Saturday, February 26, 2011

For Whom the Bell Tolls? "Partisan" is A Beautiful Word. From Tripoli to Madison, Reason and Madness Struggle At the Edge of An Abyss

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." John Donne, Meditation #17, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions

“Hundreds of cops have just marched into the Wisconsin state capitol building to protest the anti-Union bill, to massive applause. They now join up to 600 people who are inside.”
“Police have just announced to the crowds inside the occupied State Capitol of Wisconsin: ‘We have been ordered by the legislature to kick you all out at 4:00 today. But we know what’s right from wrong. We will not be kicking anyone out, in fact, we will be sleeping here with you!’ Unreal.”
BREAKING: Wisconsin Police Have Joined Protest Inside State Capitol, The Understory, 2-25-11

For Whom the Bell Tolls? "Partisan" is A Beautiful Word. From Tripoli to Madison, Reason and Madness Struggle At the Edge of An Abyss

By Richard Power

I did not go to school as a child, so I taught myself grammar by studying Ernest Hemingway's prose. I also had no father, so I took away vital knowledge about how a man should bear himself in the world, (for better and worse) from Hemingway's novels. Fortunately, before it was too late in my own life's journey, I turned away from alcohol, that curse of great writers, and so I did not end up in the same Cul-de-sac he found himself in at the end. In my youth, The Sun Also Rises was the most important of his books for me, but lately, For Whom The Bell Tolls has been reaching out to me from my memory.

After all, early on in the Aughts, following the SCOTUS installment of the Bush-Cheney regime in 2001, I had immersed myself in the history of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). To explore some lessons learned and unlearned by the progressive movement.

Remember, the Fascist Falange didn't have the majority of the populace behind them; they had the support of only 25% or 30% of the Spanish people. Indeed, the Popular Front (i.e., everyone on the center and the left) won the 1936 election. But the Fascists were ruthless, and very well-financed by the industrialists of Germany and Italy. Sound familiar?

The liberals wimped out at the critical moments of the crisis that led to Spain's fall. Today's Democratic Party leadership (with a few brave exceptions) looks a lot like those liberal Spaniards of the 1930s, and today's Democratic Party makes similarly maddening mistakes; mistakes that seem incomprehensible until you understand how much money it takes to hold on to power in a Plutocracy disguised as a democracy.

The socialists were strong, but unwanted by either the bankers of the West or the Stalinists of the East. Likewise, the anarchists, who were the most organized, the most trustworthy, the most courageous element. But while this numerically superior and ideologically broad-based center-left coalition fought with itself, and languished in geopolitical isolation; the diabolical, smash-mouthed Fascists took it all.

If you want to read the painful record, I recommend George Orwell's poignant Homage to Catalonia and Arturo Barea's remarkable Forging of A Rebel.

In the language of For Whom The Bell Tolls, "partisan" is a beautiful word, it is a red badge of courage worn by those willing to stand up for common humanity and the collective good.

And now, for the news ...


Talking about sanctions is almost obscene at this point; a madman has ordered his own civilian populace gunned down in the streets, a madman that the West has invested considerably in rehabilitating over the last decade or so, in spite of the slaughter of the innocents over Lockerbee. Nothing other than an immediate no fly zone has any meaning, or makes any sense (unless, of course, the Air Force has already abandoned him). But by the time such protection is put in place (if ever), the Libyans will likely have dealt with the tyrant on their own. He is looking more like Jim Jones with every photo-op, but they are not drinking the kool-aid.

It is breathtaking to see long-suffering peoples rise up against their oppressors, in Egypt, in Libya, and across the Arab world. It is inevitable, and necessary, and yes, just. But what will happen now? And what will the world look like even a year or two from now? As soon as the tyrant Mubarak fell, the tyrannical regime in Iran was sailing its war ships through the Suez Canal for the first time in many years. And, of course, there is the tale of CBS correspondent Lara Logan. CBS has said its chief foreign correspondent, Lara Logan, went through a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating by a frenzied mob in the square during Friday's celebrations of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's ouster. AP 2-17-11. Not a lot was made of it, but she was also taunted as a "Jew."

There is something whispering in the sands of Libya, it is a deep primordial vibration, it has whirled there, whispering in exquisite hues, at dawn and dusk, since before Berlusconi and Blair, before the Cold War, before Mussolini, before Islam, before the Greeks and the Romans ... I hope it rises again ...

It is a dangerous time, a time for courage, and vision.

Robert Fisk, the great foreign correspondent, offers vital perspective.

Gaddafi is so odd, his Green Book theories – dispatched by Benghazi demonstrators last week when they pulled down a concrete version of this particular volume – so preposterous, his rule so cruel (and he's been running the place for 42 years) that he is an Ozymandias waiting to fall. His flirtation with Berlusconi – worse still, his cloying love affair with Tony Blair whose foreign secretary, Jack Straw, praised the Libyan lunatic's "statesmanship" – was never going to save him. ... Just because Gaddafi is a nutter does not mean his people are fools.
So it's a sea-change in the Middle East's political, social, cultural world. It will create many tragedies, raise many hopes and shed far too much blood. Better perhaps to ignore all the analysts and the "think tanks" whose silly "experts" dominate the satellite channels. If Czechs could have their freedom, why not the Egyptians? If dictators can be overthrown in Europe – first the fascists, then the Communists – why not in the great Arab Muslim world? And – just for a moment – keep religion out of this.
Robert Fisk, These Are Secular Popular Revolts – Yet Everyone is Blaming Religion, Independent, 2-20-11


Meanwhile, for a long time, in the USA, it has almost all been going in wrong direction.

Underwritten by the Koch Brothers, the Chamber of Horrors and other unsavory forces unleashed by the Citizens United decision, the Zombie Cult formerly known as the Republican Party is busy turning some of the fifty states into laboratories of madness.

Consider these recent headlines in the new media.

Missouri Lawmaker Pushes Bill Rolling Back Child Labor Laws, Think Progress, 2-15-11

GA GOP Rep. Would Force Women To Prove Miscarriage Happened Naturally Or Face Felony Charges, Think Progress, 2-23-11

South Dakota Moves To Legalize Killing Abortion Providers, Mother Jones, 2-15-11

The 'pro-life' bill to legalize murder spreads to Iowa and Nebraska, Daily Kos, 2-24-11

Idaho Nullificationists Poised To Kill Medicaid In That State, Think Progress, 2-12-11

Another Patient Dies From Arizona’s Medicaid Cuts As Gov. Brewer Ignores Possible Solutions, Think Progress, 1-7-11

But then came the uprising in Madison.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to convey to people the sense and the breadth of the people that are here. Democracy Now! senior producer Mike Burke came a few hours before we did yesterday to the State Capitol with John Hamilton, and he spoke to the public employees, the labor activists, the students, who have been filling these hallways for the last 11 days, each night hundreds of people sleeping overnight. During the day, the booming sounds of chants and drums fill the building. So many people are staying here that protesters have begun building impromptu dining areas, a lending library and a medic center ...
HARRIET BLAIR ROWAN: My name is Harriet Rowan, and I’m a senior at UW Madison. I’ve been here since the February 14th rally, and I’ve been here every night of the sleep-in. Yeah, I’m just a student who’s here in solidarity with everyone and also concerned about, you know, the future of our university and for the future for students all over Wisconsin ...
BARBARA CRANE: Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Barbara Crane. I’m the president of the National Federation of Nurses. We want to stand with our brothers and sisters for what we consider the genocide of the middle class of this country, and we’re not going to take it anymore! As a nurse, I know what a code looks like, and a code red is happening at ground zero in Wisconsin, and it’s got to stop now!
Democracy Now!, 2-25-11

NOTE: At the end of this post, I have embedded extraordinary videos of the Wisconsin Police Union joining the protesters, the massive 2/26/11 demonstration and the Democracy Now! guided tour of the mass action. You should also view the videos embedded with Buffalo Beast tricking Wisc. Gov. Walker into taking call from fake ‘David Koch’, and Tempers Explode as Wisconsin Assembly Passes Bill Taking Away Union Rights.

Tired of a body politic that vilifies its nurses and teachers, and indulges its war criminals with book tours? You are not alone.

Maybe there is hope, even for us.

Remember, corporations are not people, and money is not free speech.

Remember, universal health care is a fundamental human right, as established by the U.N. in 1948, so is retirement, so is education, so is the right for workers to organize themselves.

Where I Stand

But as rapturous as it is to embrace the romanticism of these uprisings, it is important to remember that even if the EVOLUTION sweeping across the Middle East, and just dawning in the American Midwest, were to succeed beyond the wildest dreams of civil society and human rights activists, we would still be faced with a planetary crisis that threatens everyone everywhere; and to come to grips with it, we must not only invigorate democracy and republicanism, we must profoundly change our economic model, and establish a new relationship with Gaia, or ...

Thawing permafrost is threatening to overwhelm attempts to keep the planet from getting too hot for human survival. Stephen Leahy, IPS, 1-17-11

A growing, more affluent population competing for ever scarcer resources could make for an "unrecognizable" world by 2050, researchers warned at a major US science conference ... Researchers: Earth will be ‘unrecognizable’ by 2050, Agence France Press, 2-21-11

50 million ‘environmental refugees’ by 2020, experts say, Agence France Press, 2-21-11

Rising seas threaten 180 U.S. cities by 2100: study, Reuters, 2-17-11 (More like 2050, I suggest.)

Half of world’s population could face climate-driven food crisis in second half of the century, Climate Progress, 2-24-11 (The food security crisis predicated in this headline has been moved up 50 years, in 2009 it read by 2100.)

Investing two percent of the market value of all the world's goods and services into 10 key sectors can start a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy, the UN Environment Programme said today in a new report. UNEP: $1.3 Trillion a Year Would Turn World Economy Green, ENS, 2-22-11

For whom the bell tolls? It tolls for thee.

Wisconsin Police Union Announces Solidarity with Occupation of State House

Wisconsin’s Uprising: A Guided Tour of the 11-Day Protest Encampment Inside the State Capitol in Madison

100,000 Strong

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

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, or from CreateSpace.

You can also visit Richard Power author's page at

Saturday, February 12, 2011

In Egypt, Eos, Dawn Goddess, has Opened Her Gates; in the USA, Denial Overflows, & in Darfur, Denial Merges with the River Styx

Eos, Goddess of the Dawn, opens the gates of the east prior to riding her chariot through the sky. Herbert Draper - Gates of Dawn (1900)

It is clear that the vast majority of the citizens in the world are looking for a just world where distribution of education, health, jobs and wealth is much more equitable and where 'global common goods' are agreed and managed, such as sustainable and just climate agreements. However, the power is at this point still in the hands of rich minorities, an elite world class which interconnects banks, corporations, governments, corporate media and sometimes criminal networks. IPS Interview w/ SYLVIA BORREN, co-chair of GCAP

Whatever happens in Egypt, there's an elephant in the room, and it's pink. Freedom of women is what the Al Qaeda jihadis, as much as the Muslim Brothers in Egypt, most revile about the West. Nina Burleigh, Huffington Post, 2-5-11

In Egypt, Eos, Dawn Goddess, has Opened Her Gates; in the USA, Denial Overflows, & in Darfur, Denial Merges with the River Styx

By Richard Power

The virtual press at Words of Power had been held in suspended animation since the days of the uprising in Tahrir Square, waiting to see which way Egypt would turn ...

Now it is time for the presses to roll again ...

Tell Old Pharaoh, Let My People Go

There are great dangers ahead for those 80 million Egyptians, and formidable obstacles strewn on the path before them (after all, think how far even we have fallen from our celebration in Grant Park 2008); nevertheless, there are positive signs and portents in the fall of Muburak.

Savor the moment.

Whatever happens next, however it turns out, this wondrous event should be celebrated.

What happened in Egypt over the last 18 days was not a revolution, it was an EVOLUTION: crowd-sourced, and non-violent, i.e., plowshares not swords. The old way, the way that failed was "Revolution comes from the barrel of a gun," the new way, the way that must not fail is "Evolution comes from citizen journalism and crowd-sourced, non-violent mass action."

Nor was this some counter-revolution led by misogynistic, homophobic Islamic fundamentalists. No. It was Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mohammed El-Baradei who spoke in the name of the hundreds of thousands in the streets of Cairo; it was a young Google executive Wael Ghonim, who spoke in their name, it was the writer and human rights activist Mona Eltahawy who spoke in their name: 21st Century voices articulating a 21st Century imperative, i.e., an end to oligarchy.

Meanwhile, in the USA, the Waters of Denial Continue to Rise

The contrast was over those 18 days was stark and disturbing.

In Egypt, creative evolution crowd-sourced, and non-violent, i.e., plowshares not swords. In the USA, a populace passively acquiescing in its own devaluation, its collective psyche, addled and oxygen-deprived, in the suffocating double-vise of Beltwayistan and Infotainmentstan.

Incredibly, it has only been two years since Barack Obama was sworn in as POTUS.

And yet, the cable TV news' coverage of the "100th Birthday" celebration for Ronald Reagan was bizarre enough to make me wonder if perhaps I had slipped into another dimension, an alternate universe.

After all, the Reagan presidency began our descent into societal decline & spiritual disease; it is evidence of our dysfunction and denial that we celebrate it.

Robert Parry of Consortium News writes of Reagan's "thirty year time bombs."

Indeed, many of today’s worst national and international problems can be traced to misjudgments and malfeasance from the Reagan years – from the swelling national debt to out-of-control banks, from the decline of the U.S. middle class to the inaction on energy independence, from the rise of Islamic fundamentalism to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Robert Parry, Ronald Reagan's 30-Year Time Bombs, Consortium News, 1-28-11

See also 10 Things Conservatives Don’t Want You To Know About Ronald Reagan, Think Progress, 2-5-11

And just to make the break with sanity even more undeniable, there was POTUS sitting down for an interview with Bill 0'Reilly of Faux News.

Yes, POTUS shaking hands with O'Reilly, whose hands have blood on them. Yes, blood. The blood of Dr. George Tiller, murdered attending church on one Sunday in Kansas, after O'Reilly had repeated "Dr. Tiller Baby Killer" over and over again in prime time TV. No mention was made of the consequences of O'Reilly's hate speech.

Nor was any mention made of the violent and increasingly bizarre rhetoric of O'Reilly's fellow Faux News host, Glenn Beck, or the relationship of Beck's inflammatory speech to threats against the Tides Foundation and death threats against Francis Fox Pivens, a respected political science professor, and an elderly Jewish woman. "It's harm not to myself, but to American democracy that I fear from the Fox News host's paranoid theories of social collapse." Francis Fox Pivens, Guardian, 2-8-11

Sorry, but no matter how hard little Jon Stewart clicks the heels of his ruby red shoes together, there is no moral equivalency between these dangerous and disturbed individuals and a passionate Ed Schultz or a hard-hitting Keith Olbermann. None whatsover. To perpetuate this false meme is to be complicit in corporatist psyops.

And then there was POTUS' speech to the Chamber of Horrors.

For an update on the Chambers shameless anti-social behavior, consider the news that Think Progress broke the same week of POTUS' speech.

Yesterday ThinkProgress released an exclusive investigation into the underhanded and surreptitious campaign waged by a lobbying firm representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a right-wing association representing big business. The report detailed how Hunton & Williams, a lobbying firm hired by the Chamber, solicited “private security” companies to investigate the Chamber’s political opponents, including ThinkProgress, the labor coalition Change to Win, SEIU, US Chamber Watch, and Their tactics included planting false documents, creating fake personas, and targeting opponents’ families and children. Think Progress, 2-11-11

Not one mention of Climate Change in POTUS' speech to the Chamber of Horrors.

The Climate Crisis, and the Sustainability Crisis that lurks behind it, constitute the greatest threat to our national security, economic security and food security; and yet POTUS dare not mention it to the captains of industry and commerce.

"Billions of trees died in the record drought that struck the Amazon in 2010, raising fears that the vast forest is on the verge of a tipping point, where it will stop absorbing greenhouse gas emissions and instead increase them." Guardian, 2-4-11

We've been able to forget that fact for the last 10,000 years, the period of remarkable climatic stability that underwrote the rise of civilization. But we won't be able to forget it much longer. Days like yesterday will keep slapping us upside the head, until we take it in. The third rock from the sun is a very different place than it used to be. Bill McKibben, Huffington Post, 4-2-11

I understand the political calculation. I understand that the strategy is triangulation on steroids. I also understand that POTUS is not only motivated by these cynical calculations, but also by a Quixotic compulsion to bring some of elements of the Right back from over the edge to sanity and decency. Yes, yes, he is placating climate change denial (an immoral and psychologically disturbed behavior) in the hope of wearing it down, or outlasting it, or making progress on an end around. But there is an unavoidable question, and it is looming larger and larger: at what point, does this placating itself become an immoral and psychologically disturbed behavior?

Denial Flows into the River Styx

And then there is the CHANGE for the WORSE in U.S. policy on Darfur since 2008.

Writing in The New Republic, Rebbecca Hamilton asks: Is The White House Echoing The Sudanese Government's Propaganda About Darfur? The New Republic (2-9-11)

Tragically, the answer is yes.

"Certainly we must ask about the wisdom of “de-coupling” Darfur at a time when humanitarian reach is contracting yet further, violence and civilian displacement are escalating, and the UNAMID peacekeeping operation is essentially paralyzed—all forces putting millions of innocent civilians at risk. Terror in the west of Sudan is far from concluded. Eric Reeves, Sudan Research, 2-9-11

Turning Pain into Power

But the world is not without hope, there are those who bear the light as Galadriel promised. ("I give you the light of EƤrendil, our most beloved star. May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out.")

In Burma, the light of hope is held aloft.

The ultimate goal of our network is to achieve democracy and human rights in Burma, said pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi at her party's second youth conference in Rangoon ... Suu Kyi Casts Her Net, Irrawaddy, 2-8-11

Even in the Congo, there is the light of hope.

For years, diplomats, aid workers, academics and government officials here have been vexed almost to the point of paralysis about how to attack this country's staggering problem of sexual violence, in which hundreds of thousands of women have been raped, many quite sadistically, by the various armed groups who haunt the hills of eastern Congo.
Sending in more troops has compounded the problem ...
For [Eve] Ensler, the feminist playwright who wrote "The Vagina Monologues" and who has worked closely with Congolese women, the answer was simple.
"You build an army of women," she said. "And when you have enough women in power, they take over the government and they make different decisions. You'll see. They'll say 'Uh-uh, we're not taking this any longer,' and they'll put an end to this rape problem fast."

Fighting Congo’s Ills With Education and an Army of Women, NYT, 2-7-11

Do not think that concern for the plight of the women and children of Darfur and the Congo is some sort of boutique humanitarian cause; it is in your enlightened self-interest to address their suffering. You and I and those who follow us are not many clicks of the dial from descending into similar hell-realms.

After all, the Zombie Cult formerly known as the Republican Party, the one that "We, the People" put in control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, has just spent much of the last couple of weeks trying to re-define rape, intensify its attacks of Planned Parenthood, repeal healthcare reform, slash all services, starve state governments, defund the UN, and further deepen the denial of climate change and the profound crisis it has brought upon us.

Remember, Denial flows into the River Styx. In reality, we do not really live very far from the camps in Darfur, or from the madness that drives a people into such wastelands.

'City of Joy' assists and empowers survivors of sexual violence in DR Congo

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

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, or from CreateSpace.

You can also visit Richard Power author's page at

Hard Rain Late Night: Jay-Z and Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind

Hard Rain Late Night: Jay-Z and Alicia Keys- Empire State of Mind