Category Archives: Organizers Forum

Red State Battles for the Future

New Orleans      We have a sign up for Adrian Perkins in the grass strip between our fence and our street in New Orleans.  We have a sign up along a piece of ground right across the Pearl River in Mississippi for Mike Espy.   Both are running for seats in the US Senate.  We have signs up for Biden-Harris, wherever we pay property taxes.  The only direct donation I’ve made is to Joyce Elliot, running for the Congressional seat in the Arkansas Second District that includes Little Rock.    All three are African-Americans.  It’s time!

Espy, a former Agriculture Secretary in the Clinton administration and Mississippi Delta congressman, is running neck-and-neck with the two-year Senate incumbent who beat him narrowly at that time.  He could win, and even losing, it will likely be closer than the last round.  Perkins is the young mayor of Shreveport and an engaging candidate with a bright future.  He’s a long shot against Republican Senator Bill Cassidy, but he embarrassed Cassidy, a former doctor, in a debate by advocating for the Affordable Care Act which has provided health care to hundreds of thousands in Louisiana, while Cassidy tried calling in Obamacare and argued for nothing.  Joyce Elliot has been a legislative champion for ACORN and Local 100 in both houses of the Arkansas body.  My often Trump apologist brother-in-law surprised me the other day by claiming in the pre-dawn that Elliot was going to beat French Hill, the Republican incumbent in that race.  I haven’t seen the polls, but that would be a wonder.

They aren’t alone.  Jamie Harrison in South Carolina has collected record sums for his campaign for the Senate there against Lindsay Graham.  African-Americans have come within inches of winning races for governor in both Georgia and Florida in recent years.  It’s time!

These are candidates that absolutely could win this November, although some or none of them may win.  It may be too little too late, as middle-of-the-road Democratic national leadership tended to favor Doug Jones and John Bell Edwards, moderate candidates more than leaders from the heart of the Black base.  These office holders often had questionable positions on guns and women’s rights.

In these new times in the wake of Trump, white supremacy and militia stirrings, and police brutality killings throughout the cities and towns in the red states, there might now be the forces that create a coalition of Black and brown voters, urban and young liberals, and educated women in and outside of the suburbs, that can move these states into another column.  One thing is clear, candidates are stepping up and winning support.  They aren’t afraid to run and claim their place on the ballot or allow others to move to the front.  They show conviction and courage.  You can’t win, unless you run, and they’re running hard now.

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Notes for My Father on Returning from Europe and North Africa

New Orleans       Continuing a tradition, when my father was alive, he would ask me what I learned that might interest him from my travels, so here are quick notes that would have intrigued him, and perhaps you.

  • In Tunis, we ate a something that tasted delicately like a peach, but was flat. One of our delegation called it a “flat peach,” and claimed they also ate this near Boston and upstate New York.  We also ate plums that were green and pale yellow.
  • In central and southern Netherlands, I was introduced to a working-class staple, a narrow, six-inch sausage made of mysterious meat parts, called frikandel. One of my colleagues was a huge fan and reported that near Heerlen there was a restaurant that specializes in various types of frikandel.  I tasted it, and it was alright.  Getting on a train from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf, I did a doubletake to see that Burger King was trying to start a frikandel craze with a special offering.
  • Staying near the center of Dusseldorf, Germany, I seemed to be living in an Asian neighborhood. As we ate lunch in a nearby Korean restaurant, I asked a colleague what was the story on this neighborhood.  It turned out that there was a special treaty between Japan and several other countries and Germany that brought workers in to the city as part of an exchange, and it ended up with many staying and creating the neighborhood and a significant population.
  • In Catania, Sicily, staying with a colleague on the third floor of a seven-story apartment complex, early one morning I was standing on the balcony looking down at the street and noticed a moving truck double-parked in front of the building next door where two workers were trying to wrangle a large bureau into the truck and off of a suspended platform. At first, I couldn’t figure out whether it was a curious truck lift or something else.  Turned out it was something else.  A closer look revealed that the platform was attached to a metal ladder that went all the way up to the unit and was an elevator of sorts that moved hydraulically up to the unit, similar to a hook-and-ladder firetruck.  A table came down next.  It was a two-truck, three man moving operation.  Perhaps this is common for complexes in Europe with small elevators and no freight elevators, but it was new to me in Sicily.
  • Tunisia still allows smoking in restaurants everywhere.
  • In Amsterdam to keep tourists from scamming on the trams, there is a worker behind a desk next to the entrance to both answer questions and check that all customers came on and off by swiping their tickets.
  • Parking in Catania, Sicily is privatized. Parking is highly prized on public streets. Residents pay to park between blue lines, and the private parking company works the streets to determine that only payers are parking. They can’t give tickets but send a notice and fine for nonpayment or overstaying in company controlled spaces.  Cars park everywhere in crosswalks and curbs where parking is illegal, because in the bankrupt city, police are not assigned to parking issues, even though the private companies meter maids and men are everywhere.

I could go on, but you get the message, it’s an amazing world out there, full of constant surprise and wonder, in things both large and small.

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