Want to join the Resistance?

Ivanka Trump has inspired Darcie and me to design a bracelet, in the spirit of her 60 Minutes bauble. It’s a solid-silicone statement of how we intend to resist her daddy’s administration:

Wrist Rebel Resistance bracelet

Long ago, when our government was terrorizing Southeast Asia and drafting young men as cannon fodder, I joined an organization called the Philadelphia Resistance. We did whatever we could to throw a wrench in the works, to stop the madness.

Since then I have disagreed with many of my government’s policies, I’ve demonstrated in the streets and spilled much ink (and many electrons) to protest new military adventures, a stolen election in 2000, and racism in its many forms. But only now am I ready to say again:

As loyal Americans, it’s time to resist the extremists who have taken control of our country. They will stop at nothing to impose an order that threatens our safety, health and freedom. I won’t cooperate.

Resistance to the Nixon administration may (or may not) have shortened the Vietnam war – it certainly drove the president into deep paranoia that ultimately drove him from office. And resistance ended the military draft.

Our actions then took many forms. Virtually all were peaceful, but many were militant…blocking access to draft boards, blocking streets (a tactic I came to regret), attempting to close down a military base, political street theater, destroying files, and, most of all, refusing to cooperate with the bureaucracy. Two of these tactics landed me in jail, and a third led to a year-long entanglement with the FBI. (You can read about these in Some Way Outa Here.)

The symbol of the Resistance was the omega: Ω  It’s the symbol for electrical resistance. We’ve proudly incorporated it into the bracelet.

Wrist Rebel Resistance bracelet

OK, so other than looking good, what is this “resistance” thing about in the 21st century?

For starters, resistance means that the proceeds from the bracelet go to the Natural Resources Defence Council, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU. (Yes, the same ACLU that defended me in court 1970.) These organizations are dedicated to serving Americans as the Trump administration tries to attack (not too strong a word) the environment, take away women’s health services, and silence those who point out what’s happening. Providing these services is resisting.

Resistance means defending law-abiding, hardworking immigrants from discrimination, detention, or deportation (in many cases, to countries they have never lived in). These are people who have cared for our children and our parents, who write the software that underpins our economy, who pick our food and who are our friends and neighbors. Protecting them is resisting.

Resistance means standing up for Muslim Americans.  It means, if a Muslim registry is implemented, being the first one in line to say “I am a Muslim.” It means, when Muslims are attacked, wearing a head scarf. When Muslims are under attack, we are all Muslims. Standing together is resisting.

Resistance means preserving our right to health care and a secure retirement. When our health insurance is taken away, it means insisting that until everyone is guaranteed health care, no one is safe. (Especially the middle/working class Trump supporters who will be devastated by the destruction of the Affordable Care Act.) It means refusing to cooperate with private insurance companies if they refuse to serve all Americans. Fighting for universal health care is resisting.

Resistance means stopping new coal and oil power plants, and working with states and private companies to promote the use of low-carbon fuels. And it means helping dislocated coal and oil workers transition to new careers, especially in wind and solar energy. Saving the planet for ourselves and our grandchildren is resisting.

Resistance means standing up for women’s’ rights to control their bodies – especially when those rights are being taken away, one state at a time, and providing safe, affordable alternatives even when they are outlawed. This is resisting.

Resistance means doing the hard work to reduce violence by police against minorities, and to fight the vilification or scapegoating of minorities. Refusing to accept racism is resisting.

Resistance means thinking about what is happening, every day, and not accepting that greed and stupidity is the new normal. The billionaires who have seized power are about to begin looting our country on a scale never before imagined. Standing up for our economic rights – decent wages and a fair share of our prosperity – is a way of saying, “we, and our parents,  built this country, and you’re not going to take it away from us.” Providing services, even when illegal, is resisting.

If we decide it’s just too hard and look the other way, they win. If we just wait till the next election, there may not be another election. If we keep our heads down and do our jobs, we may not have jobs.

It’s time to actively, peacefully, and passionately resist the madness.


Get your Resistance bracelet at WristRebel.com!

For the reader on your holiday list…

…a delightful book about an incredible time.

Millennials and teens are fascinated to discover an era when young people discovered they could change the world.

Boomers can relive a time when the world was changing faster than anyone could believe, as people walked on the moon, a youth culture blossomed, and a distant war raged.

Over a thousand people have purchased Some Way Outa Here since it was published last winter. They’ve posted 30 five star reviews on Amazon, with praise like…

  • “A terrifically engaging memoir that captures a pivotal year’s drama, daring and urgency.”
  • “This gentle, sensitive narrative is told with compelling characters that capture the innocence, idealism and intensity of the era…with vivid imagery, fast paced storytelling and fun-to-remember details.”
  • “I can’t recommend it highly enough!”

As we enter a new, uncertain future, Some Way Outa Here will inspire readers. It’s a story about both discovering the world and changing it. What better gift to help someone start the coming new year?

Order on Amazon.
Mark Lauden's memoir

The Trump Con and Fake News

Last week I posted a suggestion that the Electoral College might consider honoring the popular vote and select the winner as president. Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory has passed a million votes and is increasing.

As Alexander Hamilton said, it should ensure “that the office of president will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”

Time for them to do their job.

The response to my post was fascinating. It seems that any negative post about Donald Trump is almost instantly met with a blizzard of contrary and often bizarre, semi-literate responses. I was rapidly informed that…

  • Trump “won the popular vote in the latest count.”
  • There were millions of votes cast by dead people and illegal immigrants.
  • That our country is not a “demacracy,” but a republic. (As if that means that our representatives did not need to be chosen according to who receives the most votes.)

There were dozens of offensive, often profane comments. (I’ve deleted the most egregious ones.) But the blizzard was instructive. Here’s what I learned:

  • The Trump troll rapid response team is organized and will take on anyone who criticizes the boss.
  • Their posts show a remarkable lack of interest in facts.
  • Insults and crude references reign. These seem to be a substitute for making a coherent argument.
  • Fake news has won the day among these folks. Many of them cite made-up statistics or refer to things that never happened.
  • Challenging them is pointless…you just get accused of being a gullible consumer of “lamestream media.”

The impact of fake news on the election is gradually becoming clear. It was enormously effective at spreading myths and lies about Hillary Clinton. Fake news spread on social media like a disease, and those who read it absorbed its relentless, often-ludicrous, sometimes-monstrous assertions.

As sucker was born every minute.

Someone who has been conned spends a long time in denial, even when faced with the facts of the con. It may take a long time for the voters who wanted to send a message by electing Trump to realize that he will sell them out at every opportunity.

But when their jobs don’t come back, and a trade war costs them more jobs; when the wealthy get enormous new tax breaks and working people lose their health insurance; when their non-white neighbors lose their rights, and when a presidential temper tantrum leads us into a new war, the world may look different than it does now.

And then, hell will have no fury like a voter conned.


For a good article on the election and the Electoral College, see this article in the San Francisco Chronicle by John Diaz.

How much do elections matter? Read about the way the election of 1968 transformed America in Some Way Outa Here.

The Bull in the China Shop

A Trump supporter, quizzed on the PBS Newshour, explained that “America needs a bull in the china shop. Trump is the bull.”

Her statement vividly shows how angry people are. When you’ve been dragged down by an economic collapse, when the jobs you trained for disappear, and when your friends and family turn to addictive painkillers for relief, what do you want to do?

You want to tear it down. You want pull down the roof and crush the people who have done this to you. You want the bankers and the insurance companies and the auto executives and the Harvard lawyers to suffer too.

When Donald Trump rhetorically, insultingly, asked African Americans “what have you got to lose?” he was speaking to his angry, despondent white working class supporters too. When you’re working at Walmart, your spouse is sick and you can’t afford your deductible, and your kid’s on Oxycontin, what have you got to lose?

Except…

When you invite the bull into the china shop, the result is pretty predictable. All you will be left with is a pile of rubble.

You can’t glue the china back together. All you can do is throw out everything, along with the bullshit.

Have you ever felt that anger, wanting to tear everything down? If you aren’t feeling it now, can you remember it?

Once my anger about the daily carnage in Vietnam was so intense that I told a college professor that if we couldn’t stop the war, we should just start blowing things up here at home. It was a fleeting terrorist idea – the feelings of impotence in the face of terrible events was just too much.

Others succumbed back then, and actually blew up a few buildings. Some went out and broke windows, much as we’ve recently seen people do in frustration over police killings of blacks. Rage and despair are not a healthy mix.

The professor asked me, calmly, whether I believed that blowing things up would help change things for the better. I replied that the war would stop if people felt the pain at home. “Do you really think you’ll change their minds that way,” he asked, “or do you think that the mess you create will just give the bastards even more power?”

That stopped me short. Of course he was right. When things fall apart, the people who clean up the mess may not be your friends.

If Donald Trump breaks the china, as he could surely do by deporting 11 million people, throwing out environmental protections, invading who-knows-what country, and jailing his opponents, who will clean up the mess?

Trump has created the illusion that bluster, threats and imaginary grandiose “solutions” will bring back industrial jobs that will never exist again, anywhere. He’s selling a dream that a privileged billionaire can tear down a corrupt system and save us from the greedy bankers, lawyers, and politicians.

This…coming from a man who employs thousands of minimum wage workers and says “wages are too high.” Who has repeatedly declared bankruptcy in order to avoid paying the people who built his businesses. Who brags about “buying politicians.”

There are real problems with the way our government works. Most of them are related to the enormous influence that corporations and wealthy individuals hold over politicians. Trump would leave that system intact while tearing down environmental protections, the minimum wage, international security pacts, health insurance assistance, as well as appointing right-wing ideologues to the supreme court.

Trump won’t address the underlying problems – the lack of any meaningful voice or influence by non-wealthy Americans. He has benefited from this system his entire life, and his business continues to depend on his ability to buy politicians. As president, he would do what he has always done – build his personal wealth and seek boundless self-glorification. His claims to be “your voice” are the claims of a con man.

Trump may break the china by disrupting Washington, but he won’t break his own gold-monogrammed china.When the china breaks, don’t expect to ever be able to eat off it again. Don’t even expect that the shop itself will still be standing.

Remember, this is a man who asked “if we have nuclear weapons, why can’t we use them?”
trump-bull-and-china


Read about the peace movement’s struggle between pacifism and terrorism – and how it affected me as a teenager – in Some Way Outa Here.

 

Merle Haggard’s Okie song

Merle Haggard was a music giant – great voice, songs and guitar. He will be remembered well.
But he will especially be remembered for one song, “Okie from Muskogee.” It’s an ode to small town living and conservative values, right? Nope.
Haggard wrote it as a spoof, a parody of what he considered small-town small mindedness. He didn’t expect it to be taken seriously, and he didn’t expect it to be a hit. It was, both. He said later that he regretted writing it, and that he was “dumb as a post” when he released it.
The song was taken up as an anthem by conservative America. It fell right into Richard Nixon’s newformed narrative of a “silent majority” that backed his policies but was too polite to say so – some think the song inspired it.
With lyrics like…
We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee
We don’t take our trips on LSD
We don’t burn our draft cards out on Main Street
We like livin’ right and bein’ free
…it was taken as a declaration of war on people with long hair who were against the war in Vietnam.
Nixon cultivated the growing divide carefully, unleashing his attack dog Spiro Agnew on anyone who disagreed with him. It blossomed into his “southern strategy,” a carefully phrased appeal to working class whites to abandon the Democratic party. It was based on the resentment against rebellious young people and blacks, and it was extraordinarily successful. It led directly to the wall between right and left that we know so well today.
Merle Haggard’s song was a brick in that wall, but he didn’t put it there. Let’s remember all the other songs he wrote, and remember the man fondly.

Merle Haggard

There’s a lot more about the music of the times in Some Way Outa Here

Kindle edition goes live!

This is getting exciting – the Kindle edition of Some Way Outa Here just went live on Amazon. You can download it now!

Click to order from Amazon.

Or, you can preorder the paperback edition, which will be available this month. (Go to the Home or Books page.)