I’ve been asked to be a guest on a political podcast program. In preparation for the preparatory phone call (yes, I did mean that alliteration) the host’s questionnaire asked what my area of focus is and I had a hard time declaring that. I had never thought of self-defining in that way. Still, it was a worthy question, so I’ve been thinking about it.

Regular readers will have realized long ago that I wade in on many different political and social topics, like Republicans trying to destroy our democracy (they are) and ordinary citizens voting against their own interests (they aren’t – at least not consciously). Looking for a theme among so much variety has been a bit daunting, but I’ve had a breakthrough. It came via a recent Twitter post – more on that in a minute.

What I realized is that most of the posts that I offer, much of the passion and sometimes outrage in my gut, is in reaction to injustice – cruelty to people who deserve none of that,

like the War on Drugs, which was and is actually a war on poor Black men;

like the kaleidoscope of voting rights destruction laws and the perps who crush others’ rights;

like unjust, stupid and illegal wars, like Dubya’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which accomplished little more than getting a lot of people killed, displacing millions and causing yet greater chaos and cruelty.

That last was the trigger to my clarity, because I read Daniel Ellsberg’s Twitter letter last weekend and the dots started looking like a picture. Here’s why.

l graduated from college In 1968 and instantly lost my 2-S deferment, setting me up for a letter from Lyndon Johnson instructing me to show up for a pre-induction physical. Through a slightly engineered quirk, I became a 1-Y, which was likely life saving, as LBJ had ramped up our presence in Vietnam to 549,500 men. A total of 2,594,000 men were destined to become canon fodder in that hopeless war. I could have been one of them, pointlessly slogging through rice paddies with a bulls eye on my back.
In 1971 Daniel Ellsberg copied the Pentagon Papers and they were published first in The New York Times, then in The Washington Post and other newspapers. They revealed the ongoing years of lies that kept the Vietnam death parade going.
I don’t know if it’s measurable, but my notion is that his actions helped to end that war sooner. Perhaps some men slightly younger than me were never called to their pre-induction physicals because of Ellsberg’s courage.
He’s now nearly 92 and has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Here’s a link to his Twitter letter about it all, including the Pentagon Papers, his lifelong crusade to prevent nuclear war, his cancer and more. In the process of reading his letter, especially his comments about the Pentagon Papers, I came to realize that he was fighting against cruel injustice back then and, really, has been ever since.
That’s when those aforementioned dots crystalized into a vivid picture. It’s the injustice and the lies of the powerful that trigger me. That’s what I’ll tell that podcast host is my focus.
I’m no Daniel Ellsberg. I don’t know that I would have had his courage to stand up to the liars in and around government in that critical moment. The connection is simply about the clarity that came to me thanks to Ellsberg’s words and actions.
I urge you to click through and read Ellsberg’s letter. It’s about a life well lived in service to others. Those others include all the boys who didn’t have to go to Vietnam to die for the injustice of cruel and lethal lies.
Late Addition: Walgreen’s Update

From STAT:

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state would no longer do business with Walgreens in response to the pharmacy chain’s plans to stop dispensing abortion pills in 20 states. Walgreens now appears to have backtracked, saying in a recent statement it “plans to dispense Mifepristone in any jurisdiction where it is legally permissible to do so.”

That’s a turnaround, as Walgreen’s previously appeared to have caved in to threats from 20 Republican state attorneys general to sue the company for doing something legal.

Today is a good day to be the light.


  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!
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9 Responses to Injustice
  1. Joan Lindgren Reply

    Walgreens didn’t change their stance on the goodness of their hearts. There was an email shout out for people to sign the petition and tell Walgreens that we weren’t going to buy from them anymore…and that was the “change of heart.” Pretty bad that a big chain would give in to the will of Republicans without regard to the women they serve!! Their job is to dispense medicines that doctors say people needed, not make a religious or political statement by not selling that pill!!

    • Jay Becker Reply

      Absolutely, not “out of the kindness of their hearts.” We protested in front of the Walgreens corporate offices in the Loop last Friday, here’s WGN’s coverage

      We will be rallying at 3 pm today at State & Jackson for Abortion on Demand & Without Apology Everywhere. Our “blue states” are already overwhelmed, and as the Republican AGs’ action shows, the anti’s are not stopping at any state borders!

    • Jay Becker Reply

      Just read this in the NY Times DealBook financial daily:
      “Walgreens isn’t really changing course for now. A company spokesman told The Times that the chain would “dispense this medication wherever we legally can,” but that “at the same time we have to follow the law.” Meanwhile, its rivals — including CVS and Rite Aid, as well as retailers with big pharmacy arms — are staying quiet.

      The stakes are high for these companies: Pharmacies fear losing their state operating licenses, and they worry that their staff could face physical danger from extremists.”
      More doublespeak. They should worry about extremist attacks; history is clear, however. Capitulating to their demands only emboldens them.

      • Jack Altschuler Reply

        Consider the likely or actual pressure applied to Walgreen’s by these Red state attorney general thugs. The filing of a lawsuit in states where the drug is legal would be an invitation – a directive, even – to angry militants to boycott Walgreen’s – or worse.

        See my post this Sunday.

  2. Jay Becker Reply

    Today is International Women’s Day, the first in this country since women and girls became second class citizens by order of the “Supreme” Court. This is the biggest reversal of an established civil and human right in this country’s history. And the onslaught continues. I will not believe Walgreens has reversed their policy until they publicly retract their letter to the 20 Attorneys General who merely threatened legal action. Governors Newsom and Pritzker have spoken out and taken action. The Biden Administration? Crickets. We will have to restore our rights the way we won them: through our own independent action, in the streets and every corner of society. Elections alone did even win us the right to vote.

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      It’s so sad to be able to accurately say, “You’re right.” It shouldn’t have to be this way.

      Thanks for all you do, Jay.

  3. Jim Altschuler Reply

    Making every effort to put personal bias aside, I have to say that you don’t pull punches, you tell it like you see it based on collected facts and evidence, and public opinion re: your writings has, to the best of my knowledge, never dissuaded you. I expect that your input to the podcast will be most beneficial. Thank you in advance for your participation.