Thursday, June 11, 2020

I will be back

I know I haven't posted anything for a while. The truth is that I have no heart for it, no spirit for it. It's two days short of four weeks since my wife died and I'm still finding it hard to do more than make my way through the days.

It won't always be that way; I know - even though there are too many moments when I don't see how - but I know that people do get through this, that people do manage to get on with their lives, to again feel the passion about the injustices that moved them before.

So I know I will be back at some point. But that point is not yet here.

For the moment, I will offer this: Three posts selected sort of randomly from the past couple of years about police violence against African-Americans.

From June 2017 -
From October 2017 -
From June 2019 -

And one other thing: I hope, I can't help but hope, I hope even though that same hope has been lost so many times before, I hope that this time will be the time that we as a nation, as a society as a whole, more particularly the time that the rest of us face up to the reality of the day-to-day racism, the built-in racism, the systemic degradations and denigrations visited on our non-white brothers and sisters.

So despite my well-earned cynicism, I still hope. Change is in the air. Carry it on.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Death in the time of COVID-19 is different

There seems no point to saying this; I don't know if anyone would even care. But I just feel I want it said somewhere.

Death in the time of COVID-19 is different. And it's not just about the virus.

My wife died this morning. She had been terrified of contracting and dying of COVID-19. Not without good cause: She was a diabetic and had a heart attack in her history, so she had a compromised immune system - and that plus being 69 put her well intro the high-risk category.

But, no. She died of a heart attack.

Last night she was complaining of painful breathing and asked me to call 911. The EMTs were there in no more than 10 minutes. As they checked her out, she was alert and aware and a quick ECG didn't indicate any major problems - but because of her history, they took her to the ER for observation.

As the EMTs worked on her in the ambulance, I stood in the rain, determined not to turn away until they left and were gone from my sight. I recalled a time I was working away from home for some time and she would come by train to visit me - and when she left to go home, I would do much the same: I would watch the train leave until it was out of sight. A way to hold on to her presence a bit longer.

So I stood in the rain and I watched and waited because I couldn't be with her in the ER. I couldn't be with her when a few hours later I was told she had deteriorated badly and had been moved to critical care and put on a ventilator. I couldn't be with her a couple of hours after that when her heart finally gave up trying. I couldn't sing to her one last time. I couldn't let her know she was not alone.

All because of that damn disease, all because of precautions against spreading it.

I understand the need, I do - but still it hurts so very much.

And it hurts extra thinking of all the others who have died and who will die, not just from the virus but from a multitude of causes, dying without a familiar face, without a familiar touch, there at the end, all those who, no matter how caring the hospital staff may be, still in a very real sense die alone.

As my wife did.

Because of that damn disease.

Death in the time of COVID-19 is different.


A PS, which I include strictly for the sake of the record. I learned later from her cardiologist that it wasn't her heart. It was a massive bacterial infection that got into her blood, sending her into sepsis and her compromised immune system simply wasn't capable of fighting it off. It changes nothing.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Thoughts on Bernie's withdrawal

[A significant part of what follows is drawn from some things I have written before. I brought them together to express my feelings at this moment.]

The man himself
So just three days after I wrote that Bernie Sanders should not drop out, he did. And so it goes.

Actually, what he did was pretty similar to what I was thinking I would do, having accepting the reality that the nomination was beyond reach: suspend the campaign, continue with the primaries, continue to gather delegates, and use that to exercise some power in the Platform Committee and use that in turn to move the Party and how it approaches the people.  The difference is that while I would have stopped campaigning, I just wouldn't have announced I was doing it, answering any "dropping out" questions with some version of "My intent is to continue to address the issues I have addressed all along and we'll see what happens."

The truth is, although I have long acknowledged that my political heart is more in "on the streets" action than electoral campaigns, his withdrawal still hurts. It's a sad moment, especially because there was a time not that long ago, just a touch over six weeks ago, in fact, when it seemed possible he could get the nomination. So yeah, even though I knew that was no longer in reach, a formal end to the campaign still makes me blue.

But. That just raises the question I touched on in that previous post: What now? Because let it be clear that as I said then, this is not the end. It must not be the end. As someone notable said in 1980 at the end of a different presidential campaign,
For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
Because as he himself has said, this is not about Bernie Sanders. Even his own campaign slogan declared it: "Not me. Us." This is about, again in his phrase, political revolution.

This is about change. This is about changing the nature and the structure of political, social, and economic power in our country, in our society.

It is about racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual equality and freedom. It is about the economy, about an economy for the many, not the few, for the workers, not the bosses, banks, and billionaires. It is about education. It is about health care. It is about housing. It is about the environment and the climate. It is about peace.

It is about justice.

Justice, as I put it nearly 40 years ago, in its truest sense: economic, social, and political. It is about a justice that rejects the ascendancy of bombs over bread, of private greed over public good, of profits over people. It is about a justice that centers on the preciousness of life and will fight to maintain and even expand that preciousness. It is about a justice that affirms and embraces the right of every human being to a decent life free of hunger, fear, and oppression.

It is about, in the end, revolution.

So while his quitting the race is a real loss, especially when early on it looked truly possible, it's not about Bernie Sanders and it's also in exactly the same sense not about elections. It's not even about voting. It's about the process of change. Voting is a part of that process, which is why, in a sense, for the moment, it was about Bernie Sanders because he has been the vehicle, using electoral politics, to push for that change.

But now, at this point, how do we proceed from here? I have to tell you something: Tweets and Facebook posts and the rest are not gonna cut it. Period. Oh, they can be great for circulating ideas, for passing on information, for keeping each others' spirits up, for organizing, but they themselves will not change anything. Oh, sure, they can affect little bits here and there; they can embarrass a restaurant into changing a policy or an individual store into apologizing for something, and I'm sure someone could come up with some more significant example of a more significant effect, but change the fundamental nature of power in the US? Not a chance.

Way, way, back in the dreaded '60s, I said something along the lines of "the system can withstand any number of people just saying 'No' to that system. That won't change anything. We have to do "No," we have to act on our beliefs."

It's still true. We need to act on our beliefs. If we are going to see the kind of change we talk about, if we are going to see that political revolution, if we are going to change the nature of power in this country, we have to act. We can't just talk - have to act. And we can't just vote - we have to act. We can't even just campaign for a favored candidate, even though, yes, that is a form of action, but it is not near enough. We have to act outside of and beyond electoral politics. We have to be in public, in the streets, even filling the streets, in the jails, even filling the jails.

We have to be loud, noisy, disruptive, but most of all creative; we have to be impolite, rude, to power; and we have to not care what they call us - because they will call us all sorts of things - but keep on going anyway.

I know I haven't offered any concrete proposals, proposed any specific actions, which is because I don't have any to offer. What I want to press home is, the whole point of this is to press home, that if we actually believe in this political revolution, if we actually want to see, in that wonderful Biblical phrase that Martin Luther King quoted in his I Have a Dream speech, if we want to see "justice rolling down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream," if we actually believe what we say, then now is the time, now is the moment, to look beyond the primaries, beyond the convention, beyond November, beyond political candidates, beyond voting, and ask ourselves "What now? And what then?"

Sunday, April 05, 2020

WaPo says Sanders may quit - he shouldn't

Follow me on Twitter: @LarryEr94572822

So there's a story being pushed by the Washington Post that some people around Bernie Sanders are urging him to drop out of the presidential race and that he's considering doing so if he's dealt a significant defeat in Tuesday's Wisconsin primary, one which Joe Blahden is predicted to win. This according to what the paper calls “two people with knowledge of the situation.”

Personally, I'm suspicious of the story. But before I get to that, take a moment to look at that election itself.

There are only two reasons it is taking place. One is that the GOPpers in the Wisconsin legislature are balking at cooperating on a delay or alternatives such as mail-in ballots. Y'see, they have a candidate for state Supreme Court up for election to a full term that day and they want to be sure he is firmly in place in time to support their measures to limit ballot access in the fall.

But the other is that the Democratic Party establishment in general and Bladen in particular want the in-person primary to take place without delay because they figure that a big victory will put Bernie away once and for all, the risks to public health be damned.

Which relates to why, getting back to the WaPo story, I'm suspicious: It sounds a lot like a deliberate leak, a strategic leak, intended to push Sanders into withdrawing by creating an expectation that he will.

As the article itself notes:
Advisers with stronger ties to the Democratic Party have been more vocal in urging him to contemplate a withdrawal, while independent activists have been pushing for Sanders to remain in the race.
In other words, the closer they are to the party establishment, an establishment that from the very beginning has sought to dismiss and demean the "political revolution" Sanders hoped to build, the more eager they are to see Bernie just give up. This doesn't mean they never supported his run, but it does mean that those connections to the party establishment diluted their commitment to the sort of basic changes we need.

Bernie Sanders
That desire to dismiss and demean, one which extends far beyond the inner workings of the party, was reflected on Twitter comments on the article, comments I said revealed "utter glee" at the prospect of Sanders' withdrawal, "glee that goes well beyond a natural pleasure in seeing your preferred candidate win" to a "sneering dismissal that doesn't seek unity from Sanders' supporters but craven capitulation."

Which frankly is exactly why Sanders shouldn't quit. Yes, yes, I know he isn't going to get the nomination. But his very campaign slogan tells why he should continue: "Not me. Us." The whole point is that the campaign is not about him, it's about the issues, about the proposals, about, ultimately, significantly changing the nature and structure of political, social, and economic power in our country, in our society.

And you know damn well - or you damn well should know - that if he drops out, his policy proposals, including the now-utterly-relevant Medicare for All, will instantly vanish from our political discourse, eagerly and happily disappeared by a political and media establishment that never wanted to have to deal with them in the first place. It's important for those proposals to be part of the public conversation as long as possible.

Which is why the fight must go on, right through to - assuming it can happen - the convention. Then at the convention, take the fight to the rules committee, take it to the platform committee, take it to the floor, even to having to go through the actual roll call and no, if Blahden gets a majority in that roll call, do not agree to a measure to make it unanimous.*

Let the convention, however it is worked out to conduct it, be contentious. Let it be chaotic. But let it be clear that this is not the end. Let it be clear that as he himself has said, this is not about Bernie Sanders. This is about change. This is about, again, political revolution.


Which for Sanders supporters, still leaves one question: What now? For my part, I simply cannot get excited about Joe "Nothing will fundamentally change" Blahden, as you might guess from the name I've given him. And I do have serious doubts that he can beat Tweetie-pie even apart from the wild card of COVID-19: It's unclear if that will that lead to people going "200,000 dead? 20% unemployment? Throw the bum out!" or to "Rally around the president in a time of crisis!"

For me personally, in terms of the election, my first concern is that it happens. I can't countenance the notion of Tweetie-pie announcing a "postponement" or even worse "a postponement until the crisis is over," a declaration that is ridiculously beyond his Constitutional powers but which I fear would be passively accepted by far too many unless things have significantly improved by then. Tweetie-pie already dreams of dictatorial rule and if he thought he could get away with it - and frankly I fear that he could - he would cancel the election outright.

But let's assume for the moment that that won't happen, that the election will come off as usual - "as usual," of course, including various right-wing schemes at voter suppression. I live in a safe state, safe enough that I don't even need to pay attention to the presidential race. This time around, I think the Senate is actually more important and I will be paying most of my attention (and giving any donations) to those races.

*OTOH, if Blahden fails to get a majority but does have a significant plurality, Bernie should be true to his word and withdraw at that point, as I'm sure he will if it works out that way.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Some Good News amid all this

Some Good News amid all this

I wrote a number of time in the past about the struggle over the Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL, as Native American groups staged large-scale civil disobedience and protest in the attempt to block the pipeline from putting water supplies at risk.

Now comes some long overdue Good News on that front.

On March 25, the Washington, DC, federal district court ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers violated federal law when it affirmed federal permits for the pipeline originally issued in 2016.

The ruling, which came in response to a suit filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, found that in approving the project the Corps had violated the National Environmental Protection Act by, among other things, failing to take into account the criticisms by the Tribe's experts and paying insufficient attention to the safety record of the parent company, one which the court said "does not inspire confidence."

The original parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, has merged with Sunoco over the course of the legal battle over the pipeline.

The pipeline, designed to carry oil 1200 miles (1930 km) from North Dakota to Illinois, crosses the Missouri River near Standing Rock Sioux lands, threatening their water supply. After a lot of dithering, in December 2016 outgoing President The Amazing Mr. O denied the required permits - only to have Tweetie-pie reverse the decision his first week on the throne. The pipeline was completed in June 2017.

However, a suit challenging parts of the approved permits continued. Now, the court has ordered the Corps to undertake a full review and prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement, which the Corps has thus far avoided doing. Such a review could take years, during which the pipeline may - this has not yet been decided - have to be shut down.

Hopefully, in light of the finding that the project went ahead in violation of federal law, the court will do the obvious and shut it down until the review can be completed (since the result could be to find that the pipeline never should have been built, at least in its present configuration or on its present route). But we can't count on it: In 2017 the same court allowed construction of the pipeline to continue and in October 2017 said the pipeline could continue to function while the suit continued.

Still, the order for a full Environmental Impact Statement is different from a remand order to address details, so maybe the court will feel differently this time. In any event, the new decision is still Good News.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Some updates via Twitter posts

Consider this a quick means of posting by listing my recent Twitter tweets, listed chronologically.

You can follow me on Twitter: Larry Erickson

March 19
[in response to a "Time" article on "Why Can the Utah Jazz Get Coronavirus Testing, But I Can't?"]

It's because they're rich and we're not. What about that do you not understand?


March 21
It’s said (wrongly) that the Chinese for “crisis” is made of characters for “danger” and “opportunity.” At this time of crisis the danger is obvious. But it’s also an opening to push for real changes in our economy to benefit people both now and into the future. Will we dare?


March 21
[in response to a Raw Story article that the DOJ is using the pandemic to ask for permission for courts to hold prisoners indefinitely without trial]

One of the things I have been concerned about is the possibility of the state using our submission to ad hoc controls due to a real health crisis to get us to submit to permanently increased control over our lives, including our political freedoms.


March 21
I will accept President Tweetie-pie calling COVID-19 "the China flu" if and when he can show he has ever, even once, called H1N1 (the "swine flu") - [a new strain of] which first emerged in Ft. Dix, NJ - the "American flu" or the "US flu" or "the US Army flu."


March 21
Maybe instead of denying the idea that corporations are people, we should embrace it because that should mean people are corporations - so we will be as deserving of a bailout.


March 21
[regarding a report from "The Intercept" that banks are pressuring health care firms to raise prices on critical drugs and medical supplies for dealing with the pandemic]

Corporate mantra: Never let a good crisis go to waste!


March 22
[in response to a report that Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) had responded to the proposal to allow for indefinite detention of prisoners with "over my dead body"]

I've expected exactly this sort of move [from the DOJ], trying to use the crisis to entrench power and undermine civil rights. I expect there will be more. Happily, constitutional rights is an area where the left and the right can often find common ground.

One more thing: I hope people read the original "Politico" article. There is more involved here than this one outrage.


March 22
[in response to Stephanie Grisham whining "I don’t know why the media has to look backwards" after being confronted with Tweetie-pie's failures in dealing with the crisis]

So we must not "look backwards?" Does this mean Tweetie-pie's administration will never again make any reference to what Barack Obama did or didn't do in an attempt to avoid responsibility for its own abysmal failures?


March 22
Never forget [all the lies Tweetie-pie has told about the coronavirus].


March 23
[in response to a report that Senate Democrats has blocked a GOPper "relief" plan because it did too much for corporations and not enough for ordinary people]

I guarantee that the GOPpers will use this to blame the Dems for "doing nothing to help" and "politicizing" and "trying to exploit" the crisis. I certainly hope the Dems already have their political counterattack ready. But I bet they don't.


March 23
[in response to an article that the editor of the right-wing Christian journal "First Things" called saving lives a "false God"]

R. R. Reno, editor of said journal, is also quoted in the article as saying fear of dying of the disease is a victory for Satan. Mr. Reno is clearly a deeply disturbed man.


March 23
A reminder that the rest of the world is still out there: The Tweetie-pie administration is blowing up a mountain - including Monument Hill, home to sacred Native American land and burial sites - in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to build its wall.


March 24
[in response to a report that Brit Hume said it's an "entirely reasonable viewpoint" for grandparents to be expected to sacrifice themselves to coronavirus in order to protect the economy]

Insane. Utterly, totally, insane. No more can be said.


March 24
[in response to Glenn Beck endorsing the "old folks back to work" idea]

So all this is about protecting the economy? Okay, since corporations are people, were told, how about any corporation that's over 70 years old close, sell its assets, and distribute the proceeds to employees, sacrificing itself in order to protect the broader economy?


March 24
[in response to an article saying that due to COVID-19 concerns that several Trump properties are facing financial problems]

Aha - so that's why he is so interested in "getting back to work." Like we didn't know all the time.


March 25
[in response to Tweetie-pie claiming the media is pushing to "keep our Country closed as long as possible" to hurt his re-election chances]

My challenge to the entire Twitterverse: Come up with somebody, anybody, who is a more egomaniacal, self-centered jerk than is Prez Tweetie-pie. This really does border on if not outright describe true clinical megalomania.


March 25
[citing a FAIR analysis of media coverage of administration actions toward Venezuela and Iran during the pandeminc]

If you don't do what the US tells you to, you can just go ahead and die.


March 25
[in response to Tweetie-pie saying at a presser “It’s hard not to be happy with the job we’re doing”]

Experience says that ending social distancing too soon will kill people [based on a 2007 JAMA study of 43 cities during the 1918 pandemic].


March 25
[in response to a Washington Post article that hospitals are considering universal "do-not-resuscitate" orders for COVID-19 patients, even over the objections of patients and families]

This is how bad it can get.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Announcement re: The Erickson Report

Okay, let's do this.

First: I'm fine. I'm okay. But:

The studio where The Erickson Report is produced is a small, public assess cable TV station which is going to be operating with a skeleton staff for at least the next several weeks.

The station covers three towns, two of which are for the moment continuing to have government meetings so the station staff has to focus on their primary responsibility of recording those meetings and getting them on air.

Add to that the fact that while I am in overall good health, I have to face the fact that by virtue of my age I am in a higher risk group, requiring extra care, extra caution.

All that adds up to this: The Erickson Report will not be produced for at least the next few weeks. How many constitutes a "few" depends on what happens around us in the region and the country over that time.

Just to emphasize, this is not the end; we will be back. It's only a question of when.

Check here from time to time. I may not have a show, but I still have my blog. I expect to be posting from time to time.

Also: This has prompted me to finally break down and join Twitter. I'm a neophyte at it and still figuring things out, but I suppose I can learn. I would be delighted if you followed me.

I'm using Larry Erickson and it's @LarryEr94572822.

"See" you soon.
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