Jim’s January Missive 2: Political Moments, Laughter Balm, “Censored Voices”, Tax Resistance, Don’t Blame the Victim

  1. Energy and aftermath of the Womens March
  2. Laughter Balm
  3. Join me in being a War Tax Resister
  4. “Censored Voices” Kehilla Community Synagogue Film Series, Sat.Feb.4, 7:00pm (Presented by the Middle East Peace Committee which I am now part of)
  5. Discussion of several voices and sources that have touched me and “felt right” about this political moment we’re in.
  6. Don’t Blame the Victims

1 Energy and aftermath of the Womens March

A Reflection from my friend Kate Raphael that celebrates outpourings of energy, and calls on us to figure out how to keep engaged and not just retreat back to complacent acceptance of what comes our way, but to figure out how to be strong under attack and grow the movement for truth, justice, wisdom and compassion. There is much more to say and do about the racist, patriarchal, xenophobic, Islamophobic pandering and attacks that are being championed and encoded in law. It is easier to know what to say than what to do that will be effective.
I was happy for friends and minions going to DC to show opposition to the incoming swamp_monsters_b
president and his horrid team and building solidarity with women for the sake of humanity and the world. I worked on some great masks of Trump and his “Swamp Monsters,” and we got swamp monster outfits through a hunting outfitter. I am saving my travel-for-activism money and energy for other gatherings and push-back. I felt like I would just be going there to vent, so I marched in children_beat_swampmonstersOakland and San Francisco on Saturday instead.
A crew took outfits to DC and others of us went out Friday and Saturday. I was part of the betsy_jim_coweringteam that entertained people as they assembled before the Women’s March in SF. Roaring at
passersby (being swamp monsters), some children gave it  back to me/us for at least fifteen minutes, leading my character (Secretary of Education Betsy Devos) to cower in pain and dismay. (The top two images are links to short video clips. lso, visit TRUMP-DIS.ORG)
People were so grateful for the playfulness and the impetus to laugh, even if laughing at the pain of it all. Which leads me to…

2 Laughter Balm

I thought I would have some upcoming public Laughter Yoga sessions to advertise, but not yet. In part, Ghostship fallout has my preferred venues focusing on renovations.
I am very happy leading half-hour sessions with a bunch of retired folks every Saturday at Baywood Court in Castro Valley.chimp-2
For now, I want to share an exercise that I and others are finding very helpful, like a balm on my wounded spirit, as I live with my emotional distress at the unfolding political changes. It is called Cry Down/Laugh Up:
Whether you are sitting or standing, somehow you slide down into a crouch while crying (or fake crying, of course), and then you rise up enlightened and enlivened with laughter (faking it until making it if necessary). You can do this a few times and then take some nice, deep, cleansing breaths. I find the transformation of the crying into laughing helpful afterwards.
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3 Join me in War Tax Resistance

First of all, know that there is a lot less risk than you think. Afraid of suddenly finding your wages garnished and being unable to pay your rent or mortgage? That is very rare and extremely slow in happening. Many, many warning notices are sent and resent. Also, there is support from a longstanding, nationwide community of resisters. Please don’t bank with the federal government. Have less taken out of your paychecks. Don’t think of a tax refund as a windfall. You are actually giving the federal government (and the military) a free loan, an advance on what you MAY owe for the year. Check out these resources for more: W-4 resistance: http://nwtrcc.org/PDFs/practical1.pdf and http://nwtrcc.org/PDFs/w4.pdf consequences of WTR: http://nwtrcc.org/resist/consequences/

This should be a watershed moment for this form of resistance to the new administration. It was deserved before, but all the more now when it is clear that the wealthiest of the wealthy often don’t pay. And as another WTR’er put it convincingly for me, if they have to take the money from me instead of me simply giving it to them, it more accurately reflects the nature of the relationship. It takes a lot of resources for them to get money, so even if they do add on penalties and interest, they still lose when we resist, especially if lots of us 99.99%ers resist!

4  “Censored Voices” Film Screening

“Censored Voices” (2015) Film screening
presented by Kehilla’s Middle East Peace Committee
Saturday, February 4 at 7 PM – 9 PMcensored-voices
Kehilla Community Synagogue
1300 Grand Ave, Piedmont, California 94610
The Kehilla Middle East Peace Committee will be hosting a movie night with the showing
of the award winning film, Censored Voices, particularly relevant as we approach the 50th anniversary of the occupation. It features previously censored interviews of Israeli Defense Force soldiers as they are returning to their kibbutzim after fighting the ’67 war. The interviews, by Amos Oz, are combined with archival footage, photos, contemporary news accounts and the now-aged veterans telling the story of the war and its aftermath.
NY Times Review.      YouTube Trailer.
Tell us on Facebook that you (maybe) are coming!
This program will be a fundraiser for the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, our partner organization that leads trips to Israel/Palestine, “engaging in creative, nonviolent activism with the aim of bringing an end to the occupation.”
After the showing there will be an opportunity to ask questions of Kehilla members Nikki Sachs and Jim Haber who have participated in CJNV delegations.
Suggested donation is $10-20. No one turned away. Sanctuary.
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5  Random Related Reasons Reflections Resources

Support the Afghan Peace Volunteers, the friends I made in 2011 when I traveled there on a peace delegation with Kathy Kelly and Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Two specific projects they created at their “Borderfree Nonviolence Community Centre” that help people on the ground there are the Duvet Project and the Street Kids School. The first gives sorely needed work to widows and warmth to poor families in the cold Afghan winter. The second teaches some reading and writing skills to street kids in Kabul.
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 who I find consistently intelligent, hard-hitting and good humored, all at the same time. Robert Reich has been consistently right-on and directly on point. I often click on more than one piece in some portals I receive including Portside Snapshot, LobeLog and AlterNet. Tom Dispatch has been consistent for a really long time too and This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow is a great boost in a cartoon. I watch Democracy Now! almost every day. I really like Trevor Noah on The Daily Show. I miss Larry Wilmore who was getting better and better. I have burnt out a bit on Samantha Bee who I have found belittling of honest efforts at democracy and is too uncritical of the Dems and Hillary for their own demise. Still, I keep up with her as a rare female late-night voice. For more than sports–outstanding politics–David Zirin’s Edge of Sports. I usually like Tavis Smiley‘s interviews, but he takes support from some really lousy corporate entities like WalMart. Frances Fox Piven just had a good piece in The Nation in which she said:
“Now the protests will have to aim not at winning, but at halting or foiling initiatives that threaten harm—either by redistributing wealth to the very top (the Trump tax and energy plans), or by eliminating existing political rights (the cancellation of DACA, the Obama executive order that protected undocumented-immigrant children, known as Dreamers), or by jeopardizing established protections and benefits (the looming prospect of privatizing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, or the threat to turn funding for public education into a system of vouchers for charter schools).”
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As regards less alternative sources, I have been receiving interesting articles from The Forward in my inbox as well as The Washington Post. I am finding them all getting stronger in their questioning and advocacy for truth and challenging The Liar in Chief and his manipulators. The Washington Post is still pretty hit and miss…very much amiss, especially regarding Russia and hacking. It took His Dishonestness getting elected for mainstream journalists to start awakening to their duty and snap out of the stupor that gave The Expunger of Truth free airtime to the exclusion of other voices. Even television journalists are pushing back some. It is noticeable. When will a journalist challenge His Liarness with recordings of him saying something repeatedly that he now denies? They’re getting there, but I am still waiting for a reporter actually to shut Trump up and have the last word–liar.
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6 Don’t Blame the Victims

The horrid contrast of how the prayerful–as in praying–Native Americans at Standing Rock continue to be treated as opposed to the failed prosecution of the armed, white occupiers of the federal wildlife refuge in Oregon shows that the Indian wars never ended. To Exist is to ResistFirst Nations people will tell you it never ended because they have experienced brutality and unsolved murders continuously. But the fight at Standing Rock has brought people and tribes together in a beautiful if punishing way. “Which side are you on?” has never felt so right to cry out. Do what you can to stop this and other pipelines and unbridled extractive industries, especially fossil fuels. We need to stop, not expand this! As important as the climate change issue is, necessitating a stopping of this pipeline, not just a less racist re-routing, first and foremost, I am aghast at the continuing attacks on Native Americans IN THE PRESENT, BRUTALLY, INHUMANELY, AND FOR SURE, OUT OF COMPLIANCE WITH ANY USE OF FORCE GUIDELINES.
How could firing water cannons at unarmed people in sub-freezing temperatures not be automatically illegal? And as this fight continues through the North Dakota winter, as a non-Native American, I resolve to honor Native decision-making and not split or be split by their internal decision-making and disagreements. I honor Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault reaching out to meet with President Trump, and I honor the Indian people who are refusing to leave Dakota Access area.
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The victims are being blamed for the violence being done to them, yet again:
Israeli violence against Palestininians is blamed on the victims.
Police violence against Black Americans is blamed on the victims.
State violence against Native Americans is blamed on the victims.
Patriarchal violence against women is blamed on the victims.
Religious violence against the people of Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq and other Muslims is blamed on the victims.
Poor people are being blamed for their wealth being stolen by the wealthiest of the wealthy. Last year half the world’s population (about 3.5 billion people) had as much combined wealth as the richest 63 people combined. Earlier this month that number dropped to 6 or 8! And we’re suppose to fear the poor refugee and asylum seeker?
And increasingly, activists are being blamed for the violence being done to them with increased charges, fines and jail time for nonviolent displays of resistance and activism.
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Truth is being turned on its head.
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I think about lives hurt and costs to people, society and the environment. I don’t like asking small, but I do think progressive legislators need to try to insert humanitarian exceptions and appeals processes in the language of the bills. Every little bit helps some people as we work on the more systemic front too. And the Democrats are so weak right now. God bless the people making forays into lower echelon, vital, local level Democratic Party committees. Way to step up. People forging ahead outside of that system, Godspeed.
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Thanks for reading!
Jim
“There comes a time when silence is betrayal”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
“In a free society, few are guilty. All are responsible.”
-Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
“Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.” -Dorothy Day
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This entry was posted in Anti-Racism, Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives, Laughter, Nonviolence, Palestine Israel Zionism Isalmophobia Antisemitism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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