up your own mind.
You will think better.


~ Kay Lorraine

May 2, 2018


Sharing: Vengeance Is Mine | from Jacobin

Fantastic writing…

Watching the results on Election Night was like what I’d imagine living in an eighties teen horror movie would be like — the summer camp air curdling into one of vague suspicion, as a strange dawning sensation of doom takes hold. Slaughter: Ohio, Florida, Michigan — all bloody and prone. Who will be picked off next? Pennsylvania? Wisconsin? Minnesota? Your state? The vote is coming from inside the house.

Trump didn’t think he was going to win — not him, not his cracked, wincing campaign manager, not the sozzled Nazi werewolf chairing his presidential bid, not the jackal pack advising him, not the rival camp, not the media. Trump, that demented circus peanut, knew that he had lost every debate, that he had failed to appeal to the mystical moderate voters who determine elections, that he had trailed in most every poll.

And yet when the ballot boxes were locked and the results came filtering back, Clinton was in trouble. A few hours later, she was dead meat. DOA.

There was no grand strategy here. Trump was obviously petrified and unsure of himself, woozily winding his way onto the Hilton dais to claim victory at 3:00 in the morning. This plainly wasn’t supposed to happen. Trump, pea-brained gurnard that he is, only swims downstream; he’s never supposed to reach the spawning ground.

Read the rest here: Vengeance Is Mine | Jacobin

Sharing from Sarah Kendzior: We’re heading into dark times. This is how to be your own light in the Age of Trump

My fellow Americans, I have a favor to ask you.

Today is November 18, 2016. I want you to write about who you are, what you have experienced, and what you have endured.

Write down what you value; what standards you hold for yourself and for others. Write about your dreams for the future and your hopes for your children. Write about the struggle of your ancestors and how the hardship they overcame shaped the person you are today.

Write your biography, write down your memories. Because if you do not do it now, you may forget.

Write a list of things you would never do. Because it is possible that in the next year, you will do them.

Write a list of things you would never believe. Because it is possible that in the next year, you will either believe them or be forced to say you believe them.

A president-elect who wants to strip our country down for parts

It is increasingly clear, as Donald Trump appoints his cabinet of white supremacists and war-mongers, as  hate crimes rise, as the  institutions that are supposed to protect us cower, as  international norms are shattered, that his ascendency to power is  not normal.

More on the surge in hate crime can be found here.

Read this non-partisan plea to save our democratic institutions.

Read more in this piece on international law in the Age of Trump.

You can read Joshua Foust’s article “This Is Not Normal” here.

Please read the rest of this piece at: We’re heading into dark times. This is how to be your own light in the Age of Trump

You say you want a revolution? Think about your long game

Excerpt from War At Home
Image content: Limited by their upbringing, social position, and isolation from older radical traditions, 1960s activists were unable to make the connections and changes required to build movements strong enough to survive and eventually win structural change in the United States. Middle-class students did not sufficiently ally with working and poor people. Too few white activists accepted third world leadership of multi-racial alliances. Too many men refused to practice genuine gender equality. Originally motivated by goals of quick reforms, 1960s activists were ill-prepared for the long-term struggles in which they found themselves. Overly dependent on media-oriented superstars and one-shot dramatic actions, they failed to develop stable organizations, accountable leader ship, and strategic perspective. Creatures of the culture they so despised, they often lacked the patience to sustain tedious grassroots work and painstaking analysis of actual social conditions. They found it hard to accept the slow, uneven pace of personal and political change.

I’m working my way through posting excerpts of Strange Bedfellows on this site. The book seems even more apropos now, than ever before, so I’m working my way through it. I hope people will come to understand the underlying message that transcends the story itself. There’s a lot in there. I’ve had 25+ years to think about it, and trust me, I don’t waste time thinking about stuff that has no purpose.

Since the election, there’s been a tremendous amount of dismay, cries for justice, and demands to know “How Can This Happen?”

I’m about as dismayed by anyone, along with not-suprised-at-all. The side of this country that’s come out in the months leading up to the election, and then in the immediate aftermath (hate crimes surged 6%, especially attacks on Muslims, with 300 incidents of harassment or intimidation reported in the seven days following Donald Trump’s election – source Southern Poverty Law Center). Seven days, people. That’s a week.

There’s been a palpable change in the atmosphere. I’m not one to be alarmist, or call out people who stereotypically seem inclined to mis-behave towards others not like themselves (that would be straight, white, middle-class men). But on my conference calls at work, I notice a different tone in the discussions. Men who used to take their turn in the conversations are now dominating. And the way they dominate has changed, as well. Their tone is more imperious, while the things they have to offer are somehow less sophisticated than before.

Then again, maybe they’re just having bad days. Maybe they’re nervous, along with all of us, and that’s how they work it out. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. Plus, I’m more sensitive these days, than usual. (Aren’t we all?)

But something feels different.

It feels like we’ve regressed.

Now, mind you, I’m not one of these pie-in-the-sky Obama’s-presidency-made-it-all-better kind of libbral. I’ve never believed we live in a post-racial America. Impossible, is what comes to mind, when I hear people suggest that. It’s hard for me to trust the professed open-mindedness of privileged and entitled individuals, no matter how well-meaning they may be, no matter how closely they may hew to the more genuine side of that fine line that separates “PC” behavior from true consideration and respect for others different from themselves.  It takes a lot to earn my queer trust, my intermittently disabled confidence, my inherently marginalized regard.

Maybe I’m just too cynical. I’ve been battin’ around on this planet for 50-odd years, and maybe my experiences have hardened me. I’ve seen a lot of positive change in the past decades, but I must admit, I don’t expect much. Not from the mainstream, no matter how its members may cast themselves in ally roles in the grand screenplay of my life. People become strangely aloof, when they risk losing something they prize, just because they’re seen with you. Most of all, I’ve been suspect of the supposed normalization of same-sex marriage, nationwide. It’s one thing for my current home state of Massachusetts to legalize and recognize my 26-year committed, monogamous relationship (i.e., allow me to visit my partner in the hospital and help make critical healthcare decisions for her, as well as let me transfer along to her the finances she’s helped me build). But expecting the law of the land to win over the rest of the bright-red country, and warm the cockles of the hearts of the heartland… Yeah, not so much.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to believe. I want to know to the marrow of my bones that people can and will choose dignity over disgrace, and that they truly are capable of change. And I was starting to believe — just a little bit more — when all the polls showed Hillary Clinton well in the lead, and everyone was pretty much taking for granted that she was going to win over her opponent.

But now this. Now the results of the election — which, if you’re paying attention, are so suspect that they bar even the faintest appearance of legitimacy. We were hacked. Repeatedly. And not just during the November election time. For months, it’s been going on. Our national security authorities have said so. Cybersecurity experts say so. And the results from the digital voting machines in counties that had no paper backups don’t even resemble the results of counties next door which had paper ballots as well.

Why are we surprised that the results came out so different than 96.875% of the official pollsters predicted? Why are we surprised at the suggestion we might have been hacked? Why would we doubt it? It just seems so obvious to me. And yet, the disbelief and denial have flowed like rancid milk from a carton dropped on the kitchen floor after it was left in the fridge during a 2-week power cut. Following that disbelief and denial about the kind of world we live in has come a steady stream of calls for normalization from all sides.

People who still believe that “love trumps hate” — and who don’t seem to get that giving your opponent airtime by using his name in your #1 slogan is not a great way to diminish his impact.

People who just want to accept things as they are and move on.

People who can’t fathom just how bad things can get for this country, thanks to the events of this month, and who can’t wrap their minds around the idea that America’s democracy – of all places – could fall to a fascist coup.

People who want to make the best of things, build bridges, find the good in whatever situation comes.

People who don’t want to rock the boat — and end up on somebody’s list that gets them “disappeared”.

In moments like this, I despair. Because this is really nothing other than realpolitik, plain and simple — the cold, hard facts of political practicalities, and what happens when you ignore them. And so many reactions after that obvious travesty of an election result have treated it like it was a final sentence. A done deal.

People, this is not over. The Electoral College still has to vote. Heck, our popular election  was really just an indicator of which way the Electors should vote. There’s no guarantee they’re going to give it to Trump, though it wouldn’t surprise me if they caved and did just that. On top of it all, there are untold numbers of existing and potential legal suits to raise against the prematurely-declared “President-Elect”, despite the insipid sycophanty of people who only a few weeks ago were questioning the mental health of that individual.

My point is, we’re way too quick to just cave. We’ve come a long way from the original settlers (who were no saints, themselves), to the political hothouse flowers we are today. I would imagine the earth above our founding fathers’ (and mothers’) graves is mighty churned up, right about now.

What’s happened to us? Are we really that weak, really that brittle, really that passive, that all it takes is a surprising show of strength (about things which we had every reason to expect)? Why so timid? Why so quick to roll over? It’s like in the quote above, from the online book WAR AT HOME: Covert Action Against U.S. Activists and What We Can Do About It, our progressives simply doesn’t seem to have what it takes to stand up and fight for themselves — or the rest of us — or to even realize that it takes more than eight years of an African-American president to prove America is over its backwards ways.

Thing is, we just can’t seem to figure out how to instill lasting change in our world. Especially from the left. We have some wins, and we shout “Hooray! All better now!” and urge everyone who’s still smarting from the burn of institutionalized racism, sexism, classism, and bigotry of all kinds, to just move on. Deal with it. See? We’re so much more evolved now.

Except we’re not. Not even close. We’ve managed to plaster over the cracks in the structurally unsound lath and whitewash the walls, but the cracks are still there, and the house is still shaky. We’ve managed to make some symbolic gestures that show how much cooler we are with people of color, disabled folks, queers, women, and so forth, and we know how to talk in terms that don’t instantly offend. But the underlying foundation of all this… bullshit… well, that hasn’t actually changed.

And so we find ourselves back in the same goddamned situation as before — only each time, it seems worse. And it is worse. Because while you were celebrating our post-racial world and congratulating yourself for reading writers of color, the KKK was still demonstrating in Lancaster, PA. Disabled folks (especially non-whites) were still getting shot and killed by police officers. Shooters were still stalking law-enforcement and executing them. And no, the Recession is not over. Not by a long shot.

You want a revolution? Then quit talking. Look to the long game. See the ways in which you can extend the significant changes throughout your life. And for God’s sake, don’t just do it because all of a sudden, you got scared or intimidated or had a wake-up call… and then forget all about it, when you start to feel better about yourself and your choices.

Change isn’t something you can instigate, and then leave to flourish on its own. It takes work, it takes commitment, it’s a fucking boring slog much of the time, and thankless most of the time… and unless we keep after it, it cannot last.

So, enough of the wailing and gnashing of teeth. Whatever caused this shit-show, it didn’t just happen overnight. And it’s not going away anytime soon.

What are you going to do about it?

Change for Good – Beyond the four-year altar-call

churchEvery four years, we’re treated to talk about change during the presidential elections. Everybody makes the case about why change is either needed, or not. And everybody has plenty to say about the new policies everyone else is proposing.

Who doesn’t want change? I certainly do. Good Lord, yes. I think you’d have to be either asleep or on very good drugs, to not desire at least some change in the world. If you’re just mildly paying attention, you’re aware of at least one or two (or two million) things that could use some improvement.

And all the political candidates have some pretty persuasive points. I’m in the unfortunate situation, where I can see the reason for every candidate’s platform. I can’t just discount them and call them “crazy” — because at a basic, human level, I understand them.  Of course, understanding where they’re coming from doesn’t mean I agree with them — not in the least. But I do understand their perspectives, and I completely understand exactly why they and their supporters feel the way they do.

There’s one thing that eludes me, however — and that’s why anyone thinks that the change that’s most needed is going to come from on high, via a presidential candidate, when the “boots on the ground” are still hewing to the same-old-same-old. Seriously, we seem to collectively think that having a new butt in the seat of the Oval Office is going to steer the ship of state in some magically transformative direction… and meanwhile, all the folks down on the benches in the galley are rowing in the same old direction. Or not rowing at all — chances are, they’re on their smartphones.

What part of this makes sense? None of it, from where I’m sitting.

For the last four years — and all the four-year periods prior to the last election — the American public has done a fantastic job of avoiding making pretty much any personal investment in systemic change. We’ve enthusiastically pointed fingers and called names (we’ve got that down to a science), but what have we really — truly — done to actually bring about the changes we believe will save us all? Hell, we haven’t even bothered to more fully understand the issues we all face, collectively. We’re so busy snarking away on Facebook and tweeting our discontent, that any chance of in-depth discussion is, well, non-existent.

And no, watching a late-night current events discussion show does not count. Nor does having the political landscape explained to you by the pundit of your choice, as you nod in agreement.

None of that counts. Emoting is not effecting change. Reacting is not acting. Tweeting and posting is not social activism. And, sorry, flashmobs don’t count. Even if they are posted to YouTube and go viral.

What actually counts, is action. Doing something about your beliefs and values in a substantive, consistent way. You need to do the small, boring, unimpressive, personally costly, utterly transformative things each and every day, whether or not somebody is watching, whether or not it gets attention in social media and tons of likes. And guess what — it doesn’t count in an election year. Anybody can do or believe in sh*t in an election year. Just about everybody does. Anybody can gravitate to a political line and jump on board the party boat, every four years. Who doesn’t?

Watching all the political/ideological hullabaloo, this time of year, is like watching an altar call, when you see intransigent repeat offenders making their way to the front of the revival tent to have all their transgressions wiped clean… just like they’ve done regularly, as long as you’ve known them. And based on past experience and observation, there’s a pretty good chance they’re going right back to their evil ways, as soon as the glow of the revival wears off.

Same thing happens each election year. People get all up in arms and holier-than-thou and righteous and what-not… so-so-so sure that their candidate is The Cure for All That Ails Us. They’re true believers, and they support their candidates in word and deed. Then the election comes. Maybe they win, maybe they lose. But whatever the outcome, once the dust has settled and the new POTUS has their butt in the Oval Office seat, we all go back to business as usual.

And we spend another four years of habitual oblivion, racking up yet more reasons to be outraged and desperate, the next time around.

Considering how much more dire each subsequent election becomes, with “more than ever riding on the outcome”, it’s hard for me to take anyone’s burning political convictions seriously. Where’s all that social traction or that same devoted fervor when it’s NOT an election year.  It’s nowhere to be found. Who writes to Congress? Who even calls their representative? (Signing an online petition doesn’t count, by the way, because the recipients often completely disregard them, because they’re so easy to fudge.) It’s all hands-off in the general population, and then we bitch and complain about how lobbyists have taken over our government. Lobbyists and special interests didn’t “take over” anything — they stepped into a gaping void that we’ve all created… and invited them into by turning a blind eye.

We rarely bother to really understand the full spectrum of the issues we face — we just hew to proposals floated by our candidates. Who among the believers that “big banks must be dismantled” understands the impact that would have on the pensions of countless retired schoolteachers? Or union members? Or other folks who have worked long and hard, and who rely on that pension to make ends meet? Who among the proponents of deporting all the “illegals” understands what impact that would have on the economy — or how their own constant craving for low prices drives the underground economy of undocumented labor? Who among the backers of a strong military understands how our long-standing foreign policies and global economic interdependencies contribute to ongoing strife that locks us in a perpetual state of policing and military intervention on behalf of more countries than just our own? And who among those who long for a return to Christian values, realize how vulnerable they are making themselves — because there are so many different flavors of Christian values, and many of those values have been used for centuries by Christians to disenfranchise and kill other Christians, with full religious justification?

We have no collective grasp of the full scope of the issues and challenges that we face as a nation, together. But to us, that’s not the problem — the real problem, apparently, is that other people just don’t agree with us.

All the ballyhoo, all the drama.  It’s both entertaining and annoying. Because seriously, people, who is actually willing to put their money where their mouth is and take action by themselves, instead of looking to some national leader to point them in the right direction? Where’s the action, outside of election years, that backs up your commitment to change? People want energy independence, but they can’t do without their electronic devices and creature comforts. People want clean water for Flint, but they’d rather have cheap cars from Detroit. People want to protect the earth, but they can’t be bothered to separate out their recycling, or cut back on their driving. People want their kids to grow up in a safer world, but they won’t weigh in with their elected representatives on how to make that happen. People want gun rights, but they don’t want to learn how to responsibly and effectively use a firearm, so they don’t kill innocent bystanders.

We want our lives customized and personalized. Screw what that does to the environment. Never mind the expensively toxic bricks that Prius batteries are. We get save gas and look all the more eco-friendly. Never mind the haz-mat incidents waiting to happen when we throw away those new fluorescent light bulbs. They’re easy to come by and they save us money. New iPhone! Woo hoo! Never mind the massive buildings in China housing thousands upon thousands of workers, some of whom leap to their deaths out of desperation. That has nothing to do with us. It’s just sad. Here, let me share that on Facebook or Tweet a 😦 about it.

All this election year talk is just that — talk. For all the outrage and insults, within weeks after the election results are in, the vast majority of people will drop championing the issues and retreat to their social media corners, snarking about oversimplifications from the safety of the interwebs. They’ll say plenty — especially if they’ve “lost” the election — but will they actually do anything? For all the talk about values and the need for change, where’s the action to back it up… especially on an ordinary everyday basis? Where’s the direct contact with our dreaded Congress, to tell them what we actually want and need? Where’s the choice to forego creature comforts for the sake of preserving what we really care about?

Where indeed?

If you really want change, you need to act like it. And if I don’t see it outside of election years, then nothing you can say is going to convince me that you are serious about your political platform. Or that your candidate is a serious contender to actually lead.

Much of my thinking about change was influenced by a dream I had over 20 years ago. It’s now published as Strange Bedfellows –  a story about how we change … and don’t. Get the book here.