Monday, February 13, 2012

2012 Election Notes: Fear & Loathing at the End of the Mayan Calendar

2012 Election Notes: Fear & Loathing at the End of the Mayan Calendar

By Richard Power

I would rather be writing to you about Darfur or Tibet, but there is little we can do about either if we succumb, so here is my first post from the 2012 campaign trail.

It is 2012 after all, and although the true Mayan elders tell us not to be afraid, and real science reminds us that pole shifts (and yes, we are in the midst of one), however disturbing, do not turn the tectonic plates upside down, I suggest you keep a close eye on what is happening in the U.S. body politic. Because doomsday, or something close to it, might sneak up on us - in November, at the ballot box.


I have been calling for MASSIVE, NON-VIOLENT EVOLUTION for some time now. What do I mean by "massive, non-violent evolution"? I say "non-violent," of course, because violence is a double-edged sword that wounds both the victor and the vanquished. I say "evolution" rather than "revolution" because there is a difference between awakening and stridency. "You can't take pliers and peel open a rose bud," a wise man once told me, "you have to let it bloom."

"Evolution" rather than "revolution" because each of our great revolutions (e.g., Haitian, U.S., French, Russian) carried within them both evolutionary content (which changed the collective psyche forever and for the good), but also the seeds of their own distress and potential demise. Am I saying that "revolution" is somehow wrong and "evolution" is right? No, just that there are circumstances that call for an evolutionary leap, and our current global dilemma is one of them. Within this "massive, non-violent evolution," there may be many revolutions (some tragically violent) flowing like rivers into the sea.

"Evolution" rather than "revolution" because throngs meditating are just as vital as throngs marching. (Preferably, throngs meditating as they march.) "Evolution" rather than "revolution" because anyone working in education, healing, the arts and sciences, and especially designing and delivering green energy is actively engaged in this "massive, non-violent evolution" IF they are doing so with a consciously altruistic attitude.

My vision of "massive, non-violent evolution" rests on two premises, one historical, the other spiritual: the historical premise is that both sides lost the Cold War, i.e., both economic models have failed humanity, and the spiritual premise is that all life is a oneness, i.e., whatever you do to another human being or to the web of life, you do to yourself.

In the algebra of this "massive, non-violent evolution," we are simply looking for the equivalent of the Hundredth Monkey. Impossible? Perhaps. But from Homer to Tolkein, our greatest sagas are organized around impossible quests. And even if this vision proves impossible, those who embrace it, and live it, will have transformed themselves in the process.


Meanwhile ...

Just as we are the only one of the great industrialized democracies that doesn't provide universal healthcare, we are also the only one that equates money with speech. We are in dire straits.

Voter suppression laws targeting the elderly, the young and the poor are being passed by Zombie state legislators and signed into law by Zombie governors. Furthermore, these Zombie state legislators and governors have also instituted union-breaking right to work for less laws in almost half of the states in this DISunion.

If there weren't a genuine progressive movement, and it hadn't saved the future before, and didn't threaten to do so again, why would there by such an organized death-eater effort to disembowel it?

That's why I tell you that partisan is a beautiful word, and encourage you to embrace it.

You can blow bubbles if you want to, and curl up inside of one those bubbles and float away in a pipe dream, but sooner or later that bubble will burst. Reality calls you to something higher, something deeper, i.e., clarity, courage and compassion engaged in the great struggle of THIS age. What we have in the U.S.A is not a petty battle between competing political ideologies, what we have here is a burgeoning human rights crisis.

Consider this headline:

More than 68% of New European Electricity Capacity Came From Wind and Solar in 2011 (Climate Progress, 2-12-12)

Yes, in the feast of ignorance that is the U.S. body politic, the Europeans are mocked, and progressive politicians are smeared as wanting to make us more like the Europeans. If only ...

Ah yes, "American Exceptionalism." Who would want universal health care, or to already be producing 68% of our electricity capacity from wind and solar? No, instead let's drag them into the grave we have dug for ourselves. Let's fetishize over a Thatcher doll (that looks and sounds like Meryl Streep) just as we have fetishized over our Reagan doll. Yes, worship the golden calf of the "free market." Except, of course, it isn't free, it's monopolistic and auto-cannibalistic, and it isn't made of gold, it's made of dwindling fossil fuels and worthless derivatives.

Dire Consequences

Yes, elections have consequences. Dire consequences.

Consider this story:

A new NASA study underscores the fact that greenhouse gases generated by human activity — not changes in solar activity — are the primary force driving global warming. The study offers an updated calculation of the Earth’s energy imbalance, the difference between the amount of solar energy absorbed by Earth’s surface and the amount returned to space as heat. The researchers’ calculations show that, despite unusually low solar activity between 2005 and 2010, the planet continued to absorb more energy than it returned to space. Joe Romm, Climate Progress, 2-5-12

This recently released study would NOT have seen the light of day if the Zombie Cult formerly known as the Republican Party had control of the White House. If you don't vote against their madness, you are voting against not only against science but against the planet itself.

Elections have consequences. Dire consequences.

What’s an anti-science politician to do when even a Koch-funded researcher says that human activity is causing global warming? Well, you could just stop all scientific endeavors in the field all together. Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference yesterday, Colorado Republican Congressman Cory Gardner explained to attendees that was just what his party was determined to do. When a questioner asked how Republicans can stop taxpayer dollars going to climate research and other programs to reduce carbon emissions, the panelists chuckled. Then Rep. Gardner answered the question, explaining that many GOP leaders are committed to “get that money out that’s been feeding the industry.” Stephen Lacy, Congressman Says Defunding Climate Science is a Priority for GOP, Climate Progress, 2-10-12

Elections have consequences. Dire consequences. At every level of government.

If you don't against this madness, you are voting for it.

There are six bills aimed at undermining the teaching of evolution before state legislatures this year: two each in New Hampshire and Missouri, one each in Indiana and Oklahoma. And it's only February.

Elections have consequences. Dire consequences. And these dire consequences will impact much that you take for granted.

When the Clean Water Act was enacted, the Cuyahoga River was so polluted that it literally caught fire, the majestic Hudson River’s fishery was gone and Lake Erie was declared all but dead. This bold legislation put forward by visionaries in Congress returned control of our nation’s waterways to the citizens of the United States as part of the public trust. However, today the concept of the public trust, the commons, is being quickly eroded by corporate polluters and their cronies in Congress who are determined to return to the era of using out nation’s waterways as open sewers, toxic dumps and landfills. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Clean Water Safeguards Headed Down the Drain?, EcoWatch, 1-23-12

Elections have consequences. Dire consequences.

As we celebrate the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that recognized a woman's constitutional right to legal abortion, we can't forget how many times women's lives have been put at risk in the past year. Legislators in 24 states passed 92 anti-abortion provisions in 2011, shattering the previous record of 34 adopted in 2005, according to the Guttmacher Institute ... Reproductive health care is not for some women; it is a fundamental right of all women. We will not let anti-choice groups destroy what we worked so hard for. On this anniversary, and with 289 days left until Election Day 2012, NOW pledges to work tirelessly to elect officials who will support women's access to the full range of reproductive health care services, and defeat those who don't. Terry O'Neill, President of National Organization of Women, NO.W., 1-22-12

The Zombie Cult is anti-reason, anti-nature, anti-science and anti-women; one leads into the other in a heavy chain of horrific ignorance. They don't use brains, they eat them.

John Wayne Gacy, the Hollow Men, & A Handmaid's Tale

If you are tempted to dismiss Gingrich as a clown; just remember that John Wayne Gacy too was a clown. If you are tempted to dismiss Romney as one of T.S. Eliot's Hollow Men (I confess I hear it whispered between the lines whenever I hear him speak), and as someone who could not possibly be elected president, just remember that many of histories most ghastly episodes were presided over by similarly hollow men. And Santorum? Well, it is as if he escaped from the pages of Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale. Former Senator Santorum often speaks of irresponsible behavior in his jihad against women's reproductive rights. (Mic check! Mic check! Having seven children, having seven children, in overpopulated world, in an overpopulated world, and denying the reality, and denying the reality, of Climate Change, of Climate Change, THAT, THAT, is irresponsible behavior, is irresponsible behavior, former Sen. Santorum, former Sen. Santorum.)

If you are tempted to think that there is no difference between Obama and any of these would-be Zombie nominees, remember that the shell of a man formerly known as Ralph Nader told you there was no difference between Bush and Gore in 2000. It was a lie then, and it is a lie now. And it is no less of a lie if you are lying to yourself.

Of course, whether or not it is enough of a difference for us to overcome the challenges that we confront is another question. And frankly, no, based on Obama's performance in office, it is not enough of a difference, but it is enough difference to allow for another opportunity to change direction before the utter end of it all.

If the Zombie cult formerly known as the Republican Party succeeds in winning control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives, we will ALL choke on YOUR self-delusion that there is no difference between the two major political parties, and there will be no opportunity to change direction.

POTUS Looks Best Defined by Who His Enemies Are

If you know me or my writings than you know I am profoundly at odds with POTUS on major economic, environmental and geopolitical issues; nevertheless, as we approach 2012, I urge you to remember that one VERY important element that goes into defining a man is the make-up of those who seek to destroy him. Consider POTUS' enemies. Arrayed as they are against him, in all their ugliness, they add a different dimension to the decision before us.

In a surprising move over the weekend, thousands of Catholic parishioners were read letters that condemn the Obama administration and its recent decision to make birth control available to women through virtually all private health insurance plans. The letters were written by Catholic Bishops in the U.S. and read aloud at hundreds of Catholic churches on Sunday. Raw Story, 1-30-12

So let me get this straight, a very powerful, very wealthy, very secretive, very patriarchal organization, which cannot seem to protect its school children from the pedophiles in its ranks, and yet seems to hide away the pedophiles instead of turning them over to law enforcement; this very powerful, very wealthy, very secretive, very patriarchal organization wants to meddle in the reproductive rights of women?

Yes, POTUS appears to have outmaneuvered them in this particular test of wills, but the exercise should serve as a warning.

Remember, "Partisan" is a beautiful word, a powerful word; reclaim it, embrace it, own it.

Self-deprecating, too liberal for their own good, today's progressives stand back and watch, hands over their mouths, as the social vivisectionists of the right slice up a living society to see if its component parts can survive in isolation. Tied up in knots of reticence and self-doubt, they will not shout stop ... we have been too polite to mention the Canadian study published last month in the journal Psychological Science, which revealed that people with conservative beliefs are likely to be of low intelligence. Paradoxically it was the Daily Mail that brought it to the attention of British readers last week. It feels crude, illiberal to point out that the other side is, on average, more stupid than our own. But this, the study suggests, is not unfounded generalization but empirical fact. George Monbiot, The Right's Stupidity Spreads, Enabled by a Too-Polite Left, Guardian, 2-7-12

It's Probably Only Going to Get Worse for Awhile

Meanwhile, it is likely that the looming dangers are going to intensify. Consider two more of the elephants crammed into this room.

If Israel really attacks Iran this year, it – and the Americans – will be more dotty than their enemies think. True, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a crackpot, but then so is Avigdor Lieberman, who is apparently the Israeli Foreign Minister ... Robert Fisk, An attack on Tehran would be madness. So don't rule it out, Independent, 2-4-11

If we could see the world with a particularly illuminating set of spectacles, one of its most prominent features at the moment would be a giant carbon bubble, whose bursting someday will make the housing bubble of 2007 look like a lark. As yet -- as we shall see -- it’s unfortunately largely invisible to us ... Bill McKibben, The Great Carbon Bubble: Why the Fossil Fuel Industry Fights So Hard, Tom Dispatch, 2-7-12

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 is the author of seven books, including Between Shadow and Night: The Singularity in Anticipation of Itself and True North on the Pathless Path: Towards a 21st Century Yoga. He writes and speaks on security, risk, human rights and sustainability, and has delivered executive briefings and led training in over 40 countries. He blogs at and