Beginner's Pen

Jonathan Erdman. Writer. Wayfarer.



Creating the Conditions for Chaos

There was something about seeing Donald Trump on the stage at the Republican convention that brought it home for me, seeing Trump in the bright lights, alone and bereft of opponents — alternatively barking or basking in the glow of his victory. It all made it feel legit, legit in a very creepy, skin-crawling sort of way, but more than feeling disgust was my heightened sense of urgency, an urgency felt by most people in the face of fascism or other forms or totalitarianism. With Trump on stage, we can see ourselves going down that road, and it’s all too real now. The most obvious political course of action: do anything to stop Trump. Continue reading “Creating the Conditions for Chaos”

The Disaster of Richard Nixon | The New York Review of Books

I was reading just yesterday about how Nixon prolonged the Vietnam war for no other reason than political calculations: he was looking for a way to get out with honor so that he wouldn’t suffer the political fall out. Perhaps something to consider before casting a vote this fall for a pro-war President like Clinton or Trump. Continue reading “The Disaster of Richard Nixon | The New York Review of Books”

Berners, this isn’t the end

Bernie Sanders just passed the torch to Dr. Jill Stein, and this political revolution continues stronger than ever…The Green Party’s Stein is now the liberal establishment’s worst nightmare: a trustworthy and inspiring progressive candidate who stands for ideals and principle. No more of Clinton’s prison lobbyist donors or FBI criminal investigations, just an honest woman named Jill Stein who states “Berners, I repeat: this isn’t the end…Not by a long shot.”

Dr. Stein also correctly states “If you don’t want to vote for a warmonger or racist billionaire, there are more options.” It might come as a surprise to Hillary voters, but most Americans are tired of voting for the lesser of two evils. Ultimately, when Bush administration officials are voting for Hillary Clinton, progressive politics needs a savior.

This excerpt from:

All Violence Is Not Created Equal

All violence is not created equal. One day we hear of yet another black person killed by a cop and the next we read of a black man ambushing police officers. Many of us feel comfortable denouncing both as equally tragic: at the end of the day innocent people died and we mourn all loss of life. It’s a travesty that a black man was killed and an equally terrible thing that officers were killed. To me, though, this can’t be the final word. It’s not an apples to apples comparison. Continue reading “All Violence Is Not Created Equal”

Feeling the Bern in Fort Wayne, Indiana

A series of events brought me back to Indiana for a short two days, and I found myself (quite unexpectedly) walking the streets of downtown Fort Wayne, looking for a coffee shop to do some work on my novel, but before you could say “Hoosier,” I was marching with a group about a hundred strong, all of us caught up in that Bernie fever.

Continue reading “Feeling the Bern in Fort Wayne, Indiana”

Article: Sanders, Trump, and the War Over American Exceptionalism

A big reason that politics interests me is because it reflects cultural trends, and the bonkers way that this election is going suggests that America is changing. The Atlantic has a short article, Sanders, Trump, and the War Over American Exceptionalism. Excerpt:

While grassroots Democrats and Republicans remain divided over the size of government, increasingly, what divides them even more is American exceptionalism. In ways that would have been unthinkable in the mid-20th century, the boundaries between American and non-American identity are breaking down. Powered by America’s secular, class-conscious, transnational young people, Democrats are embracing an Americanism that is less distinct than ever before from the rest of the world. And the more Democrats do, the more likely it is that future Trumps will rise. Continue reading “Article: Sanders, Trump, and the War Over American Exceptionalism”

A Yuge Difference: Is America ready for Bernie?

Bernie was on Saturday Night Live recently, and there’s a skit I love, featuring Larry David (of Seinfeld fame and Curb Your Enthusiasm). The scene is of a sinking ship. “Women and children first!” yells the captain. “Really?” Larry David says, incredulous. There’s a good bit of back-and-forth between Larry and the Captain, as women and children are loaded onto the life raft. Larry can’t seem to convince them to take him on the raft before the women and children, and he worries that he’ll not make it on the raft, so he finally plays his trump card: I’m really wealthy, he says. “I’m worth more than all the rest of you put together.” That’s when Bernie steps in, dressed as a commoner. Continue reading “A Yuge Difference: Is America ready for Bernie?”

Bernie Sanders Has a Secret – Politico


I’m expecting Bernie Sanders to either win the Democratic nomination or come damn close to doing so. Either way, I think he’s going to be a game changer who speaks to the concerns of the next generation…I ordered my Bernie 2016 t-shirt yesterday….This article in Politico tells you a bit about Bernie. Bernie Sanders Has a Secret – Michael Kruse – POLITICO Magazine.

Don’t Underestimate Bernie Sanders – The Atlantic

Bernie   In the wake of a congressional banking scandal and a congressional pay hike, [Jerry] Brown vowed to “take back America from the confederacy of corruption, careerism, and campaign consulting in Washington.” In an era of escalating globalization, [Pat] Buchanan promised a “conservatism that looks out for the men and women of this country whose jobs have been sacrificed on the altars of trade deals done for the benefit of trans-national corporations who have no loyalty to our country.” In a Democratic Party whose activists felt betrayed by their leaders’ support for the Iraq War, Dean pledged “to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”…. In today’s Democratic Party, the most powerful grievance is the one that brought thousands into Zuccotti Park in 2011, powered Bill De Blasio’s upset victory in New York, and has made Elizabeth Warren a progressive folk hero. It’s the belief that the super-rich have distorted America’s economy and bought its government. It’s a grievance so powerful that it’s seeped not only into Hillary’s rhetoric, but also into Ted Cruz’s. And from the Clinton Foundation scandals to the Republican candidates’ shameless pandering to billionaires, the presidential campaign itself seems poised to inflame that grievance even more….” From Bernie Sanders and the 2016 Presidential Race – The Atlantic.

Liberty and Justice for All


“A Wall Street bank accused of laundering money for drug cartels only had to pay a fine. Meanwhile, a man caught with a joint in his pocket had to spend 47 days in jail.” This kind of failure has a long history, though it seems to be getting much worse. The bank was fined – there are always fines – but because the crimes of the wealthy are just a matter of dollars and cents, then they can quantify their risks rather than having to fear any personal repercussions.

U.S. and China Strike Historic Agreement on Climate Change | Alternet


Here is a link to an article on the deal between China and the U.S. to reduce carbon emissions. Despite how modest it is, some politicians have found a way to oppose even this small step toward being environmentally responsible. Unreal.

Strange Things Happening in the Plains States


Keep working for change, friends. People know that our country has a lot of problems and that the cliche political answers and typical quick fixes of the major parties haven’t worked.

In the 1880s and 1890s, a prairie wildfire swept through American politics. The generation of pioneers that had taken the risk to head out west and take advantage of Abe Lincoln’s Homestead Act, where our government literally gave away free land to any poor and working class people, had successfully battled terrible weather and intense loneliness. They had worked their butts off to become farmers and ranchers, and made a good life for themselves. But when railroad barons, Wall Street bankers, and oil monopolists began to squeeze them and make it tougher and tougher to make a living farming and ranching, they rose up and started organizing a populist movement that changed American politics and policies. States like the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma rebelled against pro-big business politicians, and much of what they demanded- breaking up the big corporate trusts, tougher financial regulations, easier credit, Social Security, a minimum wage, an 8 hour work day and no child labor, women’s suffrage, stronger labor unions- eventually became incorporated in the reforms of the Progressive era of the early 1900s and the New Deal of the 1930s.

Libertarian Left: Free-market anti-capitalism, the unknown ideal

There are many alternatives to our current form of capitalism. The Libertarian Left is one very important theory of social and economic organization. If you find yourself dissatisfied with mainstream politics and the major political parties, you owe it to yourself to investigate different ways of viewing the world.

As for myself, in particular, I have no hard-core allegiance to any particular theory. At this point, I think we simply need more people to start to investigate the alternatives. While many of the average middle-class citizens are cynical of mainstream politics, they nonetheless either end up getting caught up in conventional political debate or just check out of the process all together. What seems critical to me, at this point, is to bring to people’s attention the many alternative ways of viewing social and economic organization. With all of the intelligent ideas out there, with all of the challenges to capitalism, I believe with my whole heart that things really and truly don’t have to be the way they are. A better world is more possible and feasible than most of us can dare to believe.


Continue reading “Libertarian Left: Free-market anti-capitalism, the unknown ideal”

Article “The internet is fucked” | The Verge

One of my own (many) gripes against capitalism is that it breeds huge mutant monopoly companies who eat their families. When big industries are deregulated, the powerful tend to use their power to squash competition, or merge with other powerful companies. They then use this new strength to squeeze out even more competition until they remain, alone, at the top of the heap. (Think about the old days when princes would murder their brothers and any other familial rival…Hey, at least they were honest.)

This sad capitalistic story keeps replaying itself in American, and if you want, you can make a bag of popcorn and watch it unfold, as mega-bucks mutant freak corporation Comcast grows bigger and bigger….But be warned, watching it unfold may require shelling out big bucks to Comcast for an internet bundle plan.

Continue reading “Article “The internet is fucked” | The Verge”

Privilege and the Pill: Pro-lifer on supporting access to birth control

“Birth control should be an important topic to those of us who consider ourselves pro-life because the most effective way to curb the abortion rate in this country is to make birth control more affordable and accessible…”

“….those who oppose coverage of birth control based on their religious or pro-life convictions must take into consideration the fact that lack of coverage may actually lead to more abortions. And we must remember that shrugging off birth control as something people should be able to easily pay for on their own betrays some of our own economic privilege in this conversation…”

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