iBrattleboro Contributor and Local AFL-CIO President David Van Deusen In Hot Water For November General Strike Vote

As a sometime reader of Counterpunch, I occasionally run across items of local interest. This time, it’s an article highlighting a voice iBrattleboro readers know well — Vermont-chapter AFL-CIO President David Van Deusen. Van Deusen has been posting articles on iBrattleboro about local labor issues, and I’ve always been surprised by how refreshingly “left” this union rep sounds — why he’s almost a firebrand! Which is why I was unsurprised to learn that not everyone finds his labor radicalism so appealing.

The article, entitled “Why is AFL-CIO So Worried About Its Vermont Affiliate?” details recent friction between Vermont’s local chapter of the AFL-CIO and the national leadership of the parent organization. It all stems from a local resolution to call for a general strike if there was any protracted attempt on the part of the Right to keep Trump in office illegally.


White Supremacy Culture –  What It Is And What To Do About It

Racism often refers to acts of overt, intentional prejudice and a social order that debases people of color while glorifying whiteness. But white supremacy is a systemic and structural phenomenon woven throughout our culture—rather than just the work of racist individuals who intentionally and maliciously discriminate. Our institutions and social practices themselves prop up white advantage and protect white communities, while making communities of color vulnerable to exploitation, domination, and violence.

What actions are needed to repair ourselves in order to identify and dismantle white supremacy culture? This discussion will incorporate the pre-session resources listed below. Click on the link or copy the URL into your search bar to have a look. General discussion will follow Mary’s presentation. Please take part.


No Hope For Reform

As the pandemic unfolded it became clear how dysfunctional the American health care system is. There was even talk among a wide range of people about the urgency for the need for systemic reform. Sadly, when legislators talk that way nothing usually happens. They recognize the problem, say something must be done and then move on to the next pressing issue. Anyone remember gun control?

This has been the case both nationally and on a state level. The Biden administration has done a few things that will tinker with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to undo some of the damage that the previous administration did and make insurance a little more affordable for some people, but it is unlikely they will make any bold moves when it comes to health care reform.


Ten Years Since Fukushima

March 11 2021 marks ten years since Japan was hit by an earthquake and tsunami, destroying 85,000 homes and businesses. By 2021 the country could have rebuilt but for a disaster that continues today: the meltdown of three nuclear reactors in Fukushima, on the shore of the Pacific Ocean. The reactors were Mark 1 boiling water reactors, the same type and age as Vermont Yankee. Vermonters witnessed horrific stories coming from refugees in the Fukushima evacuation zone and beyond, reactors exploding and radioactivity filling the air, land, water and groundwater. All these tragedies continue in Japan today. In 2014, Vermont Yankee shut down; today, its 900 tons of nuclear waste remains on site, beside the Connecticut River.


Reverse Rummage Sale To Benefit Asylum Seekers

The Windham County Democratic Committee is looking for donations to its Reverse Rummage Sale to support families in the Community Asylum Seekers Project who are living in the area while they await asylum hearings.

The WCDC has set up a website with sign-up opportunities, including for two pickup trucks to gather and deliver the donated items the weekend of February 20-21 as well as a Spanish interpreter.

Other items on the list include kitchen bowls, small televisions, a bedroom dresser, twin bed frame, electric iron, blender for fruit juice, microwave oven, men’s winter gloves in size large, bed linens and mattress pad and four curtain panels in 63-inch length.


Round Up for Change January 2021

The Brattleboro Food Co-op is pleased to share that the SUSU commUNITY Farm was featured in January as the recipient of Round Up for Change. Customers chose to round up their purchases to the next dollar and contributed $5072.81 dollars in total to SUSU commUNITY Farm. We are so pleased to have such a generous customer base.  We have deep gratitude for their contribution. 


To Preserve What’s Left Of The Republic

If the U.S. Senate does not convict Trump in his second impeachment trial this country will no longer deserve respect from world leaders and countries that have a record of respecting the rule of law. That is no small thing. The alliances that this country needs to maintain in the worlds of commerce, banking, diplomacy and other critical areas will be weakened and possibly dissolved.

Politicians hold up the constitution as the guidebook for how this country should conduct itself. But if they do not make a criminal president accountable for his illegal acts while in office then the constitution will no longer dictate the standards for government.


Lock Him Up

The events of January 6 at the U.S. Capitol were inevitable. The stage was set years ago. When this country elected a mentally ill criminal to become president the drama intensified. As the weeks after the election unfolded I was sure that even Republicans would find a way to throw this madman under the bus and allow our country to move on quickly from its biggest mistake.

Instead, what happened was a four year period of enabling Trump to become intoxicated with power and providing him the license to do whatever he wanted. The Washington Republicans are mostly to blame, but both parties have proven to be too tame in their treatment of an incompetent and dangerous president and that is why things have finally gotten out of control.


A New Bill, Another Slap In The Face

The elite American ruling class, aka Congress, has once again proven that they do not understand or respect the hardship that a majority of Americans are experiencing. They are also making it clear that they are only willing to offer crumbs to a starving population.

The most recent stimulus package that just passed after months of political posturing is a slap in the face to most Americans. It provides a one-time check of $600 to people whose income is below $75,000. The people who crafted this legislation have no idea what $600 buys in the real world. I suspect most of them never shop for their own necessities, never clean their own houses and could not tell you what a gallon of milk, a gallon of heating oil or a package of toilet paper costs.


New Year’s Resolution: Volunteer with Youth Services’ Court Diversion

Youth Services is seeking volunteers to serve on its Court Diversion panels in the New Year.  Court Diversion is a voluntary, confidential alternative to court proceedings for certain juveniles and adult cases referred to Court Diversion on an individual basis by the State’s Attorney’s Office.

According to Sally Struble, Youth Services’ Director of Restorative Justice Programs, its underlying intent is to repair harm that is caused by the crime and to address underlying conditions that led to the offense. Youth Services relies on community volunteers to represent community values to hold the person who offended accountable for his or her conduct.


Next Steps for a Damaged Republic

It would have been comforting to have Trump out of our minds in the last few months of his reign of chaos, but egomaniacs such as he do not move on graciously. We will continue to be enveloped with the shroud of madness until January 20 and that is a disgrace for America.

It eases the pain of the last four years for many of us that Biden and Harris were elected by a five million vote margin. We can look forward to January 21, 2021 when this country will no longer be governed by tweets and when division and rancor will no longer be the tone from the White House.

But we also have to recognize the fact that over 72 million people voted for Trump. That means that this country remains deeply divided and it means that Biden will not be able to easily heal the wounds of the past four years simply by trying to be a nice guy who says he wants to be the President for all Americans.


The Long Winter Ahead

When the pandemic started to take over our lives the spring season of growth and rebirth was providing us with some positive energy. As bad as things seemed, many were able to adapt to a life outdoors making the best of a bad situation.

If the federal government had made an effort to mount a unified response to the pandemic we would now be able to hunker down for the winter with the hope that the spread of the virus was controlled to some degree. Instead, the virus is out of control and the number of new cases continues to climb every day.


Interview with Brattleboro Town Clerk

Elliott Greenblott interviews Hilary Francis, Brattleboro Town Clerk about the voting in this year’s election.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/lx92szvkz5fojf7/Final%20-%20HF.mov?dl=0

Remember to vote ~ Make your vote count ~ Follow the instructions


The Other Pandemic

When people in power continually lie and rule with bluster and bullying instead of with intelligence and compassion we all suffer. If these kinds of bad apples are in our neighborhood or in the sphere of our daily life we can try to keep away from such a toxic individuals. We know that keeping away from them is the best thing we can do to preserve our mental health.

But when that person is the President of the United States it is nearly impossible not to be affected by the toxic atmosphere that is constantly being created. It seems that when such high level power brokers do so many bad things they create a juggernaut of a unique kind of disease that feeds on itself and that grows in intensity. Their behavior feeds a beast of never-ending chaos.

A new kind of political epidemic is poisoning the entire world. The coronavirus is a physical threat and this new political virus is quickly harming the mental health of people all around the world. Trump is not the only bad player who is spreading this virus, but he has given greater legitimacy to other world leaders who are trying to solidify their power bases by building a world of lies with their own version of bluster and bullying.


March for Medicaid

On October 3 the Vermont Workers’ Center will hold a March for Medicaid in Bellows Falls. This is part of a national week of action coordinated by the Workers’ Center and the Nonviolent Medicaid Army, a growing national force fighting for universal healthcare and all economic and social rights for poor and working class people. The campaign is calling on Governor Scott to protect Medicaid by cutting the state’s contract with OneCare, a for-profit company siphoning off millions in Medicaid funding that should be spent on people’s healthcare, and to make good on Vermont’s commitment to universal healthcare as enacted in Act 48.


Will It Be A Funeral Or A War For Democracy?

Just when it looked as though the current political climate in this country could not get any worse, events unfolded that have pushed us closer to unprecedented constitutional and human crises. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Supreme Court justice who changed the world for the better, has passed on. Her legacy will last for generations and life will be better for many Americans years after her death.

But the Republican politicians in Washington want to shorten the mourning period and act quickly to move the court as far to the right as they can. They have vowed to place a Trump appointee as quickly as possible and, because our government no longer serves the people, the minority viewpoint will prevail and the court will tilt to the right for too many years.


Two Plagues, One Cure

I am trying to see all of the positive things that have come about as a result of the pandemic. We have more time to do the things we have been putting off for so long, we can read all of those books that have been on our reading list and we have time to connect with family and friends even though in-person contact is rarely an option.

But it seems to me that most people have had enough of the pandemic and they have run out of patience. After all, most people are not taking the long view because their lives have been so disrupted and they are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table. It didn’t have to be this way and that is the greater pandemic tragedy that Americans have been subjected to.


Election Season 2020

No handshaking and very few face-to-face encounters. Those are some of the major changes to political campaigning during a pandemic. The use of social media will be valuable as we head toward the first Tuesday in November.

Money will still rule because advertising on all levels gets a candidate’s name out there and television, print and other media ads do work. But there is also a potential for lower voter turnout because people may not be bombarded with the usual campaign activity of former years.

My hope is that, on the national level at least, voter turnout will be high because a majority of sensible Americans want to end the great American nightmare and make America sane again.


Tech Dinosaurs, VHS Tapes, and Groundworks Collaborative

I have a collection of VHS tapes (movies). They’re virtually all in good shape. I had hoped to donate them somewhere, but most places no longer accept them. I just can’t consign them to trash.

Proposal: I want to get rid of all of them in one “package.” You must take them ALL. What you do with them afterward is up to you (yard sale, whatever). After we agree on an amount, you’d make out a check to Groundworks Collaborative and give it to me. I’ll see that they get it. I am in no way associated with Groundworks; just want them to benefit by this donation.


Independence Day Funeral

Instead of fireworks, barbeques and parties on the Fourth of July, Americans should be walking silently in funeral processions. The great American experiment in Democracy has fallen far too short in its vision for a better life that was described in the Declaration of Independence. The current Black Lives Matter protestors are making that clear and their marches are some of the best efforts we have to move us closer to the ideals that the founding fathers imagined.

We need to be reminded of some of the principles this country was founded upon, even as we recognize that those who wrote the words of the Declaration of Independence were slave owners and white men of privilege.