Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs. From my favorite spot on the floor I can look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. Diary of Anne Frank, 2/23/44
Her Chestnut Tree has Fallen; Remember, Economic Insecurity Spiraling Downward into a Bottomless Pit Caused the Madness from which Anne Frank Fled into that Attic
Yes, the chestnut tree outside the attic where Anne Frank hide from the S.S. has finally fallen; not from the axe of a neo-Nazi or the explosives-laden vest of a jihadist, but from more or less natural causes.
All things pass away ...
But the truth endures, everlasting.
Unfortunately, its enemies, although not eternal, are seemingly perennial.
For example, horror did not departed this world when the death camps of Eastern Europe were liberated.
Nearly 200 women and four baby boys were gang-raped by Rwandan and Congolese rebels in a brazen attack near a UN peacekeepers' base, aid workers have reported.Guardian, 8-24-10
A federal district judge on Monday blocked President Obama's 2009 executive order that expanded embryonic stem cell research, saying it violated a ban on federal money being used to destroy embryos. The ruling came as a shock to scientists at the National Institutes of Health and at universities across the country ... The court order, delivered by a notoriously conservative Reagan appointee, seems intent on turning back the clock many years.Steve Benen, Political Animal, Washington Monthly, 8-24-10
Understanding the secret life of the forest, I know that the falling of a tree is always a moment of great power as well as an omen of some change for better and/or worse.
Remember, the madness from which Anne Frank hide in that attic took hold of a society in the throes of economic collapse and geopolitical defeat.
Opportunities loom before us; opportunities to alter our trajectory by choosing well.
Three in particular preoccupy me in the shadow of that fallen tree: the great obscenity, the great lie and the great shame.
What will we do about the great obscenity of Bush's surplus-busting tax cuts?
What’s at stake here? According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, making all of the Bush tax cuts permanent, as opposed to following the Obama proposal, would cost the federal government $680 billion in revenue over the next 10 years ... And where would this $680 billion go? Nearly all of it would go to the richest 1 percent of Americans, people with incomes of more than $500,000 a year. But that’s the least of it: the policy center’s estimates say that the majority of the tax cuts would go to the richest one-tenth of 1 percent ... And the average tax break for those lucky few — the poorest members of the group have annual incomes of more than $2 million, and the average member makes more than $7 million a year — would be $3 million over the course of the next decade.Paul Krugman, New York Times, 8-23-10
What will we do about the great lie that says Social Security is broke and breaking us?
President Obama’s Deficit Commission is all smoke and mirrors. Its members are making a big show of laboring over ”painful” choices and considering all options in their quest to bring down the deficit. But inside the Beltway everyone knows what’s going to happen: The commission will reduce the deficit on the backs of the old and the poor, through cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Some opponents have taken to calling it the Cat Food Commission, since that’s what its victims will be forced to eat once the commission gets done slashing away at their modest entitlements. James Ridgeway, This Can't Be Happening, 8-23-10
(There is nothing wrong with Social Security that could not be fixed by having the wealthiest pay the same percent of their income into the system as the most hard-pressed already pay into it. And although the Deficit is huge, and dangerous, it is not the greatest threat we face, and it could be addressed in many ways other than incrementally dismantling our all too meager social safety net, e.g., rethink our national security strategy in a revolutionary way.)
What will we do about our great shame, i.e., that the 1960s War on Poverty was replaced by a long War on the Poor, one that has intensified with each decade since the Reagan Counter-Revolution took the White House in 1980?
Parental neglect, racial discrimination and an orgy of self-destructive behavior have left an extraordinary portion of the black male population in an ever-deepening pit of social and economic degradation. The Schott Foundation for Public Education tells us in a new report that the on-time high school graduation rate for black males in 2008 was an abysmal 47 percent, and even worse in several major urban areas — for example, 28 percent in New York City. The astronomical jobless rates for black men in inner-city neighborhoods are both mind-boggling and heartbreaking. There are many areas where virtually no one has a legitimate job. Bob Herbert, New York Times, 8-20-10
If we were to respond with clarity of mind and unconditional love to the obscenity, the lie and the shame, we could let go of that fallen tree with less sadness, and more hope. But if we go the other way, and allow greed to continue its reign, naked except for a few false memes pasted on it like random pages torn from Atlas Shrugged ... well, remember, it was economic insecurity spiraling downward into a bottomless pit that led to the madness from which Anne Frank fled into that attic ... Tell me, do you think there would be a tree left to be seen from the window in that attic?
Sunset doesn't last all evening, a mind can blow those clouds away. after all this my love is up and must be leaving. It's not always going to be this grey. All things must pass, all things must pass away.
Yes, but truth abides. And truth is beauty, and beauty is truth.
The Wheel of Dharma and the Wheel of Fortune are synonymous. Embrace the mystery of how this is so. (Free will & determinism are dangerous half-truths.) This Wheel of Life turns ceaselessly, you cannot speed it up or slow it down; you can only flow it. Within us is another wheel (like Ezekiel's "wheel within a wheel"). It cannot be sped up or slowed down either. If you attempt to slow down or speed up either one, you will be ground under and dragged over and around, again and again. Wisdom is learning to flow with these wheels, even when they turn in opposite directions.
The truth is simple, the path is direct, the practice is unfailing, and although the reality is paradoxical, it is immediately accessible to any one who surrenders to it: when the mind is quiet, the heart opens; when the heart opens, the mind becomes quiet. Unconditional love and choiceless awareness are the two side of one coin; its substance is your own primordial nature. Live this.
The great Nyingma sage Longchen Rabjam (1308–1369) said: "In awakened mind, appearances & emptiness have never existed. But do not fixate on non-duality, for the inconceivable miraculous display still occurs." In other words, live life with open eyes, probing mind, and healing heart. Know that all that happens, good and bad, is forged in Divine Paradox. Know that our role is both to be and do. Being and doing with awakened mind is simply approaching life's challenges and opportunities (both individually and collectively) with unconditional love and clarity of mind. The particulars are different for every individual and in every circumstance.
Diego Rivera's mural of life in Aztec times; City of Tenochtitlan (photo by Wolfgang Sauber) Think tank the New Economics Foundation (NEF) look at how much food, fuel and other resources are consumed by humans every year. They then compare it to how much the world can provide without threatening the ability of important ecosystems like oceans and rainforests to recover. This year the moment we start eating into nature's capital or ‘Earth Overshoot Day' will fall on 21st August, a full month earlier than last year, when resources were used up by 23rd September. ... "The banking crisis taught us the danger of a system that goads us to live beyond our means financially," he said. "A greater danger comes from a consumer culture and economic policy that pushes us to live beyond our means ecologically."Mankind Is Using Up Global Resources Faster Than Ever, Telegraph/UK, 8-16-10
We had an extraordinary event in northern Pakistan, where ten times the normal annual rainfall for one of those areas fell in four days. This is unprecedented. And, of course, you see the similar sorts of things happening in Africa, in Asia, in Central America. The farmers no longer know when to plant, because the rains don’t come at the time they used to come. All these are the kind of effects of climate change that we’ve feared and are beginning to come to pass, I’m afraid.UN Humanitarian Chief John Holmes: The Magnitude of the Pakistan Floods Is Unprecedented, Democracy Now, 8-17-10
Running on Empty: Humanity on the Brink ... As An Empire Buckles Under the Weight of Its Own Delusion, What Can We Salvage? Love & Survival?
By Richard Power
This is the newscast you are denied. This is the newscast you need to hear.
Another empire is collapsing under its own weight. Only an evolutionary leap can rescue the planet (as we know it) and redeem this civilization (or at least the promise of what it could have been). But we are all running on empty. Those who think they are not, simply haven't burned through their illusions yet.
While the nation teeters on the brink, the U.S. political establishment (a.k.a Beltwayistan) and the U.S. mainstream news media (a.k.a. Infotainmentstan) proffer up one ginned up distraction after another (the canard du jour is the "Ground Zero Mosque"); meanwhile ...
Al Gore: "Even while we are so painfully and so profoundly aware of the crisis in which we find ourselves, even as we recognize the common thread linking the climate crisis and the economic crisis and our national security challenges, the Senate has still failed us. The United States government as a whole has failed us. The House of Representatives did its job in large part because of your efforts."Gore: The United States government as a whole has failed us, Raw Story, 8-12-10
Has the most powerful military and economic force on the planet missed the window that would have opened into another century of hegemony?
Thirty-five years from now, America's official century of being top dog (1945-2045) will have come to an end; its time may, in fact, be running out right now ... If, however, we were to dismantle our empire of military bases and redirect our economy toward productive, instead of destructive, industries; if we maintained our volunteer armed forces primarily to defend our own shores (and perhaps to be used at the behest of the United Nations); if we began to invest in our infrastructure, education, health care, and savings, then we might have a chance to reinvent ourselves ... Instead, I foresee the U.S. drifting along, much as the Obama administration seems to be drifting along in the war in Afghanistan ... and I fear T.S. Eliot had it right when he wrote: "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper." Chalmers Johnson, The Guns of August: Lowering the Flag on the American Century, Tom Dispatch, 8-17-10
Nor will the Old Boss be replaced so easily by a New Boss. The new ruler will either be Chaos or Collective Common Sense, it won't be the Chinese:
Think of China as a giant production machine that's growing 10 percent a year (this year, somewhat less). The machine sucks in more and more raw materials and components from rest of world -- it's now the world's #1 buyer of iron ore and copper, and close to the #1 importer of crude oil -- and spews out a growing mountain of stuff, along with huge environmental problems. But because the Chinese consume a smaller and smaller proportion of this stuff, it has to be exported to consumers elsewhere (Europe, North America, Japan) to keep the Chinese working ... All over the world, we're witnessing a growing gap between production and consumption, while the environment continues to degrade. The Chinese machine is fast heading for a breakdown only because it's growing fastest.Robert Reich, The Truth About China As #2, 8-16-10
So what should be done? What could be done?
Mr. President, this is an emergency for all of humanity and particularly for its children. They will grow up in a world where weather will be life threatening, violent storms killing people in one area while unexpected droughts and expanding deserts drive people from their homes in others. It is likely that such chaos will cause people to fight over the most basic resources. Food scarcity will become extreme ... Mr. President, I urge you to declare a climate change emergency ... Once you have declared this emergency, it will be possible to create the Climate Change Agency to plan and direct a smooth changeover from fossil fuels to alternative energies. Peter Cohen, Truthout, 8-15-10
But what could be done, what should be done, probably won't be ... Why? Well, is there a reason that the deer caught in the headlights freezes instead of leaping for its life?
I keep hearing this song echoing in my head:
"I don't know where I'm running now, I'm just running on. Running on, running on empty. Running on, running blind. Running on, running into the sun But I'm running behind. Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive. Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive."
The United Nations ... graphically illustrated how severe the massive floods in Pakistan were by claiming that the number of people who would suffer as a result would exceed the aggregate from three recent major disasters ... worse than the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake combined.NewsTime, 8-9-10
Scorching heat and acrid smoke have nearly doubled death rates in Moscow ... as a shroud of smog from raging forest and peat fires beset Russia's capital for a third week. Firefighters battled wildfires covering 1,740 square km (672 sq miles) -- bigger than the area of Greater London ... Russia's worst heat wave for a millennium.Reuters, 8-9-10
“... an ice island four times the size of Manhattan was born in northern Greenland ... The freshwater stored in this ice island could keep the Delaware or Hudson rivers flowing for more than two years ... could also keep all U.S. public tap water flowing for 120 days...”University of Delaware, 8-6-10
Welcome to the Crisis that will Shape Reality for the Rest of Our Lives; Past Due Time to Tear Down the Concentric Walls of Ignorance, Fear & Greed
By Richard Power
The corporatist grip on the collective mind world has become a chokehold.
There are two ways in which truth and reality become elusive, one is a sign of spiritual evolution, the other is a sign of spiritual devolution. When you open your heart and mind to the interdependence of all life, an emerging transparency reveals human experience to an intricate matrix of divine paradoxes. But when you close your heart and mind to the interdependence of all life, you lose yourself in a seemingly endless maze built within concentric walls of ignorance, fear and greed.
Unfortunately, humanity in general, and this great nation in particular, seem to be locked into a devolutionary spiral, instead of an evolutionary one.
Welcome to the Climate Crisis, it will shape reality for the rest of our lives. And yet, too many on the right still deny the truth of what's going on. But perhaps, even worse, too many in the center, and on the left, acknowledge the truth, but refuse to treat it as the planetary emergency it is.
While Beltwayistan and Infotainmentstan distract themselves and delude the body politic, and fritter away this precious time we will never get back ...
“What’s happening with the planet’s climate right now needs to be a wake-up call to all of us, meaning all heads of state, all heads of social organizations, in order to take a more energetic approach to countering the global changes to the climate.” That’s [Russian President] Dmitri Medvedev ... in 14 regions of Russia, ”practically everything is burning” And so we have Hell and High Water, with Pakistan’s record flooding displacing millions: “The disaster has killed 1,200 people and there are fears that the death toll will rise steeply ... Climate Progress, 8-1-10
Maxine Waters Deserves Better, So Do the Oceans, So Does Darfur; But Even Burkino Faso's 55K New Latrines Aren't Enough to Rid Us of Greed and Cowardice
By Richard Power
Isn’t it ironic? The Chamber of Horrors spent over $30 million on the 2008 elections; in 2010, emboldened by Citizens United v. FEC, its is going to spend over $70 million (& don't forget many tens of millions more from the shadowy slush funds of Karl Rove and Haley Barbour). And yet, it is Maxine Waters (D-CA.), one of the most heroic leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives (see the inspiring You Tube clips below) that is facing "trial" in the House for an “ethics” violation. You can be certain that none of that Chamber of Horrors money (or that Rove and Barbour money) is going into her campaign coffers.
Yes, something is terribly wrong here, and no one, including and especially our well-intended POTUS, seems to be able to do much about it.
In 2008, I articulated four looming deadlines that were vital to the future of the nation and the planet: the US election in November 2008, the December 2009 UN conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen, the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015, and the rescue of Darfur, a deadline years overdue, and missed anew with every evening that the sun sets on that hell.
Only one of the four deadlines I identified has been met successfully. The Obama administration, however disappointing to progressives, is profoundly different than one led by the shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-John-McCain, and Sarah Palin, the disturbed, ignorant woman he chose to elevate to the national scene.
Two of the other three deadlines, i.e., Copenhagen and Darfur, have been missed by wide margins, and in shocking fashion.
The consequences are dire, both for conscience and for our civilization.
So what was the response of President Barack Obama’s special envoy for Sudan, former Air Force General Scott Gration? “The decision by the ICC to accuse Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir of genocide will make my mission more difficult….” This seems an extraordinarily cynical response to a critical moment in the effort to end impunity for atrocity crimes, precisely the impunity that sustains human suffering and destruction in Darfur … With no background on Sudan, no diplomatic experience, a perverse stubbornness, and a fundamentally flawed negotiating premise, Gration has failed and survives in his position only because President Obama—with whom he reportedly has a very close relationship—will not demand his resignation. But for the moment it seems important to contemplate the spectacle of an American diplomat publicly complaining that his job has been made more difficult because an international tribunal has issued an arrest warrant for the crime of genocide. If this is, as some suggest, Obama’s “Rwanda moment,” then he is being betrayed in deepest consequence by his special envoy for Sudan.Eric Reeves, The Annoyance of International, 7-26-10
Meanwhile, the planetary emergency that is the Climate Crisis is well underway, and yet the US political establishment and mainstream news media are still re-arranging deck chairs (quite clumsily, since their eyes are shut & their ears are plugged):
So it wasn’t the science, the scientists, or the economics that killed action on climate change. What was it? The answer is, the usual suspects: greed and cowardice. If you want to understand opposition to climate action, follow the money. The economy as a whole wouldn’t be significantly hurt if we put a price on carbon, but certain industries — above all, the coal and oil industries — would. And those industries have mounted a huge disinformation campaign to protect their bottom lines … By itself, however, greed wouldn’t have triumphed. It needed the aid of cowardice — above all, the cowardice of politicians who know how big a threat global warming poses, who supported action in the past, but who deserted their posts at the crucial moment. There are a number of such climate cowards, but let me single out one in particular: Senator John McCain ... Alas, Mr. McCain wasn’t alone; and there will be no climate bill. Greed, aided by cowardice, has triumphed. And the whole world will pay the price.Paul Krugman, New York Times, 7-25-10
And what of that fourth deadline in my doomed 2008 formulation, achieving the MDG by 2015?
So much that is terrible has happened since the affirmation of the UN MDG in 2000: notably, 9/11, 10 years of deceit and denial about the Climate Crisis, two foolish military adventures (i.e., Iraq and Afghanistan), Katrina, the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, global financial meltdown and economic descent, the slow motion genocide in Darfur, the unthinkable savagery against women in the Congo, the brutal crackdowns against Buddhist monks in Burma and Tibet, the Haitian earthquake, the BP ecocide in the Gulf, and so much more. Under the onslaught of all of this loss, it is difficult to even remember the MDG, let alone imagine that the positive impact of their achievement will not have been negated by all the wrong done, and all the good left undone (particularly in regard the Climate Crisis).
Nevertheless, across the planet, the effort is still pressing forward:
The government of Burkina Faso has embarked on the construction of 55,000 latrines each year to improve access to proper sanitation for the population from the present 10 percent to 54 percent by 2015. According to the authorities, the average rate of access to sanitation in urban areas is currently 20 percent, while in rural areas; it is as low as one percent in some areas.IPS, 7-31-10
Although Burkina Faso’s 55,000 new latrines will not save us; their installation is an evolutionary act, and worthy of celebration.
So what happens now?
It is a time of reckoning.
Colonialism, you need to understand, morphed into neo-colonialism, which morphed into a corporatist dominion, wrapped in false memes of "globalism" and "free trade."
Is our real problem clear to you yet?
The empires of old are gone, the Cold War is over, yes, yes; but the predators live on, and unchecked, unbridled, unregulated, unchallenged, their appetites have grown insatiable; no longer satisfied by feasting on the resources (human, mineral, etc.) of other lands, they have begun to feed on their own.
David Stockman bombshell: How my Republican Party destroyed the American economy. The "debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party’s embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don’t matter if they result from tax cuts."Joe Romm, Climate Progress, 8-1-10