Hunter Gray  [Hunter Bear]




THOUGHTS: 5 / 20 / 08  [HUNTER BEAR]
Obama obviously has it well wrapped up -- and I suspect his Oregon margin of victory will be quite OK. [Some news media continue to post the "Suffolk [at Boston] University Poll" which shows Barack ahead in Oregon by only a few points.  Somewhat cynically, I'm inclined to see that as a kind of effort to retain viewers via a "brinksmanship image" try.  Other polls are more encouraging, apparently taking at least more into account  students with cell phones and independents.  In any event, Obama appears to have the nomination in hand very nicely.  [But I do share the feelings of many, expressed by myself and Steven McNicholls on RBB, that Obama's physical safety is in danger.  We, and many others, share clear recollections of the sanguinary events of the '60s and beyond.  Let's hope sanity holds pervasively -- and that the Secret Service is as good as it's cracked up to be.]
It's interesting to watch the Republicans -- from Pat Buchanan to Karl Rove -- maneuver on behalf of Hillary, [who has obviously been smiling fondly at some right-wing media folks], and, for whom they have reams of hostile stuff just a' waiting.  Pat, ever the wet blanket when it comes to Obama's chances, made an interestingly creative geographical/cultural definition yesterday -- when he defined Appalachia, with obvious reference to West Virginia and Kentucky, as a "huge piece" of the United States and included Mississippi as an example.  You can start with Mississippi and go eastward and then northward in crescent fashion into Virginia and every state encountered does have a comparatively small Appalachian dimension.  But those states are obviously not Appalachian in basic content or  general culture or ethos.  They are traditionally Dixie, Southern.  And this would include Tennessee.  Pat, who comes from the Real South, knows better.
And it's interesting to see the Clintons coming into ever more clear national perspective: ego, old vested interests, spoiler motivations, "entitlement" presumptions.. For years, I have never understood the positive fascination held by many Americans of that duo -- who basically continued the traditions of the Reagan/BushOne epoch: :cruel welfare "reform;" a promised and only three day bombing of Yugoslavia which became three months of such; continuation of the Iraq embargo [to say nothing of the Cuban one]; general abandonment of human rights commitments;  their own unprecedented and innovative anti-gun witch-hunts; repressive "anti-terrorism" legislation -- and much more on many fronts in that sorry vein.  Nice to see the Clinton image crack and begin to fall.  [The media have handled her ally, Geraldine Ferraro, with interesting sensitivity: she,  the lady who said awhile back that Obama was trading on his African American background and who, indicating yesterday that she would probably never vote for him, referred to Barack as a "sexist."]
And McCain? -- who, from a traditional Arizonian perspective, is a carpetbagger.  I've seen his likes many times -- wandering around places like Sun City [Phoenix metro retirement reservation]], with baseball cap and tennis shoes.  With the powerful forces backing him, McCain won't be a push-over but I feel quite certain that, "all things considered," Obama and his very big et al. can handle him deftly and effectively.
Anyway, on this election thing, I'm beginning to get to the point that I may shift to a good Turner Classic Movie. [I did focus, yesterday, on the final few minutes of Shane.]
 I'm not quite to that point, but getting close.
Ever, Hunter [Hunter Bear]
AND A WELCOME COMMENT   5 / 20 /  08
Several on these lists will recall, and in very positive terms, Tougaloo student and Jackson Movement activist, Austin Claiborne Moore III. He's now in California and, not surprisingly, a strong Obama supporter. He likes my "Thoughts" of this morning:

Hunter, after all these years you are very much on target. Mayor Thompson would be proud of you as Mississippi " Favorite Son".. Give Eldrie my love.

Well, I'm not that sure about Ole Allen Thompson's reaction to me [that is, if he were still around]. but in the Old Bad/Good days, we were certainly mortal foes. I was one of those he wanted to sue "for a million dollars" for "restraint of trade" [i.e., our economic boycott.]

But I am very glad indeed, always, to hear from Austin and other students from that setting and those times.

Best, H.


NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR: December 9 2007

This exchange took place yesterday on the Redbadbear list as a discussional outgrowth of the "Mormon colloquy." I'm passing it along in the interests of thought-stimulation. and hopefully more than that. Mato Ska [Martin Zehr] has a long background in Southwestern Green-related campaigns. [His post follows my response.] I should add that, although a Believer, my relationship with institutional churchdom has never been [mutually] sanguine and I have occasionally made it clear that I am not an especially "churchy person." I think most everyone has, by now, read my account of my quite turbulent relationship with the bureaucracy of the Rochester, New York Catholic Diocese -- but, if not, that Link follows. And I do not feel that the critiques of, say, the LDS church on our lists have been overly strident. But, like many of us, I am concerned that what passes today for an American Left in this country -- and I'm not speaking of a Democratic Party "left" -- appears to be shrinking [despite the outreach efforts of some individuals] into an increasingly isolated monastery existence where much of the discussion, however articulate, is internal and, frequently, acrimonious. And, to add another dimension, it's hardly reassuring to see increasingly tepid organized labor generally pulling back from direct organizing and simply marking time until a Democratic savior appears on the presidential chair to give his/her blessing to pro-union legislation. [Again, don't misunderstand me, good legislation is obviously important. But, as always, I'm convinced that bona fide grassroots organizing is Genesis.] Anyway, I pass this along:  [My immediately preceding post, one of those to which Martin makes reference, "Mormons, Reds, and the Pluralistic Universe," can be found at

From Hunter:

Those are solid points, Mato. It has now been eight or nine years since the Internet began clicking out activist posts en masse -- and almost that long since grassroots anti-war activity began in earnest. For all of this, there seems all too little genuinely enduring grassroots organization and the small Left groups in this country are now, if anything, even more faction-ridden and smaller -- and frequently quite isolated. I've long been concerned about the generally supercilious attitudes [if not outright paranoia] of the American Left toward the religious organizations and the religious thinking of the people. The Southern civil rights movement was much grounded on the churches -- and the finest elements in religion. [I spoke in many hundreds of churches over a six year period.] And, certainly, elsewhere in the country, religion and churches and religious thinking are certainly major social foundations. You may recall this from my post on social justice organizing and the church: I initially wrote it late in 2000:

"How any social justice organizer could ever hope to win over grassroots
people while expounding stridently anti-religious views is a Great
Mystery. I can only conclude that those poisonously verbose folks have
never even organized craw-dads in a bathtub."

Needed now as never before: fresh vision, oak wood commitment, hard and tedious organizing work -- and bona fide respect for those "of the fewest alternatives."

Big order -- but it'll have to come to pass and keep going.

And, sooner or later, it will.

Thoughts from others on our List?

Hunter Bear

Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'


From Mato : [Martin Zehr / Mato Ska]


You have opened a door to a much wider discussion here. The issue of the political strategy for change is one that has evolved primarily from advocacy groups in this period. There is no organizational locus which establishes a common analysis and strategy for the left in the US. The critique of Mormons comes from an anti-religion critique that permeates many anarchists and post-Marxists. A discussion is long overdue regarding what role and what blocs represent potential allies. The lack of a political party has created scenarios where the people are projected as backwards and reactionary, while only activists represent the movement for change. The Right long ago developed a successful strategy in mobilizing grass-roots support through the churches. The African-American movement has long been centered organizationally in churches, but that reality is rarely addressed in the left's work.

While I agree with your summary of Mormons personally, I would suggest a need for more accumulated experience in trying to evaluate their social role and how they might be addressed within a successful strategy. Standing aloof from so many people in the US is never a successful strategy for change. Tactics in elections and political activity with organizations and groups not associated with the usual assortment of non-profits will clarify their political role. It will also begin the process of integrating Greens (or the "left") with the people and begin to establish positions that begin to relate with their aspirations. As a Green I have no real problem with the idea of working on mass campaigns with Mormons, no more than I had problems working with Catholic Hispanic relatives of prisoners in building a campaign for prison reforms. Often the issue is how the issue is defined and how it is put forward. The masses of American people are NOT the enemy, whether they are Catholic, Mormon, Jew or born-again Protestants.

Mormons are urban dwellers, they are farmers, they are on fixed incomes and they work in offices and factories. They are not simply Mormons. They confront the ecological consequences of developers, they face the water issues of the American West and they interact with others in their communities. The refusal of Utah to accept NCLB is a positive indicator of a potential source of opposition upon which to build on. Organizing is a project that builds alliances, coalitions and support from a much broader cross-section of people. Electoral work means addressing the issues of the people. There has to be a new phase in the US to move beyond the existing parameters of "social activism" and begins to demonstrate a political maturity that acknowledges various strata and their role in change.

Mato Ska




And Norla has a capture of this exchange to be presented in next Wednesday's
We! Magazine.



I met a functionary of the Mexican Communist Party.  She crossed herself
before eating and forcefully announced that she's a Catholic Communist.

- Reber Boult



I've encountered all sorts of fundamentally decent and committed folks in
all sorts of social justice movements -- ever since I started out to "Save
the World" at a tender [if sometimes naive] age.  Most have had some sort of
conscious religious background and many were well motivated and primarily so
by either their respective faith specifically or by the general tenets of,
say, Judeo-Christianity [or Whatever].  And I've seen and worked with plenty
of agnostics and atheists who were right in the thick of the good fight as
well.  Some of the believers and fighters-for-justice have certainly been
Mormons [ and some have been Marxists].  I believe I mentioned in a previous
post that, during the worst of the Red Scare, a hell of a lot of Mormons
[and Catholics as well] were among the many who stuck by the very left
Mine-Mill union, which was undergoing the most multi-faceted complex of
vicious attacks since the horrific persecution of the Industrial Workers of
the World during and after World War I.  Worth noting, too, that the current
mayor of Salt Lake, and certainly a Mormon, has been a very strong anti-war
and pro-peace voice in our Intermountain region.

On the matter of sexual abuse.  First, there are a couple of cautions.  One
involves the fact that there's a lot of frenetic and frequently false hype
on the Net and elsewhere generated by people who are ex-this and ex-that and
seeking to justify their "ex-ness."  The second caution involves risky
cross-cultural comparisons.  Exempting people like Warren Jeffs, [although
he may have some legal principles on his side], polygamy [polygyny] has to
be viewed in its own special social/historical context. [And, as I
mentioned, the legal ages for marriages with parental consent are quite low
in both Arizona and Utah. This could change, but I'm not sure it will. ]
Obviously, there are cases of purely vindictive excommunication and
expulsion in churches -- and in other institutional settings.  I think there
are fewer of these as the years pass, times change in various ways, and
institutions eventually change as well.  [As I once told a friend who is
located in a Catholic diocese whose Bishop appears to be something out of
Jurassic Park, "You can always hook up with the Episcopalians."  Sexual
abuse, wherever it may exist, is not tolerable -- if it's real -- and I
think its fade-from-the-scene is coming a lot faster, everywhere, than the
ordination of women in my Catholic Church.  But that will come, too.

Back to the Mormons for a moment.  In Grand Forks, ND the most consistent
and vigorous proponent of the LDS faith was a city bus driver.  He was


If this page is intended as a starting point for our mutual
cross-breeding of ideas, ideals, prejudices, and recipes for Fry Bread,
then i should offer up the following for the sake of an addition, so
that I can postpone that moment when I am perished, forgotten, and
possibly even buried:

Opportunity Didn't Stop Knocking; We Just Never Answered the Door

The "Left" in Politics

The Left needs a solid, widely-embraced platform for instituting
change. Or so much people have said, are saying, and likely will go on
saying until they are bee-LOOOOOOOO in the face. Some variation of a
call for a monolithic Left, a Left that embraces some form of
hierarchy, a Left that stands in formation and speaks with one voice,
so on and so forth, I read these things a lot.

With all due respect to those otherwise learned and well-intentioned
folk, hogwash. The Left, as a political entity, arises as a result of
the growth of individuality and the desire for freedom. We do we want
on the Left? A million different answers times a million different
people. The desire is to become free in our thinking, every person
fully adaptive to his or her ever-changing environment, to pursue hat
we want to pursue WHEN we want to pursue it, and to pursue only so far
as we care to and no further.

Not only can the calls for a monolithic Left fail, they must do so in
order for it to remain the Left.

The world has known revolution, and it has come in many forms -- but
while the history books focus on the revolutions that took place via
armed conflict, they tend to ignore the real revolutions: the ones in
our minds.

Our predecessors in the animal kingdom often went about on four legs;
but standing and walking triggers a greater awareness of the
environment, and a revolution in the mind as one's enhanced awareness
changes what the world is -- expanding our minds slightly, but enough
to conceive of a larger world.

We had kings and queens in many cultures -- in some places, we still
do. But the belief in a power over the community that is passed down
from parent to child, and the often-accompanying power of the gods (or
whoever) that empowers them has faded from much of the Earth, and
continues to fade -- and another revolution in the mind takes place.

The development of transportation, horses, cars, ships, such things
increased the range we could (and can) move, further enlarging the
world of which we are aware on a more than theoretical basis -- and
even the awareness comes that we are in one galaxy among many.
Consciousness changes to match all this stuff around us.

The monolithic top-down structure, that yielded so many benefits
early on, eventually turns out to be quite a bit less than optimal --
but, on this ONE THING, there is a desire to remain primitive, to
reject the advances of society and science. There is only one benefit
to be realized from slapping a monolithic structure over a
fundamentally anarchist one: adding control.

That it will slow down the entirety of the group is not seen as a
problem by the advocates of a top-down hierarchy. That it will reduce
the effectiveness of each to have all accept one monolithic agenda.
That it is harder to maintain, more vulnerable to lawsuits and other
attacks, easier to lose to entryism, none of this matters to the
advocates of a monolithic Left, because they seek the Holy Grail of

Whose agenda will this monolith adopt? Why, they always claim it will
be democratically decided, or -- even more hypocritically -- it will
arise from the "grass roots". In secret, perhaps not even known to
themselves, they wish to see their own agenda adopted as THE agenda of
the Left. Sure, adopting one agenda instead of many will reduce the
power of the Left, but tht is a small price to pay for having one's own
agenda adopted by so many, hm?

The opportunity that knocks is that the Left has abandoned
traditional top-down hierarchy and moved on to new organizational
models, Today, it uses mass decentralization. Also, arguably, not
optimal, but far superior to a hierarchy in terms of function.

Those who cry out for the monolithic Left will likely not --
hopefully not -- get that wish granted. The mass consciousness that
they craved has already arrived, but they know it not because it was
not the mass consciousness they craved, not the one Marx wanted:

It is the consciousness that they are free to do as they will.

The opportunity still knocks that those who model themselves to fit
the Left rather than demanding that the Left contort itself to fit
archaic models -- well, the former can do well. The latter, should they
succeed in getting their monolithic Left, will find that they have no
Left at all.

Long live the Fist and Rose,
Michael C. Marino

Chair, SPUSA of Oregon
Secretary and Executive Chair, Socialist Party of Oregon

--Subscribe to the Oregon web list, based in Portland--

--Subscribe to the SPUSA discussion list--

--Portland Socialist blog--



HUNTER BEAR:  Well, if anyone missed this:


SOCIAL JUSTICE ORGANIZING AND THE CHURCH [And Religion, Tribalism, And Socialism]  [And With A 12/31/01   Follow-Up -  Hunter Gray]  UP DATE  4/03/05



Just a few thoughts on Iowa -- and Beyond:
When I sacked in last night, I felt considerably better about the national -- and even global -- future than I have for a hell of a long time.
It wasn't too long ago, historically speaking, that people like many of us had to fight to survive at a Woolworth lunch counter.
We see the tremendous influx of young people into the Obama -- and, to a substantial extent, into the Edwards bailiwick as well -- as a damn realistic harbinger of a better future and an ultimate promise of an even better one.
In the late 1950s, many veteran left radicals were discouraged.  Those of us, vastly younger and just "taking the trail," were far more hopeful and actively zealous.  Even in Arizona, we were engaged in the more socially conscious dimensions of Labor, we organized a highly successful campus-wide food strike and dorm betterment campaign at Arizona State, and were moving to challenge compulsory ROTC.  And we pushed in our far corner for human rights.
And comparable things were certainly going on in lots of other local places.
Nationally, the Civil Rights Movement was, with deliberate speed, picking up momentum -- just as there has been, in this difficult epoch, much anti-war movement.
JFK's election was never seen by many of us as any great millenium.  But, fueled by many younger people and others of similar inclination, it reflected the profound discontent and frustration that had festered in the "dismal '50s."  The election of '60 ushered in a rapidly growing atmosphere of Realistic Hope.
Movement picked up -- and up -- and People Wanted More -- and More.  They pushed and More came.
It's always been my experience that, when folks start winning on good and tangible fronts, they shoot higher -- and higher.  The Kennedys et al.[and the System in general] were pressured from the grassroots For More -- and More.  And a fair amount of More did indeed come.
There is always a place for Us Radicals -- especially if we try to avoid the intricate theology of ideological nit-picking and its consequent schisms and falling-away and, even more fundamentally, alienation from the grassroots.
Whether times are lean or times are flush, it's up to Us to keep the Vision high.  Whatever happens in 2008 and beyond, we all have our jobs to do -- as we, via our hearts and minds, see fit:
Organize -- That remains Genesis.  Always and Forever.
Just a few thoughts on a rather cold and windy Idaho mountain morn -- where the arising and inevitable Sun shines just under the eastern horizon.
Yours, Hunter [Hunter Bear]




Hunter, your words below are gold, if gold like the alchemists thought
could be a element of supreme understanding.
Thanks. Dale

"There is always a place for Us Radicals -- especially if we try to avoid the intricate theology of ideological nit-picking and its consequent schisms and falling-away and, even more fundamentally, alienation from the grassroots."

Hunter - Happy New Year to you and yours as we have begun the new year in the peoples' struggles.
We Will Win ... Yours, Steve
Good post this morning.  Good message about the nit-picking.
More warm weather here.
Bret very interested in the Sycamore thing.  He's researching edible plants in the region.
Guy from here was in Fargo shoveling snow off a warehouse roof and it all started sliding.  Jumped off the roof to get away and was buried under a pile of snow.  Died.
Is there a viable stream at the bottom of the canyon?
I'm glad Obama pulled it out in Iowa.  Well, anything to keep Hillary out.  I liked Dodd and of course Kucinich, though.
There are several good-water year-around springs in the Sycamore Wilderness -- and Sycamore Creek is big and very permanent.  In my day, we could drink from any spring and the Creek as well without any problems. I note now that the USFS  recommends a water-purifying kit -- but that may just be pro-forma.  My hunch is, all the Sycamore Canyon water is just fine.
Best, D [Dad]



I note with sadness the passing of an old friend and companero in the fight for social justice. Jerry Davich and I met during some really tough days in the Arizona of the 1950s. His activist roots reached back to the California Labor School where, among other things, he was a student in film under the direction of David Sarvis [who played the role of the eastern mine boss in Salt of the Earth.] Jerry was involved on behalf of the Food, Tobacco, Agricultural, and Allied Workers in the Salt River Valley [Phoenix region] -- a left union that was destroyed during the Red Scare. He later played a significant role in our relief and labor defense activities on behalf of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers. Securing a law degree, he did work, among others, for the Navajo Nation. He was a fine folk singer and both Eldri and I can attest to his culinary expertise. We lost track of one another and then, some weeks ago, his daughter reached me and I immediately wrote a very long [conventional mail] letter to Jerry, who was then in extremely poor health. He wrote back, delighted to have made contact, then sent a brief. cordial penciled Christmas note to us just before he died. This morning, I sent a post of mine to his daughter, Diane. Her letter and Jerry's obituary follow. H.


I left for Phoenix last Friday afternoon after receiving a call from Dad's caregivers, and realized after I arrived that in my rush and confusion, I hadn't transferred my updated e-mail address book to my laptop. I am very sorry to report that Dad passed away on Sunday night. We are having a celebration of his life tonight and my husband and I and our 3 dogs will head back to Colorado in the morning. I am very glad that I was able to put the two of you back in touch. I have to tell you - when I saw your subject line, ["Inevitable Sunlight"] I thought you already knew. Here is the link to his obituary as it appeared in today's newspaper:

Many blessings to you and yours,


Arthur J. Davich
Arthur J. (Jerry) Davich, 79, of Phoenix, Arizona passed away on December 30, 2007. Jerry was a retired attorney and administrative law judge. He was an accomplished musician, folk singer, actor and dancer, and a social activist who sang tenor with the California Labor School Chorus on the Freedom Train album in 1947. He was a pilot who enjoyed flying his own small planes. He loved the sea, sailing and scuba diving, and enjoyed both water- and snow-skiing. Jerry is survived by his brother Richard Davich (Ann) of Gilbert, daughters Diane Vigeant (Bill) of Colorado and Cherie Davich of Phoenix, son Jeff Davich of Washington, two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. No services are planned. In accordance with his wishes, there will be no visitation and cremation has been arranged. In honor of his love for animals, donations to the Arizona Humane Society would be appreciated. The family wishes to express our appreciation to Jerry's dear friends, Tom and Jerilynn Blaine, Ted and Toni Stuart, and Marilynn Mills, as well as the owners and staff of A Touch of Excellence, Childers & Berg LLC, Certified Care Management, Odyssey Hospice, and, with special gratitude, Amy of Adult Care Assistance. A private celebration of Jerry's life for family and friends will be held Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. For information, please call (719) 440-1818. Messages may be sent to
Published in The Arizona Republic from 1/3/2008 - 1/4/2008.

Nice piece.  I posted it on   and on democractic left.

In solidarity,
duane campbell

Dear Hunter,
Good news indeed from America. I read your comments with interest while
waiting for my connection to Australia here at Osaka airport in Japan, where
security just confiscated a substantial amount of single malt whiskey that I
was taking to a friend in Australia. The no liquids rule steps into effect in
transit situations. Somewhat illogical. Dammit, I'm going to write off the
confiscated grog as business expenses.
More later from Down Under
All the best
Dear Hunter,  The following is a great letter and a good reminder to us all that hope does exist as long as we keep our eyes on the prize.  I was very surprised by the outcome of the Iowa Caucus.  Is it indeed time that an Afro American can really be president?  I was also impressed by Edwards showing and the clear message that going the usual ways is not a foregone conclusion.  I am quite concerned about the economic crisis developing and hoping that the working man and woman see it for what it is, an elitist strategy to bring down the people while the billionaires continue to run the show.  Thank you for your words.   Pax,  Barbara Svedberg


Joaquin Bustelo forwards "Inevitable Sunlight" to the very large Marxism Discussion list, with this comment:

A comrade I sent my post about Iowa to forwarded me this one by Hunter Bear
from the SNCC list. I thought it was worth sharing.





At this point, all of the aforementioned indications of external monitoring
of our computer system are continuing in an obviously discernible fashion.
In addition, there have been, in the past few weeks, clear indications of
external tampering with our postal mail -- in a fashion quite reminiscent of
the problems we faced for several years after our arrival here at Pocatello,
Idaho in 1997.  Here is a clear example:

A good friend, Mohawk, Professor Brian Rice of Winnipeg, Manitoba e-mailed
me before this just past Christmas, asking if I knew where my book -- 
Jackson, Mississippi -- could be found.  He wanted a copy.  He's a fine
friend so, as soon as I got his message, I indicated via e-mail we were
air-mailing him a copy as a gift that very day:  December 19 2007.

Eldri mailed it at mid-day on that date at our usual branch post office:
Air Mail/Par Avion -- with the
usual green customs tag properly completed.  She was told the book would
likely reach its destination in a week or so.  [It's worth noting that the
Canadian postal system has a fine reputation.]

Today, January 8,  I received this message from Brian. It is dated January 7,
"Hi Hunter,

The book just came in. I can't wait to read it. The mail must have been

Thanks again,




Nice to see that issue of We! Magazine, Norla. [Apropos of the Redbadbear list.]  Warms the current cold chill in our Snake River Valley. [My recent "Inevitable Sunrise" piece is therein.]
Hillary won in New Hampshire -- indisputably -- but her victory margin was mighty small.  This keeps her going -- but, for Obama, I don't see this as anything more than a manageable rock on the way along the river.  His support is obviously broad, even if some of the "youth" fell down on the matter of actually voting. [I suspect his campaign will tighten up that and other dimensions as it moves forward.]
It appears that the older Democratic vote went pretty much for Hillary.   In addition to whatever effect her last minute "tearing" [real or contrived] may have engendered among many women, I wouldn't be surprised if the not-too-covert Clinton defamatory campaign against Obama [e.g., the "cocaine" thing which, of course, had surfaced from the Hillary campaign early on via her  New Hampshire staff] played some role -- especially in the older age ranks.
And I wouldn't be at all surprised if racism was lurking in a number of "older" New Hampshire minds.  [Iowa, which I know pretty well, has never seemed to me to be "especially" racist.  It has its challenges in that dimension but it's a state full of small colleges [several of them genuinely first-rate] and several significant universities.  The University of Iowa is a Big Ten school. Iowa's cosmopolitanism is much higher than many of our East Coast friends realize.]  I've felt that one of Romney's problems in Iowa was his Mormon faith -- he had others, too! --and I think an Obama problem in New Hampshire could easily involve sub-rosa racism. The Granite State is not Massachusetts and, although I haven't been there for a long time, I think some parts of New Hampshire are closer to parts of Maine in racist attitudes -- at least among many of the older people. [In Maine, there is plenty of anti-Native stuff.]
I have a strong hunch that as it proceeds, the Obama campaign can transcend the negative dimensions of the race thing in most parts of the country. In most instances, Obama's campaign doesn't seem to have any substantial problem in drawing women. The role of some components of the organized labor bureaucracy in their "be-safe oriented" support of Hillary strikes me as yet another indication of the old "security-at-all-costs" -- with consequent lack of creativity and movement.  That can change as the Obama campaign increasingly reaches the rank-and-file. [I shall always, of course, remain a good union person.]
Ultimately, I suspect much of Edwards' support -- and perhaps even his endorsement as well -- will go to Obama.
The Obama campaign has "Movement" around and within it.  The Clintons do not have that -- and never can.  But the Obama phenomena is not, as I alluded in an earlier post, the Millennium.  Thoughtful radicals, both outside the Democratic Party and within, have their [our] visionary work cut out for us.
We always do.
Yours, Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]



John Salter:

I don't believe Hillary's tear for a second.  Those people don't do anything
spontaneously.  They're calculating and cold.  Likely planted the

I think they managed this thing expertly, lowering expectations so that a
slight win seemed like a landslide.

The republican thing is such a mess, who can figure it out?

When push comes to shove, I think Obama can make it.

Warm spell continues here.  I'm not complaining.



J. Kates:

Reporting from New Hampshire, I think we over-react to the idea of racism in
the New Hampshire choice. (I would not have thought so fifteen, twenty years
ago, when a small fire-bomb was set off in front of my house; but
demographics and understandings have changed quite radically in our state
since then.) Certainly there is always some racism lurking in our white
American psyche — but no more significant  (or no less) than anti-feminism
(“Life’s A bitch — Don’t Vote for One” is a bumper sticker I saw the other
day) or anti-unionism up here. The good side of this pesky libertarian
streak in our new mythology of “Live free or Die” is social tolerance. (The
bad side is lack of social responsibility.)  J. Kates


Greg Mcdonald:

Hunter Bear wrote:

<-and I think an Obama problem in New Hampshire could easily involve
sub-rosa racism. The Granite State is not Massachusetts>

I agree. I live in Massacusetts, and NH has a reputation as being not
just a little rednecky, similar in many respects to the isolated
rural pockets of northern New York. In fact, I would argue that a
strong yahoo current runs from the southern appalachians through
rural Penn., New York, parts of the berkshires, (we're not immune
here), and into New Hampshire and Maine. The only thing changing
north of the Mason-Dixon line being the accent. . .



Carol Hanisch:

Interesting point about the publicness of the caucuses. But let's
remember sexism is also in the mix. There are still a good many
people in this country who don't believe a woman can do the job.
Personally I find they both lack political substance and are far from
the best that either Black people or women have to offer as leaders.

Carol Hanisch


Steve McNichols:

Undoubtedly, racism was a factor in Obama's descent between the polls and
the election. How much bears further study. Another factor is that more
independents finally opted for McCain than Obama. They were more familiar
with McCain and in the last analysis wanted to help him. I'm not a Hillary
Clinton admirer, but I don't think her choking up in the diner was

Steven McNichols


Joyce Ladner:

[Posted on the SNCC list in response to my "Couple of Thoughts"]

Your support for Barack is more important than ever and can help provide the
resources needed to compete in the next 48 states.   The campaign needs
volunteers for South Carolina (Jan 26) for those who would like to get in on
the live action.

All donations are helpful.




This is simply a postscript to my "Couple of Thoughts" of very early this morning:

There is a good deal of back and forth on the tube today about whether or not "race" played a negative role in the New Hampshire primary. Of course it did and I appreciated Chris Matthews pushing that point on his Hardball program this afternoon -- pointing out that the exit polls had indicated that Obama would win by a respectable margin.

It all carried me back to the spring of '65 in a Federal District courtroom at New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina. In the swirling midst of our hard-fought and ultimately successful Northeastern North Carolina Black-Belt project, a key local Black leader in Klan-infested Halifax County was fired from her teaching job at a high school [Black] at Enfield. The official reason given was frivolous. Willa Cofield [Johnson] was a top teacher who had won numerous awards. She was a committed Movement activist as were her husband and her father and her uncle. Her's was one of the cases we pursued in the context of the Federal court system. At New Bern, our attorneys, Bill Kunstler and Phil Hirschkop among them, questioned every school board member and every member of the school's district committee -- asking if Willa's participation [and that of her family members] had, in any way, influenced their decision to fire her. Each denied it, poker-faced -- as did Joe Branch, attorney for the school board and a powerful politician in the state. We lost at the District level, appealed to the Fourth Circuit at Richmond. The resultant decision by the Fourth was almost unanimously in favor of Willa.

This is a slightly rough paraphrase of a small part of the decision. "To deny as judges what we know as men would not be proper. We cannot ignore the emotions and racial atmosphere in a small Eastern North Carolina town, caught up in the throes of the civil rights movement."

With supportive briefs filed by every Southern state attorney general, North Carolina went to the US Supreme Court. And that denied cert -- leaving stand the Fourth Circuit decision. It was a key victory for every Black teacher.

[The papers from that and quite a few other cases are in my Collected Papers in Wisconsin and Mississippi.]

I should add that that the basics of that multi-county saga accompanies my bio on Civil Rights Movement Veterans -- as "Black Belt Thunder" And it's on our website at:

And racism was involved in the events at New Hampshire.

Yours, H



Reading the MSNBC page this morning, I note this assessment: ". . .whites and women helped Hillary Rodham Clinton to a popular-vote victory while blacks overwhelmingly backed Barack Obama in Nevada’s Democratic presidential caucuses."  It appears, that in that context, a substantial number of Hispanic voters are also involved.  Obama did very well among all Afro-Americans, women included. [In the Clinton tally, white women were obviously a big stat in Nevada -- though a fair number supported Obama.]

[Obama did, of course, trump Hillary a bit on the Nevada delegate count.]
"Racial inhibitions" [and outright racism]  and narrow feminism can be, and obviously are, big hurdles in this contemporary country.
But I do think Obama continues to have a very good shot indeed at the Presidency.  It  does, however, strike me that, among other things, his campaign is going to have to, with whatever finesse, point out that, given Bill Clinton's behavior in New Hampshire and Nevada -- and his own projected conduct beyond -- Clinton the man sees Clinton the woman as his surrogate.  And I think the Obama campaign is going to have to outline, in at least essential detail, the whole sweep of defamation being spawned by Bill Clinton and his operatives -- and counter that vigorously.
Since Bill Clinton is functioning in this Daley-like fashion, the Obama folks need some hard-hitting truth squads -- and very much so at critical points just-before-the-voting days.  If I had been a Dartmouth student, or casino worker, when he showed up at the last minute to shabbily undercut Obama support, you can bet I and my gathered buddies and fellow-workers would have confronted him in dramatic fashion.  We did that a few times at Arizona State University a long time ago.
And obviously, the Obama forces are going to have to work out effective approaches to as many white women and Hispanics as they can -- while functioning solidly with their other active and potential constituencies.
In my own opinion, and as I've previously noted, I don't see Obama as The Millennium.  But he does stand well above all of the other mainline candidates -- and I think his positive potential is most substantial.  Even as far as this has gone, he has displayed a high level of personal courage [given the dangerous atmosphere in this country re any major figure "of color"] -- and he is giving Great Witness to the critical cause of bona fide racial egalitarianism.
Yours, Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]



Been mulling over a few things. Some scattered thoughts:

A couple of days ago, we had a spirited. but generally amiable, discussion on Redbadbear which wound up, quickly, focusing on FDR and the Democratic Party. It was lively -- but didn't necessarily alter anyone's stand on all of that. [Norla Antinoro and Edward Pickersgill captured the discussion for the lively My Town and, if interested, one can see that colloquy at ] While aware of the deep flaws in the Roosevelt administration, I remain one of those who, on balance, is quite friendly to the role of FDR [and Eleanor.] I was growing up in those very tough times and I remember them very well. With the onset of U.S. entrance into the War, much of the New Deal faded -- WPA and CCC et al. -- since unemployment dropped drastically in the context of the domestic war effort. But much of the New Deal continued and, however battered, still does.

The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 [and comparable legislation a bit later which focused on Oklahoma] -- all of this stemming from the long and tortured and often sanguinary history of a Federal "Indian policy" designed to put Native tribes and cultures out of business and out of existence to facilitate corporate seizure of Native lands/resources -- marked a very basic reversal of those horrific polices: stressed the importance of supporting Native people and tribal nations and tribal cultures and Indian lands and resources. The notable Indian Commissioner during the IRA etc. epoch was John Collier, a protégé of Eleanor Roosevelt. Those "Indian New Deal" reforms exist into our current times -- as the Native struggle continues.

But this is not an effort to resurrect our late FDR mini-hassle.

The basic issue in that RBB interchange did not really involve the Roosevelts as much as it did the nature and character of the Democratic Party -- and, implicitly, under the surface of the back-and-forth, the perennial question for "radicals", "How should one relate to the current electoral situation -- especially at the Presidential level?"

I think it's clear to anyone who reads my posts that, for a number of reasons, I'm in the Obama camp. [ It looks like a majority of Idaho Democrats are at this point as well.] I have voted and not infrequently for what I've viewed as sensible and honorable "third party" positions. But not this time -- at least as things stand now. [Of course, if Hillary and Bill take the Demo nomination, I'll have to go up into the hills and commune-for-direction with our several good and helpful Spirits.]

While I certainly don't think that anyone with an ounce of honesty could deny the consistently negative role played by corporate capitalism, and its effects on, say, the Democratic Party and other institutions, we are presently in the midst of one of the very worst eras ever undergone by the people of this country and the world. When I was the featured speaker at the annual 2005 Truman Day dinner, held at Idaho Falls and covering a good bit of adjoining turf, I began with the sentence, "This the worst national administration any of us can recall -- and I'm 71 years old" -- I wasn't giving away a rare, golden secret. Almost a month ago, following Iowa, I wrote in part ["Inevitable Sunlight"]:

"It wasn't too long ago, historically speaking, that people like many of
us had to fight to survive at a Woolworth lunch counter.

We see the tremendous influx of young people into the Obama -- and, to a
substantial extent, into the Edwards bailiwick as well -- as a damn
realistic harbinger of a better future and an ultimate promise of an
even better one.

JFK's election was never seen by many of us as any great millennium.
But, fueled by many younger people and others of similar inclination, it
reflected the profound discontent and frustration that had festered in
the "dismal '50s." The election of '60 ushered in a rapidly growing
atmosphere of Realistic Hope.

Movement picked up -- and up -- and People Wanted More -- and More.
They pushed and More came.

It's always been my experience that, when folks start winning on good
and tangible fronts, they shoot higher -- and higher. The Kennedys et
al.[and the System in general] were pressured from the grassroots For
More -- and More. And a fair amount of More did indeed come.

There is always a place for Us Radicals -- especially if we try to avoid
the intricate theology of ideological nit-picking and its consequent
schisms and falling-away and, even more fundamentally, alienation from
the grassroots.

Whether times are lean or times are flush, it's up to Us to keep the
Vision high. Whatever happens in 2008 and beyond, we all have our jobs
to do -- as we, via our hearts and minds, see fit:

Organize -- That remains Genesis. Always and Forever."

In my opinion, American [U.S.] radicals who are oblivious to, or even sharply critical of, the rapidly growing grassroots movement within and around the Obama campaign are missing the Winds of History. These are "big things" that greatly transcend the personality of any individual -- even Obama, who I certainly feel has substantial potential. Long after this campaign has run its course -- for relative "better" or worse -- the fact remains that for the first time in decades vast numbers of younger people -- and many oldsters as well -- will have been sparked and stoked into good fire. Some will fade away -- but a great many will remain in an least some sort of activist mode. If what constitutes an "American Left" ignores this, it runs the great risk of a retreat into meaningless monasticism. People have to make their own decisions -- e.g., Obama or "third party" or otherwise -- but don't ignore or attack the tremendous phenomenon presently underway, and building.

And much, much good indeed can and will come of this Wave as History travels its eternal River. It's a very long and winding trail to Beulah Land but Humanity will get there, some way and somehow.

And then, as Humanity always does, It will continue to go on from there.

Yours, Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]




Dear Hunter,

Nice point that one about if "Hillary and Bill" win the Dem nomination. Quite a few languages in different parts of the world actually have something called the dual third person for a "pair of actors" or two persons acting together.  
Hope you're right about support for Obama reflecting a grassroots movement going above and beyond the man himself, a broader political reaction  using Obama as a kind of focus. It might restore some of my idealistic faith in America.
And why should we care about all this here in the northeastern corner of the European Union? To paraphrase the old saying "What's good for General Motors is good for the United States", what's for good for the United States just might be good for the rest of us.
More later,
Best wishes 




As a protagonist in the FDR discussion to which Hunter refers, I want to agree with at least part of what Hunter says in this post.  If the Obama mobilization continues, it would indeed be a major mistake to ignore it.  I in fact helped instigate a discussion of exactly this point in the peace group I am active in.

This, of course, leaves open the question of how one relates to it.  In terms of the Kennedy (smaller, I think) mobilization of 1960, I would add the historical note that the spark point beyond which the movements of the 60s became a reasonably sure thing preceded it, being no later than the February 1960 sit-in in Greensboro NC, which was then relatively early in the election campaigns.  The issue is whether one has a better effect by rushing into the campaign activities--and I have always found them remarkably limiting since much revolves around the candidate--or by relating in friendly fashion to the campaign folks by inviting them to be attendees at movement events.  This is not a passive activity--it involves seeking out the young campaigners and inviting them to peace demos or talks or whatever.

In the current moment, this will be facilitated by the fact that any reasonably movement-like formation will have members who are part of the Obama campaign and folks like me who think of it as supporting war and other disasters in spite of the wishes of many campaigners.




Picked this up and placed it at and am
expecting Norla will do the same for this coming week's We! magazine.




Absolutely! It will definitely be in this week's issue of We!

~ Norla


Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! The last time I saw such a volley of nine buckshot ["OO"], Cornet, I was an eleven year old firing double-ought buckshot with my sawed-off single-barrel twelve gauge into a small clump of brush -- in order to get a rabbit which had run for cover.

But more to the point. Our Woolworth sit-in at Jackson in 1963 was the most violently attacked and the most generally dramatic affair of its kind in that entire decade -- which, of course, was replete with non-violent demonstrations [and violent efforts to suppress]. It was also, since it went on for three hours, the most televised, photographed, and otherwise reported of the sit-ins. Even before it was over, it was traveling 'round the world.

And at least a fair amount of "our" footage [along with much else from other Southern Movement episodes] was later viewed by appropriate House and Senate committees as they moved toward the successful passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

And by the way, I got the poor rabbit.

Cordially, Hunter [Hunter Bear]

All in a comradely and for the Christians among us, brotherly spirit,
Hunter. But you know that.

The nonviolent actions of the 60s were, of course, at the confluence
of technology and institutional development which allowed them to be
filmed and taped but also shown to the public. Perhaps U-tube now
approximates the role the networks filled in those days, but the
institutions we relied upon then are in the hands of barbarians today.

From what I'm seeing in New York, and reading on the internet, there does not seem to be any danger of ignoring the Obama effect.  He is catching fire among young people who showed no interest in saving our poor country, and that's terrific by any standard. I keep reading about the sociological studies that show longterm, usually lifelong loyalty to the party that attracts individuals' first votes.  It was true for me.  Plus the media loves him, along with their perennial favorite, John McCain.

However, another phenomenon seems to be attracting no particular interest and is sometimes even denigrated in the mass media and in this forum.  It is that Hillary Clinton has attracted the interest and support of working women, especially single mothers without college education.  Across a thirty-year age range, which makes them an even larger cohort than youth ages 18-30.  This is another group that has not been politically active in the past, and whose loyalty is likely to be permanent once awakened. It's easy and quite accepted to sneer at these voters, from Bill Kristol up the food chain to the progressive blogs.  But the growing consensus for change bears watching - all of it.  There's more happening in this country than Obama-Oprah mass rallies.
Regards, Lois



These are only a few very brief, sketchy thoughts.  I may write more of specific nature on this later -- after a good deal more reflection.  But my basic thrust will remain.
I think the tremendous influx of younger people into, especially, the current  Democratic campaigns in what's called the United States, points to a great deal of student activism at the college/university and high school levels in the fairly near future. I certainly think it will go far, far indeed beyond the current national election.  Initially at least, and perhaps for a good while, it'll focus mainly on relatively local  social justice issues -- campus, community. regional.  I would assume that this would lead to a vast number of  student groups and organizations reflecting this broad  and relatively local grassroots diversity.  And, in time, especially as burning national issues arise, these "rivulets" of activist nature will, in many cases flow together to become creeks and very possibly even rivers. 
Anything like this, again in my opinion, has to be student-initiated and student-led. Students might reach out and find a friendly faculty member or two -- sometimes younger people not overly concerned about tenure or contract renewal -- but these tend to be rare birds.  Invariably and naturally, students want their own thing.  And they much like autonomy.
And I also doubt that the fine points of  intricate ideology will hold much  enduring attraction for the great majority of students. [This has struck me as a fact no matter what general  "political" perspective students hold.]  On the other hand, it might not be too much to expect that some sort of broadly socialist ethos would emerge in some sectors, though not necessarily by that name.  Whatever -- but anything involving students is going to have to be genuinely democratic.  The old bureaucratic stuff will never find any significantly fertile soil in the student world.
There is always, of course, a place for well-motivated, non-paternalistic advice and encouragement and financial and moral support  But, again, student self-determination has to -- and will -- prevail.  [Yes indeed, the New Old Left won't go into the dust-bin -- but it'll want to move thoughtfully and think before it speaks.]
I'm  obviously quite optimistic as far as the student dimension is concerned.
But I do have to add that it's very difficult to see the "labor movement"  effectively connecting much at all with this growing student phenomenon -- at least in any foreseeable future.  Labor -- with the exception of some notable individuals and a small handful of Internationals, missed  virtually all of the old Civil Rights Movement. [Some of us made vigorous and repeated efforts to effect that connection, which would have been mutually beneficial.  I've written about this.  And I always have a paid-up union card.]
Just some thoughts on a snowy day in Eastern Idaho.  Maria and I were shoveling snow -- I wasn't doing too badly -- but two neighbors, incidentally very good Mormons, rushed over with shovel and snow-blower. One has a  young daughter whose systemic lupus is as bad as mine.  One heads the Obama movement in this county -- Bannock -- and, the Force [and Weather] Willing, our family will be able to make it to the local Idaho caucus tomorrow evening.
Again, just some sketchy thoughts -- not "gospel" by the remotest stretch.  But, for many decades, I have been very much involved with students -- all kinds --virtually all of whom I've liked, whatever their "politics" or lack of such.
And they have always made me very happy to be alive.
Yours, Hunter [Hunter Bear] 





From your keyboard to the ear of the Great Spirit.   





I sent  the two foregoing posts -- Snake River Thoughts and Horizons -- to the SNCC List [among others] and received a nice note from Joyce Ladner, a former  Tougaloo College student of mine and colleague in the Mississippi civil rights struggle. In our subsequent exchange of notes, I also indicated that I much appreciated a recent and very long phone call from her sister, Dorie, also a former Tougaloo student and also a colleague in the Magnolia campaigns. 
Joyce immediately sent me this most encouraging message:
 She was so excited when she called and told me about your conversation.  She said you sound fantastic!!!




Mr. Salter,
Thoroughly enjoyed your thoughts as always . Plan to save them when I have more time to reread and give some more thought to them.
Mary Ann
Thanks, Hunter-

 I like all the grass roots rising myself.

 I fear McCain will be next president because of the public’s racism and sexism but I don’t predict how people will vote during recession.

 I have friends who retired to Hailey Idaho and have just sold their house and returned to California because they couldn't  stand the fascism and the meanness and bigotry they found in Idaho.  ..






Still recovering after a long sojourn at our Bannock Co. Democratic Caucus, up late to watch returns on MSNBC, and having gotten up at 3 am, I may be a little punchy.  But I do want to give a few brief, relevant impressions of our caucus experience and observations.

First, I think the Obama people have many good reasons to be pleased and proud at the nation-wide outcome, and I think the future augers well for Barack.  Idaho Democrats went 80% for Obama.  The final tally of those who came to our gathering was 1456 -- breaking local caucus records. [Attendance in 2004 was 422].  Several of us from our family got there, relatively early [we thought], but things,  already pretty full at the Idaho State ballroom, had already been moved to the larger auditorium. [In time, yet another room was opened in an extension sense.]  The line was the longest I've seen in a very long time, and it was obvious immediately that the cold and somewhat snowy weather had discouraged no one.  This is Eastern Idaho, heavily LDS, and with a strong organized labor base for the Democrats [UP railroad center, phosphate mining and refining etc] and generally considered pretty Democratic. It was a stronghold of the liberal senator [ousted in '80 by the Reagan wave], Frank Church.
The ISU ballroom was packed -- soon, standing room only.  The Obama "side" vastly outnumbered the Clinton camp -- and featured, I should add, many women indeed and many young people.  But there were plenty of others on the Obama side as well.  The crowd -- and that's almost an understatement -- was universally amiable, many folks knew others, there was an enormous amount of cheering, clapping, even yelling -- at various points.  Garb was informal, often Western. Outwardly, things seemed chaotic -- I recalled the old Army saw, "Organized confusion." But things were orderly enough and the structures of organization, first rather dim, surfaced in such a fashion that matters proceeded -- with a few rough procedural jiggles and jags -- in a fairly timely fashion.  At no point did anyone seem devoid of enthusiasm.  It was truly a fascinating sight.
[The Republicans in Idaho will hold a conventional primary in May.  That, I'm sure, will be well-dressed generally, orderly, maybe dull -- at least compared to the rather raucous affair of last night.]
Idaho is a heavily Anglo [white] state.  There is a very, very small African American population, more Hispanics [mostly Mexican in background] but still a very distinct minority.  There are substantial local groups of Native Americans, mostly residing on reservations -- but definitely a statistical minority.  The Clinton group, from what I could see, had little minority participation -- and, while there may have been a few, I saw no African Americans in that much smaller body.  Sitting in front of us were two Black women and, adjoining Eldri was a very elderly white woman whose pro-Obama position was occasionally manifested with surprising energy.
There was a small contingent of Edwards people.  If Edwards had not dropped out, he would have done respectably -- but the night would have still been Obama's. 
The Idaho Democratic Party has a long and traditional grassroots populist position: Labor, small farmers and ranchers, more recently significant college and university people, many people with solid environmental concerns.  And it also represents a deserved wariness of Eastern business and related interests: e.g., mining [mostly now gone], lumbering, big banks, railroads, land speculators -- and  political machines from Back East. That populist tradition welcomes constructive government involvement and regulation on behalf of people.  Obama is rightly seen in Demo circles as an honorable and open and people-sensitive person.  The Clintons are not viewed as that. [ And the Clintons have a long history of hostility toward gun owners -- and Idaho is for sure a hunting state.]
And the War[s] is certainly an issue.  Obama is seen as the most dependable force for an end to that/those -- and a creative and constructive force for rationality in the international context.  Idaho Dems are wary of the Clintons when it comes to international adventuring.
Idaho remains, in many ways, dominated by Republicans -- a process that began in 1980 and was in part spurred by the anti-gun campaigns of the Clintons.  But it has never been deeply so.  In the mid-90s, Larry Echohawk, a well known Native attorney, served as state AG.  He almost won the gubernatorial race shortly before we came here.  Even in recent times, there've been Demo governors.  And now, there are cracks in the Republican "hold."
The great scene last night may not please those to prefer to watch, in an ostensibly supercilious fashion, from a lofty distance and denounce the whole U.S. electoral process as a "snare and a delusion."  As I have noted, we ourselves have on occasion supported responsible third party endeavors.  But the stakes at this juncture -- among them, life and death for many -- are now drawn starkly in this country -- and in many parts of the world now directly affected by the U.S.  Beyond that, what we saw last night in this small and still rather isolated Rocky Mountain state, was one hell of a  vigorous expression of direct grassroots democracy.
Yours, Hunter [Hunter Bear]



We stayed late last night watching the proceedings on CNN and to say it was interesting would be an understatement. Thanks for your background write-up. It adds some perspective to the whole thing. It was, AWESOME and we can't wait for the next caucuses. Some enthralling drama indeed.
As I am typing this mail, Mimie is chatting away with her mom, Mutale, on the phone. And that immediately reminds me; how is Maria by the way? 
Amos George Chilinda

[The Chilindas are the in-laws of our grandson/son, Thomas Gray Salter, who is married to Mimie.  H. ]



Note by Hunter Bear:
This is a short note from a cousin of mine -- from  my Anglo mother's side -- giving a succinct breakdown of the caucus situation in the Lawrence, Kansas setting.  John Solbach is a lawyer -- and active on behalf of labor, involved with veterans' rights, and  often a Democratic state legislator. 
H. [or J.
----- Original Message -----
From: jsbachlw
Sent: Wednesday, February 06, 2008 12:18 PM
Subject: Re: An Idaho Caucus [massive, rip-roaring


John, Good to hear of the Bannock County Idaho Democratic Caucus. The scene here in Douglas county Kansas was similar in many respects. At our (one of three) site 1300+ showed up at the cavernous "Abe and Jake's Landing" which had a posted capacity of 720, spilling over to nearby Liberty hall. . . Obama = 80% +; Hillary = 17%+.

Stay well. John M. Solbach



Mr. Salter,
I had a hunch when I awakened this morning and learned that Obama (had to go to bed @ 11:30p because of work) had won Idaho, that we would be hearing from you.
My older daughter , Alicia, was so surprised because "  Do black people live in Idaho ?"
I responded that I was surprised in a way because I, too, didn't think that there were any minorities with the exception of Native Americans in Idaho . I immediately added that I wasn't surprised on the other hand because John Salter lives in Idaho (smile).
This entire process/ Super Tuesday brought back so many memories from our Civil Rights days @ Tougaloo , trying to get blacks to register to vote, etc. and your leadership being  an inspiration to us students.
Have to run because I'm at work . Will write again later.
Mary Ann



Fascinating.  Could it really be that we are no longer guided by our racial predispositions?  I surely hope so.  Medgar [Evers] would be so proud.

Thanks, Joyce.  Yes indeed, we are making progress on the racial "color blind" front.  And Obama's campaign, among all of its other positive effects, is certainly assisting in that -- mightily.  And you are right:  Medgar would be very proud!

Our very best to you and to Dorie -
As Ever, Hunter or John or Whatever



We were very pleased to see all the Barack Obama victories. Long, long ago I spent some time in the Nebraska sand-hills [Eldri grew up mostly at Newman Grove] and I've spoken in Nebraska many times over all of these years. And Peter [Mack] is a key editor at Lincoln Journal Star. I've twice spent considerable time in Washington State. The first time I was a loner kid barely into his twenties, fascinated by Seattle and Tacoma; and the second time, Eldri and our offspring [two at that point] were in Seattle for a year. I've always liked the Pacific Northwest [to which Idaho is often regionally attached.] And I have more than a few cousins in central and northern Maine, American Indians through-and-through, who I am pretty sure indeed voted for Obama. I felt especially good seeing the Maine victory.

And then I got the latest Portside offerings, mostly reprints these days -- containing a long attack on MSNBC by Jamison Foser [of whom I know nothing] under the aegis of something called "Media Matters." It's a downright nit-picky and scurrilous attack on almost all of the men associated with MSNBC reportage and analysis: Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough, Tim Russert, David Shuster, Tucker Carlson. [No newswomen, of which MSNBC has a number on board, were singled out. ] It basically boiled down to yet another "politically correct" witch-hunt -- motivated by the perception of the "hunters" that the foregoing male staff were occasionally critical of -- who else but, Hillary. It isn't difficult at all to see the hand of the Clintons operating from their favorite habitat, Shadow Land. The Clintons have never had a beef with CNN which, as early as the mid-1990s, was widely referred to in the West and the adjoining Northern Plains [and probably elsewhere], as the Clinton News Network.

Well, I rarely watch CNN [though Eldri and I do like the maverick Jack Cafferty.] But we have for years watched MSNBC with great regularity. For mainline Amercan media, it's remarkably independent -- all of their staff, male and female. During this period when my physical activity has become -- at least for the time -- limited, I've watched it consistently for hours on end. And no, to its great credit, its staff doesn't cave and genuflect to the more extreme dimensions of "political correctness". In a nutshell, its staff strikes me and Eldri as honorable, sharp with good analyses, and likeable. And they are relaxed, humorous. Of course, we disagree with them now and then but, for mainline media, we find ourselves generally agreeing.

You can see the piece just posted by Portside at:

We here, of course, support Obama. [We have done the third party thing on a number of occasions and will certainly once against at some point.] And on Obama I wrote this the other day to a good friend:

I really do think the Obama campaign is generating positive forces that will go much further than simply it -- into many critical dimensions above and beyond the Presidency. I think Obama, himself, is head and shoulders over the other mainline candidates in his positive potential -- and refreshing after unbroken decades of mediocrity and ostensible "conservatism." I'm obviously hopeful that what's being generated may be the nonviolent explosive that opens up new, rich veins of ore. [H.]

Yours, Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.  Dorie and I watch MSNBC quite a lot.  The one exception is what's his name who comes on at 9pm, and whom we don't think is very knowledgeable.  I am re-reading your book on the Jackson Boycott.  Such a good anatomy of protest and social change.  Hi to Eldri.





In the Brian Zepp Jamieson column, we find this:

"The YAF aren't people you would want for neighbors. Most are pampered and useless, vicious little preppies with brittle steel in them. Cheerleaders for the occupation and torture, you won't find many vets among them. They have better things to do. Like pimp out Ann Coulter"
To be polite about it, I think this, with the exception of the figurative shot at Ann Coulter, is "bull-shooting."
In addition to social justice organizing  -- hither and yon -- since I was barely into my twenties [and I could go even further back, stirring up trouble through every one of my K-12 years], I have also done a reasonably respectable amount of college and university teaching in a wide variety of settings around the country.  [And, even while I've taught, I have also consistently  organized on various fronts.]  And I've encountered all sorts of people in all sorts of places -- and that includes thousands of students of all sorts of political persuasions in my generally very large classes -- some of them in the 200 enrollment range. [Haven't ever met any "fascist" students, however.].
And, as I've always noted, I've liked all -- all -- of the students I've taught.  Since, no matter the size of the class, I've always stirred up discussion --  making it clear at the onset of the course and at various times thereafter, that free speech prevails where I'm concerned, I have heard all sorts of student perspectives [but, again, no "fascists"] and many of those views could be termed very conservative.  Interestingly, many of those became , [as with many other students]-- even as we kept our respective principles quite intact -- good friends.  And, in due course, a fair number of the conservative kids modified their positions.  Whatever -- but I have never seen any of my students as fitting the surreal stereotype carried in the Zepp column. In my recent piece, Forces and Faces Along the Trail, I mention an "encounter" with YAF kids at Colorado State back in late '64 which turned out just fine for all of us.  If I'd had more time, I am sure that some of us -- YAF kids, liberal kids, and others -- would have hit a bar or two to shoot the breeze.  I always find it occasionally helpful when I'm meeting conservatives of Whatever Age, to mention my life-long Life Membership in NRA and my empathy with hunting [and self-defense] conventional firearms. 
All of the students I've known have a naturally independent and maverick streak, always.  They certainly are not "fascists" nor Gletkins [the robotic second generation "Bolshevik" inquisitor in Arthur Koestler's novel, Darkness at Noon.]
I know very well that "Zepp" isn't in this bag but his ridiculous characterization of YAFers et al. carries the ring of the empty wannabe blustering of certain elements in the authoritarian Left.
Ann Coulter is an obvious crackpot.  The other day, I forwarded my Anglo cousin's report on the Democratic caucus at Lawrence, Kansas.  A mutual cousin of his and mine --  an older guy who has always respected my various positions and who has praised them in print -- has a good wife who has become somewhat entranced by the Coulter thing.  Well, that's her view.  None of us are stewing around on that one.
Yours for the Pluralistic Universe --
Hunter [Hunter Bear]



And your commentary has been duly affixed to Bryan's column at





I've lost all track of YAF but do remember that many (many) years ago they thought they should
use a "sit in" at the old War Resisters League office when it was downtown here in Manhattan.

It wasn't clear to use what they had in mind, but we got them chairs to sit in and made sure they
had water. And otherwise left them alone until, feeling foolish, they finally left.

Ann Coulter always looks as if she was on speed (which I think very possibly she is) and the
way she tosses her hair back and forth I can't help but wonder if she has bugs in it that she
is trying to shake out. She is indeed a nut. The problem is she has an audience which doesn't
realize this.

David McReynolds




I have myself been quite unimpressed by the lack of response from many quarters to my raising the issue of how to attract the youth who are rallying for Obama or for Clinton to other activities that will go on beyond the campaigns, and that might have some hope of building the pressures that might conceivably make Obama do something useful as President.  As I have phrased this before, this can be done by those who are working for those campaigns together with those of us who are not.

As for Hunter's being unimpressed with "ostensibly Militant Talk:"  This is one case where we clearly fall on different sides of the razor blade of life.  I have heard messages very similar to Hunter's on many occasions. Those supporting the Dems proclaimed much the same talk of urgency, the country is in danger from the right, etc. etc. when Johnson ran against Goldwater, Humphrey against Nixon, and every 4 years since as well.  Sometimes the argument is in terms of the poorest folk being so needy that the crumbs from the table will make a big difference for them--and how dare you stand against that.

And when the Dems do get elected, they attack our movements, the tighten the belts, they make war on Vietnamese, Dominicans, Iraqis etc etc.

At some point, one has to say enough, I am not playing this game anymore. With me, that point came after 1964 when I voted for Johnson. 

This does not mean that I disrespect those who work for Obama (and I certainly try to avoid the disrespectful language some Obama supporters have used on this list of late towards people who disagree with them.) I disagree with the Obama supporters, but I work with some of them very closely in my anti-war group. I even work with them to figure out how to relate to the kids mobilizing around the campaign. And many other issues.

Stepping back for a moment, I would add something that I think is very important. Ever since I have been politically active, in the USA and, I am told, many other countries, many on the left have real trouble behaving respectfully to people on their left.  I have seen it lead to vicious physical attacks that send people to the hospital on occasion.  It is one of the behavior patterns that keeps us all weak.  I might add that I have almost never seen anyone from the left attacking those a tad to their right physically--though I have certainly seen some serious disrespect of that kind on occasion. 

For those who are supporting the Democratic candidate du jour, I want to ask you to think seriously about the need to respect those of us who do not.  We are not going away.  When I am saying this, I do not mean to suggest that you not criticize or attack our views--anymore than we will step back from criticizing yours. But let us do this with the understanding that (for those of you who are are on the left), we will need to work together on many things over the years to come. To do this requires minimizing rancor and preventing the feuds that disrespect leads to.

We [and others] have been over this too many times to agree on anything in this particular context save for the fact that we are obviously not disposed to agree.  Edward and Norla can use these brief comments of mine if they see fit.
I'll be blunt -- always from the perspective of a good friend.  I think you and those who stand back and shoot at the Obama crusade, however politely [in your case] and not so politely in the case of some others [not much on our RBB list, however] are missing History at this point.  I was in the South for six critical years and I know damn well who made, for example, the civil rights breakthroughs:  countless grassroots people and organizers -- who put their lives on the line.  Those struggles and those sacrifices led directly to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the '65 Voting Rights Act -- and much, much more -- and we were damn glad to see all of those come into reality. This all came about by People -- "There go my people," said Martin King, "and I have to run to catch up." [We've always been pleased that photos and film portions of our long and much publicized Jackson Woolworth Sit-In, truly the most violently attacked of any of those particular types of demonstrations in the '60s, were shown to key House and Senate Committees to help build Congressional support for what became the '64 Act.]  I was privileged by History to participate in many turbulent episodes in those turbulent and sanguinary years -- and most of us had few stars in our eyes when it came to the Kennedys, Johnson, et al. [And I can cite much personally in the overall River of Change in which I was involved well before I "went South" and a hell of a lot in the many years that have followed.
And, for a long time, I've felt the Winds of Movement within and around -- and ahead -- of the Obama campaign.  And much of that stems, in addition to the legacy of the Grand Old Struggles, to these immediate past years of protest characterizing  this hideous period through which we are now passing. [I think, by the way, that at this point, the current and powerful force of the electoral political thrust precludes much substantive "recruitment of the young" to any [other than very general] Left perspectives.  That will come later [but most likely in new organizational forms] as the non-violent force of this social explosive, high and deep, and inherently visionary opens up rich veins of ore -- vastly more from every perspective than the Democratic Party of whatever stripe could or would ever achieve. [But we must always remember:  young people have their own minds, do their own thinking, and much value their own self-determination.]
And, again, I certainly see Barack Obama and his vigorous effort as a vastly needed initial step at the political level -- at this critical point in our individual, national, and global history.  We always have the challenge of maintaining one eye on the Vision over the Mountains and the other on the shorter range "pork chop" necessities in the day-to-day lives of human beings. You may shoot at FDR but I remember [in my case, as a not especially "deprived" kid], the latter days of the Dust Bowl and its migrant refugees and, to this day, there are still many of us that never see a sage jack-rabbit without thinking, "Hoover Beef."
And, as we go along, we always have to -- whoever we are and however we function in the literally endless human justice struggle for a full measure of liberty, bread-and-butter and spiritual well-being -- be fully alert and damn well aware of the dangers of co-optation.
And that means keeping our primary footing on the solid ground of our Movement[s] and within our individual self-determination.
Now and Forever.
And on that, I am sure we agree -- my genuinely good friend.
In [basic] Solidarity, Always --
Hunter [Hunter Bear]




I join the many who'll miss Bill Buckley.  While our points of specific disagreement -- with one particular dimension of exception -- would be as numerous as leaves on an aspen tree, he was a consistently direct and honest guy who said what he meant and said it directly.
And just about as importantly, Buckley knew how to use the English language magnificently -- and with great effectiveness.  A hell of a lot of writers should take a leaf from him -- including some of those on Left lists [not any of ours] whose descent into crass vulgarity in an apparent effort to promote a "militant" stance is sometimes reminiscent of junior high discussions [with cigarettes] under the Rio de Flag bridge during the lunch break at our nearby school.
Buckley could use The Language as Art -- and  in a splendidly and intricately adversarial fashion.  Very wickedly. I like a person who shoots that way.
The one area of my agreement with Bill Buckley is that -- in the fashion of a steadfast traditional American conservative -- he rarely took his primary eye from the importance of individual and intra-societal liberty.  One could disagree with some of his interpretations in that context, but never fault his enduring consistency.
And he always knew how to use something often sorely missing in contemporary discussional circles in the United States: finely toned humor.
If the Afterlife situational setting needs any challenge, I know someone who began that process just as soon as he floated into the presumed Paradise. 
"They" -- whoever they are -- may well ship him back to us, pronto.
Then we could have lunch together.  I'd like that.
Hunter [Hunter Bear]


Friendly critics of the quick draw mode might want to re-read my post on Buckley with a bit more care -- especially this [and particularly its second line]:

"The one area of my agreement with Bill Buckley is that -- in the fashion of a steadfast traditional American conservative -- he rarely took his primary eye from the importance of individual and intra-societal liberty. One could disagree with some of his interpretations in that context, but never fault his enduring consistency."

I think much of the contemporary United States Left, and the Liberals, and the Right would all benefit from careful and, ultimately, effective reflection on the critical need for Liberty in any decent human society.

And -- not pointing any fingers at RBB folk -- I think all of those foregoing categories would profit enormously from increased skills -- and arts -- in the realm of articulation and good taste.

Best, H.

Interesting comment, Cornet, and thanks for the articulate expression of interest -- which characterizes our RBB. However, in my opinion, your shot has gone a bit awry. The glib term, "cryptofascist" strikes me as about as muddily confused as the "Stalinoid" tag so enthusiastically utilized by a few "conservative socialists" on the now-virtually-gone ASDnet list. I never met Buckley nor Vidal. I will concede that Bill Buckley [from what I saw and read] was a snob -- but a complex one who exhibited depth and wit and humor, and was thus frequently quite likeable. And, in the last analysis, he had a libertarian soul which, despite our respective and considerable differences in manifestation, did give us some common ground. [Buckley founded National Review and wrote for it; I've written much for labor and radical journals. But I've often taken a look at National Review -- and I suspect Buckley more than occasionally looked into the Left.] On the other hand, Vidal, also a snob, was somehow -- at least to me -- devoid of appealing qualities and thus not very likeable at all. Very, very early on in my personal development, I found myself able to disagree and battle -- often with the greatest vigor and breadth and even ferocity -- with various people who, vis-a-vis their particular individual gifts, I could also, simultaneously, find likeable. And, again speaking personally, I have met very, very few people -- likeable or not -- from whom I learned nothing useful.

Anyway, just my view. Perhaps others would care to join us.

Best, H.


I wuv you, Hunter Bear!

S h e i l a

On Feb 29, 2008, at 5:50 AM, Hunter Gray wrote:

And just about as importantly, Buckley knew how to use the English language magnificently -- and with great effectiveness. A hell of a lot of writers should take a leaf from him -- including some of those on Left lists [not any of ours] whose descent into crass vulgarity in an apparent effort to promote a "militant" stance is sometimes reminiscent of junior high discussions [with cigarettes] under the Rio de Flag bridge during the lunch break at our nearby school.

Thanks, Sheila! I much like that -- and I think I'm going to put it on the three lists in our little "system."

I should add that there's nothing like a Buckley -- or a Mencken -- to stir up Liberals and the Left and lots of others as well! They keep/kept us on our toes. The self-defined and sober-sided Left of these days should learn to smile and laugh occasionally -- or at least to grin -- in the midst of the current combat. For anyone interested, the good Edward Pickersgill has captured much of the Redbadbear discussion on all of this on My Town

And a note on Bears: Josie [our youngest daughter] and her Cameron went to an interesting auction at Shelley, Idaho the other day. They returned with a very fine and rather old hard-wood and well-carved figure of a standing male Grizzly bear. It's a birthday present to me. More than a foot and a half high, nicely proportionate and thus chunky and rather heavy, with only a very few black paint dashes to illustrate certain body lines, he now resides on my nearby dresser, looking at me solemnly. His eyes -- old glass mini-balls in an implicitly friendly and open face -- are quite appealing.

Gives me strength. Glad he's on Our Side.

All best and Solidarity

Hunter Bear



Thanks, Norla, for your thoughtfulness in passing along George Thomas' comments which find considerable resonance within me. I've been a "man of the left" consistently for more than half a century -- and it's painful to see what passes for an organized left in this country [or even the rather amorphous versions], after this almost a decade of strong social concern and activism in many grassroots quarters, sitting humorlessly and sanctimoniously in relative insular isolation, trapped in rote slogans and occasionally by the further out versions of "political correctness." [I am not talking about "good taste" which, along with a reasonably lucid command of the English language -- hell, any language -- I strongly endorse.] Verbal militancy alone is emptier than an old canteen in Death Valley -- if it's not joined by outreach organizing.-- and that to-and-with the people process is certainly enhanced by hard work and at least judicious humor. I was commenting yesterday to my good spouse that the Greenwich Village dancing scenes in the fine film, Reds, [probably true to life during that creative era -- and thereafter for a good spell], are most likely pretty lacking in what's become the New Old Left. [Christ, even the Southern Movement facing foes on every side, could laugh and joke and party on occasion.] And, as I've endeavored to note, the Buckleys and the Menckens keep us alert, on our toes -- whether or not we find likeable human qualities in those folk. At least they knew/know the value of well-honed humor and some of their outlandish comments [quite possibly to draw reaction from the sober-sides of Our Side], shouldn't drive us into horrified frenzies. And Our Side, in its not infrequent factional modes, tosses about comments like "fascist", "Stalinist," "Trot" etc. in a cavalier fashion reminiscent of middle schoolers throwing things at one another when the teacher is briefly absent. That said, there are certainly those on, say, our Redbadbear list and in many other settings at one level or another or several levels, who, in their respective locales, are in the trenches of positive social change. But there aren't enough of them and of those we have, they need to grin and laugh -- however sardonically. That's an important quality in the Save the World Business -- in both dimensions: the day-to-day "pork chop" struggle and the longer range visionary campaign to reduce the power of corporate capitalism and, hopefully, end it in favor of social arrangements that provide for a full measure of libertarian and material well-being.

I again thank Brother Thomas and Sister Norla [and some others].

In Solidarity [whatever the engendered headaches]

Hunter [Hunter Bear]



This RBB discussion, in my opinion at least and as I've noted in a quite recent earlier post, has become surreal in a rather personal fashion.  I'm quite willing to see this brief cloud as inadvertent and I daresay that none of us would be pleased even with the fraying of the generally good interpersonal relationships that characterize our rambunctious little discussion list -- good relations that are often reflected in congenial off-list correspondence.  Sam, indeed, has personally visited us [three years ago] right here in Idaho.

Clarence Darrow at least once remarked that "People live lives of quiet desperation" [and I always like to match that with the affirmative conclusion provided by William James in his essay, "Is Life Worth Living?"]  But these are not good times for Left organizational radicals in this country.  It'll soon be a decade since the first of the very promising large scale demonstrations against the World Trade Organization marked the end of a very long Death Valley Trek epoch that characterized radical life since the mid-1970s.  But despite the challenges presented by the conservative [basically Reaganesque] Clinton administration and the Horrors initiated and carried by the present one, coupled with the quite commendable anti-war grassroots activities that have ensued now for years, Left organizations in this country, although there have been brief "flush" periods, have gotten smaller.

And Left folk are, in a phrase, frustrated as all Hell.

And, of course, so are a vast number of the American people.  The genuine excitement characterizing tremendous support for the Obama Campaign/Movement speaks volumes about all of that -- and, in addition to feeling that Obama offers far more than the other presidential candidates re the Iraq War and more -- I'm at least even more strongly convinced that this grassroots excitement propelling and surrounding Obama is indicative of a phenomenon that transcends his hard-fought endeavor and will certainly continue in broadly promising fashion following the November elections.

I'm not sure what this bodes for the "Older Left" and the "Older New Left."  My strong hunch is that History on these shores at least stands at a point similar -- in the rough or essential sense -- to 1960.  If so, Big Things lie ahead in the realm of activism. On the other hand, though, I don't see a sweeping revolution at any time soon and the obviously and predominately much younger people aren't going to buy in, at least substantially, to that -- at least not in the foreseeable future.  And They are going to want to make their own decisions sans outside manipulation, even that with the most altruistic of motives.

I do hold to my strong conviction that the Struggle is a step-by-step Mountain climb -- and, when one range is mounted, others will beckon.  It's a Forever process.

Those of us associated with general or specific Left views have every good reason to stick to our guns.  We can certainly make positive contributions in such realms as bona fide organizing and, whatever the limited circ of our journals, meaningful writing. And we have, if we're willing to abandon our factional and interpersonal biases and the more rigid dimensions of theory, a great deal of wisdom and solid advice to give to those who are now entering the door that opens into the Save the World Business.  Not all of the people who get into that stay -- many do some good things, then fall away.  But there are always those who for sure Keep On, Keeping On.

Here's a quote from Darkness at Noon:

As Ivanov [the soon-to-be killed himself secret police inquisitor of his old friend
Rubashov] put it so very well in Darkness at Noon:

" Satan . . .is thin, ascetic and a fanatical devotee of logic.  He reads
Machiavelli, Ignatius of Loyola, Marx and Hegel;  he is cold and unmerciful
to mankind, out of a kind of mathematical mercifulness . . .don't imagine
that he grinds his teeth and spits fire in his fury.  He shrugs his
shoulders;  he is thin and ascetic;  he has seen many weaken and creep out
of his ranks with pompous pretexts. . ."

But we are not, of course, a Satan-complex in the remotest sense and our motives, I trust, are pretty faithfully altruistic. Not everyone who joins The Struggle will remain.  But many will -- old hands and new.

So, while Darrow made an excellent point, I fall out with James and underscore his great optimism.  He and Darrow kept going and so must we.

And so we will.  Always and Forever.  And, in our own way, Together.

[And now, for myself and Trotskyists and Workers World and More in Dixie, see this.  Some have seen it, of course, but in the context of our quite recent RBB exchanges, it's worth another look:

Personal Reminiscence:

North Carolina and Jesse Helms [Hunter Gray, 8/22/01]





I agree with Hunter that the organized left - new, old, whatever - is living on hard times. I also think the Obama candidacy may
open the door for much in the way of a push "to the left", and I say this fully aware that Obama is not  a socialist, he will not
cut economic and military aid to Israel, he will not push for a single payer health insurance program, he will not call for nuclear
We are the ones who have to push for those things.
Part of the problem with the left (and these are very brief notes) is that the "models" are broken. The Leninist movement
in all its various forms - the Communist Party, the various Trotskyist organizations, the Maoist groups - all fall short of
seeing the need to build an American movement modeled on our culture, not on the brilliance of a Russian living and working
in the unique conditions of Czarist Russia. (I'd say exactly the same thing about those such as myself who are committed
to nonviolence and the teachings of Gandhi - if we do not realize that Gandhi, also, was a product of "time and place" we
will fail). I'm inclined to say the only problem with the Leninist-inspired movements is that so many adherents think they
might possibly be Lenin.
In New York I'm starting some very informal discussions with a range of views including those who belong to groups I
don't agree with in whole or part - CP, CCDS, DSA, SP, etc. - in order that we can, without trying to "convert one another"
or try yet one more time to "refound the Left", to establish some personal ties and trust.
Beyond that we can only work in our own communities, try to involve younger people in discussions in which we need to be
willing to listen much more than to try to impose our own ideology.
David McReynolds
Good indeed to see your thoughts, David, with which I  -- obviously -- quite agree.  I am taking the liberty of forwarding this little package of good seed to several lists and some individuals where I'm certain that at least some soil will prove fertile.
Like a fair number of us still -- despite the vicissitudes of many decades -- you are for sure a Long Distance Runner.  We both got into all of this in a grim epoch, you at the beginning of the '50s, I in the middle of that decade.  Those years could be lonely.
I always remember a kid and fellow student from NYC with whom I chanced to visit at Arizona State [Tempe] in late 1957.  I mentioned that I was a Wobbly [ for some newer readers, Industrial Workers of the World.]
He warmed immediately.  "You Are!" he exclaimed happily.  "I'm a YPSL!"
And that was the first time I'd really heard of the Young Peoples' Socialist League.  He, btw, was very helpful when we organized, a few months later, the broad-based and successful movement at the university to greatly improve the on-campus food and dorm situation.
Your "project" sounds truly solid, David.  Its timely nature needs no elaboration.  And, among other gifts, you have a rare sense of finely honed humor that "breaks ice", helps free people from their sober-sided image.
But you are, of course, very  serious. Keep us posted!
In Solidarity, Hunter



Looks pretty certain that Obama will take the Democratic nomination -- and, very likely, secure the Presidency. This family is certainly glad.

Immediately following the Iowa caucuses, I wrote a very short piece which observed that "It wasn't so long ago that we had to fight to survive at a Woolworth lunch counter." If this comment mystifies anyone, check out our literal Woolworth sit-in at Jackson in May, 1963.

The implications of this shift in United States race relations should be obvious -- along with the fact that we all still have a long way to go in that context. And we have a very long way to go on many fronts. But Obama obviously offers a number of solid strides in the direction of a better nation -- and even a better world -- more so than any major U.S. candidate has for a vastly long time.

And it's been very clear that he's engendered tremendous enthusiasm -- especially with younger people. The Obama campaign, early on, took on the qualities of "Movement" -- a transcendent phenomenon that is far greater than simply a segmental electoral political effort. That "people energy / people force" augers well for the positive future of all of us. That energy/force will go very far ahead indeed.

The amorality [a relatively gentle term under the circumstances] of the Clintons was obvious to some of us in the 1990s. After recent events "on the trail," no one should have a single sunny illusion about Them. Nor, given the history of McCarthyism and its neo-associate, "guilt by association," no one should be surprised that every "witchy thing" from Fox News to the Clinton camp, is trying -- in an increasingly shrill and desperate fashion -- to whip up "concern" about the "Reverend Wright" situation. The Reverend's controversial comments were taken out of context. His church, thousands strong, has a long history of solid social justice work in the toughest parts of Chicago. And that particular church is, of course, a key component of the United Church of Christ [formed via merger of the Disciples of Christ and the Congregational church], and has a vastly long history of grappling constructively with all sorts of social justice challenges. [It, and its foregoing two denominational roots, have been among the oldest supporters of Tougaloo College -- during the very roughest days of the Mississippi Movement.]

If I left every Catholic church where I heard something from the pulpit I didn't like, well -- I'd run out of churches.

And in a maelstrom like Chicago, you often find yourself working with interesting allies. As I've noted before, I directed large-scale grassroots organization on the South/Southwest Side of that city from 1969 well into 1973. We -- a fine staff of about two dozen committed field workers and a multitude of dedicated community people [mostly Black, some Puerto Rican, some Chicano, and a few whites] -- organized 300 block clubs and related groups, fought the Daley machine and the Republicans, and much more to win a fine array of grassroots victories. [One of our very key staffers was Bette Ann Poole, of Mississippi, who had been with us in the initial picket of the Woolworth store in downtown Jackson on December 12 1962 when we launched the Jackson Boycott [soon to become the massive Jackson Movement.]

Early on, I bailed out from jail several leaders of the [Black] Disciples youth gang -- who had been quite unjustly arrested during a literal police assault on Black and Puerto Rican elementary school children. From that point on, the Disciples provided important protection for us and we all worked together most constructively in securing critically-needed grassroots victories. One of those came early on, when our "alliance" overthrew a Daley alderman, replacing him with Anna Langford, a Black independent Democrat and an attorney.

I'm not surprised at the "church baiting" -- from the reactionaries. It'll fade -- save for those who'd vote McCain anyway. But it seems strange to me that, "in these times," some hard-shell leftists spend far more time picking at Obama than, say, McCain or Fox News -- or the Clintons. Perhaps they're jealous, but in any case these sectarians are "missing History." They've missed History before.

Anyway, as I look out from my Idaho Window, I do feel quite optimistic. And it isn't just the good Sun itself rising above the mountains to our east. That's bringing Light and Warmth. But it's also the harbinger of some very good things a'coming.

Keep fighting,

Hunter [Hunter Bear]




Your sarcasm is [for the moment] overlooked from my perspective. But I do have this to ask, "What in the hell are you for?" And I ask that "with all due respect" [as some of my Republican friends in North Dakota used to preface their critiques of my positions while we shot the breeze at the Westward Ho.] Sam is sketching out the geo/social/political map of a New World; I, ever the prosaic organizer, am focused mainly on the here-and-now [though not oblivious at all to longer range Vision.]

You may recall the final scenes in the original version of that fine flick, Inherit the Wind. There, at the end of the [Scopes] trial, the Darrow figure [Spencer Tracy] who has become tired of the barbs levied against his populist-turned-fundamentalist adversary, William Jennings Bryan ,by the Mencken figure [Gene Kelly], comments to the latter, "The trouble with you is that you've never believed in anything." And, of course, he went on to say of Bryan, "A giant once lived in that body."

Well, I'm sure you do believe in things, Cornet, and well beyond your own sphere. But tell me, what do you think we-all should be doing at this point in the human travail -- and where do we find the long trail to the summit of the Big Rock Candy Mountain?

As Ever, H




A bit of reminiscence:

Fairly recently arrived at the University of Arizona for Fall term, 1955, a friend from an English comp class invited me to a cocktail gathering at his parents' home. [His father was a journalism prof and his mother from a well to do Louisiana family.] When I got there, I found an interesting group. My friend, his sister, and his parents were there -- it was their home, of course -- but I also found Huey Long's sister, Frank Brophy Jr., and another friend of mine, Bill Haugh. Bill was the son of the Republican whip in the state senate [actually not a bad guy personally], but Bill was a really hang-loose kid -- pretty liberal for the times and place. Frank Brophy, Jr., a law student, was the son of the owner of the extensive central/southern [Arizona] Bank of Douglas chain. The senior Brophy was a right-winger who, in the summer of 1917, had assisted his father and a large entourage of vigilantes in deporting 1200 striking IWW and Mine-Mill copper miners in the infamous Bisbee strike-breaking campaign. In fact, I had written an angry letter to Frank Jr's dad just a very few months before in response to some of his reminiscence which had appeared in the Arizona Republic newspaper. [I sent a copy to the newspaper which, not surprisingly, didn't print it.] But Frank, Jr., who turned out to be pretty liberal in a positive sense, knew my name immediately. "Dad liked your letter," he told me cordially, "because he likes people who fight back." [Later in time, I heard a favorable personal appraisal of the senior Brophy from a good friend of his, Ammon Hennacy, the Catholic anarchist -- who occasionally visited Arizona and who was well acquainted with our Flagstaff newspaper editor.] Anyway, it was a great little gathering with plenty of good liquor, much fascinating political back-and-forth, and repeated challenges to a fencing duel by Bill Haugh [we all passed on that one]. But there was one exception. Huey Long's sister drank nothing, sat solemnly amidst the frivolity -- looking like she'd smiled only once as a baby. It wasn't generational. She just wasn't any fun.

So, I don't know, Cornet, if I could have ever voted for Huey -- with a sober-sided sis like that.

On the other hand, my maternal grandmother, daughter of a leading Kansas Populist spokesperson, always spoke very fondly of "Mr Bryan." I'm sure I would have gone with him.

Yours, H


Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'
Check out our Hunterbear social justice website:
[The site is dedicated to our one-half Bobcat, Cloudy Gray:
And see Outlaw Trail:  The Native as Organizer: