Wednesday, November 25, 2015

images-3Well, hopefully this will be up early on Wednesday, if it is late afternoon, know that I am knashing my teeth and probably using bad words, which isn’t a good thing when preparing for our national day of Thanksgiving.

Well, before I start gnashing my teeth, I am going to post this week’s edition. I am thankful for living in a community where everyone comes together to help each other at the drop of a hat. The Miss Jody Community Thanksgiving Dinner is tomorrow from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and I hope to see you there. The dinner is free and any donations received go directly to the Western Sierra Food Bank.

Make sure you don’t miss Holiday on Main in Downieville next week, fun for all ages and Santa will be there too, and the Pet Parade, and raffle prizes galore, See you there.

While walking my dog last evening I ran into a friend, Will Clark, who was walking his very small dog Zorro. Strangely Daisy who is also very small but feistier and always with Zorro wasn’t with them and Will explained that Daisy was on a trip with his granddaughter to another country and it wasn’t clear whether Daisy would be returning. He said this experience with Daisy gave him some philosophical ponderings about control or the lack of that are animals have, they have no chance to decide if they want what we want they just have to do whatever we choose and accept whatever happens…. yes exactly…. one of the reasons I am a vegetarian. And Will. thank you for thinking that, now rethink your diet.

We have Gabby, Carrie’s Corner with some thoughtful words, The Cats , Flats the Bunny and The Others, guest columnists Tom Hastings, Lawrence Wittner, Robert Koehler and Andrew Moss. Don’t forget the Fringe’s site http://www.resilientsierra.com

This week’s photo is from Lee Adams, he caught the best picture of the Blue Heron hanging out on the Downie River near the Forks with the No. Yuba.

John Funk Hits 90 11/25/15

John Funk, a World War II Navy veteran, was surpirsed wednesday morning by his friends at  the coffee club gathering to celebrate his 90th Birthday.  Coffee buddies Carol Marshall brought coffee cakes, Jack Marshall brought homemade divinity, and Downieville Groceries Kathy Williams made cupcakes.  Congratulations John.

11/25/15 John Funk, a World War II Navy veteran, was surprised wednesday morning by his friends at the coffee club gathering to celebrate his 90th Birthday. Coffee buddies Carol Marshall brought coffee cakes, Jack Marshall brought homemade divinity, and Downieville Groceries Kathy Williams made cupcakes. Congratulations John.

Carrie’s Thanks Corner 11/25/15

By: Carrie A. Blakley

images-5Here it is, once again, our beloved national holiday of Thanksgiving. Oh yes, we’re all thankful for the obvious things. Food, clothing, shelter and friends. Then again, those are things we ought to be thankful for every day. I suppose we can add a few more things to the ‘obvious list of things to be thankful for’. Things like, warmth, health, happiness, laughter and our lovely pets that have become the furry members of our families. So, this Thanksgiving, I’m going to just go all out and throw a real wrench in there, and put my two cents worth into the list of things to be thankful for – and I will guarantee you that not all of you will agree with me. However, by the time you finish reading my list, you’ll understand why these things have been added.

I’m thankful for the Syrian refugees, for they are teaching us that just being able to breathe is something indeed to be thankful for. They are reminding us that home really is where the heart is, and that no matter what, the human will to carry on and survive under even the worst conditions, far exceeds the negativity surrounding us on a daily basis. I’m thankful for the Paris attacks, for they served to show the world that we stand united, regardless of what nation we hail from. They served to show the world that we are all human, and will aide our brethren with anything that we are capable of aiding them with, even if it’s just typing something in on Facebook to let them know that we are here to help them, even when they don’t need the help, or have asked for it.

Dare I even say this: I am actually thankful for the people within humankind that others consider ‘evil’, ‘horrific’ and ‘bad’. Yep, I could feel the icy glares coming from everyone. These are the people that need our prayers, our positive energies and our well wishes the most. Why? Because they have to be in a pretty bad place in their lives to do some of the things that they do. They may not even fully understand that what they are doing is ‘bad’. Some of them may even be victims, forced into doing these things, just to keep themselves from getting killed….or to spare the lives of their families. We don’t know for sure, so the best we can do is give them our best thoughts, and well wishes, and hope that they survive, and turn into good people before they pass on to meet their maker. So this year, as you run down the list of things that you are thankful for, try thinking of some more unusual things to be thankful for. It may just make you smile. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Gabby’s Thankette 11/25/15

Thanksgiving Gabby
By Gabby Fringette

gabby-in-social-space-150x150This week most people observe thanksgiving, which I personally think we should change to The-Natives-Saved-the-Pilgrim’s-Asses day.
But until that gets changed, I suggest we all observe thanksgiving by being grateful for all of out surplus, actually grateful, and in observance, not waste food. America wastes 20% of its food.

This thanksgiving, if you have lots of family coming over, try to think of then things you are grateful for. Even if family is obnoxious, offensive, annoying or just friggin’ tiresome, think about everything you’d miss if they were all suddenly gone. Granted the rebellious son with his stupid haircut and tattooed girlfriend might piss you off, or maybe your daughter is an annoying give-up-your-guns-and-beef-no-TV-for-my-kids city slicker. Your brother or sister might bring up uncomfortable topics at the table, like, ‘hey, Johnny, can I see your tattoo?’. Or maybe the sibling wants to discuss politics at the table, and you have conflicting views.
After all, they are family, they did take the effort to visit you. So be grateful.

If you don’t have family, you’re probably grateful for all of the time you did spend with them. You might even be sorry if you were the obnoxious daughter, the annoying sibling.

Look around your house: if you’re reading this, I know it means you have a computer. You probably have a T.V, a microwave, a cellphone.
How much of this stuff do you take for granted? You don’t give it a second thought until the power goes out, or something breaks, and now you’re waiting half an hour for your peas to defrost, or you can’t check you email.
Be grateful.

This thanksgiving, be thankful. Look at all of the things you have that you like, and all the people that you love, and be thankfull.

Mountain Messenger (thankful for readers) 11/25/15

There are a lot of things I am thankful for, my family, my friends, my cats and dog, living in Sierra County with all the community love and support for each other. Strangely I even feel thankful for Don Russell, the notorious editor of the Mountain Messenger. Most of the time, by comparison, he makes me look normal and fairly sane. I really feel thankful for Milly as she is such an interesting individual and she is loved by Randy, although I think he loves Jill more, but I digress. This is about being thankful on Thanksgiving and I know what Don is thankful for, he has a Mom who loves him, a sister, Cathy, who tolerates him, we think Cathy might love him but it’s uncertain about whether she likes him, of course there is Irene, the one who married him much to everyones amazement (maybe he’s a good kisser) but I’m wandering again. So to show your thankfulness this Thanksgiving a subscription and/or a Christmas advertisement would make Don and Milly so very thankful. So order this year, before the Post Office forces subscription prices to rise. You will have the best entertainment for the best price in the good ole USA. Happy Thanksgiving

Don Russell, Editor Emeritus, still has issues with figuring out how this computer thingy works...

11/25/15 Don Russell, Editor Emeritus, still has issues with figuring out how this computer thingy works…somehow the concept of the data board being inside the screen has escaped him….

mess subcrip (1)Send anything you need published to Milly, the CEO and most important person in the office, at yesdearyousuck@yahoo.com or you may call directly to 530 289-3262 and talk to Don, (and suggest he give a raise to Milly). For a subscription: send in as below or call 530 289-3262 with credit card in hand.. Write to Don Russell at mtnmess@cwo.com and tell him you subscribed because you read about it on Sierra County Prospect…..

Everybody Splits Even 11/25/15

Almost a Century Ago, another Democratic Socialist Ran for President of the United States—from His Prison Cell

Lawrence Wittner

Lawrence Wittner

By Lawrence S. Wittner

In the early twentieth century, roughly a century before Bernie Sanders’s long-shot run for the White House, another prominent democratic socialist, Eugene V. Debs, waged his own campaigns for the presidency.

Debs began his political career as a labor leader. Growing up in Terre Haute, Indiana, he dropped out of school at the age of 14 to work on the railroads, scraping the grease from the trucks of freight engines. In later years, convinced that the division of workers into small craft unions made them easy pickings for the giant railroad corporations, Debs founded the American Railway Union, leading it in the dramatic Pullman Strike of 1894. Taking the side of the railroad corporations, the federal government acted to crush the strike, send Debs and other union leaders to jail, and destroy the American Railway Union.

As Debs brooded on these events, he concluded that, although industry-wide unions were vital, they could not win their battles for economic and social justice while giant corporations dominated the government. In Europe, workers were forming labor and socialist parties. Why not in America? At the beginning of 1897, in an open letter to the remnants of the American Railway Union, he wrote: “I am for Socialism because I am for humanity. We have been cursed with the reign of gold long enough.”

In 1901, together with small groups of union activists, former Populists, socialists, and a sprinkling of intellectuals and reformers, Debs established the Socialist Party of America. Socialist Party campaigns were a mixture of “immediate demands”—minimum wages, maximum hours, abolition of child labor, and women’s suffrage—and utopian visions. On the municipal level, the party challenged local corruption and championed improved public services. Each reform, the party stressed, extended democracy from politics to the economy, leading to the ultimate goal of “the cooperative commonwealth.”

In response, the party’s strength grew rapidly and, by 1912, the Socialist Party, with Debs as its presidential candidate, was a force to be reckoned with. In speech after speech, Debs set crowds ablaze. Eighteen thousand people crowded into Philadelphia’s Convention Hall to hear him. Another 22,000 packed New York City’s Madison Square Garden. In the Southwest, his revivalistic zeal appealed deeply to tenant farmers and miners. In the Middle West, he captured the hearts of Polish- and German-Americans. In the East, Jewish garment workers plastered their walls with his picture. As the novelist John Dos Passos noted, Debs encouraged workers to “want the world he wanted, a world . . . where everybody would split even.”

The 1912 election results confirmed the party’s progress. That year, Debs drew 901,000 votes. Socialist Party membership also reached a peak: 118,000 Americans. Like its counterparts abroad (for example, the British Labour Party), the Socialist Party seemed to be rising to power. Socialists held 1,200 public offices in 340 American cities, including 79 mayors in 24 states.

However, by 1920, Debs faced a very different situation. His beloved Socialist Party lay in ruins, while he was locked up again in prison.

Behind the crisis of American socialism lay World War I and its accompanying atmosphere of fear and intolerance. In response to the Congressional declaration of war in April 1917, delegates at an emergency party convention declared their “unalterable opposition” to it. Fierce government repression and vigilante action followed, destroying the party organization. Drawing upon the Espionage Act—a loosely-written law prohibiting any obstruction of the war effort—the federal government began prosecuting Socialist Party leaders. Many were convicted, usually for speeches or writings critical of the war, and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Meanwhile, the postmaster general banned virtually every Socialist newspaper, magazine, or other publication from the mails. Socialist Congressman Victor Berger, convicted under the Espionage Act, was expelled from the House of Representatives, re-elected by the voters, and then expelled again.

Outraged by this assault upon civil liberties, Debs delivered a blistering speech that June at a party rally in Canton, Ohio, not far from the jail where two Socialist Party leaders had recently been hung by their wrists from a prison rafter. As federal agents circulated conspicuously through the crowd, he declared boldly: “The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose.” Thirteen days later, a federal grand jury indicted Debs for violating the Espionage Act.

At his trial, Debs freely conceded his guilt. “I have been accused of having obstructed the war,” he stated. “I admit it. Gentlemen, I abhor war.” Facing a possible 60-year prison sentence, the aging Socialist leader refused to flinch. “Your Honor,” he said, “years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better. . . . While there is a lower class, I am in it; . . . while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Debs spent a substantial portion of it in the maximum security penitentiary in Atlanta. Here he labored in the prison workhouse and, for 15 hours a day, was confined with five other men to a small, stiflingly hot Southern jail cell. Reports began to filter out that the 63-year old Socialist leader was near death. Moreover, the prison’s security restrictions weighed heavily upon him. Visiting privileges were limited, while Debs’s letters—restricted to a single sheet of paper per week—could be written only to an authorized group of family members. In a particularly vindictive act, the Wilson administration cut off Debs’s mail and visiting privileges. Nevertheless, Debs remained a charismatic figure, beloved by his fellow prisoners.

Meanwhile, the Socialist Party continued to disintegrate. A portion of the party, inspired by the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and convinced by government repression that American democracy was a sham, demanded a “revolutionary” strategy. When they failed to capture control of the Socialist Party from more moderate forces, they split off and formed two competing Communist organizations whose leaders raced off to Moscow to secure recognition from the new Communist International. Debs spoke out strongly against them. “The Moscow program,” he said, “is outrageous, autocratic, ridiculous.” Thereafter, Socialists and Communists were rivals—and sometimes enemies—in the United States and around the world.

Meanwhile, in 1920, the battered Socialist Party leadership convinced Debs to make yet another run for the presidency. Confined to his prison cell and with his party in shambles, Debs could not wage an effective campaign. Indeed, he was allowed no more than a weekly press release by prison authorities. Nevertheless, he provided a potent symbol of democratic socialist ideals and government repression. In the election, he garnered 923,000 votes—a smaller percentage of the overall total (enhanced by women’s suffrage) than he had drawn in the past, but the largest vote ever drawn by a democratic socialist candidate for the presidency.

In late 1921, the new Republican administration of Warren G. Harding, barraged by petitions calling for Debs’s freedom, commuted his sentence and released him from captivity. After an emotional farewell from his fellow prisoners, Debs traveled to the White House for a remarkably friendly meeting with the President. Then Debs caught a train to Terre Haute, where he was greeted by a wild, cheering crowd of 25,000 that lifted him off his feet and carried him to the front steps of his home.

Although Debs died some four years later, many of the democratic socialist ideas he championed—minimum wages, maximum hours, unemployment insurance, the abolition of child labor, collective bargaining rights, health and safety regulations, worker’s compensation, social security, and a variety of publicly funded services—having attained some popularity, became incorporated into the program of the Democratic Party and, later, enacted into law.

Will the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, a political activist who has long revered Debs, be able to extend Debs’s legacy by securing national healthcare, free college education, a $15 minimum wage, a break-up of the giant banks, a more peaceful foreign policy, and other reforms? Debs’s political career illustrates both the difficulties and the possibilities.

Dr. Lawrence Wittner, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is a satirical novel about university corporatization and rebellion, What’s Going On at UAardvark?

Arrest of Rosa Parks 11/25/15

Montgomery

Andrew Moss

Andrew Moss

by Andrew Moss

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a Montgomery city bus on her way home from work, and, fatigued, refused to give up her seat to a white man when the bus had filled up. Parks was arrested for violating the city’s segregation statutes, and within a few days, the African-American leaders of Montgomery responded with a highly successful boycott of the city’s bus system. In less than a year, by November 13, 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal district court ruling that bus segregation violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, and within a month of that ruling, integrated buses began rolling on the streets of the city.

As we reflect on the anniversary of those events, we might well ask what messages or meanings, they carry for us 60 years later. Among many possible meanings, I would like to suggest two, and the first is simply this: nonviolence works.

During the year-long boycott and its immediate aftermath, white supremacists committed numerous acts of violence against the boycotters and their leaders. They bombed the home of Martin Luther King, Jr., the boycott’s leader, almost killing his wife and child. They continued perpetrating violence after the Supreme Court handed down its ruling, firing on buses, bombing churches, and other leaders’ homes, and beating up riders. Yet the boycotters never retaliated violently. As a result, one of the city’s most important legal arguments against bus integration – that it would lead to interracial violence – collapsed during the court proceedings.

Equally important, the boycotters’ self-discipline kept public awareness sharply focused on the injustices of segregation, winning support not only among northern whites but also among many white people in the south. To maintain their discipline, the boycotters showed considerable courage, putting the lie to the claim that nonviolence was for the weak. Many, if not most, of these nonviolent warriors, possessed a tool not available to most conventional soldiers: the ability to distinguish between the perpetrator of injustice and the injustice itself. This distinction, a key principle of nonviolence taught by Dr. King and his fellow leaders, allowed the boycotters to engage their opponents without demonizing or dehumanizing them. The protestors understood that the defeat of bus segregation was a victory for all of Montgomery, not a defeat of white people. This understanding imbued them with an empowering identity as change agents on behalf of human dignity and democratic values. Today we can see similar qualities on the part of the University of Missouri students who displayed discipline, perseverance, and courage in protesting the oppressive racism at their university – and raising consciousness enough that a chancellor and university president had to resign.

These examples lead me to a second message I’d like to suggest when reflecting on the long-ago events in Montgomery. This message, too, is straightforward: that nonviolence is not only a body of strategies (boycotts, sit-ins, hunger strikes) for resisting oppression; it is also a philosophy, or world-view, that represents the sanest, most viable alternative to ever-escalating cycles of violence, whether those cycles are manifested in calls for guns in schools or in the bellicosity and fear-mongering that follow the kinds of terrorist attacks inflicted on Paris and other cities.

Almost 12 years after the arrest of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King appeared in New York’s Riverside Church to break his silence and proclaim his opposition to the Vietnam War. King was subsequently assailed not only by his opponents but also by many of his allies who saw his anti-war position as deflecting much-needed energy from the civil rights movement. In his address that day, King not only showed the logical connections between opposition to the war and the struggle for justice; he also offered a penetrating analysis of the global choices facing the world’s pre-eminent military and economic power. King condemned the anti-revolutionary direction of American foreign policy, pointedly criticizing the nation’s support of oppressive regimes in its destructive quest for profit. And he called for a “genuine revolution of values,” declaring that, “Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.”

Exactly one year after the Riverside Church address, King was felled by an assassin’s bullet. The choices he articulated in that address still vex us today. The eloquence with which he spoke made it clear that the road from Montgomery ran straight to the Riverside Church, underscoring the fact that nonviolence and the quest for justice are inextricably linked. In 1958, two years after the boycott, King had written, “In a day when Sputniks and Explorers dash through outer space and guided ballistic missiles are carving highways of death through the stratosphere, nobody can win a war. Today the choice is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence.”

Sixty years later, this message from Montgomery may resound more urgently than ever before.

Andrew Moss, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is an emeritus professor at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he taught a course, “War and Peace in Literature,” for 10 years.

Joy Feels Troubling 11/25/15

The Aftermath of Paris

Robert Koehler

Robert Koehler

By Robert C. Koehler

I’m sitting in the aftermath of Paris, feeling emotions tear me apart. One of the emotions is joy. My daughter, who lives there, is safe.

Has “joy” ever felt so troubling?

The aftermath of Paris seems likely to be intensified (“pitiless”) bombing raids in Syria, closed borders, heightened fear-based security and the deletion of “the gray zones of coexistence” across the planet.

Oh, it’s so nice to have an enemy who is truly evil! The logic of war is so seductive. It simplifies all these complex emotions. Just watch the news.

The news is that terror wins. Indeed, terror is the cornerstone of civilization.

I couldn’t get that notion out of my head. That’s because I couldn’t stop thinking about an act of extraordinary terror that took place a little more than a dozen years ago, and its relevance to the world’s current state of shock and chaos. Doing so made it impossible to contemplate the raw savagery of the ISIS killings in Paris and Beirut and everywhere else — the “my God!” of it all, as innocent lives are cut short with such indifference — in a simplistic context of us vs. them.

In March of 2003, the U.S. launched its invasion of Iraq with a bombing campaign called “Shock and Awe,” consisting of some 1,700 air sorties over the country that killed, according to Iraq Body Count, more than 7,400 civilians.

We launched our war on Iraq with the intent to commit terror on a scale ISIS could only dream of. The relevance of this is inescapable, not simply because it makes the United States and NATO brothers in terror with ISIS, but also because the war shattered Iraq and caused the death and displacement of millions more people and, ultimately, created the conditions in which ISIS was able to come to power.

What’s haunting to me is the absence of this shockingly relevant recent history from most mainstream coverage of the Paris killings — or more to the point, the absence of almost any sort of trans-war consciousness, you might say, from the discussion of what we ought to do next.

Considering that bombing campaigns, and war itself, are not only the equivalent of terror (“writ large”) but also wildly ineffective and counterproductive, producing, in the long term, pretty much the opposite of what rational, non-war-mongers crave, the failure of politicians and mainstream media types to reach beyond a riled militarism in their reaction to the Dark Ages terror in which ISIS specializes bodes poorly, I fear, for the future of humanity.

My daughter, who last Friday night had been at a rehearsal for an upcoming poetry event, found herself, at 10 p.m., as she was leaving a tavern called Les Caves St.-Sabin, in the middle of the chaos. As she and her friends stepped into the street, someone came running past warning people to get back inside. They only learned, in bits and pieces, the enormity of what was still happening in their city. She spent the night at the tavern, a decorated basement that felt, she said, like a “medieval fallout shelter.” In the morning, the Metro was running again, and she returned to her apartment. Only then did the horror hit her with full ferocity. She sat and cried, then got up and went to work.

However, the tears continue, if only in silence. The Paris tears are a small tributary to a worldwide River of Sorrow that swells beyond Paris and beyond Europe and the West to the broken, bombed, war-ravaged nations of the Third and Fourth World, the source of the planet’s 60 million refugees. This is the world of ISIS. Instead of continuing to bomb this world, in our fear and anger, we could try to understand it.

“ISIS is the first group since Al Qaeda to offer these young men a way to defend their dignity, family, and tribe.”

So wrote Lydia Wilson, a research fellow at the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at Oxford University, in a recent piece for The Nation. She and her colleagues, in an attempt to do just that — understand those who have given over their lives to ISIS — recently interviewed ISIS prisoners of war in Iraq and, in the process, found their humanity. Mostly they were young men in their 20s who grew up in the wake of the American occupation of Iraq; that is to say, in the midst of brutal civil war.

“The Americans came,” one of them told her. “They took away Saddam, but they also took away our security. I didn’t like Saddam, we were starving then, but at least we didn’t have war. When you came here, the civil war started.”

Violence begets violence; war begets war. Knowing this is the starting place. It is time to start over.

Robert Koehler, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.

The Others 11/25/15

11/25/15 Ridicule me if you must...but we will see who has the last laugh when the chickens come home to roost... Conan

11/25/15 Ridicule me if you must…but we will see who has the last laugh when the chickens come home to roost… and no I don’t know what that means exactly…. but it probably isn’t good for you….. Conan (I’m thankful I’m not a turkey)

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