Saturday, June 29, 2019

Pull Yourselves Together. Seven Imperatives As We Enter the 2020 Vortex.

Edward S. Curtis - Mohave Water Carrier (1903)
Former President Jimmy Carter questioned the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s presidency on Friday, adding that a full investigation of the 2016 election would likely prove that Trump only won because of Russia’s assistance “There’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the election and I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016,” Carter said during a panel discussion hosted by the Carter Center. “He lost the election and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.” When asked if he believed that Trump was, therefore, an illegitimate president, Carter responded: “Based on what I just said, which I can’t retract.” The extraordinary comments marked some of the harshest language a former US president has ever directed at a sitting president. They came just hours after Trump, who is in Japan for the G20 summit, appeared to once again belittle the threat of foreign interference in US elections. -- Inae Oh, Jimmy Carter Calls Donald Trump an “Illegitimate” President Who Only Won Because of Russia, Mother Jones, 6/28/19

All the biggest Trump scandals are concentrated into this week. His administration is torturing children. He's credibly accused of rape. He's joking with Putin about murdering journalists. And our political system has lost the capacity to respond. -- Michelle Goldberg (@michelleinbklyn), 6/28/10 

Pull Yourselves Together. Seven Imperatives As We Enter the 2020 Vortex.  

Here we are. At the barricades. For the greatest struggle of our time. This nation itself is dangling over the precipice, held up by just a few frayed threads.

At this juncture, I can’t really sort out who I find more annoying: 
  • Liberals with blind spots toward leftists
  • Leftists with blind spots toward the liberals, or ...
  • Liberals and leftists with blind spots toward the “Never Trump” refugees from the cult formerly known as the “Republican Party”
  • Perhaps most annoying are those, whether liberal or leftist, who hide behind cynicism, the kind of cynicism that denies the wealth of factual evidence showing we can win this struggle (it's such bad juju)
  • And, of course, I should also mention all of those among us engaged in "spiritual by-passing," imagining that they have evolved beyond the dirty work of politics and social action.
Just pull yourselves together. That's the message I keep feeling to communicate to those on the left and right of me, here at the barricades. 

Just pull yourselves together. And lean forward.

Many years ago I decided I wouldn’t enter into dialogue about geopolitics and security issues in the Middle East with anyone unless they could either pass a test I wrote, consisting of 20 multiple choice questions about the political history of the region, or alternately write me a coherent essay on Robert Fisk’s voluminous “Great War for Civilization: Conquest of the Middle East.” That decision has served my sanity well. 

Recently, I pondering doing the same concerning our domestic political crisis. A test composed of twenty multiple choice questions, but without the alternative essay-writing option, since no single tome comprehensively frames this crisis.

So instead, I will just post these seven rEvolutionary imperatives for consideration:
  • 1. How This All Came to Be
  • 2. Mueller's Mission
  • 3. Freeing the White House
  • 4. Freeing the Senate
  • 5. Who We Really Are
  • 6. The Bitterest Lesson
  • 7. The Inner Challenge
If you resonate with all or any of these imperatives, I urge you to share them on the barricades, with those to the left and right of you. 

Because this is it. The end and the beginning. Of everything.

"Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Goddess of Liberty, New York Harbor, U.S.A.

1. How This All Came to Be

It is imperative to know the how and why of what has befallen us. 

What made it possible for sociopathy as a philosophy of governance to take control of the horizontal and the vertical?

Corporations are not people, and money is not speech. To declare that they are is the moral and political equivalent of Orwell's "2 + 2 = 5." And yet, tragically, these absurd notions have been used to pervert our democratic institutions. 

The greatest spiritual damage has been done to the political organization formerly known as "the Republican Party." The "GOP" is now functionally little more than a Zombie Death Cult controlled by Death-Eater Overlords. "Citizens United" and all that flowed from it has acted upon the "Republican" psyche like some powerful narcotic. And like crack or meth, this narcotic is fast, and devastating. It strips you of your humanity. 

Of course, the "Republican Party" has been skidding downward for decades. From Reagan's "Kitchen Cabinet" to G.W. Bush's "Pioneers" to the Koch Brothers to Adelson and the Mercers and finally to those butchers of journalists, Putin, the Oligarch of Oligarchs, and MSB, the Crown Prince of Saudia Arabia. It is debilitative. The Republicans of the Reagan-Bush era would not have allowed Putin's weaponized clown and his toxic male Neo-Nazi clique to take over their party, nor would even the Republicans of the Bush-Cheney era. But the "Republicans" of the Mitch McConnell era Zombie Death Cult? Yes, filthy lucre has turned the "Republican" Senate caucus into a den of campaign cash drug addicts. And just as some drug addicts have pimped out their children, "Republican" office holders have now pimped out their own nation.

It was a very slippery slope, and we are at the bottom now.

Edith Vonnegut -- Day 60 of the First 100 Days of Trump:
FBI director James Comey confirms they are investigating ties 
between the President’s campaign and Russia. 
Title: Angel Roasting Little Devils

2. Mueller's Mission

It is imperative to acknowledge what David Corn accurately frames as "the greatest scandal in American history." And Robert Mueller has made this acknowledgement possible with his Report. If he could have done more, he would have. That's the truth. He said as much himself, albeit in DoJ speak. Mueller made the tough decisions necessary to ensure that the Report itself could get written and published. What he did was of vital importance and powerful agency, but only IF you are willing to hear the story it tells and share that story with your fellow citizens before it is too late.

Chauncey DeVega: In your new book "Siege: Trump Under Fire," you claim that Robert Mueller had actually written a draft document indicting Donald Trump for obstruction of justice. Obviously, Mueller then decided to not go down that path. Why not?
Michael Wolff: I don't know what was on Robert Mueller's mind. The Mueller investigation was two years behind closed doors — which is in itself a little odd. Mueller came out and said, "The report speaks for itself." In fact, the report is not very clear. I may not know what was on Robert Mueller's mind, but I do know that among the documents that I have are a set of research papers on the nature of the special counsel's office itself. These papers conclude that the Office of the Special Counsel is a pretty fragile construct. Can the president of the United States directly fire the special counsel? These researchers concluded the answer is "yes." If the special counsel's office is closed down, what happens to the work product? The answer is not clear. But is it possible that in this case, Mueller's findings could have been destroyed? Just run through the shredder? Yes. So I think Mueller came to focus on his own vulnerability. I think that Mueller came to see his goal here as not just holding Donald Trump accountable but as not being fired. Because if Mueller is fired then he is not able to hold Trump and his inner circle accountable in any way. Remember, there are people within the special counsel's office such as Andrew Weissman, who are among the most aggressive pursuers of white-collar criminals. It would have been perfectly logical for the special counsel's team to formulate the kind of indictment that they thought might have been possible and then to make the argument that the special counsel — despite standing Justice Department policy — could in fact indict a sitting president. So where does Bob Mueller come out on that? I think in the end Mueller decided, "Let's stay in business." Mueller's decision was to be Delphic, really, rather than prosecutorial. -- Chauncey DeVega, Michael Wolff on why Mueller didn't indict: Trump was ready to "blow up everything," Salon, 6/18/19
“Now I Am Speaking to the Whole World.”
Greta Thunberg, Time Magazine Cover, May 2019

3. Freeing the White House

It is imperative to hold a bold but open perspective on the race for the Democratic presidential nomination and to share it with those to the left and right of you.

It is not a surprise at all that Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris emerged emboldened leaders after the first two debates of the campaign. Months ago, I wrote that the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nominee should be a woman, and she should probably run with a woman as her vice presidential nominee. The nominee should be a woman with serious experience in government. Of course, if she is in a position to win, she will probably have taken at least a few policy positions, in the past (or even now) with which you vehemently disagree. You will have to cope with that, and so will she. Ideological purity is a luxury we can't afford. Elections have consequences. Dire consequences. 

I prayed that Biden and Sanders wouldn't run. Biden isn't the Biden of 2008 or 2012, and Sanders isn't the Sanders of 2016. Nevertheless, whoever emerges from among the credible, viable, plausible candidates (and that excludes the likes of Tulsi Gabbard or Seth Moulton), the nominee must not be savaged, the nominee must be rallied around, the nominee must be propelled forward.

Furthermore, and this is very important, do not assume that Trump will actually be the Republican candidate. Seriously. The wheel is still in spin. The Mueller Report and all that flows on behind it is still in play. Trump's grip on reality is gone, his grip on power is slipping. How would Biden or Sanders look running against Nicki Haley or John Kasich. If Trump craters, and he is forced to resign, the mainstream news media will instantly become infatuated with the new "Republican" candidate, whoever it is, even Pence. The Democratic candidate must be adept in more than one style of the political martial arts.

4. Freeing the Senate

It is imperative to understand that in 2020, it may be more important to hold the House and take the Senate than even to win the White House itself.

For example, the House could prepare articles of impeachment and but only pass them for trial in the Senate AFTER McConnell's perverse reign has been ended. 

And either way there would be no more Kavanaughs or Barrs.

Taking the Senate is a daunting task, not only because of Citizens United, but also because of the inherent corporatist bias of the mainstream news media. 

Nevertheless, the Tsunami that swept away Zombie Cult control of the House in 2018 was just the first. We are in the throes of a Teletsunami, i.e., a series of waves. 

Also, Zombie Cult control of the Senate is more vulnerable to overthrow than in 2018. This time around, 22 of the 34 seats being voted upon are held by "Republicans." 

Only 3 or 4 seats would have to be turned.

"I freed a thousand slaves 
I could have freed a thousand more
 if only they knew they were slaves."
Harriet Tubman (1885)
National Portrait Gallery

5. Who We Really Are

It is imperative to drink in the reality of who we really are, and who we are becoming, and share it loudly and widely. The dominant narrative is a false narrative. Yes, we are a conflicted nation, we are deeply but not evenly divided, we are not a largely racist, misogynistic and homophobic nation. This false narrative is shredding before our eyes. 

It is all in the beauty of the mathematics. Consider this. 

The generation gap is even more powerful when it comes to Republicans. To put it bluntly, young adults hate them.
In 2018, voters under 30 supported Democratic House candidates over Republican ones by an astounding 67 percent to 32 percent. A 2018 Pew survey found that 59 percent of millennial voters identify as Democrats or lean Democratic, while only 32 percent identify as Republicans or lean Republican.
The difference is ideological. According to Pew, 57 percent of millennials call themselves consistently liberal or mostly liberal. Only 12 percent call themselves consistently conservative or mostly conservative. This is the most important statistic in American politics right now.
Recent surveys of Generation Z voters (those born after 1996) find that, if anything, they are even more liberal than millennials ...
But it’s hard to look at the generational data and not see long-term disaster for Republicans. Some people think generations get more conservative as they age, but that is not borne out by the evidence. Moreover, today’s generation gap is not based just on temporary intellectual postures. It is based on concrete, lived experience that is never going to go away.
Unlike the Silent Generation and the boomers, millennials and Gen Z voters live with difference every single day. Only 16 percent of the Silent Generation is minority, but 44 percent of the millennial generation is. If you are a millennial in California, Texas, Florida, Arizona or New Jersey, ethnic minorities make up more than half of your age cohort. In just over two decades, America will be a majority-minority country.
Young voters approve of these trends. Seventy-nine percent of millennials think immigration is good for America. Sixty-one percent think racial diversity is good for America.
They have constructed an ethos that is mostly about dealing with difference. They are much more sympathetic to those who identify as transgender. They are much more likely than other groups to say that racial discrimination is the main barrier to black progress. They are much less likely to say the U.S. is the best country in the world.
These days the Republican Party looks like a direct reaction against this ethos — against immigration, against diversity, against pluralism. Moreover, conservative thought seems to be getting less relevant to the America that is coming into being.
 -- David Brooks, The Coming GOP Apocalypse, New York Times, 6/3/19

6. The Bitterest Lesson

Franco's triumph and long reign is one of the bitterest lessons of the 20th Century. It is
 imperative that you take in the full import of this bitterest lesson and share the message with those to the left and right of you.

Trump's base is less than the actual base of the Zombie Death Cult formerly known as "the Republican Party," which is itself a minority party. Look at what the Zombie Cult has to do to hold on to power, even with the evil twin notions (i.e., corporations are people, and money is speech), even with Citizens United and subsequent rulings having removed even some of the most basic campaign finance restrictions, even with the inherent corporatist bias of mainstream news media, the Zombie Death Cult and its Death-Eater Overlords still has to implement large scale voter suppression and gerrymandering to keep their grip on power. And, in 2016, not even all of this could get Trump elected; in 2016, it was the black ops of Putin that erased the margins. And by black ops I don't just mean social media manipulation or the treachery of Assange (yes, that's what I said, the treachery of Assange). It is indeed unfortunate that it was Jill Stein who pursued the recount in MI, WS and PA. Clinton won, and I don't just mean the popular vote.

So yes, Trump's base is less than the actual base of the Zombie Death Cult formerly known as "the Republican Party," which is itself a minority party. 

But Franco's base was small. Never more than what? 35% of the population? And yet, Franco ruled Spain, with a clenched fascist fist, for almost FORTY YEARS! Why? How? 

Franco was willing to lie, cheat, kill and torture. He was ruthless. Franco was willing to do what he had to do to hold on to power. 

AND even though those forces arrayed against Franco, the centrists, the liberals, the socialists, the communists and the anarchists, constituted an overwhelming majority, they could not form a successful united front against the fascists. If the united front had indeed been a united front, if it had held together, emphasizing shared values and putting aside serious differences, in service to the greater good, the common good, for the sake of human decency and sanity, Franco would not have gained power.

7. The Inner Challenge

The seventh and most vital imperative is to fully embrace the inner challenge. 

For a true united front to take shape in the streets, at the ballot box, on the air waves, it must begin in our own psyches, in our own beings. 

Can you make enough space in your being to allow for liberals with blind spots for leftists, and leftists with blind spots for liberals, and liberals and leftists with blind spots for the "Never Trump" true Republican refugees from the Zombie Cult and Putin's weaponized clown, even for those liberals and leftists who hide behind the veil of cynicism (if you can keep them from discouraging everyone around them), even for those who are attempting to avoid political action through spiritual by-passing (assuming you can get them to vote)? Can you hold space for those Never Trump neocon refugees, for Nichole WallaceMax Boot, Jennifer Rubineven Bill Kristol? We must stand shoulder to shoulder. We must find common ground. Somehow we need to create a coalition broad, strong and resilient enough to embrace almost everyone from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Justin Amash. Can you hold them all in your being, stand shoulder to shoulder with them, and lean forward together? This is the inner challenge. It is how a true united front is coalesced. It doesn't have to be called a united front, it just has to contain enough of us meeting this inner challenge, enough of us, left, right and center, to hold the line all along the length of this barricade.

To do this, to create this space, to be this accommodation, you will have to play three-dimensional chess. Just as I wrote in the lead up to the 2018 mid-term elections. Can you hold opposite truths in the space of your being? Can you feel how Pelosi's slow walk toward impeachment occupies the same space as the urgency of those howling for her to hurry? Can you feel how the shadowy dignity of Mueller's cryptic silences occupies the same space as the legitimate frustration of those wanting more clarity than has been offered up in the mysterious DoJ kabuki he has been performing? Can you feel how contradictory truths can occupy the same space? Can you work with the dynamism of paradox? Don't be intimidated. You already know how to play three-dimensional chess. If you feel deep, authentic empathy, you know how to play. If you can whisper the word of power that looses the dragon-fire of courage, you know how to play. You're actually damn good at it. The mastery is within you. 

We must all be sorceresses and wizards now. Pull yourselves together. Lean forward. This is the time. This is it. The greatest struggle of our time. For the nation herself, for the planet herself, for the goddess of liberty herself, for agape.

Abyss upon abyss stretch out before us. What to do about the Supreme Court. What to do about the Electoral College. What to do about the state legislatures, in order to purge the disease of gerrymandering. But do not despair. Our constitutional republic is like an eco-system, if you give the process a jump start, it will begin to heal itself, and it will move swiftly. It has an emotional intelligence of its own, it's just been traumatized.

It is up to us to conjure this deep magic. 

The mainstream news media had a bit of a renaissance, under Trump's unprecedented assaults, but only just as long as Mueller was out there, investigating, because while Mueller was still at work, there was a reasonable hope that the smoking gun would be found and that Trump would be forced from office. Oh, the smoking gun was found, it's Manafort himself, he is the evidence, he himself is the lynchpin, but he didn't sing, even when he swore he would, he didn't so here we are. Now the mainstream news media is showing signs of getting weak-kneed again, and reflexively falling back into the bad campaign coverage habits that helped give rise of Trump. 

So this is a very dangerous time. The danger deepens night after night, week after week. We need unite, sane left, sane right and sane center, we need to stand shoulder to shoulder and sort the rest out later. 

Mueller needed to prosecute what he could, gather all of the evidence he could find and document it all in a published report. That got done. The Democrats needed to take the House of Representatives in the mid-term. That got done.  

Now Trump needs to be defeated and the Zombie Cult grip on the Senate needs to be broken. We need to do both really, but at a bare minimum we need to hold the House and win either the White House or the Senate. 

The alternative is unthinkable, and its already crossed your mind, hasn't it?

-- Richard Power, Author, Speaker, Yoga Teacher. His "Wyrds of Power: New Language for A New Reality" and "I, the Dragon: Chronicles of An Epic Life Among the Humans" are both available from

Dorothea Lange - Children of Mexican Cotton Laborers, Casa Grande, Arizona (1936)