Wasted Time, a poem

Wasted Time

So do we fall

sweetly against the brittle gunk

and waste the very minutes

of a peaceful ending.

So it was written,

and spoken,

and so shall it be written down

again.

Many sit,

wait,

and wonder when.

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The Sacramento Housing Crisis

Homelessness, Gentrification, and Rent control. One cannot live in Sacramento for three days without hearing these words or seeing them in the news. Especially not the Mayor.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg in a recent interview with NPR went so far as to say, “The G word [gentrification] is not allowed!” After being bombarded at several city council meetings by housing activists, he seems tired of getting called out for his lack of action on the Sacramento Housing Crisis.

Sacramento is in red alert when it comes to housing. Neighborhoods have become gentrified thanks to skyrocketing rent rates and frequent small business closures. Homelessness in the county has jumped by 85% since 2015 (19% in 2019 alone). Sacramento has the highest climbing rent rates in the nation. Most cities see rent increases per-year that average at around 4%, Sacramento has seen rent increase at a rate of 9% per-year since 2015. A single bedroom apartment averages at $1,110 per month. None of these things are coincidental.

Mayor Steinberg and the city council have supported a several band-aid measures to address the issue, all of them short of supporting comprehensive rent control for the city. There is a push for the construction of more “tiny homes” which are small single person homes built into little villages, and the constant opening, closing, and moving of homeless shelters.

However the tiny home solution is merely a transitional living space and does not give the homeless a permanent residence, and the opening of shelters has been difficult. Every neighborhood association in the city agrees that we need more shelters yet none of them are wanted in their perspective neighborhoods. Several business owners have pushed for an anti camping ordinance in the city, which was approved by city council and is now in full effect. Homeless camps are evicted and shut down frequently by the Sacramento Police and Sheriff’s departments. People caught sleeping on the street are hassled daily.

The city council has also responded with even harsher measures than that. The city council unanimously supported a ban on panhandling, which was overturned in federal court thanks to the ACLU and housing activists in Sacramento. Not only does the mayor think he can ban words, he thinks he can ban people begging for change to survive.

If the city had rent control, neighborhoods would not suffer from gentrification. People would not be priced out of their homes and would not be forced on the streets, so they would not have to panhandle to survive either.

Homelessness, Gentrification, and Rent Control. The three words you will never be able to escape while living in Sacramento, no matter how hard Darrell Steinberg tries.

Don’t Just Vote for Socialists, Vote for ECO-Socialists

I am a strong supporter of the DSA’s current electoral platform, and I say that as someone who is beyond disilluisioned with electoralism. However, the DSA’s current platform for getting as many socialists as possible elected to public office has been nothing but good for the organization and for socialism.

This platform of pushing for DSA members to run for office has successfully brought socialism out from the marginalized wings of U.S. politics and into the mainstream. It has brought attention to the organization and helped force the policy platform of many otherwise moderate democrats go further to the left.

However, considering the impending disaster facing our planet, species, and existence, I move that we not only work to elect socialists, but explicit eco-socialists to office.

I don’t need to remind anyone how disastrous of a state we are in. The carbon levels in the atmosphere are at their highest in the history of humankind and too many species are already on the brink of extinction. Farmworkers are being forced to work in even more complicated conditions since we are losing consistency in our crops, and we will be seeing more mass migrations as global warming gets worse.

Therefore, we cannot, I repeat, CAN NOT, take it for granted that the socialists we seek to elect are explicitly conscious of the need for an ecological, sustainable economy. The importance of electing socialists to office allows us to seize a form of state power and push for a democratized economy, which inturn can help create a more eco-friendly one, but that will not be an inevitability if we do not make it so.

Some will say that the terms “socialist” and environmentalist are inherently intertwined because the liberals have clearly aligned themselves with the carbon economy. I disagree with this logic and say we must take nothing for granted, especially not what it means to be a socialist.

A person can identify as a socialist or as pro labor but then can flip that to mean something that is not environmentalist at all. Some have taken the stance that the environment is secondary to labor. For example the AFLCIO has released all kinds of anti envromental stances, including support for pipelines and housing developments. They take the platform of “job creation” being the priority of the working class. This stance is flawed because it blatantly ignores the reality of job creation that comes from embracing a green economy. This is why cannot take for granted that a pro working class candidate is also a pro environmental one.

Support for an eco socialist candidate should not be limitus tested by one single policy either. While I support a Green New Deal we can not rely on that alone to save ourselves. An ecosocialist candidate must incorporate the realities of mass migration, conservationism, and animal rights into their pro working class agenda.

To say that the terms socialist and environmentalist are inherently intertwined risks us losing out ecosocialist candidates in favor of ones who fail to reconcile environmentalism and socialism. We must make our demands explicit and that must reflect in our electoral platform at all times. We cannot take for granted that every socialist is an ecosocialist, I think it is pretty evident that we can take nothing for granted.

Pete Buttigieg Is Not A Genius

Many people are impressed with Pete Buttigieg’s performance during the first democratic party debate and many more are impressed with how intelligent Buttigieg appears to be. I am not one of them.

Credit where credit is due, while I disagreed with everything he said during the first 2020 presidential debate, I am objective enough to admit that he did not stumble in his responses and he did not lose any ground or footing with his base. While Kamila Harris was the clear winner in the debate and Biden the obvious loser, Buttigieg can easily be called the runner up for his cool and collective confidence throughout the night.

But here is the thing, people who applaud him are just too easily impressed by good public speaking skills and Harvard diplomas. I have met idiots with Master’s degrees, and geniuses who had dropped out of high school.

This is why I don’t give a flying fuck about Pete Buttigieg the “Rhode Scholar,” that he sells himself to be. I don’t care how many languages he speaks. I do not care that he went to Harvard, and I don’t think good public speaking and debate skills are the same as intelligence.

I am no anti intellectualist. Those who follow this blog know that! What I am is a realist, and let’s be realistic about how we as a culture treat college degrees as earmarks of status, not capability.

A Harvard diploma is not a sign of intelligence, it is a status symbol. The ability to speak another language is not a sign of intelligence, it is a skill that comes with years of memorization. Intelligence is shown in the application of ones education and knowledge. So far Buttigieg has used his alleged intelligence to protect his cities racist police force and to enable gentrification!

Our culture has a warped idea of what it means to be smart and what an education means.

Ivy leaque schools are not beacons of wisdom, they are mostly populated by trustfund legacy kids. A Harvard or Yale degree is a status symbol used to perpetuate the myth that the rich are in their class because of their “hardwork.” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/21/what-will-help-you-get-into-harvard-super-rich-parents

Now, is a person with a college degree more educated than someone without one? Certainly, but recieving an education is not a sign of intelligence by itself, true intelligence is represented in the application of your knowledge. What good is an elite education if all it is used for is personal gain? In Buttigeig’s case, what good did his diploma do to keep him from running South Bend, Indiana into the ground? Nothing.

In all honesty, a college degree is simply a symbol of training. “You studied Science for four years, so here is the piece of paper that says your qualified to talk about it!” The only difference between a diploma from Harvard and a tech school trade certification is the job opportunities that come with them. That is all any diploma is, proof that you finished your training in some subject or trade.

Pete Buttigieg is not some kind of a genius just because he has a Harvard diploma. Remember, education means nothing if you do not apply your knowledge, and considering how awful he runs the city of South Bend, I do not think he is using it. A strong debate performance is not enough to convince me otherwise. I am not that easily impressed!

Bounce Back Bernie! My Analysis of the First Debates

Okay, so for those who watched the first 2020 democratic party debates, here is my final verdict:

Winner: Kamila Harris. She definitely came out looking the strongest out of any candidate. That is not an endorsement by the way it is just a statement of fact, the sky is blue and Kamila Harris held and gained ground thanks to her presence on the debate stage. The teeth that she laid into Biden are bites that he will have a hard time recovering from and gave her an image a more feisty “I take no shit” kind of appeal.

Loser: Biden. He took a public beating from Harris, fumbled his answers, and just straight up I lied. “I was not against bussing.” Yeah, grade A lies. I knew this would happen to be honest. Biden is riding high on Obama’s coattails for now but Biden has always debated and paneled horribly. Every time Biden runs for president he flounders in the debate and any chances he has are killed with the gush of dog shit that comes out of his mouth. Plus the more people like Harris continue to press him on the issues of race such as bussing and praising segregationists the more he will hurt. It may not be for a while, but Biden is on his way out.

Bernie’s Performance: SO/SO. I’d give him a 6 out of 10. He was definitely the candidate saying the things I agreed with the most and he stayed consistent with his message, but it came across more stiff than firm. Bernie needs to stay consistent with his message but if we wants to pull more votes in the primary he needs to find a new ways to deliver his message. I am not suggesting he compromise his working class platform, but that he find ways to make it sound different and fresher each time. He also missed some opportune free throws and chances to take on the smears against him.

“Do you hate diversity Bernie Sanders?” Asks shit for brains Chuck Todd.

“No, I have the most diverse campaign staff for any candidate. Next question.”

That is how that interaction should have gone.

However Bernie did win in another way. The fact that all of the policy questions revolved around progressive values such as medicare for all or solidarity with the undocumented, means that it is progressives like Bernie who set the dialogue for that debate. The same can be said of the debate the night before this one. Even though Bernie was not on stage, his policies and platform were.

We have a long election season ahead of us, there is time for Bernie to bounce back. If he wants to recover he needs to sharpen his teeth. He needs to find new ways for him to communicate his platform that are consistent with his platform. Harris will see a bump over the next few weeks, Biden will be struggling to recover and each debate will be worse for him.

It’s going to be a long election season.

How Do We Make Bernie Better About Sexwork?

I am a strong Sanders supporter, and I am more than willing to concede that Bernie needs to do better regarding certain issues. Sex work is definitely one of them.

We in the pro-Sanders camp need to acknowledge that his votes in favor of FOFSTA and SESTA hurt sexworkers and we must acknowledge that Bernie needs to be pushed more on the issue of sex work.

Not only did Bernie vote for both of these harmful bills but when talking about media coverage of Stormy Daniels, Bernie has maintained a tone that writes off sexwork in a way that is damaging to his progressive image.

While at SXSW last year, he remarked that while the Stormy Daniels story is “legitimate news… the media is too obsessed with it,” which is actually a valid point. However, his reasoning was grossly flawed.

In this country, we have a lot of people who are in pain — single mothers, people who can’t afford college — they want to see something that reflects their reality.” And obviously, a president suing an adult film star isn’t that.

This reasoning ignores some very important realities, one being that porn performers and sex workers often are single mothers or parents. It also forsakes the reality that many turn to sex work because of the economic oppressions that he mentioned. In other words, it reflects the idea that porn stars and the issues effecting them are not to be taken seriously because porn stars themselves are not to be taken seriously as people.

This has been a difficult dance for me. I strongly support sex workers and want our culture to abandon the negative cultural constructs that we have attached to sex and sexuality. I also need the strong social welfare and environmental programs that Bernie Sanders is running on to come to fruition, we all do, or we are all going to die. So, as a Sanders supporter I think it is our job to hold him to scrutiny when he falls short.

Here is what I make of the whole Bernie Fofsta/Sesta/Sexwork situation: Bernie does not hate sexworkers, however because he is a product of his time and place he has preconceived notions about sex and sexuality that are the by products of our sex negative cultural constructs. Bernie and his sexwork policies are a good reflection of how even if you lean hard to the left, you will still have ingrained notions and prejudices if you are raised in an oppressive society, and inevitably some of that will lead to a perpetuation of the same oppressions we as leftists desire to overthrow.

All is not lost though, the key to overcoming ingrained prejudices and cultural constructs is to recognize them, and then take active steps to correct them. If Bernie has proven one thing about himself it is that when the public cries fowl on him, he listens and takes the steps to do better. The good news is that Bernie has already expressed a willingness to decriminalize sex work! However, more still needs to be done. We, his supporters, need to raise our voices and elevate sexworkers who are organizing. If enough of us do this, then Bernie, as well as all of the politicians in power, will have to take notice.

So, how do we get Bernie to be better about sexwork?

1. Elevate Sex Worker’s Voices, Support Sex Worker Unions

First and foremost, to stand in true solidarity with sexworkers we must avoid the savior complex.

As long as strippers, escorts, and porn performers are generating wealth with their labor then we must acknowledge that sex work is work.

We also must recognize that there are already those in the sex industry that are working to organize their own, such as Antonia Crane, Siousixie Q, Sex Worker Outreach Project, and the “soldiers of pole” stripper union. We don’t need to invade the spaces where sex workers are trying to organize, what we must do is elevate those who are already organizing and fighting and stand behind them in solidarity when they step up to lead. Sex workers do not need saving, they need solidarity.

It should also be remembered that these workers do not need our’s nor Bernie’s validation, they do not need to beg for Bernie’s approval or his audience, what they need from him and all of us is our solidarity. The more that we support the efforts of people like strippers to unionize, the more Bernie’s hand will be forced to recognize that sexwork is indeed a form of labor. For better or worse, Bernie listens when unions are involved.

2. Fight Our Sex Negative Cultural Constructs

It is okay to talk about sex. You would think that we’d have accepted that as a culture because sex is shoved into our faces in almost every form of advertisement or entertainment. Yet the fact that we are only now having this conversation about sexwork, the fact that our government’s response to the human trafficking problem has been to go after the sex work industry as a whole, and the fact that people still have not grasped the nuances of trans rights or gender fluidity, all demonstrate how far we have to go when it comes to sex as a culture. We can’t accept the idea that sex work is work if we can’t accept our own ideas about sex. If we want to make Bernie better about the issue of sex work, then we ourselves need make ourselves better and more enlightened on the topic of sexuality.

3. Make It Clear That Sex Workers Benefit From Social Welfare Programs

The benefits that sexworkers would receive from Bernie’s social welfare programs needs to be made more explicit and central to the left’s platform. We should make it clear that Medicare for all covers sexual wellness such as fertility and STD testing.

Not only that but both Medicare for all and college for all reduce the need for people to resort to sex work out of desperation. While many resort to sexwork willingly (even enthusiastically) some in the industry get into it because they cannot find other work. Also, more often than not you will find that several sex workers are trapped under crippling student loan debt or medical debt like the rest of us.

Bernie’s programs would also benefit those who engage in sexwork willingly because if we free our minds from sex negative thinking while we also free ourselves from these financial restraints, then those who have been sexually repressed will be free to explore the aspects of their sexuality like never before. They will be free perform and indulge without judgement, as they should have the freedom to do.

4. Decriminalize all sexwork

This is probably the most important thing to push for. Those who do sex work consensually should have the freedom to do so without fear. Because we live in a punitive system, the laws that police claim will protect trafficked sex workers usually leads to them being prosecuted more than rescued. Prostitutes are also statistically more likely to get arrested than pimps or traffickers. All socialists and leftists must explicitly support the decriminalization of sex work, period.

Now that Bernie has expressed a willingness to decriminalize sex work, it is on us as his supporters to assure that sex work decriminalization becomes a part of his platform.

If enough of a movement is started, especially among his core base of supporters, then Bernie will have to take notice of how he has misstepped on the issue of sex work in the past. While it is fantastic news that he has said he is willing to decriminalize sex work, we cannot ignore where he has fallen short on this issue. His FOFSTA and SESTA votes are a glaring black mark on his progressive resume. I assure you, I say this as someone who loves Bernie Sanders, I want to see him win.

Bernie needs to be better about sexwork, and it looks like he is on the right track. But we, the public, need to be attentive and see to it that sex workers receive the attention and solidarity they need.

Leon

Leon sat on the porch as the sun set behind the red silhouetted hills off in the horizon. As it went down the sun turned the sky into a deep purple with streaks of orange drizzled throughout. The sun itself had shifted into a deep red hue, a red that reminded Leon of the flags he once raised over vanquished enemies. Even though the shadows of the mountains had swallowed the whole front of the compound, Leon could still see the shadows of his bodyguards patrolling the entrance, their rifles almost making it look like they were carrying crucifixes on their backs.

It had been years since Leon was forced to flee his homeland, and though he was gracious to his hosts and happy to be alive, he just never could get used to the climate. The desserts of Mexico were vastly different from the muddy winters and bright springs of home. Leon was glad to have found refuge in Mexico, but he always missed home.

Leon did find the sunsets in Mexico more beautiful though. They gave him something beautiful to look up at when he wanted to take a break from his notebooks and studies. Leon was a man of the pen, a day he did not write a letter, an article, or a chapter in his next book was always a bad day.

Today was shaping up to be a bad day, nothing could get him to work on his book, not even the strong coffee that his local comrades had gifted to him. Leon was not able to write anything that day, until he came out to the porch to watch the sunset. For some reason, the deep red sun shading the sky had inspired him, and he took advantage of the withering daylight to fill his notebook as much as possible.

After the last bit of sunlight had been swallowed into darkness, Leon grabbed his books and notes and moved inside into his study. He sat at his desk and tried to continue with his writing, but he was drained out. For some reason now that he was away from the sunset he could not think about his text, he could only think of the sunsets back home.

He was lost in his pondering when he was then jolted by a knock on the door. Leon got up to answer it an on the other end of the door was one of Leon’s guards and a young comrade, Franc. Franc was young and Leon admired the energy of young comrades like him. He had been to the compound several times before with articles for Leon to read and had earned a degree of respect for his candor from Leon’s other comrades.

“Mr. Franc calling on you, comrade.” Said the guard.

“Send him in send him in.” Said Leon, gesturing for the young man to come in, closing the door and leaving his guard in the hall to stand watch as he did every night.

“No doubt you have an article for me to look at Comrade Jacson?” Said Leon as he returned to his desk.

“Yes Comrade.” Franc said pulling a stack of papers from out of a whicker brief case. “I wrote about the syndicalists, and contextualize what happened to them in the wake of this new world war.”

“Ah yes, so many of our enemies are all at war at once and all with each other!” Leon gave a chuckle looking at the papers handed to him as he sat down.

Leon shuffled through the pages to count them quickly before he began to read.

Suddenly Leon felt like a thousand nails had been driven into his forehead. He felt the crack of his skull and the surge of torture that came flowing through his entire body from the corner of his shattered temple.

Leon looked up from the papers to see that Franc had struck him. He struck him with something both sharp and blunt at the same time somehow. As Leon screamed in pain Franc delivered another blow, adding a stabbing pain to the torturous throbbing and shattered bone that was now torturing Leon.

Franc raised his weapon for a third blow, but was stopped as Leon sprang up and grabbed France by his arm and laying a firm grasp on his weapon.

Leon screamed, “You traitor! You scum! Murderer! Help! Help!” The two danced around the room, their shoes scuffing the wood of the floors as each one dug their heals in to try and over power the other. Leon might have been older than Franc, but one does not run an entire army without learning hand to hand combat, “And be damned this Stalinist traitor!” Thought Leon as he struggled to overpower Franc, “I will not bow down to anyone without a fight!”

Leon continued to scream for help as blood from his wound pooled over his eye and lips and dripped into his long beard. The guard from outside burst in, they grabbed Franc and pulled him back, forcing him to drop his weapon. The guard blew his whistle and with in seconds the room was flooded with Leons guards, others went to handle Franc while two sought medical attention for Leon who had collapsed into a guards arms after Franc had been subdued.

The guards beat Franc senseless until he was a pile of mush on the floor, but they did beat him just short of beating him to death. They wanted the man alive for his trial.

Leon was rushed to the hospital. Blood dribbling from the top of his head and through his hands as he tried to use what little strength he had left to put pressure on the wound. Some of the blood on in his beard was beginning to dry and congeal.

By the time the doctors got to him Leon was a weak husk of himself. They managed to bandage the wound but the doctors saw little else that could be done.

At the hospital Leon lingered in and out of consciousness. He’d awake from the pain, then he would collapse into unconsciousness from the pain. The blood had been cleaned from his eye and beard, but Leon could feel more of it seep into his bandages as he lied in bed. All time was lost to the pain, Leon did not know if he had been their for hours or for days.

After what felt like days of torture Leo woke once more, he could see that the sun was setting through a nearby window, just before he closed his eyes for the last time.