January 30, 2017

The Catapult

In 1933 Adolf Hitler was named Germany’s chancellor.  Soon after, he presided over an immense rally, as befitted the new lord and master of the nation.
Modestly he screamed: “I am founding the new era of truth!  Awaken, Germany, Awaken!”  Rockets, fireworks, church bells, chants and cheers echoed his words.
Five years earlier, the Nazi Party had won less than three percent of the vote.
Hitler’s Olympic leap to the summit was as spectacular as the simultaneous fall into the abyss of Germany’s wages, employment, the mark, and you name it.
Germany, crazed by the collapse of everything, unleashed a witch-hunt against the guilty parties: Jews, Reds, homosexuals, Gypsies, the mentally retarded and those afflicted by the habit of thinking too much.—Eduardo Galeano, Children of the Days, A Calendar of Human History

Perhaps it was meant for me to pick Galeano’s work this morning to go with my cup of coffee.  This book of days is nothing like the literary pabulum designed to settle the stomach and help one believe that everything is in God’s hands and will all work out according to plan.  It is a book of historical records of human activity on days of our past, and Galeano’s sometimes witty, and sometimes biting commentary on the human condition.
Here we are in 2017 when our own Fuhrer continues to tweet obvious lies about crowd size and other proclamations to affirm the immensity of his hands, to distract the populace from his fascist policies and his dictatorial executive orders.
Trump has named the guilty parties that caused the “carnage” in America—The illegals, the Muslims, the Elite, the lying media.     Galeano’s list of Hitler’s guilty parties ends with the one group that perhaps presents the greatest threat to Trump’s regime, “those afflicted with the habit of thinking too much.”
Fascism’s greatest opponent is a thinking populace.  In 1984, Orwell’s State slogan was, “Ignorance is Strength.”  Thinking is an antidote to ignorance, and reading provides immunity against the onslaught of “alternative facts.”
Fortunately, not everyone is asleep at the wheel.  There are millions of Americans who are not distracted by Reality TV, Super Bowls and six packs.  People who know that there are more important Dynasties to worry about than Ducks and Dallas.
Across the nation this past weekend, thousands of people rallied at more than 90 airports and others at courthouses in counties both rural and urban to stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters and say no to a Christo-Fascist regime that believes in alternative facts and depends on an ignorant and apathetic populace.
Think America.  The political revolution depends upon you.

–bill breeden

January 29, 2017

Yesterday I picked up a Nation magazine from October of 2016, published just a few weeks before the election of a man suffering from malignant narcissism signaled a return to the middle ages, a rejection of liberalism, civility and democratic ideas.  The essay that captured my attention was entitled, Vandal in Chief by Adam Haslett, and the paragraph that rang the “bells that still can ring” in my mind read thusly:
“In an essay on King Lear, the philosopher Stanley Cavell describes Lear’s daughter Regan, who orders the eyes of her father’s loyal friend Gloucester gouged out, thusly: “She has no ideas of her own; her special vileness is always to increase the measure of pain others are prepared to inflict; her mind is itself a lynch mob.” A year and a half into Trump’s incitement of a campaign, this seems the most concise formulation of his character: He has no ideas of his own; his special vileness is always to increase the measure of rhetorical violence others are prepared to inflict; his mind is itself a political mob.”
This morning, after the Fuhrer in the White House ordered a ban on Muslims from the countries with which he has no business ties, I read of the fire bombing of a mosque in Texas and wonder just far down the road to hell this nation is willing to travel with Reich Minister of Propaganda Steve Bannon, and the rest of Trump’s fascist cohorts.
This administration is nothing more than a violent political mob, and Trump’s vacuous soul longs to be filled with the adulation of his Sturmtruppen’s praise.
I believe we are better than this.  I believe the American soul is not beyond redemption, and I offer these words from Thomas Paine,
“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he (sic) that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
It is time to stand by our country and resist this usurper of democracy that has invaded the White House.

Margaret Gohn – the bigger picture

I am thrilled to have a progressive Democrat running in my district – 46 – for the Indiana General Assembly. I have know Bill Breeden for a number of years – primarily from his role as minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bloomington. I know that he has a good heart and the interests of the people in mind, as his motivation for being our representative.

I recently received a flyer from Bill’s opponent telling me how he is going to work to make sure Veterans are taken care of. While I think that our country should take care of veterans, there are several problems with that. One is that there are many deserving groups who should be considered.

My first thought is what about mothers? Mothers deserve consideration – as much as veterans, IMO. Mothering can be rewarding, but it also requires sacrifice that should not be taken for granted. Republicans generally deny (or would not even consider) women the right to receive paid maternity leave, affordable childcare, or paid family leave. (That’s almost like expecting military personnel to work without pay.)

In addition, Mothers / caregivers are a group who can be discriminated against at work. Not only that, caregivers (especially mothers), can expect to receive less Social Security, than those who are career-focused and who would be more likely to have money to save. So that’s not right.

While Federal law does not prohibit Family Responsibilities Discrimination, there are State and local laws in some places that do – so that is something that could be worked on by our representative in the Indiana General Assembly.

Another important societal need is easy access to birth control, and abortions. Many are not ready to accept it, but the earth’s resources and functionality are being compromised by more people than can be accommodated. It is in societies interest for people to limit the size of their families. This can be facilitated on the State level, also.

I support Bill Breeden in his race for State Representative. I trust that given the opportunity, he would back some of these bigger picture issues that our State could be addressing on behalf of all of us.

-Margaret Gohn

From the Dunk Tank to the Statehouse

I don’t know of anything more humbling than to be dunked by a three-year-old boy with an arm like Nolan Ryan.  I was sitting comfortably on the dunk tank seat at the tenth annual Spencer Pride Festival when a small toddler stepped up to the line for three balls to dunk the candidate.  The little guy put me in the water two out of three times.  Humbling though it was, it was also a source of encouragement in that it reminded me that success is not a matter of size, but rather a matter of heart.  That little feller stepped up there believing he could do it and he did.

I feel a bit like that.  Our campaign fund is small in comparison to the incumbent’s, but I believe we can do this because people are ready for a change.  Our campaign is committed to moving Indiana into the 21st Century.  We are tired of the Hoosier State being the brunt of the jokes on late night TV.

We are demanding that our elected officials turn their attention away from private issues and address the public good.  Join us in this people’s campaign to restore faith in our public institutions and make our government work for the people rather than for the corporations.

Please contact us if you can volunteer for canvassing and/or would like a yard sign in the fall.

Thanks for donating to our campaign as you are able.  Large donations are helpful, and small monthly donations add up.  This is a campaign which is dedicated to the idea that people of all classes, faiths, races, sexual identities, and whatever other categories there may be, can and should work together to build a better world.

peace–bill

The Most Heroic Word in Any Language?

The Pendulum swings like a Pendulum do. When the working class remembers that it was the left that gave them the forty-hour work week, overtime, vacation, public education, collective bargaining rights, women’s suffrage,…I don’t have time to list it all, but when they remember, or discover the true history of America, then we will have another revolution.

It will happen perhaps in the voting booth, if indeed we are allowed and encouraged to vote. If not, it will happen in the streets. I choose the voting booth until the streets are the only option. I hope many Hoosiers who have never voted will get registered and vote. I hope those who are registered, but haven’t voted in a long time will join the revolution and vote.

I would hate to have tell the great grandchildren that they lost their freedom because of our generation’s lack of exercise thereof. I hope the working class will turn off Fox News, Limpballs and Beck, MSNBC, CNN,and all the other megaphones of the billionaires. Pick up Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.” and discover what really made America great and when it really was.

After all, don’t you think that any book Mitch the Short tried to ban from public education might be worth a read?

FYI–It was Eugene V. Debs, A Hoosier from Terre Haute who believed “Revolution” to be the answer posed in the title above.

Check out our website at billbreeden.com

Viva la Revolution

This election will decide if “We the People” have any courage and love of freedom left in us. The war against public education is one of the most important issues demanding the attention of Hoosiers. I hope enough of us have read the preamble of the U.S. Constitution and have noticed that it does not begin with the words, “In the Beginning.”
It is time for us to have another American Revolution, and it begins in the voting booth. I hope you will go to my website, billbreeden.com and, if you are so inclined, make a donation to the funds for the Revolution of which I am a part.
As founder of the infamous Midwest Liberation Front, I have endorsed my own candidacy and fortunately so have many others.
Viva La Revolution

 

Republicans Have Made Their Bed

Well the Republican party has made their bed, and now they must sleep in it. This is a critical year for the United States. Are we going to abandon the principles of justice and equality for which we have fought for so long? Are we going to listen to the hate mongers and the bigoted voice of a carnival barker who has shown nothing more than arrogance and greed? Does Donald Trump represent the values that so many have fought and died for? Does the Republican party look anything like the party of Eisenhower, or even Nixon?

I believe it is time to remember who we are. We can be the shining city on the hill, or we can be the cowardly community behind the wall of ignorance and arrogance. The world awaits our decision, and expects more of us than what we have seen this past year.

I hope moderate Republicans, Independents and Democrats will rediscover their courage and their humanity and turn back this tide of insanity. We need to clean house in Washington and in Indianapolis, and rebuild a nation of clear thinking progressive people who are willing to meet the challenge of the future for the sake of our children and grandchildren for generations to come.

Why

Why? That is the question that kept me awake for hours on the night before the deadline to file as a candidate for Indiana Representative in District 46. Why give up my time on the land that I have come to love even more since retiring from the ministry in June of 2014? Why commit to spending hours and days on the road meeting people across four counties in the effort to convince them that they have to the power to change the course of history? Here are a few of the answers that convinced me to file the papers in the State House ninety minutes before the deadline.

I believe in democracy. I believe that “Super Majorities” are anti-democratic. I am reminded that Thomas Jefferson believed that a revolution was necessary every few generations to keep the government from sliding into despotism, that is, single party rule.

The Indiana State House is now a despotic institution in the hands of ideologues who ignore the real problems facing Indiana families. Instead they spend their time creating solutions for problems that don’t exist, such as whether a pizza shop can refuse to deliver pizza to a gay wedding reception. Republican legislators march lockstep with Governor Pence as the morality police of our state. However, we do not elect ayatollahs in Indiana, and morality cops do not belong in a nation where the church and state are separate. Religion is a private matter not a justification to discriminate. Civil rights, health, education, welfare and commerce are common to all, and as such, are public policy.

Pence and his morality cops have cost the State of Indiana millions of dollars. They have forgiven $94 million in loans to charter schools while slicing the budget for public education.

The Republican Party loves to talk about “small government,” yet the government they want is one just big enough to control women’s bodies, destroy public education, pollute our environment, tell us who we can love, and gerrymander our election process making democracy a sham, the constitution be damned.

I am running because I believe Hoosiers deserve better and are intelligent enough to know the difference between democracy and oligarchy, between government of, for, and by the people and government of the people, by and for the rich.

I am running because I know that corporations are not people and do not have rights superior to the people. I am running because I believe it is time to elect working class people who are not spokespersons for the 1% who now control our government at both the state and national level.

Finally I reckon I just kept running into the question, “If not now, when?” Now is the time for progressives all across this nation to work for change, for a renewed commitment to public education, for justice, and for democracy.

Our Democrats in the Indiana Legislature are powerless. They have great commitment to our values, but with the Republican Super Majority, about all they can do is go to Indianapolis and use the restrooms in the State Capitol. We need to send them help.

These are some of the reasons I am running for the House in Indiana.

I have been amazed at the response of friends and others when they hear that I am running. The most common response is, “Thank you.”

In truth, I cannot do it, but we can. I need your help. I am running against the Republican Whip in the House. He will have a lot bigger treasure chest in terms of dollars, but I hope people power can overcome the difference. Please donate to our campaign, and sign up to volunteer. There will be work to do and I promise that we will have fun.

Peace–bill

A Campaign Event: Three Guys and Me

 

I walked into Nick’s in Bloomington the other night after Bernie’s event and was greeted by three guys about my age sitting in a booth about three booths from my nesting place at the back of the room. I chose that last booth in the first room about three decades ago, because there is a plaque there that celebrates the historical event of Allen Ginsberg’s reading of his censured poem “Howl” at Indiana University. Ginsberg had the coolness to sit in that booth after his reading. The plaque includes these excerpts:
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked,….
What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls
and ate up their brains and imagination?”

That sphinx, of course, has morphed into the mass media, lame-stream thought machine of the 21st so-called “American Century.”

I digress. Let me return to the three fellers in the booth south of mine. One of them said he liked my hat, so that gave me an opportunity to do what no politician unworthy of the title would do, i.e. hand out my campaign business card.

“Oh, you’re a politician?” he asked.  “You don’t look like one.”

“I’m not yet, but I reckon I’m becoming one.  I may never look like one.”

“Alright then,” he replied, “Tell me in one sentence why you are running and why I should give a damn.”

I thought for a spit second and said, “I’m running because I’m sick and tired of the Indiana General Assembly spending all their time worrying about who’s loving who instead of who’s screwing you.”  (Grammarians have permission to shudder, I only use “whom” when forced to do so.)

“Damn,” he said, “I like that, you done hit that pitch.”

We had a good visit. Only one of them was in my district, but I encouraged them to vote for people who believe in democracy, and in a government that addresses the public good, and leaves private lives alone.

As they used to say in my home town small circulation newspaper, “A good time was had by all.”

If you catch me in my office booth at Nick’s, be sure to say “hi”.

To be more honest, it is a shared office.  Both Mark Blackwell and I have our documents hanging there by Ginsberg’s plaque.

Go Chicago Teachers!

On this Saturday morning, I celebrate the power of solidarity and the courage of the Chicago Teachers Union. It is time for all unions to stand against the corporate takeover of America and the crony capitalism of our time. I was a Teamster in the 90’s. I have never, and will never cross a picket line. I hope the Teamsters and all unions in this nation will stand against the Republican party’s war against labor.

I find it incredulous that so many blue collar union members have bought into the rhetoric of the right wing, the Republicans and the NRA. They have eaten the propaganda pie that says the government is going to take away guns. They have voted Republican against their own economic interests. The result is the decimation of labor, the lowering of wages, and the destruction of the middle class.

The overwhelming majority of Americans support reasonable gun legislation. I am a gun owner. I do not need an arsenal, and I am much more concerned about economic security than the false security of guns in my basement.

Now is the time to open our eyes and see that the greatest threat to our security often comes dressed in a suit and tie, waving the American flag, while robbing us blind, moving jobs overseas, and stashing money in the Cayman Islands.

I want good jobs, education for our children, and healthcare for all. The guns will not help working people keep their homes in the face of skyrocketing medical costs. The guns will not provide economic security for our children and grandchildren.

Our country needs a revitalized labor movement, and here in the midwest, home of Eugene V. Debs, is the place to start. Join in the campaign to restore the middle class and regain economic security for all Americans.

The political revolution has begun, and sooner or later, it will be televised!
Now is the time to work, get registered, and get out the vote. We will party later!

–bill