Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Fear and Loathing in the Year of the Yang Fire Monkey #3: Cauldrons Lit in Rio and Philadelphia

Guardian (8/23/16): "America’s Olympic heroes, clockwise from left: triathlete Gwen Jorgensen, the all-conquering gymnastics team, hurdler Nia Ali, fencer Ibtihaj Muammad, and swimmers Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel.Composite: Barcroft Media, EPA, PA & Getty Image." Fair Use.
CNN (8/20/16): "English Gardner, Allyson Felix, Tianna Bartoletta and Tori Bowie of the United States celebrate winning gold in the women's 4 x 100m relay final in Rio. Shaun Botterill/Getty Images." Fair Use.

Fear and Loathing in the Year of the Yang Fire Monkey #3: Cauldrons Lit in Rio and Philly 

"Brothers and sisters! Brothers and sisters. This is, this is the real world that we live in. Trump is a bully and a demagogue. Trump has made bigotry and hatred the cornerstone of his campaign." -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on the first day of the Democratic National Convention, as some of his own delegates booed his statement of support for Hillary Clinton. 

If you think there is no way Trump can win, you're underestimating the virulence of the disease. If you think there is no difference (or simply not enough difference) to warrant voting for Clinton, I can only assume that you are ill-informed about governance and all of the many inter-related ways it impacts your life. If you think that this is all gamed out and that Trump has only been allowed to ascend to this position so that we will all be terrified into voting for Clinton, well, I don't know what to say to you, it just isn't that simple. And if you look at this election as nothing more than another instance (perhaps the most egregious) of being forced to choose "the lesser of two evils," you are missing an important truth -- this election is a profound opportunity.

Since my last "Fear and Loathing in the Year of the Yang Fire Monkey" post, three history-shaping spectacles have come and gone: the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Despite Zika and a coup against the elected president of Brazil, despite all of the troubles that swirl around the Olympics, the 2016 summer games in Rio were a joyous affirmation of life and humanity. The opening ceremony was organized around the planetary emergency of the Climate Crisis, and what we as a species must do about it; and the games themselves, from Track and Field to Gymnastics to Swimming were a powerful testament to the ascendancy of the feminine, particularly U.S. women, particularly African-American women.

Female athletes were responsible for 61 of the 121 medals stockpiled by Team USA in Brazil, marking the second straight Summer Olympics where they finished with more silverware than their male counterparts. If the women of Team USA broke away and formed a sovereign nation, their 27 gold medals would have matched Great Britain for the most of any country – and they would have placed fourth in the overall medal count. -- How the women of the US Olympic team won big and smashed stereotypes, Guardian, 8-23-16

Despite the craven corporatism of much of the party establishment, despite the political naivety of those Sanders delegates who shamefully booed their own heroic candidate, the Democratic National Convention featured many powerful declarations of our common humanity, in particular the speeches of Michelle Obama and POTUS himself; it also introduced a new party platform (strongly influenced by Sanders' representatives), one that articulated reasonably progressive positions on many vital issues, including, yes, the planetary emergency of the Climate Crisis.

But, of course, before both of these life-affirming and forward-leaning events took place, the Zombie Death Cult and its Death-Eater Overlords held their Trumpster fire in Cleveland. The decades-long assault on reason and decency that started with Reagan-Bush and spiked with Bush-Cheney has reached its terminal stage in the abomination / nomination of Trump-Pence.

Now the final stretch of the 2016 national elections is upon us. The hour is getting late.

I will be voting for Hillary Clinton in November. This is not an endorsement. It is just a statement of fact. I am not "with her." I am with Noam Chomsky, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, Al Gore, the Mothers of the Movement, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), The Nation's Joan Walsh, AND Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). I am not voting for Hillary Clinton. I am voting for Planned Parenthood, to protect the reproductive rights of woman, I am voting for COP 21, to mitigate the extinction level impact of Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD), I am voting for the preservation of Net Neutrality, I am voting for the expansion of Obamacare until it inevitably evolves into Medicare for all, and I am voting for a sane SCOTUS majority that will roll back the abomination of Citizens United and heal the thousand and one cuts dealt to the Voters Rights Act.

And I am not just voting for control of the White House, but for control of the Senate and even the House. In this election, the reign of the Zombie Cult and their Death Eater Overlords can be overthrown. We are on a cusp. The great shift is underway. This much bigger than Clinton, with her neo-liberal economics and neo-con geopolitics. Both of those disturbing inclinations can be mitigated by a powerful progressive caucus within the Democratic Party itself. If Trump is elected (yes it could happen), you have no leverage whatsoever.

Oh, and yes, it will be of profound importance to elect the first woman President of the U.S.A., just as it was of profound importance to elect the first African-American President of the U.S.A., and it could not come at a more poignant juncture in human history

Here are some worthy viewpoints on the choice before us in 2016:

What Sanders Says

On virtually every major issue facing this country and the needs of working families, Clinton’s positions are far superior to Trump’s. Our campaigns worked together to produce the most progressive platform in the history of American politics. Trump’s campaign wrote one of the most reactionary documents. Clinton understands that Citizens United has undermined our democracy. She will nominate justices who are prepared to overturn that Supreme Court decision, which made it possible for billionaires to buy elections. Her court appointees also would protect a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, the rights of the LGBT community, the needs of minorities and immigrants and the government’s ability to protect the environment. Trump, on the other hand, has made it clear that his Supreme Court appointees would preserve the court’s right-wing majority.  -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), L.A. Times (8/5/16) 

What Chomsky Says

1) Voting should not be viewed as a form of personal self-expression or moral judgement directed in retaliation towards major party candidates who fail to reflect our values, or of a corrupt system designed to limit choices to those acceptable to corporate elites. 2) The exclusive consequence of the act of voting in 2016 will be (if in a contested “swing state”) to marginally increase or decrease the chance of one of the major party candidates winning. 3) One of these candidates, Trump, denies the existence of global warming, calls for increasing use of fossil fuels, dismantling of environmental regulations and refuses assistance to India and other developing nations as called for in the Paris agreement, the combination of which could, in four years, take us to a catastrophic tipping point. Trump has also pledged to deport 11 million Mexican immigrants, offered to provide for the defense of supporters who have assaulted African American protestors at his rallies, stated his “openness to using nuclear weapons”, supports a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and regards “the police in this country as absolutely mistreated and misunderstood” while having “done an unbelievable job of keeping law and order.” Trump has also pledged to increase military spending while cutting taxes on the rich, hence shredding what remains of the social welfare “safety net” despite pretenses. 4) The suffering which these and other similarly extremist policies and attitudes will impose on marginalized and already oppressed populations has a high probability of being significantly greater than that which will result from a Clinton presidency. 5) Number 4) should constitute sufficient basis to voting for Clinton where a vote is potentially consequential-namely, in a contested, “swing” state ... -- Noam Chomsky's 8-Point Rationale for Voting for the Lesser Evil Presidential Candidate, AlterNet, 8/6/16

What Gore Says

Al Gore lost the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush in part because of votes lost to third-party candidates. He has a simple message for fellow climate hawks who are contemplating a third-party vote in 2016: Please don’t. In an exclusive interview last week, I asked Gore what he would say to voters concerned about climate change but dissatisfied with both major candidates and considering voting for a third party, such as the Green Party. He replied: First of all I understand their feelings and misgivings. But if they are interested in my personal advice. I am voting for Hillary Clinton. I urge everyone else to do the same. I particularly urge anyone who is concerned about the climate crisis, sees it as the kind of priority that I see it as, to look at the sharp contrast between the solar plan that Secretary Clinton has put forward, and her stated commitment to support the Clean Power Plan, and the contrast between what she has said and is proposing with the statements of the Republican nominee, which give me great concern ...  I would also urge them to look carefully, as I know they have, at the consequences of going in another direction for the third or fourth alternative…. The harsh reality is that we have two principal choices. And I am supporting Hillary Clinton. Again I respect those who analyze the situation differently, but in my experience it matters a lot." Readers may recall that in the 2000 election, Democrat Al Gore actually won the popular vote but narrowly lost the Electoral College to a guy named George W. Bush in part because of votes lost to third-party candidates — intentional votes for Green party candidate Ralph Nader (and, tragically, unintentional votes for Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan). -- Joseph Romm, Think Progress, 8-22-16

What the Mothers of the Movement Say

Geneva Reed-Veal: One year ago yesterday, I lived the worst nightmare anyone could imagine. I watched as my daughter, Sandra Bland, was lowered into the ground in a coffin. Sandy, my fourth of five daughters, was gone. No, not on administrative leave, but on permanent leave from this earth, found hanging in a jail cell after an unlawful traffic stop and an unlawful arrest. Six other women died in custody that same month: Kindra Chapman, Alexis McGovern, Sarah Lee Circle Bear, Raynette Turner, Ralkina Jones, and Joyce Curnell. So many of our children gone but not forgotten. I’m here with Hillary Clinton because she is a leader and a mother who will say our children’s names. Hillary knows that when a young black life is cut short, it’s not just a personal loss. It is a national loss. It is a loss that diminishes all of us. What a blessing to be here tonight, so that Sandy can still speak through her mama. And what a blessing it is for all of us that we have the opportunity, if we seize it, to cast our votes for a president who will help lead us down the path toward restoration and change ...  Sybrina Fulton: I am an unwilling participant in this movement. I would not have signed up for this. None of us would have. But I am here today for my son, Trayvon Martin, who is in heaven. And for my other son, Jahvaris, who is still here on earth. I didn’t want this spotlight. But will I do everything I can to focus some of that light on a path out of this darkness. Hillary Clinton has the compassion and understanding to comfort a grieving mother. She has the courage to lead the fight for common-sense gun legislation. And she has a plan to repair the divide that so often exists between law enforcement and the communities they serve. This isn’t about being politically correct. It’s about protecting our children. That’s why we’re here tonight with Hillary Clinton. And that’s why, in the memory of our children, we are imploring you — all of you — to vote in this election. Hillary is the one mother who can ensure our movement will succeed. We leave you what God has given us, strength and peace. -- Read What the Mothers of the Movement Said at the Democratic Convention
Video: Mothers of the Movement speaking at DNC 2016

There will likely be at least one more Fear and Loathing in the Year of the Yang Fire Monkey post to Words of Power before election day (11/8/16).

Whatever your conscience demands of you, VOTE.

-- Richard Power 

Richard Power is the author of eleven books, including most recently, "Cauldron Yoga, Gaian Poetics and the Way of the Ancient Future," along with the other four volumes of his "Primal Reality" series, all of which are  available in both softcover and Kindle versions via Amazon.com.

For information, visit his Amazon author's page.
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Fear and Loathing in the Year of the Yang Fire Monkey #1: Of Trump, Snowden and Sanders