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The Gift of Spent Munitions

Photo credit: cafepress.com

The Gift of Spent Munitions

The pendant comes in three colors, each painted on brass. The neck cord is made of a synthetic material, so animal rights consumers, vegetarians, and vegans can rest assured that they won’t be adding to the misery of a planet so deep in distress that only the most sanguine can find much in the way of hope these days from those long-distance runners among us.

The organization selling the necklaces is a bona fide group, and I know because I’m a member and they do good and important work in the areas of war and peace. But just before I hit the button on the cart to purchase one of the necklaces, I stopped. What was wrong about a purchase of a fairly “attractive” item in a society that acts much like trained seals when it comes to Internet purchases? We’re hooked and there’s a part of the brain that’s sold on buying, a habit that is increasingly leading to the environmental debacle we now all face. Unlike those seals, once we’re sated, we’re soon back for more of the glitter.

Someone else nearby perusing the same item wondered out loud about the safety of wearing jewelry made from spent atomic weapons. It’s the same sort of reaction when the first glow-in-the-dark numbers were added to wrist watches. Nowhere in the description of the item was there any mention about a specific part of each purchase that would be donated to some group affected by the horrors of war… refugees, survivors of nuclear blasts, children tormented by war… any of scores of groups would have been acceptable, but I thought that this group of veterans selling these items has done lots of work to inform the world about the horrors of wars past and present and actually has placed their bodies, in some cases, on the line to protest war and advance the cause of peace.

Then I searched for another producer of peace jewelry that I had seen on the Internet a few years back and they were still selling their wares and read that 10 percent of their profits was going to a reputable veterans support group.

While checking out more weapons of war jewelry, I came upon Internet seller after seller that was hawking bullet casings of one sort or another. I thought that it was better to stay away from any Internet searches about those particular businesses.

This month marks the sixth anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, so even looking at that garbage was cause for immediate nausea. I wondered how anyone could wear such a piece of this junk jewelry when families continue grieving for their lost children, relatives, and friends from one of the most horrific massacres ever perpetrated. Sandy Hook Promise, a group that emerged from the horror of the Connecticut massacre, reported in the Guardian that 2018 has already surpassed previous years for gun violence in schools.

Since it’s the holiday season, perhaps support could be given to Patricia Okoumou, the woman who scaled the base of the Statue of Liberty this past summer in protest of the Trump administration’s separation of migrant families. A 7-year-old immigrant child recently died in custody at the border in Texas. Patricia faces the potential of prison time. She will soon be in federal court in New York for her act of defiance in standing for innocent children and their families.

The National Enquirer’s Talking Dog
The publisher of the National Enquirer squashed information about Donald Trump’s salacious behavior. As a kid, I worked in my family’s luncheonette. The business had an extensive newspaper and magazine rack and during quiet times in the shop, I would grab the National Enquirer and read many of the outrageous stories that had strong appeal to a kid’s appetite for adventure, both real and imagined. One story about a dog that talked in a nearby then somewhat rural community in Rhode Island spiked my interest. A talking dog nearby… What a great find! Now that the Enquirer has alleged that it has squashed tales of Trump’s questionable behavior, it seems that those dogs are off of the leash once again.

Bill Blum and the Offer of a Place to Stay
Bill Blum, who died just a few days ago as a result of a fall in his apartment in Washington D.C., was one of those souls on the left who refused to relent in the face of horror. Bill was a long-distance runner in the matter of high ideals and he wrote on these pages with a level of skill and insight that few can match. His Anti-Empire Report was riveting reading! He was not only an intellect, but also a person of unparalleled humanity. Years ago, when Bill learned that I needed a place to stay in D.C. during a demonstration, he did not hesitate to offer his place. We occasionally wrote to one another because the issues we were interested in intersected at various times. We even aggravated a few of the same people on the political left and we sometimes disagreed on our interpretation of issues. Both Bill and I were fortunate enough to cross paths with a fine writer and editor in her own right, Laurie Endicott Thomas, who edited some of both of our writing. The Real News Network carried an interview with Oliver Stone about Bill Blum. I understand that there will be at least one, or perhaps two, memorial services for Bill.

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer.

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The Supreme Court: More Hope and Change for the Corporate Elite






The Supreme Court: More Hope and Change for the Corporate Elite

Looking out of my study window at the bucolic setting where I live is very troubling these days. Full summer has taken up residence in perennial plantings, vegetable gardens, and the inviting landscape. But as I write, the second heat wave in the Northeast this summer is wringing needed water from the land, and there is a definite price to be paid for the lush quietude of these surroundings. Indeed, an existential  war, both metaphorical and real rages outside. That war has had very real consequences for those people of goodwill and political acumen who are attempting to live meaningful lives in the mayhem that we now face both individually and collectively as a species. “Don’t mourn, organize,” said the activist and songwriter Joe Hill. But that admonition will take people just so far. Pandora’s Box left hope for humanity, but much like the antihero, Simon Wagstaff,  in Philip Jose Farmer’s Venus on the Half-Shell, we’re faced with so many existential threats that the political landscape looks more and more hopeless as the days and months of reaction pass. Farmer’s protagonist Wagstaff looks for “the “definitive answer to the ultimate question.” He wants to know what the meaning of life is all about with all of its slights and inhumanities and injuries… Why has it been made so very awful?  “Why not?“ is one conclusion that Farmer’s novel purposes, but that is not a satisfying outcome for those who are politically engaged.

It took little time for the political universe that is occupied by Harvard Law School to begin to give some clues as to the “Why not?” The Boston Globe lost no time reporting that Brett Kavanaugh, as a visiting law professor there was “well-liked by both students and faculty members” (“At Harvard Law School, he’s Professor Kavanaugh,” July 11, 2018). We’ve moved so far to the political, economic and social right in the U.S. that this candidate who will move this nation to unrecognizable extremes in terms of women’s rights, gun rights, corporate anarchy, an imperial presidency and an environment that is the plaything of industry, is seen as a good guy. The problem here is that we’ve been heading down this road to oblivion for so long that many cannot even see the road markers that are pointing the way toward a dystopian nightmare. Is this part of what Hannah Arendt called the “banality of evil” in Eichmann in Jerusalem? Harvard blessed us with Dr. Strangelove, Henry Kissinger, the unapologetic warmonger Robert McNamara, and a host of other reactionaries, so why should we be troubled with Brett Kavanaugh on an extremist and right-wing Supreme Court? Isn’t producing a whole line of the latest of the elite of the elite one of the functions of the Ivy League?

But Harvard also was where Daniel Ellsberg studied, so those of conscience can also come from these citadels of privilege. It’s just that they’re not the ones calling the shots these days. Did the Ivy good guys and gals ever really call the shots? I seem to remember something about a missile crisis in 1962.

In addition to Kavanaugh’s Ivy League pedigree, he is a favorite of the far-right Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation, and the lethal naysayers of the National Rifle Association. There’s a trilogy not made in heaven!

Where do we go from here? Martin Luther King, Jr. said it was a choice between chaos and community as he neared the end of his life. All of the metaphorical  road signs bring us further and further down that existential and real highway toward chaos and oblivion. Perhaps we on the left have not done all that we could have. But a person and political movements cannot spend all of the time at the barricades.

Looking to Democrats for manna from heaven is to cast one’s lot with the failed call for “hope and change” that ended with the present nightmare we face today. If we need the energy of the young we will be disappointed in many there, also. In the late 1980s, a majority younger voters cast their ballots for the warmonger George H.W. Bush. The move to the right was already well under way. While Bernie Sanders did rally young adults on college campuses, they also disappeared in masses from political action after 2016.

Blue Dog Democrats will once again align with Trump in the so-called Red States in favor of the corporate lackey Kavanaugh and we will be that much closer to the end of the road.

While Kavanaugh is busy weaponizing the First Amendment into a right reserved solely for the corporate elite,  the GOP is already busy attempting to make protest illegal. They want to punish wearing a mask at demonstrations with 15 years in prison in their Unmasking Antifa Act. They’re already feeling their oats (“GOP Unmasks Anti-Antifa Bill,” Huffington Post, July 11, 2018)!


Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer.




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