Coming Apart at the Seams

Coming Apart at the Seams

The Democratic Party will never rescue this nation from over three decades of unbridled corporate power and militarism! How could they; they’re behind it? Neither will groups like MoveOn, a group that tinkers at the edges of reform while Rome burns.


Those of us who have been in Left-movement politics for decades know that the Democratic Party was long ago turned into a mechanism for supporting neoliberal domestic policies with its attendant militarism. It is impossible to reform the system from within the Democratic Party. Look at what it has offered the nation over the past three years: the expansion of wars of occupation and aggression in the Middle East and Southwest Asia; the near-total deterioration of the economy from the viewpoint of working-class and middle-class people; continued degradation of the environment; health-care legislation that keeps the health-care insurance industry and pharmaceutical industry on top of the health-care heap while denying health care to millions of Americans; a laizzez-faire corporate system that punishes the 99 percent while rewarding the 1 percent with grotesquely inequitable income distribution; a post-September 11, 2001 national security apparatus that makes anyone suspect who does not fit the mold of the two-party electoral system.


The vicious police-state tactics that have been used for over two months in an attempt to squelch the Occupy Wall Street movement is a bald-face example of how genuine political movements in this nation are treated. The Internet and advanced technology make it easy to view the egregious  manner in which the police have acted as tools of the state. Whether pepper spraying peaceful demonstrators on the streets of New York City, or at the University of California at Davis, or shooting tear gas canisters directly at protesters in Oakland, California, the viciousness of the system is obvious for all those who care to see.


Despite the pronouncements of Mayor Michael Bloomberg or President Barack Obama about supporting the right of OWS protesters to speak out against the abuses of the system, their rhetoric means nothing when the billy clubs begin to swing, the tear gas explodes, or the pepper spray is dispensed. These examples of state-sponsored police brutality drive home just how little the political, economic, and social system will tolerate change.


Debates can go on endlessly about whether or not the system can be reformed. The betrayal of the New Deal is the universal fate of all movements and efforts to reform the system within the Democratic-Republican party system. Both parties have long since been given over the the corporate and military behemoths and there can be no realistic expectation that genuine change can be imposed by either party, especially since the Supreme Court allowed the unlimited flow of  cash to the two parties that further erodes the political system to the benefit of the wealthy.


Recent figures released by the  US Census Bureau show that 1 in 3 Americans are either at or near the poverty level. For a society that purports to be a democracy, these figures tell much about the degradation of the social-economic system for more than three decades. No political party controlled by grotesque levels of wealth can possibly seek to remediate that chasm!


Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer.


Will the Providence Journal Publish This Letter?

November 23, 2011

Dear Editor:
Sixty-six thousand current and former Rhode Island state and municipal employees and retirees will have $3 billion taken away from them as a result of the pension “reform” law just passed by the RI General Assembly. The latter will be the biggest case of theft in the history of the state. It was achieved by way of a collusion between the general treasurer, governor, and General Assembly. In the case of both the governor and general treasurer, the clear advocacy of the 1 percent against the 99 percent is blatantly obvious.

The US remains the wealthiest nation in the world, yet like Rhode Island the question is in whose pockets that money can be found.
I spent 30 years teaching the children of Rhode Island. For my efforts, and through my contributions to the retirement fund, I was promised retirement benefits in writing. Of course, the lawsuits will follow, but law is politics by another name and financial lawlessness seems to be in the air in RI.

I suggest, in the meantime, that the state substitute the motto “Hopeless” where the word “Hope” is emblazoned on the state flag.
Howard Lisnoff

Sand Hill Cove

This piece originally appeared in The Narragansett Times.




Sand Hill Cove


There is one place that I hold as the most beautiful place on earth in my mind. I went to visit there today, one last time for what might be months or years. I can’t say which it will be just yet.


Sand Hill Cove—now Roger Wheeler State Beach—showed itself at its best today, a humid day in late May. A huge trail of great nearly black cumulonimbus clouds filled the dome of the sky from west to east. Block Island was enveloped in a shroud of offshore fog, appearing almost dreamlike and surreal, as if suspended from the heavens in an ancient myth of heroes in some lost age. To the north a band of lighter cumulus framed the day of gentle winds and calm seas and warming temperatures. The dunes of the cove were already showing off their cover of ocean grasses and the great breakwater forming the Harbor of Refuge protected the few boats that could be seen.


My earliest memories of childhood and the summer sea were formed here. My family frequented the beach on weekends, and when we were lucky enough, we stayed for the traditional two-week vacation in a cozy cabin owned by friends on Ocean Road a mile away. As I grew older, the memories of slightly sandy egg salad sandwiches eaten beneath skies of perfect azure blue were replaced with more frequent trips with friends as cars became more resilient and the relative affluence of the Sixties allowed for more leisure time.


While others went to the more popular Scarborough Beach and town beach at Narragansett, I was perennially drawn to return with friends to the dunes at the eastern edge of the beach which afforded privacy not readily available on any other beach I had known, and an absolutely perfect bird’s eye of the masses of beachgoers below and the inviting sea beyond (Today, the dunes are a protected area.) On the infrequent early evening in summer at sunset, if the conditions were right, the treat of a full yellow moon rising at the eastern end of the beach is contrasted against the blazing orange-red of the setting sun. I have found such beauty nowhere else on earth.


Standing at the middle of the beach in front of the pavilion, the seasons and the past rush by in a kaleidoscope of images. My father rises from below the water in a rush of spray adorned with a Fu Manchu moustache of thick brown kelp. I chase a friend playfully across the sand on the first real day of spring in a time long since gone. While relaxing on a bench at the old pavilion, I meet a new friend in the magic of a late-summer evening of youth. A friend, returning from a long absence, and I stand on the dunes in August and watch the dazzling red of the sunset over Jerusalem. I carve a giant valentine in the October sand with the woman to whom I’m engaged. Our children learn to love the beach with its near perfect warm sand and gentle sea as much as we do.


Even with the beach abandoned for winter, the long lines of east to west redwood snow fences make an inviting welcome to beachcombers and cast long shadows in the late afternoon, while the beach grass, now brown, bends in supplication to the cold north and west winds.


Wherever I go, part of me will remain happily behind here, and a part of this timeless place will come along with me.