Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The USA's Reality Check has Bounced; Embrace the Autumnal Equinox, & Prepare for Electoral Madness in 2012, Oh Yeah, & the Collapse of the Climate

John Everett Millais, Autumn Leaves, 1856

Noam Chomsky: I mean, as you mentioned before, I just came back from Europe, where people just can’t believe what they’re seeing here, what people are saying. I mean, take one of the really crucial issues for the human species: doing something about environmental catastrophe. Well, you know, every single one of the Republican candidates—maybe not Huntsman, but every major one—is a climate change denier. It’s kind of ironic in the case of Perry. He says there’s no global warming, while Texas is burning up with the highest temperatures on record, fire all over the place, and so on. But it doesn’t matter, it’s just not happening. In fact, the one who has conceded that maybe global warming has taken place is Michele Bachmann. I heard a statement of hers in which she said, "Well, yes, maybe it’s happening. It’s God’s punishment for allowing gay marriage," or some comment like that. I mean, this—what’s going on there is just off the international spectrum of sane behavior. Noam Chomsky: 2012 GOP Candidates Views are "Off the International Spectrum of Sane Behavior" Democracy Now, 9-19-11

The USA's Reality Check has Bounced; Embrace the Autumnal Equinox, & Prepare for Electoral Madness in 2012, Oh Yeah, & the Collapse of the Climate

By Richard Power

Welcome the Equinox. Embrace it, and celebrate it.

This Equinox (Autumnal in the Northern Hemisphere, Vernal in the Southern Hemisphere) is one of the four great hash marks in the Earth's annual journey around the Sun. It offers hope, it provides an opportunity for both ends and beginnings. It represents perpetual change, and perpetual order. Yes, welcome that divine change, and embrace that divine order. We are in need of both.

Tragically, in the U.S.A., the only change we seem to bring about is a rapid deterioration (economic, environmental and cultural); and the only order currently in place consists of a brutal lockdown of our democratic institutions, a brazen co-opting of our news media, and a stranglehold on our body politic.

Consider some recent news items, and their implications.

Al Gore treated the globe to “24 Hours of Reality” Wednesday and Thursday, but before the finale, Mother Nature stepped in with a show of her own. As Hour Six opened from the Hilo, Hawaii offices of the Mauna Loa CO2 observatory, Hawaii Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz warned ominously that Hawaii is “particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.” The Lieutenant Governor didn’t mention “summer snow”, but that is exactly what Hawaii received. By sunrise, the crown of Mauna Kea--clearly visible across the saddle from the CO2 observatory on Mauna Loa--was dusted with about an inch of the white stuff ...If this year’s trends continue, Hawaii will soon have snow during July and August... Summer Snow Falls on Mauna Kea after Al Gore’s “24-Hours of Reality” broadcasts, Hawaii Free Press, 9-16-11

Words of Power enthusiastically participated in the global event organized by Nobel-peace prize winner, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and his Climate Project; I made the USTREAM available from this site, and I tweeted almost every hour (yes, I took a nap).

It was a poignant and powerful testimony; twenty-four presenters (scientists, citizen activists, educators, officials) in twenty-four countries (both great and small), one every hour, moving sequentially across twenty-two time zones - one message, developed by Gore himself, and delivered in 13 languages, with expert panels sessions in between.

Poignant, and powerful, indeed, and yes, sad too. Over 8.5 million human beings viewed the event on-line. Wonderful. But imagine the impact if POTUS had participated, imagine the impact if one of the major cable news networks had devoted some time to simulcast or even provide periodic updates throughout the event? Why should the fate of "civilization" be left up to you, me and Renee Zellweger?

Remember, the Climate and Sustainability Crisis is not just one among many issues; it is the overarching issue of our era, and the greatest national security threat, the greatest economic threat, the greatest health threat ... Nor is it a political issue, however frantically the deniers try to frame it as such, it is a human issue, it is a moral imperative, and a survival imperative.

More than 30 million people were displaced last year by environmental and weather-related disasters across Asia ... Tens of millions more people are likely to be similarly displaced in the future by the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels, floods, droughts and reduced agricultural productivity. Guardian, 9-19-11

While this climate change calamity gains momentum, the U.S. and most of the industrialized world have been distracted by the relatively trivial threat of terrorism and have spent trillions of dollars on defence and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. could generate 100 percent of its electricity from wind, solar, tidal and geothermal for much less than it has spent on defence and wars in the last decade ... Stephen Leahy, IPS, 9-15-11

But, regrettably, the U.S.A. has lost its way.

Government seems to be unwilling to stop itself from executing people even when their guilt has been seriously challenged, or even disproved. (Read Bianca Jagger's A Day of Shame for the State of Georgia and the Justice System, Huffington Post, 9-20-11) Mainstream news media seems unwilling to get a story right, if getting it wrong means hurting the renewable energy sector and stoking attack ads for 201. (Read Media Matters' What the Press is Getting Wrong About Solyndra, Climate Progress, 9-20-11) The body politic seems indolent and bewildered. Despite stirring examples from the streets of Cairo, Madrid, Tel Aviv and elsewhere, and despite having given the banksters $700 billion with no strings attached, only to be told that ordinary citizens will have to get a "haircut" re: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, only a thousand or so youth could be mustered to establish a protest camp on Wall Street. (Read Allison Kilkenny's Wall Street Occupation Continues, The Nation, 9-21-11) (Well, at least Roseanne Barr showed up to exhort them on).

Incredibly, Barack Obama's four years are almost up. Will he get a second shot? With a Congress less kowtowed to the corporatist agenda? Will Elizabeth Warren liberate Teddy Kennedy's Senate seat from the Playgirl model who sits in it now? Will the Speaker's gavel be wrested away from John Boehner or whoever the Zombie Cult replaces him with after they eat his brains? And if POTUS does get a second shot, will he take aim at the monster's vital organs, or continue his attempt to give it a pedicure? If he surprises us, and he is inclined to take his best shot, would he be allowed to do so?

Every indicator points to an utterly insane election cycle, that has even less to do with reality than in previous years.

Though CNN insisted that it maintained its journalistic independence in its Tea Party collaboration , the network widely promoted the debate with banners linking CNN to the Tea Party Express and fashioned the debate as something of a Tea Party rally. CNN coordinated with Tea Party activists to frame questions and arranged live satellite feeds from Tea Party gatherings in Arizona, Virginia and Ohio, the Times reported, adding that “even the graphics on the video screens behind the stage flashed flags that are often seen at Tea Party rallies.” Robert Parry, CNN Panders to the Tea Party, Consortium News, 9-13-11

As Robert Reich articulates in his insightful analysis, The Election of 2012: Why the Most Important Issues May Be Off the Table (But Should Be On It), the campaign ahead will not do much to foster mental health in the body politic.

Don’t expect an argument for resurrecting the Glass-Steagall Act, thereby separating commercial from investment banking and stopping Wall Street’s most lucrative and dangerous practices. You won’t hear there’s no reason to cut Medicare and Medicaid – that a better means of taming health-care costs is to use these programs’ bargaining clout with drug companies and hospitals to obtain better deals and to shift from fee-for-services to fee for healthy outcomes. Nor will you hear why we must move toward Medicare for all. Nor why the best approach to assuring Social Security’s long-term solvency is to lift the ceiling on income subject to Social Security payroll taxes. Don’t expect any reference to the absurdity of spending more on the military than do all other countries put together, and the waste and futility of an unending and undeclared war against Islamic extremism – especially when we have so much to do at home. Nor are you likely to hear proposals for ending the corruption of our democracy by big money. Although proposals like these are more important and relevant than ever, they won’t be part of the upcoming presidential election. Robert Reich, The Election of 2012: Why the Most Important Issues May Be Off the Table (But Should Be On It), 9-18-11

In his 24 Hours of Reality presentation (embedded below) Gore urges us to fight on, offers suggestions on how to do so: "act now, speak up, win the conversation, choose reality." So does Reich in his Election of 2012 piece, reminding us that it isn't just a presidential election, it is, perhaps most importantly, a struggle for control of both houses of Congress. Remember Thom Hartmann's sage admonition: "Despair is not an option."

However you choose to respond to our current and future circumstance, I encourage you to welcome the Equonix. Yes, embrace it and celebrate it. And then the Solstice in turn, and after that, the next Equinox, and the next Solstice, and the next and the next and the next. And fight for this life, and this planet, as if you would fight for your own parent or child or lover, because it is, it is all of them.

On Saturday, 9/24/11, there will be another opportunity to "not go gentle into that goodnight." Bill McKibben and are organizing Moving Planet: "We will put our demands for climate action into motion—marching, biking, skating—calling for the world to go beyond fossil fuels." Join us.

Final Hour of the Climate Reality Project's 24 Hours of Reality (including Al Gore's presentation):

Video streaming by Ustream
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.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Beyond Words

Odilon Redon, Orpheus, 1913

Grateful. Beyond words. For life. For love. For night and day.

Do not cheat yourselves. Embrace it all. Flow with it into the sea of mysteries.

And flowing with it into the sea of mysteries, you look back into the mirror of your life.

Maybe you see it as a shattered mirror, and each shard as a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Every shard is shaped differently, and each misleads you as to the image in its fullness.

Until you realize that the cracks in that mirror are only the undulating of this sea, and that you are already immersed in the mysteries.

And then the shards flow through your fingers, and your fingers are like wind chimes, and the wind and the wave and the flame are one, and the denseness of the earth opens up into its deeper reality as the boundless space of consciousness.

There you arrive, in the truth of both the center and the circumference.

Grateful. Beyond words. For life. For love.

-- Richard Power

9/11/11: Harvest Time?

Was there an alternative? There is every likelihood that the Jihadi movement, much of it highly critical of bin Laden, could have been split and undermined after 9/11. The “crime against humanity”, as it was rightly called, could have been approached as a crime, with an international operation to apprehend the likely suspects. That was recognised at the time, but no such idea was even considered. Noam Chomsky, 9/11 - Was There An Alternative? Al-Jazeera, 9-7-11

9/11/11: Harvest Time?

By Richard Power

There is a harvest moon in the sky this weekend. Find a hillside or a rooftop, and let the lunar luminousness permeate your being.

Embrace this universe of wonder. Celebrate the opportunity to experience it. The nightmares that haunt the human mind will not leave a trace in the vast journey that is all life.

Only love abides everlastingly. Only love imbues and envelopes the totality. Whether acknowledged or not, whether perceived or not, love pervades.

Allow this incomprehensible truth to comprehend you.

And now, for the news ...

UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon recently said countries like New Zealand & Solomon Islands are on the "front-lines of climate change." (New Zealand Herald, 9-6-11) Uh, excuse me, Mr. Secretary General, so are Texas (Climate Progress, 7-15-11) and Vermont (IBT, 8-30-11), and Somalia (HuffPo, 8-19-11) and Darfur (CSM, 7-27-07) ...

It's not just the rising of sea levels, Mr. General Secretary, it's extreme weather, it's wild fires, it's desertification, it's famine, it's resource wars ...

Meanwhile, 1,253 people who are awake to the reality of life on this planet submitted to arrest in front of the White House in what some say was the largest act of civil disobedience in the U.S.A. since 1977. The action was intended to encourage POTUS to reject the XL tars sands pipeline (the decision is in his hands alone). Of course, were POTUS to heed them, it would be a surprise.

But the struggle didn't end with the 1,253 arrests at the White House; it was followed up by an open letter from nine Nobel Peace Prize winners, including Shirin Ebadi (2003), Rigoberta MenchĂș Tum of Guatemala (1992) and His Holiness the Dalai Lama (1989), calling on POTUS to "do the right thing."

"We urge you to say no" to the pipeline and "turn your attention back to supporting renewable sources of energy and clean transportation solutions," says the letter ... "This will be your legacy to Americans and the global community: energy that sustains the lives and livelihoods of future generations." Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Urge Obama: Reject Keystone XL Tar Sands Oil Pipeline: Media Release, 9-7-11

Remember that Peace Prize that you received in October 2009, POTUS? It was as you said at the time, a call to action.

The Nobel Committee, in its worldly wisdom, knew the kind of forces that you would be confronted with from day one of your administration. So they gave you the Peace Prize as a gesture of encouragement, and a promise that you would not be alone (although it would probably feel like it) if you could somehow find a way to stand your ground. But most us, including you, underestimate just how lost this nation really is at this point, don't we?

Consider the astonishing implications of remarks made by UC Berkeley Law School Dean Chris Edley at a recent panel on 9/11:

"Dean Chris Edley volunteered that he'd been party to very high level discussions during Obama's transition about prosecuting the criminals. He said they decided against it. I asked why. Two reasons: 1) it was thought that the CIA, NSA, and military would revolt, and 2) it was thought the Repugnants would retaliate by blocking every piece of legislation they tried to move (which, of course, they've done anyhow). Afterwards I told him that CIA friends confirmed that Obama would have been in danger, but I added that he bent over backwards to protect the criminals, and gave as an example the DoJ's defense (state secrets) of Jeppesen (the rendition arm of Boeing) a few days after his inauguration. He shrugged and said they will never be prosecuted, and that sometimes politics trumps rule of law. "It must not, I said. "It shouldn't, he said, and walked off. This is the Dean of the Berkeley School of Law." David Swanson, Obama Transition Team Member Explains Why Administration Chose Not to Prosecute Torture, Truthout, 9-6-11

And yes, this stream of consciousness has brought us to the 10th anniversary of the slaughter of the innocents on 9/11.

Several weeks after the atrocity, I took a walk on the beach, with my friend and colleague, foreign correspondent Dunston Woods (yes, it's a pseudonym). We wanted to think out loud about whether or not there was any way to hold off the avalanche that had just been triggered. We asked ourselves who could tell the nation that at the very least the Bush-Cheney White House should be investigated for criminal negligence pre-9/11 and even worse post-9/11? Who could demand such accountability and survive the ensuing firestorm? We assumed it would have to be a Republican, aligned with the military.

Perhaps Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)? (He was still John McCain then, he hadn't become the shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-John-McCain, who would ingratiate himself to the _resident, and later allow Sarah Palin to be appointed as his running mate.) Perhaps Secretary of Stone Colin Powell? But as you know, McCain lost his soul (or at least his mind), and Powell went down with the ship.

The avalanche buried us all.

Well, at least Bin Laden is dead. Yes, he is dead and, yes, he was killed by a U.S. Navy SEAL team on 5/1/11. However, the men (yes, all Neo-Con men, Rice was a trophy) who lead us into the trap that Bin Laden laid for us are still enjoying comfortable and profitable lives, protected by the very government they so terribly abused.

Although Powell did not speak out forcefully or forthrightly, his Chief of Staff did, with the ferocity of a true patriot and a true national security professional. And he still is, as is evident in this Democracy Now interview in which Amy Goodman asked Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson (U.S. Army retired) and Glenn Greenwald of for their views on former VICE _resident Dick Cheney's new book.

AMY GOODMAN: Colonel Wilkerson, do you think the Bush administration officials should be held accountable in the way that Glenn Greenwald is talking about?
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: I certainly do. And I’d be willing to testify, and I’d be willing to take any punishment I’m due. And I have to say, I agree with almost everything he just said. And I think that explains the aggressiveness, to a large extent, of the Cheney attack and of the words like "exploding heads all over Washington." This is a book written out of fear, fear that one day someone will "Pinochet" Dick Cheney.
Ex-Bush Official Col. Lawrence Wilkerson: "I am Willing to Testify" If Dick Cheney is Put on Trial, Democracy Now, 8-30-11

Somehow someday there must be accountability for the eight years of Bush-Cheney's illegitimate regime, and crimes committed in our names. There must be. Otherwise, neither our national psyche nor this system of government will ever recover. It might not be the first step taken (undoing Citizens United might make the most sense), but it certainly needs to be done.

Consider the costs. The human costs of the wars alone are incalculable. And then on top of that you could add in the global financial meltdown, the ten years lost in the struggle mitigate change change, and so much more.

Indeed, when Linda Bilmes and I calculated America’s war costs three years ago, the conservative tally was $3-5 trillion. Since then, the costs have mounted further. With almost 50% of returning troops eligible to receive some level of disability payment, and more than 600,000 treated so far in veterans’ medical facilities, we now estimate that future disability payments and health-care costs will total $600-900 billion. But the social costs, reflected in veteran suicides (which have topped 18 per day in recent years) and family breakups, are incalculable.
Even if Bush could be forgiven for taking America, and much of the rest of the world, to war on false pretenses, and for misrepresenting the cost of the venture, there is no excuse for how he chose to finance it. His was the first war in history paid for entirely on credit. As America went into battle, with deficits already soaring from his 2001 tax cut, Bush decided to plunge ahead with yet another round of tax “relief” for the wealthy.
Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of 9/11, 9/1/11

Ah, well ...

Feel the moon. Feel it revolving, as it orbits the Earth. Feel the Earth revolving, as it orbits the Sun.

Feel the truth, it is vast, and indescribable. All lies are small, and all liars too.

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.