Huntington’s disease and blessing a nation with evil priorities

This piece was first published on 9/24/15 by Brother Francisco as Galtisalie for the I ♥ Democratic Socialism group at Daily Kos. Some of the comments there are touching, highly informative, and also “Socratic” and “prophetic” as Cornel West uses the terms, by which we are tearful and mindful of the oppressed in our questioning and answering, and don’t fail to cry out in the wilderness for them.

I saw the man sitting there, shaking like an alcoholic experiencing horrible DTs–and this false appearance is part of the horror of advanced Huntington’s disease. Twice in the last few months, he has been unable to perform the simple act of taking a long bus ride across the south to get to one of his children. He just wants to live out his days near family. But I gather, they may not want to have much to do with him anymore.

I mention him and that disease because it is the latest horror story I have seen with my own eyes because the U.S. does not have a proactive social safety net for people with disabilities. I am not at all an expert in this disease or in disability in the U.S., but I know what I saw, and I know what I heard, and it was all horror and sadness. Horror and sadness on the face of a human being, and horror and sadness of those he comes into contact with of his dire situation and needs, and the utter mismatch of the social safety net to that situation and needs.

It should not be the case in any place on the earth, but especially in the richest nation on its face, the arrogant nation with the earth’s global reserve currency and the evil priority of having the earth’s largest military-industrial complex so that we can keep the world safe for capitalism, making defense contractors rich, and the perpetuation of injustice like that happening to this pitiful man, unable to walk, only able to shake and fight to say a few words about how he got here and where he is trying to go.

In the U.S. we set up our social safety net for people under 65 as a set of flaming hoops. If you can jump through the flaming hoops, you can maybe get enough money and other assistance to live in poverty. If you can’t jump through any one of the flaming hoops set up for you to fail, you do not get coverage and you live in extreme poverty with little or no assistance. And if your disease is of a “progressive” nature and its pace of progression exceeds your inability to get back in and get through the flaming hoops another time, you can remain stuck with the previous low, and now clearly inadequate, benefits level.

So that man sits shaking horribly and without the increase in disability assistance to which he probably is entitled. He will probably live out his painful days with a feeling of utter loneliness and abandonment in a series of psych wards and mental health facilities. No human being deserves to end that way.

We need to have a social safety net with social workers who are ombudspersons combing the streets in search of the lost sheep. They are not hard to find–the lost sheep that is. Instead we leave the lost sheep to die lonely deaths, without even the measly government assistance to which they are entitled.

I have seen someone in horrible physical and mental anguish, without anything, without even the active compassion of a nation that supposedly cares about justice for all. The Pope said yesterday God “bless” America. I am reminded of another verb another religious leader used. He was being not a traitor but the prophetic voice of one crying out in the wilderness.


Of “dead communist dictators,” cold sore spit, and Orajel™

This piece was first published on 9/21/15 by Brother Francisco as Galtisalie for the Anti-Capitalist Meetup group at Daily Kos.

Nowheresville, 5:00 pm CT, 9/21/15

TESTIMONIAL OF THE CHASTENED: Hello. Good evening, or good morning to my comrades already suffering under the dreaded would-be communist dictatorship of Corbyn. My name is Francisco, aka Galtisalie, and I approve this message. My most humble thanks to our corporate sponsors at Orajel for

Telling the Difference Between Cold Sores and Canker Sores

These two ailments are commonly confused. Both canker sores and cold sores occur near the same location, share many of the same triggers such as stress, facial trauma, and hormonal changes and can be very painful. But, it is important to distinguish between the two conditions to ensure that you get the best treatment available.

[Because this is a kid-friendly Anti-Capitalist Meetup piece, and last week I showed you an image of Che Guevara getting a colonoscopy, which I intended to be comforting to proponents of a single payer health care system, I will let you click here if you want to see nasty illustrations of the two ailments. Also, because my ACM pieces are becoming increasingly obscure, as the personal contradicts plain-spokenness due to lack of sleep and valuable things to say, I hereby provide an obscure executive summary, to use the jargon of our capitalist betters.]

Executive Summary of this Week’s Anti-Capitalist Meetup Diary

1. Everyday People Everywhere Want Themselves and Others to Have the Things They Truly Need to Live Healthy and Fulfilled Lives. Trust Me on That or See This Wonderful 20-Minute Talk by a Socialist Monk in an Orange Outfit, Who Lives in Venezuela, for More Information:

2. Sometimes Very Caring Revolutionaries Make Mistakes in a Complex Capitalist World: Course Correction Can Be Very Difficult and Elections Can Be Lost.

Fledgling Caring Bolivarian Socialism Facing Fierce Reactionary Opposition and Other Extremely Trying Circumstances, Some of Its Own Making,
Gradually Tempted to Morph into Paternalistic Authoritarianism à la Cuba in Order to Continue Trying to Do Right by Its Poor and Predictably Becoming Less Popular in the Process ≈ Economic Justice with Painful Counter-Productive Anti-Democratic Canker Sores, Non-Contagious, Inflamed by Black-Market Corruption

3. The Very Non-Dude Global Capitalist System Abides: the World’s Oligarchs Get Their Way, and the Everyday People Catch the Cold Sores, Because That’s Just the Way It Is, Like the Rising and Setting of the Sun.

Hegemonic Global Capitalism, Sometimes Masquerading as Democracy and Other Times Not Bothering, Existing by Exploiting the Surplus Army of the Unemployed, Keeping Profits and Resource Rents for the World’s Oligarchs, Demanding Outrageous Inequality as the Price of Progress, and Regularly and Periodically Bringing Crises to the Everyday People, followed by Demands for Austerity for the Everyday People ≈ Massive Oozing Highly Contagious Painful Cold Sores Carried by Bribe-Subsidized Political Spit All around the Burning Big Blue Marble and Placed on the Poor and, to a Varying Lesser Extent, Other Members of the 99%

4. Our Friendly, Personable Corporate Sponsors Put the Hood in Personhood

through Advertising and Hired Politicians, Divide and Rule, Spreading Cold Sores and Trying to Create Demand for Their Own Products, Happy to Provide Temporary Relief for Their Sores and Ours, If You Can Afford the Treatment, and Who Can Afford Not to Afford It?

Continue reading


Sanders on drug policy

This piece was first published on 9/19/15 by Brother Francisco as Galtisalie for the I ♥ Democratic Socialism group at Daily Kos.

Individuals and families have internalized calendars of dates that aren’t always written down even if they are known. In my family, the dates, for good or for bad, often have something to do with drug addiction. For us, national drug policy is a matter of great interest, and even survival.

Today would have been Aunt Gloria’s (my mother’s half-sister) birthday, had she not lost her battle with drug addiction (OxyContin/heroin in the final years, before that cocaine). She’d be on Social Security by now if she’d lived. Instead she died alone, date uncertain. Her body was found days later in her apartment.

A couple of years before Gloria died, eight years ago next month, on a day I’ll always be thankful for, my brother and I were able to put the money together to pay for our little sister’s expensive treatment for drug addiction (OxyContin/heroin as the drug “of choice,” with cocaine and other hard drugs also in the mix) and to support her some financially during the first year post-treatment as she gradually rebuilt her life. We learned that getting detoxed and counseled for 28 days at an expensive high quality facility was just the start.

Because we were able to find some additional cash to do so, we could help her not only with initial treatment but also with the costs of room and board for a year at a special place for recovering women addicts. That way she was able to get a fresh start away from people and places with bad associations. Over time, she also came to realize the depth to which she was a victim of PTSD, which is not limited to victims of foreign wars.

So, in our family, we were able to pay the financial costs of another human being having a chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But it is still her life and her struggle, and to me, an ongoing miracle, and I take nothing for granted. When tough times come, as they always do, and she deals with them without using, I feel that another increment of a miracle has occurred.

We are so proud of her and thankful to have her. The little girl we grew up playing basketball with every day always had a big and loving heart. As a teenager she turned to hard drugs to cope with the stress of being a lesbian growing up hiding who she was in a dysfunctional fundamentalist household with a schizophrenic mother, of having dyslexia, and of being an untreated victim of sexual violence occurring both when she was in elementary school and again when she was in high school.

Our little sister is a wonderful human being who now is able to pass on much love and support to others, including our still living parents. My dad, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, now accepting of my sister’s sexuality and that of her loving partner, gets a smile on his old wrinkled face, and mist comes to his puffy old eyes, when he thinks about how thankful he is to have my little sister back. So, in my immediate family, one who was so lost has now been found. 🙂

But not every family has the resources to go down this privately-financed path to recovery, and indeed, other members of our extended family have not been so lucky and are now dead. Drug recovery should not be for the chosen few.
Continue reading


My favorite line in Allen Ginsberg’s 1986 poem for Bernie Sanders

Shanah Tovah. This is not a religious piece, but I do want to acknowledge that the direct subject of this piece, the leftist poet who made it possible, had a rich experience with his Jewish heritage, which he turned into many great works of art. I do love the poetry of Allen Ginsberg, and I love the kind, brave man that he was.

For present purposes, I am focusing on the fact that in 1986 he wrote a swell poem for Bernie Sanders, which I will go into in a minute. But first, I want to talk a little bit about the transitory, which I will try to relate back to Ginsberg’s poem for Sanders.

A couple of years after Ginsberg wrote his poem for Sanders, around the same time I was becoming a democratic socialist in my heart, I was on a long road trip back from a quiet religious retreat in Ohio with a close friend. As people comfortable with each other can do in the middle of night, we talked about everything that came to our minds, with free-flowing thoughts energized by the stars, the highway, and our appreciation for each other’s companionship at that moment in the journey of life.

After a while we became silent, and in the light of the dashboard, on a scrap of paper, I wrote a Howl-inspired poem. I have it somewhere. Its contents aren’t what matter for present purposes (although I remember it had quite a few “Molochs” and said something personally meaningful and bittersweet about this being “no monastery I live in” in my real life. Still a pro-choice Christian contemplative and democratic socialist decades later, I continue to wrestle with how to be contemplative, politically-active, and a real world wage-earner.) Then I told my friend that I’d written this poem, would he like to hear it? He said yes, and for the next few minutes I, for a unique time in my life, soulfully read cool stuff I’d just written that blew my buddy away.

It blew him away so much so that a couple of weeks later he asked me to do a repeat performance. We were hanging out drinking beer on a Friday night with this handsome and cool Buddhist guy who looked and acted like he was straight out of The Dharma Bums. My friend knew him because my friend had always wanted a Volvo and this guy restored old Volvos at a concrete storage unit on the edge of town. (I don’t think my friend [the capitalist pig!] ever got a Volvo, but I can’t really remember at this point and forgive him if he did–at least it would have been recycled I guess.)

Flattered that my friend had such appreciation for my poem to want me to read it for this real life Kerouac character, I whipped it out (the poem). My friend must have suggested in advance that I bring the poem along, as I don’t think I’d been carrying it around with me generally waiting for the chance to recreate the moment in a command performance. Well anyhow, I flopped. The Buddhist guy was polite but obviously unimpressed, and truth be told, my heart was not in it. It, the height of my creativity, was a poem that was meant to blow someone away only one time, in the middle of the night somewhere on a highway in the Deep South, not a timeless masterpiece like Howl.

Perhaps Ginsberg’s hastily-written poem for Sanders is somewhere on a vast continuum between my late night amateur Beat composition (or yours) and the masterpiece Howl. In any event, it does say something special about the transitory that I want to riff on. Continue reading


After Trump’s goldrush and Carson’s godrush, the crap loading has begun

This piece was first published by Brother Francisco as Galtisalie for the Anti-Capitalist Meetup group at Daily Kos, which is a good place to look for and give comments that folks are generally too shy to post at gardenvarietydemocraticsocialist.com. NY brit expat, referenced in the update at the end of the piece, is one of Brother Francisco’s dear comrades in that group.

I am not promoting drugs, hate them myself, but I have to admit that buzzed hippies from time to time have said the darndest things, although that is not the reason I do not support prohibition (another subject). For instance, out of our chemically-bathed subconscious can flow troubling daydreams about being extremely large and unable to fit into a phone booth, or French fries turning into worms in your friendly McDonalds, or so said a friend of mine I interviewed about an LSD experience back in college while we chatted during work study.

Interesting too how freakish truth emerged when one of the greatest song writers and musicians ever was freaked out, tuned in, or simply baking. When Dolly Parton was making the Trio II version of After the Gold Rush with Emmylou Harris and Linda Rondstadt she:

asked Linda and Emmy what it meant, and they didn’t know. So we called Neil Young, and he didn’t know. We asked him, flat out, what it meant, and he said, “Hell, I don’t know. I just wrote it. It just depends on what I was taking at the time. I guess every verse has something different I’d taken.”

Conversely, in the un-fried seemingly conscious brain, many freedom-spouting politicians have been hard-wired by oligarchs to pursue their own dreams of power. To get and stay elected they do the darndest things, including promote hatred, deny medical care to women and poor people, and depending on the region (of the planet not the brain) steam or fry their constituents. Snipping these wires would involve political brain surgery, and, in the U.S., the brain surgeons tend to be Republicans.

When Republican governors and state legislatures refuse to expand Medicaid for false flag budgetary political reasons urged upon them by their billionaire bosses they are undeniably serving as death panels. Inquiring un-fried minds want to know where and what kind of system change is more needed.

As regards colonoscopy and other procedures that save lives, “Through its Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, Cuba, despite its economic limitations, has established a screening strategy that enables use of advanced technology based on current scientific evidence and with a favorable cost-benefit ratio, the latter due to broad use of domestically manufactured products.” MEDICC Review, July–October 2014, Vol 16, No 3–4.

While Cuba, for instance, needs to increase civil and political rights, its medical system, which emphasizes preventative care, is excellent and accessible to all. In the U.S., the result of lack of medical access is the unnecessary misery and death of women and poor people. Outside the gates of Apartheid communities, or on the escape flights of the theoretical future, some kids will definitely not be alright, but that is the price of capitalist “progress,” aka inequality, injustice, and unsustainability by design.

Well, I dreamed I saw the silver spaceships flying
In the yellow haze of the sun
There were children crying and colors flying
All around the chosen ones
All in a dream, all in a dream
The loading had begun
Flyin’ mother nature’s silver seed
To a new home in the sun
Flyin’ mother nature’s silver seed
To a new home in the sun

Continue reading


A hundred years late, my Bernie 2016 sticker arrives in the Deep South

It was with great interest that I opened an item in my mail today. Mail is not something socialists in the U.S. ever should take for granted.

When the mail is being used against them, it is good. Eugene V. Debs led the Pullman strike. That was deemed bad, so the strikers were enjoined to go back to work, where they would face being fired. Debs refused to end the strike and was held in contempt.

The anti-worker Supreme Court said the injunction was valid because the government had a right to regulate interstate commerce and ensure the operations of the Postal Service, along with a responsibility to “ensure the general welfare of the public.” (Amazing how broadly those words can be interpreted by “Justices” when they are being used against the rights of the workers and the weak.)

When the mail is being used by them, it is bad. Under the Espionage Act of 1917, socialist newspapers were banned from second class mailing privileges because of their opposition to American involvement in World War I. Debs, who by then had unsuccessfully run for president four times outside the two-party system, continued to speak out for the right thing. He went back behind bars, this time because he had the audacity to give a speech urging resistance to the military draft during the war.

Upon conviction, he told the Judge:

Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

I listened to all that was said in this court in support and justification of this prosecution, but my mind remains unchanged. I look upon the Espionage Law as a despotic enactment in flagrant conflict with democratic principles and with the spirit of free institutions…

Your Honor, I have stated in this court that I am opposed to the social system in which we live; that I believe in a fundamental change—but if possible by peaceable and orderly means…

He was sentenced to ten years in prison and disenfranchised for life. Once again, the Supreme Court took a principled stand for injustice.

I have never had to rip open an envelope like that. I never even got started, while Debs never quit. He ran for president in 1920 from his federal prison cell in Atlanta. From that same cell he also wrote his only book, Walls and Bars: Prisons and Prison Life In The “Land Of The Free” (Chicago: Socialist Party, 1927), published posthumously and exposing the dehumanization of the prison system. Continue reading


I awake to the violent global Übermensch system and its intellectual facade

I don’t know about you, but if I never have to read another piece that mentions the Koch brothers in the first sentence that would be fine with me. Oops. It seems so unnatural to do so, especially during a hot summer of so much fun, except for the police killings, right wing terrorism, ongoing Greek tragedy, and countless other bummers that are absolutely ruining my beach blanket bingo.

But I generally assume their will to power must be confronted by mine at every opportunity. And because their will to power (collectively including that of their amazing retinue of bought and paid for attendants) is way bigger than mine, it’s going to be pretty miserable if I spend much of my time dreaming of how to bring down their kingdom, but I do it anyway.

They alone (and they are not alone) also have a huge head start in cultural hegemony, with a massive perpetual intellectual propaganda campaign involving not only think tanks, billions of dollars, binders of semi-famous dead and living capitalist economists and other scholars, and a famous dead mercenary woman with a cool first name who wrote two incredibly awful but famously anti-altruistic novels in the 1940s and 50s followed by decades of mostly inhumane essay writing, but also by a famous and imposing dead German philosopher whose name until recently I could neither spell nor pronounce.

I suppose I should on some level study up. Instead, what a major part of me really feels compelled to do down deep on hot summer days with the planet melting is to ignore my anti-capitalist comrades, to practice the fine art of chilling out, which apparently involves working on thinking more happy and grateful thoughts, appreciating family, friends, and neighbors more, and whimsically watching life drift by with the thermostat turned way down. And I think on some level those ultra-rich superior brothers know that, which disturbs my reverie-potential even more. So, in truth, for me, it is much easier to want to fight them compulsively with all my meager energy and will to power, every single waking minute until, like the Black Knight in Monty Python, I can fight no longer, the assholes.

But I awake need more than my compulsions, even my compulsion for fighting the power. I awake need to be both among the familiar and a small hopeful part of nurturing a better world. I awake do not wish to be a human commodity waiting on economic growth to trickle my way or anyone else’s, but neither do I wish to be the silly Black Knight. Continue reading


Pope Francis’s critical focus on sustainable agriculture

When it first came out, I did a lengthy “socialized reflection” on the praxis implications of Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium. I felt that this apostolic exhortation to the faithful presented a unique opportunity to the left to begin working with Francis, despite his failure to deal with birth control and choice. However, in addition to maintaining solidarity with humanity and particularly women on the need for birth control and choice, the left needed to understand Francis’s social doctrine within the context of Jesuit history and scholarship to avoid a purposeful minimization of its implications by the right. So, I did my best (a) to summarize some aspects of pertinent Jesuit history and (b) to discuss how Francis was in many ways repeating deeply held views that the Jesuits have been fleshing out since Vatican II, the advent of liberation theology, and the vicious right wing response to liberation theology.

Now Pope Francis has written a message of love and challenge to the entire world, Laudato si’. How should the left respond? That is a complicated praxis issue that I will not attempt to address in detail in this piece. Rather, I merely want to make one general point and to give a specific example of how his work and the left’s, cautiously together, hopeful, and prudent, is just beginning.

The general point I will make is that Francis is, with the huge exception of population, being “holistic” in his approach to environmental problems. Environmental problems tend to be looked at in developed countries as single issue right versus left “green” scientific and political phenomena only, without looking at the underlying economic, social, and cultural factors, including the dependency of capitalism on cheap fuel to generate profits and so-called “growth.” I have pointed out, somewhat humorously, in the context of Cuban agriculture and Cuban-U.S. relations that holism is a critical approach that the left has to offer the world. It is wonderful to see the Pope effectively endorsing this approach, as he also began to do in Evangelii Gaudium.

We know the right is not interested in holism. But how holistic is Francis’s holism? How holistic is the left’s holism? While continuing to criticize Francis on birth control and choice, there is a need for the left to come to a better understanding of the strengths and, yes, even some weaknesses of Francis’s much more scientifically-based document. Obviously there is the population issue to which Francis has blinders. But critique should not stop there. Please allow me to give a specific example with which I have some familiarity. Continue reading


the revolution is within me without me, a time to blog, a time to …

This quiet little post involves a theme I have previously mentioned.

the primary season is upon us, a small part of the never-ending season of trying to end divide and rule and to establish liberty and justice for all

last night i put the headphones on (actually earbuds in, but i’m a child of the 70s, so I reflexively write headphones) and became immersed in the sounds of the language i love, the second language i have been trying to learn for years, looking also at youtubes of south american brothers and sisters who are trying to resist oppression and being met with bullets and bombs paid for by my corrupt hegemonic neoliberal government

i don’t know where any of this will wind up, but I know that the places i must go are not all online or outward

the first piece i ever did for anti-capitalist meetup was about a socialist philosophy that came out of india which emphasizes the need for inner nurturing as part of taking practical steps to heal the planet

the first group i ever joined at daily kos was religious

another group i have joined emphasizes meditation

another group i have joined was formed by a dear pagan comrade of mine who manages to be both loving and strong for the people

some of the hands and heads i kissed and bodies i hugged yesterday belonged to the now very old and weak republicans who brought me into this world

a couple of years ago, when i put my political journey story together, thoughts about inner peace were scattered throughout Continue reading


Hillary Clinton’s Western Sahara Policy Would Be a General Election Issue,

and I will raise it whenever I want to, however I want to. I do not work for or represent Bernie Sanders. I am a free-thinking Democrat and democratic socialist (substantially to the left of Senator Sanders, who is a conventional social democrat) who takes orders from no one. Critique is something people on the left have been doing since the time of Karl Marx. You are free to disagree with my critique, but I will not be intimidated from presenting it. Continue reading