Saturday, March 21, 2020

New tactics called for in these difficult times

Homeless families threatened by coronavirus occupy vacant houses in southern California. 
"This is our moment to prove ourselves and a nation that, in Chicago, we may get bent, but we will never be broken." -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Brother Fred and I should be back on the air with Hitting Left by March 27th. Of course, we'll be doing the show from our respective homes so long as this sheltering-in-place (or as I call it, house arrest) remains in effect.

I understand, support, and am complying with the extreme measures called for here in Chicago by Gov. Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot, necessary for containing COVID-19. But I worry about the unintended consequences and what the new, rapidly-changing conditions mean for us activists and organizers. The victories by Democratic Party centrist Joe Biden over Bernie Sanders in the primaries have progressives looking at new organizing and electoral tactics.

The collapse of the global economy could be catastrophic and will likely cause the death of nearly as many people as the virus itself, especially among the most vulnerable populations throughout the world and people currently incarcerated here in our jails, prisons, and immigrant detention facilities.

These consequences are exacerbated by the Trump gang's misleadership, political opportunism, racism, and propensity towards profiteering from the crisis. In January, millionaire Republican Senators Burr & Loeffler were given a briefing by Trump officials about the COVID threat. Then, as Trump was downplaying the risks, they dumped their stocks before the catastrophic market crash. And they weren't the only ones taking advantage of insider trading.

While some form of bailout may be necessary, it should be targetted at helping those most in need with controls in place on how that money is spent. One of the reasons industries are so short on cash right now is that they have spent billions in past bailout money, buying back their own stocks instead of investing in their workers or preparing for difficult times like these.

I'm also worried about Trump using the crisis as an excuse to suspend democratic rights, grab more power for himself, launch a war against Iran or other perceived enemies, and even canceling the November elections if it looks bad for him and the Republicans.

Some good news coming out of China where Wuhan officials have reported three straight days with no new COVID cases. Whether you believe these reports or not, it's clear that in China and South Korea, the virus now seems under control. Businesses are reopening, including American-owned companies like Apple stores. Apple just reopened 42 of them in China, while at the same time, closing all of its stores in the U.S. and Italy.

Trump and the Republicans, on the other hand (joined at times by leading Democrats), are continuing their anti-China polemics, even referring to COVID as the "China Virus." When asked to explain, Trump said, it was because the virus "originated in China." His explanation had some on Twitter referring to him as Buick Skylark and Motel 6.

Yes, humor, even dark humor, will help us survive all this.

But while Cold War and racist, anti-foreigner politics rule the WH, China and other countries continue to make progress against the disease. Chinese and Cuban doctors have been in Iran, Italy, and Venezuela recently, where they have offered their services and expertise. They have reportedly developed medical treatments that lower the fatality and suffering rates for those afflicted with COVID19, and are distributing them – without any patent or profit – to those in need. Iran and Venezuela are countries to whom the IMF has refused to offer loans under pressure from U.S.-imposed sanctions.

In Iran alone, the COVID death toll could rise to 3.5 million. But the U.S. has announced that it will be expanding its inhuman sanctions anyway.

Now, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox is calling Trump’s early handling of COVID-19 is "the most irresponsible act of an elected official that I've ever witnessed in my lifetime.”

Among the other unintended consequences...Hundreds of American troops are being withdrawn from Iraq in part over the coronavirus. And mother Earth is getting a breather from air pollution demonstrating the importance of and what's possible with a Green New Deal.

More good news... People here are creatively developing new ways to resist, carrying on political campaigns and where necessary, using Occupy tactics and other forms of direct action to support the homeless.

These new tactics for organizing, including a review of the March 18th NY Times piece by Astead Herndon, Progressive Ideas Remain Popular. Progressive Presidential Candidates Are Losing. Why?" will be food for our discussion on our upcoming Hitting Left shows.

Tune in on Fridays at 11a.m. CDT at WLPN 105.5 FM in Chicago or on livestream at

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