Sunday, October 31, 2010

Samhain

Leonora Carrington - Samhain Skin (1975)

Samhain. Halloween. The time of twilight power. Opening doors between worlds. Celtic new year. End & beginning. The rainbow serpent devours its own tail. The great crows speak. The sacred dances w/ the profane. The wheel is turning, ever onward, from ages too ancient to name, into futures too distant to even imagine. Light & darkness, and death, & that which envelopes both, pervading both, imbuing each w/ the other. Can you feel it?

Richard Power's seventh book, Between Shadow and Night: The Singularity in Anticipation of Itself, is now available. Here are links to purchase it from Amazon.com, or from CreateSpace.

You can also visit Richard Power author's page at Amazon.com.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

2010 Mid-Term Elections: I'm Done Making Excuses for the Electorate. Is This A Nation of Fools?

Rene Magritte, Clear Ideas, 1958


The Tea Party movement is remarkable in two respects. It is one of the biggest exercises in false consciousness the world has seen – and the biggest Astroturf operation in history. These accomplishments are closely related. George Monbiot, The Tea Parties: Deluded and Propelled by Billionaires, Guardian, 10-25-10

The United States Chamber of Commerce is running an unprecedented $75 million campaign to unseat progressives from Congress, in defense of a big-oil agenda. As a ThinkProgress investigation has learned Chamber’s donors — who send their checks to the same account from which the political campaign is run — include multinational oil corporations, and even oil companies owned by the Kingdom of Bahrain. Think Progress, 10-23-10

"On Tuesday, I asked Sarah Palin to use her influential voice to stop attempted incidents of domestic terrorism incited by right-wing extremists like Glenn Beck. By telling Beck, 'I stand with you,' Palin -- Fox News' star contributor -- now associates herself with acts of violence and the insane conspiracy theories and hate speech behind them. David Brock, Media Matters, 10-28-10

2010 Mid-Term Elections: I'm Done Making Excuses for the Electorate. Is This A Nation of Fools?

By Richard Power


Fellow citizens, I am finished making excuses for you.

Over the last decade, I focused my ire on the US mainstream news media and the US political establishment. Oh, I was correct in my analysis of their roles in our decline and fall.

The US mainstream news media did abandon the role Jefferson envisioned for a free press in a democratic society, and chose instead to bend minds and fabricate "consensus" for its corporatist overlords.

And the political establishment in Beltwayistan did abandon the representation of the electorate, and chose instead to do the corporatists' dirty work of scuttling the commons and undermining the rule of law.

But all along I kept giving you a pass.

"If you knew better, you would do better," I told myself; if the nightly news anchors and Sunday morning punditry hadn't played you, you would have acted differently, and in a wiser, and more humane way. If your leaders had shown more courage of vision in their own words and deeds, you would have responded, I also told myself; you would have followed them, and protected them against the viciousness that lies in wait for those who dare to lead in the direction of the truth.

Maybe I was wrong about you. We will know more on Election Day, November 2, 2010.

Either way, I am done making excuses for you. What happens now is your responsibility. It is in your hands. You do have a real choice, a meaningful choice; and it is not a choice between one ideology and another, it is a choice between sanity and madness, and between life and death.

Is this a nation of fools?

Bitter Irony

The bitter irony of the 2010 mid-term election is that the U.S. House of Representatives under the Speakership of Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is the one body of the U.S. federal government that actually moved forcefully, and with clarity of mind, on the moral imperatives before us; and yet, it is also the one that almost every propapunditgandist in Beltwayistan wants you to believe is already lost. Madness. Madness upon madness, really.

After all, we are just now finishing a long campaign cycle in which the only candidates who brought up the greatest national security threat of our age, i.e., the Climate Crisis, were those who seek to convince you that it is a hoax. Well, Speaker Pelosi and the House passed a meaningful Climate Change bill that would have re-asserted US leadership on the dire issue of global urgency, only to have it killed in the U.S. Senate.

Go down the list of vital issues; one every one it was the House that delivered the best and the most. For example, yes, POTUS signed healthcare reform that will reduce the federal deficit by almost a trillion dollars, ensure that 30 million US citizens who were uninsured won't be, build or expand 10,000 free clinics, and get rid of not only the sadistic "pre-existing condition" and the crushing ceiling on lifetime costs, etc.; but Speaker Pelosi and the House passed one with a PUBLIC OPTION. It was stripped out, of course, in the compromise that had to be crafted to make even reconciliation work.

Social Security

Social security is not broken.
It could operate without a hiccup for the next thirty years. But if for some reason you want to think ahead for a change, what should you do to ensure its robustness for the conceivable future? Raise the retirement age? Cruel and unnecessary. Cut benefits? Certainly, not to those who need that check. Privatize it? Insanity, except for those on Wall Street who would profit from the privatization, and don't need (or don't think they need) a social safety net. So what needs to be done? Raise the cap on what the wealthy pay into the social security system. Period. Yes, it is that simple.

Austerity vs. Stimulus

If you wrap yourself in the sanctimonious call for fiscal austerity, but don't want to to repeal Bush's tax cuts, or deal with the insanity of the two foolish military adventures that Joe Stiglitz now says is costing upward of $4-$6 trillion dollars, you are a hypocrite. If you wrap yourself in the sanctimonious call for fiscal austerity, but want to repeal a health care reform law that the CBO has said will reduce the federal deficit by almost a trillion dollars, you are a hypocrite.

Fiscal austerity for its own sake will not turn around our economic decline. Indeed, it will make our circumstances worse. The rich will continue to get richer, the middle class will continue to get squeezed out of existence, and the poor will be devoured. But if we pursue the avenues of reducing the deficit I have mentioned, we will also have the wherewithal to write the check for the massive stimulus (that's right, the Obama stimulus was effective in buying us some time, but it was too small to turn this around, and yes, some of us told you so). With that stimulus money, we could rebuild are collapsing infrastructure and transform this nation into one that runs on green energy. We could jump-start our economy long enough to take a hard look at foundational damage done by the canard of "free trade" (i.e., deindustrialization) and decide how best to deal with it in a 21st Century way.

"Unqualified, and Unstable"

Keith Olbermann delivered a magnificent Special Comment for you to ponder in the final hours before the mid-term election; in his remarkable screed, he aptly described the "Teabagger" phenomena as "a group of unqualified, unstable individuals who will do what they are told, in exchange for money and power, and march this nation as far backward as they can get, backward to Jim Crow, or backward to the breadlines of the '30s, or backward** to hanging union organizers, or backward to the Trusts and the Robber Barons."

Olbermann also provided a litany of ghastly indicators of what kind of foulness has been loosed upon you:

The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for senator from Nevada, Sharron Angle, compared rape to, quoting, "a lemon situation in lemonade." She would deny an abortion even to a teenaged girl who had been raped by her own father. The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate to be the only Congressman in Delaware, Glen Urquhart, said "there is no problem that abortion can't make worse. I know good friends who are the product of rape." ... The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for the Senate in West Virginia, John Raese, explained, "I made **my** money the old-fashioned way, I inherited it." ... The Tea-Party-and-Republican-candidate in the Indiana 9th, Todd Young, says "Social Security, as so many of you know is a Ponzi scheme." ... The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for Senator in Alaska, Joe Miller, says ... unemployment insurance is unconstitutional ... Mr. Miller also called Medicaid unconstitutional ... Mr. Miller also claims Social Security is unconstitutional ... Mr. Buck of Colorado said the 17th amendment "took us down the wrong path." The 17th amendment, of course, permits the direct election by the voters of U.S. Senators ... The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for Senator from Kentucky Rand Paul wishes to repeal the 14th amendment because it interferes with a private business's right to ban black people from its premises, and also because it allows anyone born here in America to be American. Olbermann: If the Tea Party wins, America loses, MSNBC Countdown, 10-27-10

None of these statements were taken out of context. Any of one these statements alone should disqualify the individual who uttered it from representing you in the House or the Senate. Any one of these statement alone cancels out any other reason you might have for voting for any one of these candidates. And yet, how many of these individuals do you project will be elected on November 2nd? Tragically, absurdly, most of them, possibly all of them.

Yes, indeed, whatever happens in this mid-term election, I'm done making excuses for you, America. You should never have allowed it to get this far.

Republicans are to blame for allowing their party to be taken over by sociopathic corporatists (ala Ayn Rand) at the top and a reincarnation of the John Birch Society at the bottom; Democrats are to blame for allowing their own party to be dangerously compromised in the desperate struggle to compete for campaign cash; Independents are to blame for listening too much to the likes of Tom Friedman, David Brooks, David Gergen, Bob Woodward, and Jim Lehrer, and being lulled to sleep by their fairy tales about the political center.

The truth about the political center is that it has taken refuge in the Democratic Party; the Democratic Party actually has a left, a center and a right. But it doesn't work, because this is not a one-party system. So by the time a policy position comes out of the Democratic Party in one or the other legislative body, it has to be comprised yet again to deal with the reality of a Republican Party gone wholly hard right. So by the time any legislation is passed, it is right of center at best; and in the process, the entire political spectrum keeps getting shoved farther and farther to the right. (In the past, the best legislation has come out of a creative tension between true liberalism and true conservatism.)

The Republican Party has gone over the cliff, do not let it drag you down with it.

Listen, it's not "big government" that threatens you at this moment in our history, it is predatory capitalism, which has subjugated government as its agent and you as its chattel.

So yeah, I'm done with you, either way. Finished. Oh, I will continue to speak out, continue to try to reach people, but I won't go easy on you anymore, and if the worst happens next Tuesday, I certainly won't expect anything more than even worse from you in what future remains. But if you do rise to the moment, and send these psychos back home to the hell of their own minds, maybe we can work together to save the nation and the planet.

Make sure you watch this brilliant short video: Save the Future

Visit Richard Power author's page at Amazon.com.

Hard Rain Late Night: Esperanza Spalding - Body and Soul (Sao Paolo, 2008)

Esperanza Spalding - Body and Soul (Sao Paolo, 2008)

Monday, October 18, 2010

As the 21st Century's 1st Decade Ends, the Planet Sizzles & Human Rights Goes Up in Smoke; Yet, However Inevitable It Seems, Failure is Not an Option

Mark Rothko - Earth and Green (1955)



As the 21st Century's 1st Decade Ends, the Planet Sizzles & Human Rights Goes Up in Smoke; Yet, However Inevitable It Seems, Failure is Not an Option

By Richard Power


The first decade of the 21st Century seems to be ending in chaos and delusion. It is difficult to conclude otherwise. The overarching theme has been one of massive failure, both nationally and internationally, a failure of collective conscience, a failure of political will, and yes, even a failure of common sense.

The latest round of climate talks, in Tianjin, China, did nothing to break the stalemate of last year’s failed Copenhagen meeting -- an outcome that was as predictable as it is maddening. The reality is that the most powerful delegates had nothing to lose from prolonging the standoff. But the one point of consensus, sadly, was a mutual disregard for the fate of millions of the world’s poorest people, who have the most to lose as the planet melts down. Michelle Chen, Color Lines, 10-16-10

[Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground (wunderground.com)] doesn’t pull punches: “The ignorance and greed that human society is showing in this matter will be to our ultimate detriment and possible destruction,” he says. Climate Progress, 10-16-10

“What we need more than anything else is a mass movement of young people,” Peter Goldmark, director of EDF’s Climate and Air Program ... “My generation has failed,” he says flatly. “We are handing over the problem to our children. They—and their children—will live with the worst consequences of climate change. Make no mistake, global warming is happening right now. It is only going to get worse.” Climate Progress, 10-14-10

The failure has not just been on the issue of the Climate Crisis, and the underlying Sustainability Crisis, of which climate change is simply the most urgent dimension (the others include population, food security and water); the failure is also related to great nations' utter disregard for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights whenever its tenets prove inconvenient.

Article 3 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: "Everyone has the right to life, liberty & security of person."

This defining document was adopted by U.N. General Assembly in 1948. It stands as the Conscience of the Human Race. You cannot serve it by violating it, or avoid it by ignoring its existence. It is not an ideal, it is the interior reality of the human spirit; deny, denigrate, and defile it, and you deny, denigrate and defile yourself.
Max Ernst - Fishbone Forest (1927)


But a generational failure in leadership has allowed the security situation in Darfur to continue to deteriorate, while those responsible for GENOCIDE still rule in Karthoum:

China has mounted a strenuous diplomatic campaign to block the publication of a U.N. report that claims that Chinese ammunition has been shipped into Darfur in the past year, in clear violation of U.N. sanctions, according to several U.N. diplomatic sources. Washington Post, 10-16-10

The Lord’s Resistance Army is operating in Darfur, a member of the National Assembly has said. MP Mohamed Adam said that a group of LRA forces entered the market of Birao town in Central African Republic (CAR), on the border with Sudan. They seized food supplies and headed to the Sudanese border. The lawmaker considered that these movements constitute a security breakdown. Radio Dabanga, 10-18-10

A generational failure in leadership has allowed the Congo to become the "rape capital of the world" (15,000 women raped in eastern Congo last year) in process of pursuing tantalum, tungsten, and gold for cell phones and other electronics:

Many of Congo's rape survivors took to the streets Sunday to speak out against sexual violence in a country where it has become a weapon of war. "My heart is in pain, why are you raping me?" sang the rape victims, many of whom left hospital beds to join the march in eastern Congo. CNN, 10-18-10

Lieutenant Colonel Mayele, was arrested in an operation by Indian peacekeepers with the MONUSCO mission on October 5. [Margot Wallstrom, UN special envoy on sexual violence against women in conflict] praised the Indian soldiers and called the arrest of Mayele an "important precedent". "When commanders can no longer rest easy in the certainty of impunity, when it begins to cross their mind that they may be turned in by their own, for commissioning or condoning rape, this is the moment when we open a new front in the battle to end impunity," she said. Agence France Press, 10-15-10

A generational failure in leadership has allowed Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi to remain under house arrest for 15 out of the last 21 years, while the Junta thugs continue to oppress Burma's long-suffering people, and grow rich on the plundering of its natural resources.

“She told me she wants to use Twitter to get in touch with the younger generation inside and outside the country,” he said. “She wishes to be able to tweet every day and keep in touch.” Suu Kyi has no phone line or any access to the Internet, though she has a laptop computer, Nyan Win said. He described her as computer- and tech-savvy and adept with electronic gadgets. Under the rules of her detention, Suu Kyi is allowed to read state-controlled newspapers and private local news journals and magazines, to listen to the radio and to watch state-run television but she has no satellite dish to receive foreign broadcasts. AP, 10-18-10

[NOTE: Aung San Suu Kyi is due to be released on Nov. 13th, several days after the "elections" that she has asked her fellow citizens to boycott. The whole world will, likely, NOT be watching, but some of us will be vigilant.]

Yes, after the night of hope at the Millennium was canceled out by the sociopaths who seized the White House in the 2000 election, and the second night of hope eight years later, in Grant Park, was canceled out by the oligarchy's last line of defense in the U.S. Senate, it is difficult to believe that we can pull out of this steep downward spiral. But just as a parent puts on a brave face for his or her children, so must we; and just as a parent cannot give up or walk away, we must create hope where there is none. Yes, we must do the impossible now that the possible has been allowed to slip away.

Everything and everyone everywhere is connected. Pull any of the threads completely free and the whole grotesque tapestry will begin to unravel.

Here are some urgent tasks ...

If you are a U.S. citizen, on November 2nd, I implore you to vote FOR science and AGAINST superstition, FOR courage and AGAINST fear, FOR the future and AGAINST extinction.

It has become very easy to distinguish one from other.

Meet The Deniers: The Top Climate Races This November, Think Progress, 9-17-10

Governors 2010: Climate change deniers threaten the Northeast RGGI climate compact, Climate Progress, 10-17-10

Climate denialism explained, Peter Daou, 10-18-10

Have you joined in the 100 Days of Action on Sudan? Actor and activist George Clooney has claimed that Sudan is "90 days away from disaster" during a visit to the White House. You can help George Clooney and Jon Prendergast prevent the next Darfur. Go to http://www.sudanactionnow.org/take-action and send a message to POTUS to ratchet up the pressure.



To follow events in Darfur and Sudan, go to Mia Farrow's site, it is the real-time journal of a humanitarian at work; the content is compelling, insightful and fiercely independent.

For more info on what is going on in the Congo, and how to end it, go to Enough's Raise Hope for the Congo.

To follow events in Burma, go to Irrawaddy, and while you are at it, support this non-profit media group in its efforts to deliver "accurate and impartial" news about this troubled nation and its neighbors.

Do you know why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love? Go to 350.org for the answer.

Visit Richard Power author's page at Amazon.com.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Instant Karma: On the Day After 10/10/10, and the Day After the Day After, Keep the Beacon Lit on the Climate Crisis and Darfur


Instant Karma's gonna get you,
Gonna knock you right on the head,
You better get yourself together,
Pretty soon you're gonna be dead,
What in the world you thinking of,
Laughing in the face of love,
What on earth you tryin' to do,
It's up to you, yeah you.
John Lennon, Instant Karma

Instant Karma: On the Day After 10/10/10, and the Day After the Day After, Keep the Beacon Lit on the Climate Crisis and Darfur

By Richard Power


On Saturday, 10/9/10, in Reykjavik, Iceland, Yoko Ono lit the geothermal-powered Imagine Peace beacon on what would have been John Lennon's seventieth birthday. Inaugurated on October 9th, 2007, the beacon will remain lit every year until December 8th, the anniversary of his death by assassination; it is also lit on the Winter Solstice, the Gregorian calendar New's Year and the first week of Spring.

The Imagine Peace Tower, with its title inscribed on the Well in 24 Languages, is a symbol to the famous couple's dedication to peace throughout their marriage and Yoko Ono's continuing mission ... One of the alluring features of the artwork is that the strength, intensity and brilliance of the light from the Imagine Peace Tower continually changes with the prevailing weather and atmospheric conditions unique to Iceland - creating a clear pillar of light on a cloudless night, iridescent in the rain or snow, and brilliantly reflecting off and through any layers of cloud.

On Sunday, 10/10/10, Bill McKibben's 350.org led the largest global action in human history to attempt to turn the wheel on the Climate Crisis, which is no less than the greatest challenge of our age. The 10/10/10 action consisted of 7,347 work parties in 188 countries.

In Budapest, participants were fed a delicious lunch and encouraged to commit to abiding by a 50 kilometer diet for a month, i.e., consume no food grown more than 50 kilometers from where they live. In Moscow, Greenpeace Russia organized an acorn harvest; the 3000 kg of acorns will be used for reforestation after the forest fires that devastated the region this past summer. "In the Democratic Republic of Congo, war refugees will plant a "Forest of Hope" while in Iraq, students will install solar panels on the roof of the University of Babylon." (AFP, 10/10/10) In NYC's Harlem, people painted roofs white. In Costa Rica, ten people planted ten trees in less than sixty five seconds. In Chumey, Bhutan, young people cleaned up their river and displayed their 350 quilt calling on global leaders to pass clean energy policies.

Meanwhile, George Clooney went to Darfur and asked the right question:

If you knew a tsunami was coming ... what would you do to save people?" (AFP, 10/6/10)

The UN Security Council ambassadors also went to Darfur, but they failed to ask or answer the right questions:

In the week before the UN Security Council arrived in Darfur, the village of Sora “was completely burned down” as part of “intense ground fighting and aerial attacks in Eastern Jebel Marra.” ... But the destruction of Sora, and the systematic dismantling of the Kalma Internally Displace Persons camp, were not highlighted to the Council ambassadors by the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Georg Charpentier.
Not a single question about Darfur was taken at the press conference on Saturday ending the UN Security Council's mission to Sudan. In the basement of the luxury Rotana Hotel, the outgoing Public Information Officer of the UN Mission in Sudan chose five questions, all about the North - South referendum, including questions from the UN's own media. Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press, 10-9-10

We are in the throes of 100 Days of Action on Sudan, leading up to this "referendum."

Take a moment, and send POTUS a message. Tell him to sack Scott "Pollyana" Gration.

If you want some talking points, refer to Eric Reeves latest analysis:

Gration is either appallingly ignorant or chillingly cynical: even after a year-
and-a-half as special envoy, he remains peculiarly opaque. Certainly it’s no
secret that U.S. policy toward Sudan has deemphasized Darfur. But to
embrace “enthusiastically” the plan, the “strategy” of a regime that has
violated every commitment it has ever made, that has reneged on every
agreement it has ever signed with a Sudanese party—every one—is a
decision that deserves serious scrutiny, particularly since Gration’s remarks
were reported only in the Sudan Tribune ... The enthusiastic embrace of this plan
by the AU, the UN, and the United States is a measure of how fully Darfur
has been abandoned, how little the words of outrage from President Obama
really mean, and how attenuated the chances are for any sort of peace
agreement. The world has signaled to Khartoum’s génocidaires that they are
free to go about their business in Darfur; and as the killings in Tabarat
demonstrate, business is brisk.
Eric Reeves, Dissent, 10-8-10

Oh yes, and remember to vote on November 2nd.

Here is a statement of political reality that should make your decisions painfully simple:

“The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones.” Ron Brownstein, National Journal, quoted in Climate Progress, 10/10/10

In other words, if you vote Republican in this election, you are voting for the degradation of life on this planet. Understood?

Thank you, Yoko, for building the Imagine Peace Tower, and lighting the beacon again this year. May all of us mirror this positivity and kindness back to you in courageous words and valorous deeds.

Meanwhile, I encourage you to find out why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love: go to 350.org for the answer.

And as always, I encourage you to follow events in Darfur on Mia Farrow's site, it is the real-time journal of a humanitarian at work; the content is compelling, insightful and fiercely independent.

Visit Richard Power author's page at Amazon.com.

John Lennon, Instant Karma

Hard Rain Late Night: Alice Coltrane - Turiya and Ramakrishna / Ptah the El Daoud (1970)

Hard Rain Late Night: Alice Coltrane - Turiya and Ramakrishna / Ptah the El Daoud (1970)

Friday, October 01, 2010

If the wild lives in your psyche, it cannot be lost; if your psyche lives in the wild, it cannot be broken.


50,000 year old Abo cave paintings in Mutawintji National Park (130 km N.W. of Broken Hill, on the road to Tibooburra)

These hands touch me. 50,000 years they have been open, 50,000 years they have been asking, 50,000 years they have been welcoming, 50,000 years they have been reaching out to feel for the throbbing life of the universe.

Ancient rock art in Tadrart Acacus in Libya (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

If the wild lives in your psyche, it cannot be lost; if your psyche lives in the wild, it cannot be broken.


Magura Cave (Bulgarian: Магурата)

There is a voice, a chorus of voices really, speaking to us from the walls of ancient caves throughout the world. The images that echo these voices bring us a profound clarity and sacredness absent from the dominant culture of this time we journey in ... Remember to return to them, and to listen to them with your eyes ...

-- Richard Power