Steve Russell :
Donald Trump and debts to America’s warriors

The dominant culture has a mixed record of looking after warriors when the war is over.

After allegations of misconduct, Admiral Ronny Jackson withdrew his name. Image by Donkey Hotey / Flickr.

By Steve Russell | The Rag Blog | April 29, 2018

Traditionally, we Indians honor warriors. We honor not only our own warriors but also our adversaries when they act with honor as well as courage. We honor courage by offering warriors preferred ceremonial positions, by seeking their advice about the wisdom of going to war, and by devoting resources to tending their wounds and returning their economic losses.

The dominant culture has a mixed record of looking after warriors when the war is over. Trying to put warriors back in the position they would have occupied had they not gone to war is not awarding them an honor. It’s partial payment of a debt.
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Thorne Dreyer :
RAG RADIO PODCASTS | Interviews with Lamar W. Hankins & Alan Pogue; Christopher Brown & Roddey Reid; Thorne Dreyer & Glenn Smith; Carl Davidson; Alice Embree, Kim Varela-Broxson & Lindsay Rodriguez; Roaul Hernandez; Steve Russell; and Philip Russell

Our guests include authors & activists, political analysts, a music critic and a leftist icon; we talk about guns and feminism; and we bid Mexico’s president bye-bye.

Austin Chronicle music editor Raoul Hernandez in the KOOP studios in Austin, Feb. 23, 2018. Photo by Roger Baker / The Rag Blog.

Interviews by Thorne Dreyer | The Rag Blog | April 16, 2018

The following podcasts are from recent Rag Radio shows with host and producer Thorne Dreyer. The syndicated Rag Radio program, produced in the studios of Austin’s cooperatively-run KOOP-FM, has an international audience and has become an influential platform for interviews with leading figures in politics, current events, literature, and cutting-edge culture.

The show first airs Fridays, 2-3 p.m. (CT) on KOOP, 91.7-FM in Austin, and streams live at and Radio Free America.
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Chellis Glendinning :
STORY | How to cross the border

Raúl has forged hundreds of miles in thin huaraches through 100-degree saguaro desert.

Saguaro cactus in 100 degree-plus Sonoma Desert. Creative Commons image by NobbiP.

By Chellis Glendinning | The Rag Blog | April 15, 2018

“I came to the U.S. because in my ejido in Chihuahua, there isn’t enough money to buy toilet paper.”– Raúl Solís Salazar, answering Diné/Navajo ethnobotanist Donna House´s question, “Why did you risk everything to come to the U.S.?”

CHUQUISACA, Bolivia — Raúl has forged the border between Mexico and the U.S. so many times that he has the passage down to a craft. “They chase us down in the desert,” he told me. “They put up 25-foot walls, they add airplanes that fly without pilots, they make fences that sting like bees – but we always find a way to get through.”

He and his band of indocumentados in our village were always regaling me with their experiences, ideas, and opinions. They had pioneered the journey north in tight groups and, upon arrival, called their cousins back at the ejido so they too could launch using the same, now-proven routes.
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Jonah Raskin :
BOOKS | ‘There may not be answers’

We review Allen Young’s autobiography, ‘Left, Gay & Green: A Writer’s Life.’

By Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog | April 12, 2018

“Rejection of marginalization is certainly not the same as assimilation.” — Allen Young

Allen Young begins his autobiography in March 1970, with a march on the streets of Manhattan that was sponsored by the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA). It’s a good time and place to begin. After all, as Young himself explains he was “a pioneering gay activist” and New York was at that time, the place where he lived, worked, marched, and protested.

His identity as a gay man is at the heart of this book, though it also explores his life and times in the radical movements of the 1960s and early 1970s, and his experiences in rural, western Massachusetts on Butterworth Farm.
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Alan Pogue :
My General Theory of Relative Violence

The economic philosophy of violence & the cultural/historical development of violence in the U.S.

The Cross and the M-16. “In 1968, on the Army base in Chu Lai while I was still a chaplain’s assistant. By this time I knew I was in an Imperialist Army of Occupation so I set this photo up and had a fellow soldier take the picture.”

By Alan Pogue | The Rag Blog | April 11, 2018

Alan Pogue and Lamar W. Hankins will be Thorne Dreyer‘s guests on the syndicated Rag Radio show, Friday, April 13, 2018, first airing from 2-3 p.m. (CT) on KOOP 91.7-FM in Austin, and streamed live: They will discuss Pogue’s article, below, and Hankins’ recent Rag Blog article, “Arguing about the Second Amendment is a waste of time” — and their somewhat divergent views on gun violence and gun control.

[Noted documentary photographer Alan Pogue is a fifth generation Texan. His ancestors came to the Texas coast, to McKinney’s Trading Post, from Dublin, Ireland, in 1840. The trading post later became Corpus Christi. He attended Catholic schools and was an altar boy for 13 years.

Alan has worked with peace and justice organizations in Austin and around the world since he returned from Vietnam in 1968 where he was a chaplain’s assistant and a combat medic. He is a Texas Department of Public Safety certified instructor for the License to Carry. He has saved several people from rape and murder on the streets of Austin. Once a combat medic, always a combat medic. See Alan’s Rag Blog article, “My history with violence.”]

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Harry Targ :
What gives me hope about this ‘Enough is Enough’ movement

These young people have begun to ‘teach their parents well.’

March for our Lives rally in Austin, Texas, March 24, 2018. Photo by James Retherford / The Rag Blog.

By Harry Targ | The Rag Blog | April 10, 2018

I experienced the new youth movement following the Parkland massacre vicariously: through television, radio, and social media. I stayed at home Saturday, March 24, periodically sampling the television accounts of the massive rallies all over the country and the world against guns, gun violence, and the gun manufacturers and their lobbyists who prey on the celebration of fear and violence. I even shed a tear when I saw one placard with the sign “teach your parents well.”

While I have had bursts of enthusiasm before when women marched for their rights, masses mobilized against war, and many stepped up to say no to police violence and mass incarceration, I was touched emotionally even more this time around. On reflection, I think, my optimism, my interest in being involved, and my sense of purpose has been energized by several features of this new movement.
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Alan Waldman :
TELEVISION | Brit detectives solve murders on Caribbean island in ‘Death in Paradise’

Ben Miller, Kris Marshall, and Ardol O’Hanlon change out as top cops in excellent tropical killer series.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | April 8, 2018

[In his Rag Blog column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. Most are available on DVD, Netflix and/or Netflix Instant Streaming, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

For the past eight years a nice little murder mystery series, Death in Paradise, has been piling up corpses on a fictional Caribbean island. So far 56 episodes (seven seasons) have unspooled on the exotic French tropical isle of St. Marie, filmed on Guadeloupe. The series began airing in 2011 with Ben Miles as the British chief detective. In Season 4 he was replaced by lanky Kris Marshall and then again in Season 6 by Irish comic Ardal O’Hanlon (playing it straight).
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Alice Embree :
The Census weapon

The Electoral College is the smoking gun for a rigged system in presidential politics.

U.S. Census envelope. Screen grab.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | April 7, 2018

See ‘Notes From a Dying Age’
Verse by Alice Embree, Below.

The Trump administration wants to insert a question about citizenship into the 2020 U.S. Census. Since the Census will be the basis for allocating congressional districts, federal funding, and determining votes in the Electoral College, it is no small matter.

A number of state attorneys general are gearing up to challenge this census change. They argue that a question on citizenship will produce an undercount based on the chilling effect, or more bluntly the I.C.E. effect, of an answer that might put you or your family members at jeopardy of deportation.
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Lamar W. Hankins :
Arguing about the Second Amendment
is a waste of time

Reasonable gun regulation is completely compatible with the Supreme Court’s understanding of the Second Amendment.

Stepping up to the plate. Image from Ed Christman / Flickr.

By Lamar W. Hankins | The Rag Blog | April 5, 2018

Lamar W. Hankins and Alan Pogue are Thorne Dreyer‘s guests on the syndicated Rag Radio show, first airing Friday, April 13, 2018, from 2-3 p.m. (CT) on KOOP 91.7-FM in Austin, and streamed live: They will discuss Hankins’ article, below, and Pogue’s recent Rag Blog article, “My General Theory of Relative Violence” — and their somewhat divergent views on gun violence and gun control.

For those who have taken time to look into the history of the Second Amendment (“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”), it is apparent that the Supreme Court in its 2008 Heller decision did a poor job in understanding what the founders meant by “militia.”

Some historic research suggests that the purpose of the militias in colonial times was primarily two-fold: to capture runaway slaves and return them to their owners; and to kill or enslave the native inhabitants of this land, pushing those who survived into enclaves mostly west of the Mississippi River. But whatever the case may be, that matter is resolved for now. We should be focusing instead on gun safety/gun control regulation that is constitutional.
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Alice Embree :
‘The Rag’ in Paris

Manuel Suzarte, a doctoral student at the Sorbonne, presents a paper in Paris. On screen is the March 6, 1967 issue of The Rag.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | April 1, 2018

“The Rag in Paris,” was the subject line of an e-mail from Chilean doctoral student Manuel Suzarte. He is pictured at a table. Projected on a screen behind him is an image of the cover of the March 6, 1967 Rag with the headline, “Chileans Leave in Protest.” Suzarte, a Sorbonne student, was presenting a paper in Paris, France.

In late November 2015, Manuel Suzarte followed up on a lead and asked The Rag Blog for my contact information. His thesis focused on the interaction of leftist students from the U.S. and Chile, particularly in the years preceding Salvador Allende’s 1970 election as President of Chile.
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Steve Russell :
Your money and your life: The politics of
VA medical care

VA motto at he Department of Veterans Affairs Building in Washington, DC. Image from JeffOnWire / Flickr.

Paleoconservatives have a long-range plan to destroy Medicare and Medicaid without attacking them directly.

By Steve Russell | The Rag Blog | March 31, 2018

Editor’s Note:  The Rag Blog published Steve Russell’s article, “Your Money and Your Life,” on March 31. The article claimed that the Koch brothers funded a fake veterans organization to agitate for privatization of VA medical care. We noted that when Democratic politicians made that claim, The Washington Post slapped them down by “fact checking” the claim as deserving of “three Pinocchios.”

A week later, on April 7, The Washington Post published an article titled. “How a Koch-backed veterans group gained influence in Trump’s Washington.”  The central claim was that the Koch brothers funded a fake veterans organization to agitate for privatization of VA medical care.

Pinocchio was out watering his Astroturf and could not be reached for comment.

In the revolving door that is the Trump administration, you can no longer keep track of the players without a program, and it almost requires a personal interest to motivate inquiry beyond Stormy and Summer and Karen. Karen? I was expecting Autumn or maybe Cyclone.

Since I do intend to bypass President Trump’s treatment of women — excepting the women who serve in the armed forces — I should confess my personal interest in the Department of Veterans Affairs, formerly known as the Veterans Administration and still called the VA. I am a Vietnam era veteran of the Air Force with a service-connected disability rated 60 percent. My son is a veteran of the Marine Corps and the Air Force Reserve and is medically retired from the Army after two combat tours in Iraq. His service-connected disability is 100 percent.
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Shepherd Bliss :
Thousands of students protest gun violence

California students carried signs like, ‘I should be writing my term paper instead of my will.’

Memorial arranged by the eighth grade class at SunRidge Charter School in Sebastopol, CA. Photo by Bill Shortbridge / The Rag Blog.

By Shepherd Bliss | The Rag Blog | March 15, 2018

SONOMA COUNTY, California — Driving through small-town Sebastopol on March 14 toward the Senior Center, this 73-year-old noticed groups of young students with signs gathering on downtown street corners and waving to motorists. These active participants in direct democracy joined thousands who walked out of schools across the U.S. and the world, organized by the Women’s March Youth branch.

As I got closer to the students, a variety of feelings, thoughts, and memories emerged. Tears of appreciation began to drip from my eyes, as I learned why they were protesting.
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