Allen Young :
ENVIRONMENT | Appreciating nature as a political act

Allen Young on a recent hike with Celtz, a friend’s collie
Photo by Bobby Curley for North Quabbin Trails Assn.

By Allen Young | The Rag Blog | December 14, 2020

ATHOL, Massachusetts — Do you consider yourself an environmentalist? has this definition: “A person who is concerned with or advocates the protection of the environment.” That definition suits me, and I assume it’s valid for all or most Rag Blog readers.

I belong to some local and national environmental groups, and I’ve attended demonstrations over many years related to the dangers of nuclear power and the fossil fuel industry’s expansion of pipelines. I’ve become informed about the danger of climate change and the need to respond to it. I also choose candidates with strong commitment to environmental protection.

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Joshua Brown :
POLITICAL CARTOON | Treason special

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OPINION | Top 12 heroes of 2020

In alphabetical order for your convenience.

Stacey Abrams. Caricature by DonkeyHotey. Creative Commons image.

Compiled by Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog |December 9, 2020

[Also see Jonah Raskin’s “Top 11 criminals of 2020” on The Rag Blog.]

2020 has been the year of the collective, often unheralded, hero. Still, some individuals have stood out. This list reflects the anonymous, the famous, and the infamous.

Stacey Abrams, lawyer and more, who has aimed to expand the electorate and prevent the reintroduction of Jim Crow. Supports abolition of cash bail, abolition of the death penalty, widening Medicaid, and decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

José Ramón Andrés, born in Spain in ’69, founded World Central Kitchen in 2010. Since then he has provided tens of thousands of healthy meals to people affected by disasters, from Haiti to Peru and Cuba to Cambodia. An outspoken critic of Trump, Andrés starred in his own cooking show, Vamos a Cocinar, which debuted in 2005.
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Alice Embree :
MIXED MEDIA | The not so funny comics of indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | December 5, 2020

The Great Pen Caper: In 2013 Ken Paxton picked up a $1,000 Montblanc pen from a Collin County metal detector tray. Fifteen months later, after being identified by a sheriff reviewing video surveillance, incoming Attorney General Ken Paxton returned the pen to its rightful owner.

The Securities Caper: In August 2015, a Collin County grand jury charged Paxton with two first-degree felony counts of securities fraud and a third-degree count of failing to register with the Texas State Securities Board. The prosecution alleged that Paxton urged investors to put $600,000 into tech firm Servergy without disclosing he would earn a commission and that he owned stock in the McKinney company. Paxton was advising clients without a license for Mowery Capital Management. The Texas Securities Board was seeking to revoke the company’s investment advisor registration when the unlicensed activity came to light.

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Carl Davidson and Bill Fletcher, Jr. :
ANALYSIS | Post-election reckoning: New hypotheses for the road ahead

Image from Organizing Upgrade.

By Carl Davidson and Bill Fletcher, Jr. | The Rag Blog |December 1, 2020

Carl Davidson and Bill Fletcher, Jr. are Thorne Dreyer‘s guests on Rag Radio, KOOP 91.7-FM in Austin and streamed at, Friday, December 4, 2-3 p.m. (CT). They will discuss this article and the larger issues it raises. This is Carl Davidson’s ninth visit to Rag Radio and Bill Fletcher, Jr.’s second. If you miss it live, go here anytime for the podcast.

This article was originally published at Organizing Upgrade and was cross-posted to The Rag Blog by the authors. A Spanish translation is available here.

Hypothesis No. 1. One cannot understand this election unless one begins with a recognition of voter suppression: Since 2008, the Republican strategy has increasingly focused on voter suppression. The weakening, if not evisceration, of the Voting Rights Act was one significant piece of that. In the lead-up to 2020, the Republicans, under Trump, have pushed this further by undermining the basic right to vote; making it more difficult; encouraging intimidation; undermining the U.S. Postal Service, long voting lines, fewer polls in Black neighborhoods, and so on.

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OPINION | Top 11 criminals of 2020

In alphabetical order for your convenience.

DonkeyHotey caricature of Rudy Giuliani from a Creative Commons photo from
Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Photostream.

Compiled by Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog |November 26, 2020

[Also see Jonah Raskin’s”Top 12 heroes of 2020″ on The Rag Blog.]

If you don’t like this list, make up one of your own. There are plenty of criminals in high office and at the head of corporations.

Jair Bolsonaro, homophobic, corrupt Brazilian president and Trump-worshipper, guilty of nepotism, led assault on the Amazon rainforest, broke down separation of church and state, and a disgrace to the nation’s 211,000,000 people.

Roy Cohn died in ’86 but his spirit is alive and well in the Trump administration, gave Jews and homosexuals a bad name, eternally damned for helping to send Rosenbergs to the electric chair.

Rudy Giuliani, slimeball, opportunist extraordinaire, hired gun for Trump, went everywhere his master told him to go, brought shame down on himself from Ukraine to Pennsylvania.

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James Retherford :

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Alice Embree :
REPORT | Houston’s historic underground newspaper…

…on the really small screen.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | November 25, 2020

Space City News hit the streets of Houston in June 1969, but got a name change when a UFO group informed the paper they were already publishing under that name. By January 1970, the paper was publishing as Space City!, and it continued to publish through transformative times in Texas’ largest city, times that were a changin’ and often harrowing as an active Ku Klux Klan took aim at the fledgling paper.

The Houston cousin of The Rag published for three years. Many of its veterans had cut their journalistic teeth at Austin’s pioneering underground paper and three quarters of the board of the parent nonprofit, the New Journalism Project, hailed from Houston, so the cousin relationship was alive and well.
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Joshua Brown :

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Larry Piltz :
OPINION | Trump’s revenge: The only way he thinks
he can win

(Or, I’d rather be scared now than shocked and scared later.)

By Larry Piltz | The Rag Blog | November 12, 2020

AUSTIN — There’s nothing and no one to stop Trump from disregarding all and every convention, practice, protocol and law. If you believe otherwise, then who and what, pray tell?

And this is what I think he will do regarding the election no matter what any court says. He will violate and upend everything worth cherishing about our country and that which we require to have a viable stable nation. He’s going for the coup d’etat. Why wouldn’t he?

He simply doesn’t care what happens to the country. The only thing that matters to Trump is Trump. That’s who he is. That’s long been established.
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POLITICS | Eat the 2020 election

“Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are.”
— French writer, Jean Anthelme Brilliant-Savarin, 1825

“You Are What You Eat.” Thread on fabric by P.Nosa / Wikimedia Commons.

By Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog | November 12, 2020

SONOMA COUNTY, California — Voters were definitely on edge Election Day, but not so edgy that they couldn’t or didn’t abstain from eating. From coast-to-coast and in what’s known as “fly over country,” Joe Biden supporters watched the results trickle in on TV, enjoyed supper, and kept it down. In many cases the results were sickening, but not really nauseating.

I can’t speak for Trump supporters. I don’t know many, though according to the political grapevine members of the Trump team enjoyed hor d’oeuvres, “White House fries” (French fries were apparently unacceptable) and sliders, perhaps hoping that the president would easily slide into a second term in the White House.
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Ivan Koop Kuper :
MUSIC | Lightnin’ Hopkins: Texas blues man

His appearance on Austin City Limits was a highlight
of Lightnin’s career.

Lightnin’ Hopkins in Houston’s Third Ward.

By Ivan Koop Kuper | The Rag Blog | November 11, 2020

HOUSTON — Texas blues legend Samuel “Lightnin’” Hopkins was 66 years of age in 1978, when he was booked by television producer Terry Lickona, to be included in the fourth season of the nationally syndicated PBS TV program,” Austin City Limits.” The idea to have Hopkins perform was pitched to Lickona by Ron R. Wilson, Hopkins’ bassist who, at age 23, was elected to the Texas State Legislature the prior year. Also, inconspicuously on board for the taping to fill out the rhythm section was Austin drumming luminary, William G. “Bill” Gossett.

“That was the year we began to branch out from the show’s roots of ‘Texas Progressive Country’,” said Lickona from his office in Austin. “When I was promoted from assistant producer to producer, I just wanted to stir things up a little bit. Lightnin’ was a Texan, but not quite like the other musicians that had been previously booked on the show in its early days.”

The engagement would be one of the highlights of Hopkins’ career; a career that spanned more than 35 years beginning in 1946, when he moved away from his hometown of Centerville, Texas, to the segregated inner-city Houston neighborhood of Third Ward. Once considered to be the epicenter of African-American business, politics, and culture, it was where Hopkins now called home and where he was celebrated by his friends and neighbors as the cultural icon he had become.
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