Sunday, November 08, 2020

Toward An Agenda for the First 100 Hours of the Biden-Harris Era: "... to restore the soul of America, and to make America respected around the world again and to unite us here at home ..."


Before I lay out my recommendations for the "First 100 Hours ..." let's take a snap shot of this moment at what is hopefully the end of history and the beginning of HERstory: 
  •  "Biden’s victory & Trump’s defeat is a testament to the resilience of American democracy." - Washington Post Editorial Board, 11/7/20
  • "They gutted the Voting Rights Act. They sabotaged the Postal Service. They closed polling places, purged voter rolls, attacked mail voting, tried to throw out ballots. And yet voters turned out in record numbers to overcome these barriers & make their voices heard." - Ari Berman (@AriBerman), 11/7/20
  • "Trump follows the legacy of Andrew Johnson, as only the second one-term and impeached POTUS." - Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal), 11/7/20
  • "The Americans have chosen their President. Congratulations @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris! We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges. Let's work together!" - Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron), President of France, 11/7/20
  • "I congratulate @JoeBiden on his election as the next U.S. President & @KamalaHarris as Vice President. I know Joe Biden as a strong supporter of our Alliance & look forward to working closely with him. A strong #NATO is good for both North America & Europe." - Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg), NATO General Secretary, 11/7/20
  • “Joe Biden will be the 46th President of the United States,” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany wrote. “From my heart, I wish him good luck and success, and also congratulate Kamala Harris, the first woman Vice President-elect of her country.” - New York Times, 11/7/20
  • "Trump isn't just facing a humiliating loss. He's facing several criminal investigations, debts being called in, an existential threat to his business empire, and financial ruin." - Brian Klaas (@brianklaas), 11/7/20
  • "I warmly congratulate @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris for their victory in the U.S. Presidential elections. The EU and the USA are friends and allies, our citizens share the deepest of links. I look forward to working with President-elect Biden." - Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen), President of the E.U. Commission, 11/7/20
  • "Congratulations, @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris. Our two countries are close friends, partners, and allies. We share a relationship that’s unique on the world stage. I’m really looking forward to working together and building on that with you both." - Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau),  Prime Minister of Canada, 11/7/20
  • "Congratulations @JoeBiden on your win as President elect of the United States of America. I wish you well in office and look forward to further strengthening our countries relations on crucial matters such as climate change and human rights." - Katrín Jakobsdóttir (@katrinjak), Prime Minister of Iceland, 11/7/20
Well, despite seemingly coordinated, fascistic, terroristic utterances from Steve Bannon, Newt Gingrich, Alex Jones , Vernon Jones and the would-be tyrant himself, their new Krystallnacht was stillborn. And, as I prophesied, "the Power of Nothing" moved from the depths of the ocean of universal Love into and through our collective psyche. We did indeed coalesce into a United Front for Sanity and Decency, and we did indeed take action to "Survive the Pandemic and Save the Republic." 

Of course, the usual framing for an incoming administration is structured around "the First 100 Days."

Well, that's a luxury we don't have.

Here are my priorities for the First Hundred Hours ...

1. Launch a full-bore NATIONAL effort  led by SCIENTISTS, to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, including a mask mandate, massive roll-out of testing and contact tracing and the production and distribution of PPE. And re-join the WHO and join with the nations of the world in the coordinated global effort to develop and deliver a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19.

2. Decisively address the economic devastation caused by the pandemic, including extended emergency unemployment benefits, direct stimulus checks and rent relief, as well as substantive aid to state and local governments and genuinely small businesses. 

3. Take immediate action to reunite the families of 666 refuge children that Trump-Pence stole from the parents, the ones whose parents have not been tracked down

4. Re-enter the Paris Climate Accords.

5. Declare the United States' clear, unequivocal commitment to NATO and the Western Alliance.

6. Acknowledge the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many others from the bully pulpit of the Presidency and commit to swift and sweeping measures to address structural racism in police departments. 

7. Move forcefully to undo Trump-Pence sabotage of other major Obama-Biden accomplishments, for example, and in particular, re-join the Iran nuclear agreement, and re-dedicate the U.S. federal government to DACA and the Affordable Care Act

Much is still to be accomplished, the run-off election on January 5th, 2021 for both of Georgia's Senate seats is of paramount importance. 

Lean forward.
Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro): Madame Vice President.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Straw Dogs, A Mysterious Valley & the Power of Nothing: Deep Magic for A Time of Great Peril

NOTE: The views I will articulate in this talk are mine, and although they are in accord with the Three Avowed Objects, they are not the views of the Theosophical Society of San Francisco. We do not discuss politics here at the Lodge. Just as we have no religious dogma or creed, we do not have a political ideology. This not a political talk. But I will discuss history,  psychology and governance, and I will discuss human rights and environmental protection. One of the central themes in my work over these last two decades has been the championing of altruism and sustainability as both spiritual and existential imperatives. These two imperatives transcend politics.

"I just have something inside me that tells me that there is a problem, and I have got to do something about it. I think that is what I would call the God in me. All of us have a God in us, and that God is the spirit that unites all life, everything that is on this planet. It must be this voice that is telling me to do something, and I am sure it's the same voice that is speaking to everybody on this planet — at least everybody who seems to be concerned about the fate of the world, the fate of this planet." -- Wangari Maathai, Environmental Activist, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, as quoted by Priscilla Sears in Wangari Maathai:"You Strike The Woman ..."  (Context #28, Spring 1991)

Do you remember the time before? Can you remember what was what even nine months ago?


Maybe you live inside of a bubble of denial, maybe you’ve lost your discernment in the onslaught of DISinformation, maybe you are bound up in your own selfishness and narcissism, maybe you’ve gone numb from fear or exhaustion … But if you are one of those among us who listens to Gaia (she is always whispering encouragement to you, she sings you lullabies and she shouts out warnings, she is always speaking to you), and/or if you follow what Lao-Tzu called the Way of the Tao, and/or if you follow what Tathagata called the Wheel of the Dew-Sweet Law, then perhaps you will hear this message and it may resonate with you … 

In 2010, I began writing and speaking about what I called "the Singularity in Anticipation of Itself." At that time, there was much conjecture and debate, among philosophers and futurists, concerning the potential for unintended consequences from the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI). But I suggested that those concerned with AI were missing a far greater and much more imminent threat, I suggested that we ourselves were the Singularity, that it was Human Intelligence itself, and its unintended consequences that we should be concerned with. That Human Intelligence was leading itself into an Impossibility, and that for our species and our civilization to survive, something new, something inconceivable would have emerge from this Singularity, a new us. By 2019, I declared that the Singularity had arrived, and that we had crossed over the Event Horizon, that we had fallen into the Black Hole of this Singularity. Of course,  it is assumed that anything entering a Black Hole is crushed. Unless of course this Black Hole is actually one mouth of a Wormhole. So now, in 2020, we lean forward hoping this is a Wormhole, and that we come out of the Wormhole's other mouth, into a new being, a new universe, before we are crushed. This is where we are. As a species. 

Merriam-Webster Definition of scourge

1: WHIP especially one used to inflict pain or punishment

2: an instrument of punishment or criticism

3: a cause of wide or great affliction

Currently, we are being driven downward, deeper and deeper into Dystopia, We are staggering under the painful lashes of three great scourges: the Climate Crisis (and the Sixth Great Extinction), the Covid-19 Pandemic and the Rise of 21st-Century Authoritarianism. 

Climate Crisis & the Sixth Great Extinction

  • Ninety-seven large fires have burned more than 6,200 square miles across the western states, and evacuation orders were in place for 40 large fires in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Idaho and Utah, the National Interagency Fire Center said Saturday. Some evacuees have fled with just the clothes on their backs. Smoke from the blazes has impacted the entire West Coast, posing a health hazard to millions. - USA Today, Wildfires race across the West: Smoke poses health hazard to millions; unprecedented pollution in Oregon, 9/12/20
  • The global climate crisis could see more than a billion people displaced from their homes in the next 30 years, as ecological disasters drive mass migrations and greater armed conflict, according to a new report released Wednesday. The Ecological Threat Register, conducted by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), projected that as many as 1.2 billion people around the world could be displaced by 2050. No country will be able to escape the impact of the climate crisis -- but the world's poorest and most vulnerable populations will be hardest hit.” -- CNN, Climate Crisis Could Displace 1.2 Billion People by 2050, 9/10/20
  • The world is losing its mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish, and with them, the security of ecosystems that have supported humanity since it first emerged. That’s the conclusion of the Living Planet Report 2020, a biannual assessment by World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London, which records the decline in vertebrate life. This year’s report, released Wednesday, shows that these animal communities shrunk on average 68% between 1970 and 2016. Parts of the world are much worse off. The tropical Americas have seen animal populations decline 94% in the same period. -- Bloomberg Green, Animal Populations Fell by 68% in 50 Years and It’s Getting Worse, 9/10/20

Covid-19 Pandemic 

  • A coronavirus models projects deaths due to the virus in the United States will top 400,000 by the end of the year, with 410,000 projected by January 1, according to new data. That would more than double the current U.S. death toll, which stood at more than 188,000 as of Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University. -- CBS News, Coronavirus model projects U.S. deaths will surpass 400,000 by end of year, 9/4/20
  • New analysis by Amnesty International has found that at least 7,000 health workers have died around the world after contracting COVID-19. At least 1,320 health workers are confirmed to have died in Mexico alone, the highest known figure for any country. Amnesty International also recorded high numbers of health worker deaths in the USA (1,077) and Brazil (634), where infection and death rates have been high throughout the pandemic, as well as alarming figures in South Africa (240) and India (573), where infection rates have soared in recent months.- Amnesty International, Global: Amnesty analysis reveals over 7,000 health workers have died from COVID-19, 9/3/20
  • As students across the country return to classrooms, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the majority of children, teens and young adults who die from COVID-19 are Hispanic, Black or Native American. Researchers found there was a staggering racial disparity in the more than 390,000 coronavirus cases and 121 deaths among people under the age of 21 reported to the CDC between Feb. 12 and July 31. Hispanic, Black and Native American children accounted for 78% of those deaths even though those groups represent just 41% of the United States population, a disproportionate effect that reflects a similar disparity among adults.  - N'dea Yancey-Bragg, USA TODAY: Majority of kids who die of coronavirus are Hispanic, Black, or Native American, CDC finds, 9/16/20
  • The economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic could push as many as 86 million more children into poverty by the end of 2020, a joint study by Save the Children and UNICEF showed Wednesday. That would bring the total number of children affected by poverty worldwide to 672 million, an increase of 15 percent over last year ...  Agence France Press, Pandemic puts up to 86 million children at risk of poverty, 5/28/20
  • As the pandemic spreads, the threat to livelihoods around the world is yielding an alarming rise in hunger ... This is not a famine, which generally results from war combined with environmental disaster. Rather, incomes are being destroyed just as food prices rise in much of the world ... -- Peter S. Goodman (@petersgoodman), New York Times, The Other Way Covid Could Kill: Hunger, 9/11/20

21st Century Authoritarianism & Climate Barbarism
  • A group of national security experts testified Tuesday on Capitol Hill about the rise of authoritarianism, warning lawmakers that countries such as China and Russia are seeking to gain power by undermining democratic systems. In a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen, Open Constitution Initiative co-founder Teng Biao and Center for a New American Security’s transatlantic security expert Andrea Kendall-Taylor said there are indicators popping up worldwide that suggest a growing return to dictators and despots.  “Warning signs abound across the globe: the discarding of mainstream politicians, the emergence of leaders who seek to divide rather than unite, the purist of political victory at all costs and the invocation of national greatness by people who identify greatness only with themselves,” Albright told the committee in her opening remarks. “Tyranny is once again awakening from its slumber,” Rasmussen said in his opening remarks, echoing Albright … “This is the most trying time for democracy since the 1930s when fascism spread across much of Europe,” said Kendall-Taylor.-- The Hill, National security experts warn of rise in authoritarianism, 2/26/19
  • Climate barbarism is a form of climate adaptation. It’s no longer denying that we have begun an age of massive disruption, that many hundreds of millions of people are going to be forced from their homelands, and that huge swathes of the planet are going to be uninhabitable. And then, in response to that, rather than doing all the things that are encoded in the UN Convention on Climate Change, which recognizes the historical responsibility of many of the countries that happen to have a little more time to deal with the impacts of climate change — are insulated both by geography and relative wealth — instead says, look, we simply believe we are better, because of our citizenship, because of our whiteness, and our Christian-ness, and we are locking down, protecting our own, pulling aid ... We live in societies, whether they admit it or not, that do rank human life based on race and religion. And climate change forces us to reckon with that, and ask, are we going to live up to the rhetoric of equality and the idea that we actually believe people are of equal value by right of being alive on this planet? If we believe that, we need to radically change our ideas of national borders, and we need to open our arms and talk about how we’re going to share what is left. Or are we going to double down and get monstrous? We are getting monstrous. It’s not a future idea, it is happening ... -- Los Angeles Review of Books, Against Climate Barbarism: A Conversation with Naomi Klein, 9/30/19

It didn’t have to be this way. But it is.

Now, as horrific as all of this is, it is not insurmountable. Our circumstances are not hopeless.

We need to wear masks. We need to practice social distancing. People need rent relief and unemployment. We need to hunker down and wait for a vaccine, a proven, safe and effective vaccine. Pandemic denialism is as sick and evil as climate denialism. Yes, I said sick and evil, sick on the part of those that follow denialist opinion-shapers, and evil on the part of those opinion-shapers who propagate pandemic denialism. 

We need to rapidly phase out the burning of fossil fuels. Robust, economically viable alternatives are available to us. We need to drastically reduce our consumption of meat. We need to empower women. And yes, we need to confront the problem of unsustainable human population growth.

We need to rededicate ourselves to human rights and environmental protection. We need to strengthen our democratic institutions. 

All of this is do-able. All of this is our natural inclination. All of this serves to heal our species and our planet. It is within our reach. Altruism and sustainability are spiritual and existential imperatives. This is not ideology. This is humanity. It is science, not politics. It is humanism, not a political ideology.

Some among us have lost their livelihoods to the pandemic. 

Some among us have lost their homes and belongings to the wildfires

Some among us are even dealing with both tragedies simultaneously. 

Great forests, old, deeply richly magical forests, have been devastated. The powerful wisdom of all of the trees, the trees that you know, the trees that have laughed and wept and stood in silence with you. The exquisite throbbing life of all the forest creatures you have come to know. All those wild beings who recognize you as part of their own mandalas. 

Such loss. Unbearable. Unspeakable. Inconsolable. 

Grief and gratitude, like inhalation and exhalation. 

The pandemic continues. Some among us face eviction. Some among us face hunger. Some fear for the lives of their children if they send them to school. 

Hundreds of thousands have died of Covid-19, in isolation, cut off from their loves ones. 

Recently, I have been remembering my Yoda, the legendary American sage Joe Miler, toward the end of his life, during a stay in the Intensive Care Unit. He just wanted to go home, he just wanted to lie down in his own bed. Even if it was just to die. His bed was narrow and simple. Like a monk’s bed,  But it was his. Joe Miller did make it home. But in the misery of this pandemic, many have not. Now, every night, as I move toward my bed, I wonder if or when I will find myself in such circumstances. And I am grateful for each opportunity to just lie down in my own bed. I am grateful that I am not homeless. I am grateful that I have not fallen ill.

Such loss. Unbearable. Unspeakable. Inconsolable. 

Grief and gratitude, like inhalation and exhalation. 

But there is still more ...

The brutal deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. 

These atrocities traumatized our collective psyche and triggered many weeks of massive, nation-wide demonstrations; yes, tens of thousands of peaceful, masked citizens in the streets.

Such loss. Unbearable. Unspeakable. Inconsolable. 

Grief and gratitude, like inhalation and exhalation. 

Take nothing for granted. When you get in your bed to go to sleep, feel the gratitude. Always, always listen for the sound of the sands falling in the hour glass. We do not know the number of sand grains, but we do know it is a finite number. Feel the gratitude. It can all be taken away from you in a moment. It will all be taken away from each of us. One way or another. We know not the hour. Gratitude and the grief, like inhalation and exhalation. This is what it means to be alive.


So this is where we are. In this moment, An extraordinary inflection point.


There are some further insights and perspectives I want to share with you: first, some lessons from the history of the 20th Century, and then some occult teachings from the Ancient Future.

Lessons from History As We Move Into Herstory

Ours is a republic predicated on democratic principles and built upon democratic institutions. 
Democracy is Gaian, authoritarianism is not. Democracy is indigenous to the Mysterious Valley of the Dark Goddess. But like everything Gaian, democracy cannot live in a vacuum, it is interdependent with a free press, the rule of law, the universal declaration of human rights, and without the nutrients provided by these other vital elements of its eco-system, democracy dies. 
Authoritarians will always try to make you fearful of the mob to turn you away from democracy, but, ironically, democracy is the opposite of mob rule, and authoritarianism is dependent upon mob rule … Authoritarianism is a form of governance preferred by weak men, the weak man always wants to imagine he is a strong man, he wants to identify with the strong man. Plato and Heidegger were weak men. That’s why authoritarian rule is Plato’s only answer to the challenges he explores in The Republic. That’s why Heidegger’s letters and diaries confirm his complicity and support for the Nazis. Weak men want "a strong man" in control. Quite often, unconsciously, they want to feel once again the power of their abusive father.
I have studied the authoritarian regimes of the 20th Century, and pondered the lessons to be learned. There are four lessons I want to share with you in the here and now.
An authoritarian regime needs Hitlers, pathologically ill men desirous of acting out their sadistic fantasies, and it needs Eichmanns, it needs yes men willing to be cogs on the wheels of woe, shameless enough to wrap their own passive soul illnesses in rationales like “just following orders.” But an authoritarian regime also needs the hidden hand of those who underwrite it all, oligarchs… maybe it’s diamonds, maybe it’s fossil fuels, maybe it’s narcotics or munitions, but there is always some economic agenda hidden behind the political agenda … these are the three elements that turn the wheel of woe that is authoritarianism …
There is something else authoritarian regimes require, and that is a bizarre, delusional world-view with which to overwrite a society's collective reality, just as in a cult … The sicker the men, the more bizarre and delusional this world-view will be … Hitler, Himmler and others in their circle were obsessed with occultism, and the paranormal, but of course their approach to all of this subject matter was warped and perverted by their underlying pathologies, as warped and perverted as their view of moral and political philosophy …
What do I mean by a warped and delusional world view?
Well, consider these recent news stories, they are poignantly germane:

  • A secret cabal is taking over the world. They kidnap children, slaughter, and eat them to gain power from their blood. They control high positions in government, banks, international finance, the news media, and the church. They want to disarm the police. They promote homosexuality and pedophilia. They plan to mongrelize the white race so it will lose its essential power. Does this conspiracy theory sound familiar? It is. The same narrative has been repackaged by QAnon. I have studied and worked to prevent genocide for forty years. Genocide Watch and the Alliance Against Genocide, the first international anti-genocide coalition, see such hate-filled conspiracy theories as early warning signs of deadly genocidal violence. The plot, described above, was the conspiracy “revealed” in the most influential anti-Jewish pamphlet of all time. It was called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It was written by Russian anti-Jewish propagandists around 1902. It collected myths about a Jewish plot to take over the world that had existed for hundreds of years …  QAnon’s conspiracy theory is a rebranded version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion … Many people are perplexed at how any rational person could fall for such an irrational conspiracy theory. But modern social science shows that people in groups don’t always think rationally. They respond to fear and terror. They blame their misfortunes on scapegoats. They support narcissistic demagogues they hope will rescue them. - Gregory Stanton, QAnon is A Nazi Cult, Rebranded, Just Security, 9/9/20
  • "The editors at BuzzFeed News have become uneasy about using conspiracy theory to describe QAnon ... QAnon has shifted, and so should how we write about it. QAnon is a collective delusion, and that's what BuzzFeed News will be calling it from now on." - Buzzfeed, Here’s Why BuzzFeed News Is Calling QAnon A “Collective Delusion” From Now On, 9/4/20
  • Seane Corn never thought her duties as yoga instructor would one day include warning people about the dangers of an international right-wing conspiracy theory.The Los Angeles yoga teacher is one of several high-profile Instagram influencers using their platforms to combat the rise of the QAnon conspiracy theory in wellness spaces. "I just didn't think that I would be having to talk about things like a cabal of people in the U.S. that are kidnapping children and drinking their blood to gain power," Corn told As It Happens host Carol Off. "I never thought that this would be a conversation I would have to have with my community to say, like, 'This isn't true. This isn't happening. Please use more discernment.'" - CBC Radio, This yoga instructor is fighting the rise of QAnon in the wellness community, 9/17/20
A third important lesson to draw from the history of 20th Century authoritarianism concerns the Spanish Civil War. Generalissimo Franco and the Fascists didn’t have the support of the majority of the populace. Not even close to a majority of the populace. Closer to the quarter of the populace than even half of the populace. There was a vast front, a popular front arrayed against them, from across the ideological spectrum and from all factions, but they could not overcome their own differences, they could not truly unite for the common good, and so, Franco and the Fascists won, AND Franco ruled for 36 years …

The fourth lesson concerns Mussolini, Il Duce. He ruled Italy for twenty years. He joined with Nazi Germany and militarist Japan to form the Axis powers. He conquered the Horn of Africa. His thugs could grab you off the street and disappear you. He was a tyrant. But when it all came apart, it happened fast, and when he fell, he fell hard: “Mussolini refused to consider flying out of the country, and he made for the Valtellina, intending perhaps to make a final stand in the mountains; but only a handful of men could be found to follow him. He tried to cross the frontier disguised as a German soldier in a convoy of trucks retreating ... But he was recognized and, together with his mistress, Claretta Petacci, who had insisted on remaining with him to the end, he was shot and killed ... Their bodies were hung, head downward, in the Piazza Loreto in Milan. Huge jubilant crowds celebrated the fall of the dictator and the end of the war.” (

Tao Te Ching

Lao-Tzu. Tao Te Ching. 6th Century BC, yes, but even early 4th Century BC. A small book. Maybe 5,000 Chinese characters. Organized into 81 chapters. 

My Yoda, the legendary American sage Joe Miller, once told someone that if he had to go live on a desert island and could only take one book with him it would be the Tao Te Ching. 

That remark made me smile deeply, when it was recounted to me, because, as I mention in “I, the Dragon,” Lao-Tzu has been with me since I was maybe 14 years old.

If you had asked me for my favorite chapter when I was fourteen, or thirty-three, I would have said #71, if you asked me in my forties, I would have said #70, but for the last two or three decades, I have spent the most time with #5 and #6. #5 is fierce and #6 is gentle. They illuminate each other. They underscore each other. They occupy the same space. One cannot realize the truth of one without the truth of the other.

Chapter 5: Straw Dogs 

“Heaven and Earth are not kindly;
They equate the ten thousand things with straw dogs.
The Sage is not kindly;
He equates the people with straw dogs.
The space between Heaven and Earth,
It is hollow, yet it never fails to supply.
The more it is worked, the more it gives forth ..."
- Lao Tzu, “Tao Te Ching,” (Dr. Henry Wei)

“Heaven and earth aren’t humane. To them the ten thousand things are straw dogs. Wise souls aren’t humane. To them the hundred families are straw dogs. Heaven and earth act as a bellows: Empty yet structured, it moves, inexhaustibly giving.” 

Mysterious Valley

"The valley spirit never dies.
Call it the mystery, the woman.
The mystery, the Door of the Woman, is the root of earth and heaven.
Forever this endures, forever.
And all its uses are easy."
Lao Tzu, “Tao Te Ching,” (Ursula LeGuin)

“The Spirit of the Valley never dies.
Hence comes the name Mysterious Female.
The gateway of the Mysterious Female
Is the root of Heaven and Earth.
Continuous like a thread it seems to exist;
Its utility is inexhaustible.” - Lao Tzu, “Tao Te Ching,” (Dr. Henry Wei)

This is a time of trial and tribulation.

I don’t want us to analyze the nuances of meaning in these texts, I don’t want to study the subtle differences in the translations, I don’t want to tell you “what it means.” I just want to somehow impart to you something of an experiential nature. 

The valley, the verdant valley, the valley of richness, fecundity, interdependence, complexity, the green and the brown valley of mystery, empathy, ecstasy, all of it ... anyone who has ever walked or slept or lived in one of the true Lothloriens of our world knows this valley. It's green and brown power is resilient. Each of its womanifestations is utterly unique, exquisite, irreplaceable, utterly, utterly, when it is lost, it is lost, but the green power is indomitable, indestructible in its essential nature, it is irresistable, it is life itself, it cannot be voided by anything dependent upon that green power itself, for life, and everything is dependent upon that green power for life, nothing existing within the membrane of its love can escape it, or live without it, nothing, it always arrives anew.

The straw dogs were used in religious ceremonies, they were imbued with meaning and great significance, but once the ceremonies were finished, they were discarded, tossed aside, lost. This truth is inescapable. The Straw Dogs teaching simply says all things must pass away. all things must pass away. and we know not the hour, and we are the space in which it all rises and falls away. I don't just mean life turning to death, I mean EVERYTHING, all of it. The Straw Dogs teaching is the Four Noble Truths in a tincture. This is the way the sage sees the 10,000 things (everything) and the 100 families (everyone). This isn’t detachment or indifference, it’s Vairagya. I almost don’t want to translate Vairagya, it’s been so misinterpreted. For me, it's a word like Bodhicitta, it can't really be explained. I say the best way for me to define Bodhicitta is to give you a long list I made. It consists of various combination of two words that when coupled together might best define Bodhicitta on English; I say that taken as a sum total, the various combinations on this list might actually convey to you some sense of what Bodhicitta truly means. But with the term Vairagya, I wouldn't offer you a list, I would use the opposite approach, I don’t really want to use any words, but I guess it’s best for me to say it is something like presence and clarity. Vairagya doesn’t mean you don’t feel the empathy or the ecstasy or the agony, oh no, you feel all of it, and it’s not that they don’t break you, oh no, it breaks you, but you are also the space that holds the you that breaks. A great loss befalls us suddenly, an irretrievable utterly shattering loss, unbearable. unspeakable, unconsolable, utterly, but this presence and clarity abide even as all is lost ... 

Now you want to feel the Mysterious Valley’s richness, interdependence and fecundity and concurrently you want to feel the Straw Dogs' utter clarity and unwavering presence, yes, fullness and emptiness, at once, occupying the same space. This is how we lean forward. Moving ever deeper. Feeling our way. To the other mouth of the Wormhole. 

Don't make the mistake of turning these two teachings into polar opposites, there is no polar opposite of the Deep Feminine, this is upstream from all of that, upstream from gender, upstream of any binary or post binary formulations, this is source, there is no other, this is the circumference circle sea of Chi, within which waves of Yin and Yang distinguish themselves while interpenetrating. The Mysterious Valley IS the Deep Feminine within all of us and everything. Straw Dogs is a way we hold space for the turning of the Great Wheel, it is an attitude, a Maha Attitude, a Great Attitude, a Mahamudra, a Great Gesture.

The Power of Nothing

No one really knows what's going to happen. No one really knows how this will all turn on. But despite all of the suffering inflicted by these three great scourges, despite the human race falling into a star-crushing Black Hole, I am wildly optimistic about our future.

To explain, I will reference two perspectives that my Yoda, the legendary American sage, Joe Miller, shared with some of us in the 1980s. I have spoken about these two perspectives before, both in public talks and private conversations, and I have written about them in both Wyrds, but at this remarkable inflection point on our collective journey, here and now, as history shifts into herstory (something else Joe foresaw), I feel that these two perspectives have more meaning and more relevancy, than ever before. And I am confident in the coming weeks, months and years, they will become ever more relevant and ever more meaningful.

In this very Lodge, thirty-three years ago, in 1987, Joe gave a talk just after the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. The event had moved him deeply. Planners had expected maybe 150,000 to 200,000 people to show up for the celebration. But it turned out to be 800,000. No one was hurt. There wasn't any trouble. "Nobody jumped off," Joe said, "There were even little kids walking on the catwalks outside the railing and nothing happened to any of them." It was just a joyous, beautiful few hours. Throngs of people strolling across the span. So many that they flattened out the bridge. Joe said it was "the Power of Nothing that called forth all of those people that day.

"... remember that's a bridge, a bridge on the Golden Gate. Something inside them told them something, and maybe that something that hasn't come clear to them goes something like this:
'Only through the orchid door of the heart
And the violet flame therein,
Can you place your feet on the rainbow bridge
That leads to the city of the Golden Gate
And the shrine of Clear Light therein.'
Stop and think about that for a minute. Nobody said anything to them about anything like that but they felt the pull ...
So from now on never tell me that NOTHING can't move things. That NOTHING was something in their hearts, something they realized as part of their nature, an ideal. They thought, 'This is the Golden Gate Bridge, it's the most wonderful thing of its kind in the world,' and they went there. But it was their hearts speaking to them, and they probably didn't know why.
There is more in NOTHING than you think. Well, everything in life that we can think of is divided up into dualities anyhow. There is always a dual side to everything. There is a right-hand side of the brain and a left-hand side of the brain. The left-hand side is strictly intellectual. These people were moved from the other side, the right-hand side. They weren't moved by anything outside themselves either, they moved themselves from INSIDE. They knew that the Golden Gate Bridge took them to the City of the Golden Gate. They knew that reality. It hit 'em and it hit 'em from NOTHING. Explain it? You can't. – Great Song: Life and Teachings of Joe Miller, pp. 93-95

We have seen the Power of Nothing move at some milestone moments over the last 50 years.

Consider these examples from that same 1980-1990 time frame in which Joe shared the insights I'm referencing here:
  • The rise of Solidarity movement in Poland in the 1980s
  • The massive non-violent Goddess of Liberty protest in Tiananmen Square in 1989
  • The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989
  • Nelson Mandela emerging from prison in 1990, AFTER TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS incarceration, to negotiate the end of Apartheid and get elected the first President of a new South Africa
Of course, it doesn't always turn out well. Bad can come from Good and Evil in turn can come from Bad. Nevertheless, when the Power of Nothing moves, it opens a portal, it opens up an opportunity, a quantum moment, and if we lean forward in those moments, then even when setbacks occur, we have still progressed, and more hope is inscribed in the hearts of those who listen to Gaia, in the hearts of those who follow the Way of the Tao, in the hearts of those who follow the Way of the Dew-Sweet Law …

Now the last bit of all this that I want to touch on with you in this talk is, as I mentioned, a second perspective offered by the legendary American sage Joe Miller, this one is really more of a prophecy than a perspective. Like the story of the GG Bridge and the Power of Nothing, this story too takes us back to the 1980s. It was a weekday. It was winter. It was dark. I had fought my way through heavy traffic up from Silicon Valley. It was the Muggle High Holidays, that time of year. It was after Thanksgiving and before Christmas. The energy was intense. Lots of shoppers, lots of party-goers. I parked my car and staggered up Joe and Guin Miller's stairs and sat down on the couch with Joe. Guin was in the back of the flat, playing solitaire and listening to a S.F. Giants baseball game on the radio. Joe and I were drinking coffee and eating what he called "rat cheese" (slices of Kraft's cheddar cheese and Ritz crackers).

Something terrible was going on in the world at that time, I can't remember which terrible thing, it was before the Tiananmen Square Massacre, it was before the Rwandan Genocide, I can't remember what it was, but it was something terrible, maybe it was a couple of horrific story lines developing simultaneously, anyway, I had been brooding over it all the way up from work. "Joe, evolution? Really, human evolution? There's no evolution going on. What the fuck? How can this be? Nothing is happening here."

Joe didn't miss a beat. He just took a took a breath, and from a great depth, but very matter-of-factly he said, "We just have to make it through the next 100 years."

Now, remember, this was in the 1980s. "We just have to make it through the next 100 years."

I said "What do you mean?"

He said, "A hundred years from now, more and more children are going to be coming into incarnation, and they're just gonna know, they're just gonna know." They're gonna know and feel. The kind of knowledge that is feeling. They're just gonna know and feel what is. "And you're going to be able to sit down and describe the practice of [Sri Ramana Maharshi to them and tell them to ask themselves who they are and they're just going to know ..." Really know. Not intellectually. Not psychologically. Not emotionally. Deeper. "They're just gonna know."

The answer to "Who am I?" is not an intellectual answer, it is a mystical answer that cannot be put into words. There is no answer.

Now that was 40 years or so ago, so we are well into that 100 years, we're almost to the halfway point, we have maybe 60 more to go. But it's all incremental. It is not going to happen all at once, it is already underway. You can already see it happening. In the children. You can already see it happening. In the youth. A kind of knowing. A knowing that is feeling. But not emotion. Deeper. Deeper. Knowingness. Emotional intelligence yes, but even beyond, into the Intuitive Knowing of What Is ... This is incremental. We are holding space. Our job is to survive and hold space. For the great transformation. For the arc of evolution. The arc of herstory. We are holding space. For something that is going on in human evolution. And it is already quickening.

The final feeling and conviction I want to share with you in this talk is this -

When I had that conversation with Joe in the 1980s, I had no hope for humanity, I was hopeless. Here and now, in 2020, I am wildly optimistic about the future of our world and of our nation, IF the Power of Nothing moves, and IF we make it through the rest of this 100 year gauntlet, IF we make to the other end of this Wormhole. AND it is much worse now than it was in the 1980s, I was hopeless in the 1980s, I am wildly optimistic now, and our circumstances much much much worse, DIRE ... But I have seen, I have felt, I have heard, I have witnessed the beginning of this 100 years in the arc of human evolution ... Remember the 100th Monkey? There was a species of monkey on a group of islands all cut off from each other. But a monkey on one of the islands learned how to do something on its own, a way to wash sweet potatoes. And a few monkey close by picked up the skill, and soon other monkeys on that island knew, BUT THEN when the hundredth monkey knew, BAM, all the monkeys on all of the islands KNEW, they just knew ... Now I don't know what our number is, maybe it's the 500 millionth, maybe it's a billionth monkey, or well, in our case, the billionth ape ... We are going to move through what we are moving through ... and IF, IF, IF ... we don't know what's going to happen, but IF the Power of Nothing can flow, and we can hold this space, we will come out the other side of the wormhole ...

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


Monday, July 20, 2020

That Infinite Cascade of Ripples Flowing Out from This Rare Gem Stone Soul Dropped into the Great Salt Sea of Our National Psyche (For John Lewis)

"You are the light. Never let anyone—any person or any force—dampen, dim or diminish your light. Study the path of others to make your way easier and more abundant. Lean toward the whispers of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates. […] Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won. Choose confrontation wisely, but when it is your time don't be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice. And if you follow your truth down the road to peace and the affirmation of love, if you shine like a beacon for all to see, then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation, a world community, and a Beloved Community that is finally at peace with itself.” - John Lewis, Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America (2012)

John Lewis in Newly Unearthed Mugshots in the 1960s,
 (Nashville Police Department), Smithsonian Magazine, 12/1/16

I am not a sentimentalist. At least not about death. I have been around too much of it. I know what it is, I know what it isn't. I don't do obituaries. I don't write them, read them or post them. I get it, I understand the need. I understand the function, I just don't do obituaries. I am not a "rest in peace" person, I am not a "sorry for your loss" person. My relationship with death is seemingly paradoxical: On the terrestrial plane, I am an existentialist -- when someone falls, they fall, they're gone. I live with the living. I don't look back, I lean forward. But on the occult plane, I know with utter certainty that what the humans call "death" is not what they imagine it to be. The terrestrial life and work of a great being, whether in the arts, the sciences or in politics (yes, I said politics), it just the beginning in one sense, or the continuation in another sense, resulting in an infinite cascade of ripples through all time and space, i.e., all being. Death is death. Period. Full stop. Death is not death. Period. Full stop.
Can you embrace this divine paradox? Sooner or later, you will have to.
So this is is not an obituary for Rep. John Lewis, D-GA. This is a dispatch from the barricades where John Lewis stood, leaning forward on the terrestrial plane, advancing the front line with each forward step. He has fallen. We must hold the line, and advance the line. Step by step. But meanwhile, on the occult plane, that infinite cascade of ripples that flow out from this rare gem stone soul dropped into the great salt sea of the human psyche, that infinite cascade has only just begun ...
Any truthful dispatch from the front line of this forward movement cannot help but also be a call to non-violent action, the facts compel it, reality itself compels it, the narrative demands it, mass action on the streets, yes, but also court action, legislative action, social and cultural action within our own interpenetrating circles and holiest of all, electoral action (yes, the vote, your vote).
The terrestrial life of John Lewis embodied all of these actions, and the occult life of John Lewis, that infinite cascade of rippling Love Supreme (yes, I bow to the great Coltrane), the occult life of John Lewis' "good trouble" moves forward world without end ...
As a citizen, as a human being, I have spent almost all of my life on these barricades, one way or another, many of us have, whether for you that means a decade or two, or as for me too many decades ... But for as long as I have stood on this barricade and leaned forward, I could hear the voice of John Lewis somewhere along the line ...
A brave voice, a true voice, a voice that did not falter, a voice that always spoke from a place of adamantine love and determination ...
  • Civil rights icon and US Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia made a surprise appearance at this year's "Bloody Sunday" commemorative march in Selma, Alabama, where he delivered an impassioned plea to voters to use the ballot box as "a nonviolent instrument or tool to redeem the soul of America." Lewis, who had his skull broken by white police officers during the 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in December ... "We were beaten, we were tear-gassed. I thought I was going to die on this bridge. But somehow and some way, God almighty helped me here," Lewis said in an emotional speech on Sunday at the apex of the bridge. "We must go out and vote like we never, ever voted before." "I'm not going to give up. I'm not going to give in. We're going to continue to fight. We need your prayers now more than ever before," he said. "We must use the vote as a nonviolent instrument or tool to redeem the soul of America." - John Lewis urges attendees of Selma's 'Bloody Sunday' commemorative march to 'redeem the soul of America' by voting, CNN, 3/1/20
I remember it all ... 

In 2000, the shell of a man formerly known as Ralph Nader declared that there was no difference between Bush and Gore, and there he was in the final days before the election, campaigning in Florida. Gore won, but Bush was sworn in. Not all of Al Gore's votes got counted, but enough of Nader's votes got counted to turn the electoral college, and the country, over to Cheney and Rove. Al Gore wouldn't have invaded Iraq or pulled out of the Kyoto Climate Accords or ...  

So, in 2016, tell me, in Moscow in December 2015, was Mike Flynn Dr. Stein's dinner date, or was she Vladimir Putin's dinner date? Or was it a dirty tricks menage a trois? Like the shell of a man formerly known as Ralph Nader before her, Jill Stein told you that there was not enough of a difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Clinton won, but Stein's votes (and her "recount efforts" in key battleground states turned the electoral college, and the country, over to Putin and put his weaponized clown in the White House. "I'm the last thing standing between you and the Apocalypse," Clinton warned, and she was right. 

In between, of course, Barack Obama held the high ground, setting the U.S. on an incremental but inexorable path to universal healthcare, signing the U.S. on to the Paris Climate Agreement, and not only avoiding war with Iran, but working successfully with the other world powers to arrive at a peace agreement. But throughout it all, even as Citizens United hollowed out our democratic institutions, some among us, those who had become toxic, those who had lost touch with reality, chose to spend the eight years carping at Obama and the "Democratic Establishment." They had learned nothing from 2000.

And, in 2000, in 2012, in 2020, do you know what I told those I knew who argued that there was no difference (or not enough) between the two major parties and who argued for a third party or just don't even bother to vote? I said, "I will leave the Democratic Party when John Lewis leaves it." If he felt it was worth fighting for, then so did I. None of them had any real response to that. It was inevitably the end of the argument. Oh, some of them went ahead and threw away their votes, but they had no answer to my reason for not throwing away mine. Because, well, John Lewis ...

Yes, for as long as I have stood on this barricade and leaned forward, I could hear the voice of John Lewis somewhere along the line ...

Throughout his life, John Lewis not only put his shoulder to bending the arc of the moral universe toward justice, he also stood at the fulcrum of history.

Consider John Lewis in January 2009 and in January 2017 --
  • In an exclusive interview with NBC News' "Meet the Press," Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said he does not believe Donald Trump is a "legitimate president," citing Russian interference in last year’s election ... When pressed to explain why, he cited allegations of Russian hacks during the campaign that led to the release of internal documents from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign co-chairman, John Podesta. “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” Lewis told NBC News. - Rep. John Lewis: 'I Don't See Trump as a Legitimate President', NBC News, 1/13/17
As a young man, John Lewis was arrested and beaten over and over again, in non-violent resistance, and as an elder statesman he often broke into dances of jubilation after speaking on the campaign trail. Whether surrounded by hate or love, John Lewis led. But now he has fallen.

And you and I are still here at this barricade, leaning forward, advancing the front line step by step. 

On the terrestrial plane, his dances of jubilation have ceased, but on the occult plane, that infinite cascade of ripples still flows out from this rare gem stone soul dropped into the great salt sea of our national psyche ...
This is the great battle of our time. This is it. All of the praying, the marching, the voting, the decades, it all comes down to this November, and to the dangerous time between this November and next January. The demographics are with us, the arc of the moral universe is accelerating, evolution has been grinding on relentlessly. The Death-Eater Overlords' stranglehold on the electoral college is  going to be broken. A second consecutive tsunami is building. A 2020 #BlackLivesMatter tsunami to follow on the 2018 #MeToo tsunami. A united front for sanity and decency is coalescing, Right, Left and Center. We must survive the pandemic and save the republic.

The forces of evil (yes, evil, it's a diagnosis not a moral judgment) have a ruthless grip on the levers of power, but if we take the Senate and topple #MoscowMitch, it's all over for them. In spite of the dirty tricks, the information warfare, the vote suppression, the dark money, the gerrymandering, the electoral college, in spite of all of it ... a new world is coming, the great shift is already underway ... we must not fail to show up for this moment ...

John Lewis died a few days ago at the age of 80. I found myself pondering the length of his life, how deep into it he had gone, and how the sands in the hourglass finally ran out. 80 years. And then it occurred to me, he was only fourteen years older than me. Fourteen years ...

Pull yourselves together. Make #GoodTrouble. Lean forward. Make #GoodTrouble. Vote. 

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

55th Anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," Selma, Alabama 3/1/20

President Barack Obama awards the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom to Congressman John Lewis in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House February 15, 2011

Sunday, June 21, 2020

For Those of Us Massing Here on the Other Side of the Event Horizon: 7 Verities for Aligning with Reality from Inside the Vortex, Including "Black Lives Matter"

Kadir Nelson, "Say Their Names," New Yorker Cover, 6/22/20
The ugliest claim made by John Bolton in the former national security adviser’s new “tell-all” book is that President Donald Trump encouraged Chinese leader Xi Jinping to continue rounding up Uighur Muslims into the concentration camps where they are tortured, separated from their families, and “reeducated" ... Throughout his presidency, nine current and former senior administration officials say, Trump has exhibited a callous indifference to what has been described as crimes against humanity and cultural genocide taking place in China’s western Xinjiang province. -- Asawin Suebsaeng, Erin Banco, Spencer Ackerman, Sam Brodey, Daily Beast, 6/18/20

American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it. -- James Baldwin

Our analysis shows that with the same actions actually taken by other nations large and small, from East and West, the U.S. could have prevented 70% to 99% of its Covid-19 deaths. This has been a needless tragedy. -- Stat News, 6/19/20

I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.
 -- Audre Lorde

Yesterday. 6/19/20. A profound celebration of Juneteenth.
  • In a city that has become known as a landmark to black pain, Friday was a day for black joy ... In any year, Juneteenth in Tulsa means something different than it does in other cities, according to black residents. The exuberance more palpable, the music more soulful, against the backdrop of the 1921 white riot that killed an estimated 300 black Tulsans and destroyed the area once known as “Black Wall Street.” “We’re celebrating the emancipation of slaves, but we’re really celebrating the idea of being black,” said Jacquelyn Simmons, who has lived in Tulsa for 45 years." -- Astead W. Herndon, New York Times, 6/19/20
Tonight, 6/20/20. The great wheel turns, turns with it.

Solstice. Feel the planetary polarity. Summer in the global North, Winter in the global South. And a New Moon, with her shadow sister Solar Eclipse. Immerse yourselves in the radiant darkness.

As this vast multitude of wounded healers and peaceful warriors prepares to exercise the sacred power of the vote, I present seven verities for aligning with reality from the inside the vortex.

1.  A Prescient Vision At 14th and L

During the Civil War, Walt Whitman moved from Brooklyn to Washington, D.C. to work as a nurse tending to injured Union army soldiers. He would stand at the corner of 14th and L, and wait for President Lincoln to pass by on his way between the White House and his summer cottage. Their eyes would meet, and Lincoln would give a slight bow to the stranger who would come to write Leaves of Grass. In his journal of those years, Whitman wrote of "the deep latent sadness" in Lincoln's countenance. Recently, I have been pondering the impersonally personal encounters of those two legendary beings, and I am certain that they shared a prescient vision of our time and saw much for which there were simply no words. And now it has fallen on us to finish this great battle.

The Confederacy was defeated in the year 1865; the Neo-Confederacy, ascendant since Nixon's "Southern Strategy," will be defeated in the year 2020.

Dalton Carper (@DBCarper): Another photo from tonight #GeorgeFloydprotest
#BlackLivesMatters #72ndAndDodge #Omaha #icantbreathe
2. Black Lives Matter

This time frame, from the murder of George Floyd to Election Day, this is our Berlin Wall moment. Well, it's either that or our Tiananmen Square moment. We all must choose sides. Yes, choose sides.
  • Mary Elizabeth Taylor, one of the highest-ranking African American officials in the Trump administration, resigned on Thursday over President Donald Trump’s response to racial tensions across the nation, The Washington Post reported. Taylor, 30, was the youngest person and first Black woman to serve as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs in the State Department. In her resignation letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, obtained by the Post, Taylor said the president’s “comments and actions surrounding racial injustice and Black Americans” had “cut sharply against my core values and convictions.” “Moments of upheaval can change you, shift the trajectory of your life, and mold your character,” wrote Taylor, who has served with the Trump administration since its first day in January 2017. “I must follow the dictates of my conscience and resign as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs.” -- Huffington Post, 6/18/20
Appearing on MSNBC, the great Susan Rice shared some perspective on Taylor's resignation.
  • Former national security adviser Susan Rice slammed the Trump administration as “racist to its core” and said that supportive senators belong in the “trash heap of history.” “I'd say better late than never. You know, to serve an administration which has been racist to its core for the last three and a half years, from comparing the peaceful protesters at Charlottesville to white supremacists, calling white supremacists very fine people, all the way through to the recent weeks where the administration has disparaged the Black Lives Matter movement, disparaged the peaceful protesters, and basically made plain that they prefer to stand by a Confederate legacy than a modern America, it's been an administration whose record on race is just disgraceful ...” -- The Hill, 6/20/20
3. The Second Blue Tsunami

Earthquakes cause Tsunamis.

#MeToo led to the 2018 Blue Tsunami.

#BlackLivesMatter will lead to the 2020 Blue Tsunami.

Women, African Americans, and in particular, African American Women will be the vanguard.
  • Amy Klobuchar is removing her name from the pool of potential Democratic vice presidential candidates — instead calling on Joe Biden to pick a woman of color as a running mate. On Thursday, the U.S. Senator from Minnesota, 60, revealed to MSNBC that she officially withdrew her name from the shortlist of possible VPs. During the news appearance, Klobuchar said she thinks it's time for diversity on the ballot, given the current "historic moment" of pushing for racial justice. "America must seize on the moment, and I truly believe — as I actually told the VP last night when I called him — that I think this is a moment to put a woman of color on that ticket," she said. "And there are so many incredibly qualified women. ... If you want to heal this nation right now, my party yes, but our nation, this is a hell of a way to do it." -- People Magazine, 6/19/20
Patrisse Cullors, the performance artist and activist best known for co-founding Black Lives Matter in 2013, unveiled a new work on Saturday in collaboration with UCLA’s Fowler Museum. The performance piece, A Prayer for the Runner, honors the life of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old who was murdered in Georgia this year for the crime of jogging while black
4. Surviving the Pandemic

To save the Republic we must first survive the Pandemic.

Wear a mask. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands often. Shelter in place as much as possible. This is not nearly over. Many people are in deep denial. And the Bully Pulpit is being used to mislead many more. Plan for this to grind on through the rest of 2020 and on into 2021. Don't fear the Bat's Kiss, but make certain you R-E-S-P-E-C-T it. We are on our own.

May the Goddess bless the Blue State governors.

It didn't have to be this way, but it is ... 
  • To compare each country’s responses to the pandemic on a consistent basis, we turned to the work of an Oxford University team that has constructed a stringency index based on 13 policy responses (lockdowns, border closings, tests, etc.) to measure how strongly each country responded over time. The Oxford index shows that 14 days from the date of the 15th confirmed case in each country — a vital early window for action — the U.S. response to the outbreak lagged behind the others by miles. The U.S. stringency score of 5.7 at that point was 25% of Australia’s (23), 23% of Germany’s (25), 18% of Singapore’s (32), and only 15% of South Korea’s (38). Due to exponential viral spread, our delay in action was devastating. In the wake of the U.S. response, 117,858 Americans died in the four months following the first 15 confirmed cases. After an equivalent period, Germany suffered only 8,863 casualties. Scaling up the German population of 83.7 million to America’s 331 million, a U.S.-sized Germany would have suffered 35,049 Covid-19 deaths. So if the U.S. had acted as effectively as Germany, 70% of U.S. coronavirus deaths might have been prevented ... Our conclusions are strengthened by their consistency with the results from different methodologies. Two notable epidemiological projections, based on theoretical models of transmission and “idealized hypothetical assumptions,” have estimated that between 80% and 90% of American deaths could have been averted had lockdowns and social distancing begun two weeks earlier. -- Stat News, 6/19/20
  • Chauncey DeVega: For several years you have been one of the most prominent public voices warning the American people and the world about the dangers represented by Donald Trump. Now, facing the coronavirus pandemic, where are we as a country and people, relative to the events you predicted would result from Trump's presidency?
    Dr. Bandy Lee: This a real crisis, both in terms of Trump's presidency and in terms of his psyche. At first Trump tried to manage the coronavirus in his mind by pretending that it was nothing. It was something that would go away in no time; the virus would somehow magically disappear. That is Trump's fantasy world. When that wasn't happening, and the stock market was in crisis and tumult, Trump then tried to look like he was in charge by giving a speech to the whole country. Trump continues to have these televised speeches and press conferences to make it look like he is control of the coronavirus crisis, all while he has Mike Pence and other government officials praise him on TV. Trump is not in touch with reality. He cannot control the coronavirus with his mind and by living in a fantasy world, as he has done for most of the crisis. Mental health professionals have been warning for years that Trump's mental health issues would lead to such a dire situation. Trump is not showing just a lack of presidential leadership. What he is doing is so irresponsible and inept that having him as president is in some ways worse than having no leadership in the country at all. Trump is spreading disinformation, suppressing reality, and threatening those experts and other people who are telling him things about the coronavirus pandemic that he doesn't want to hear. Now we in America and around the world are living through the horrible results of Trump's behavior. His mental health issues are translating directly into deaths and widespread calamity. -- Chauncey DeVega interviews Dr. Bandy Lee, Salon, 3/23/20
5. Saving the Republic

Saving the Republic requires a United Front for Sanity and Decency. 

This is not a moment for ideological purity, this is the moment for a broad, popular action, embracing elements of the Left, Right and Center. Such a Front is actually coalescing.

On the Right, the brilliant media campaigns of The Lincoln Project (e.g., "Flag of Treason"), Republicans for the Rule of Law, (e.g., "GOP Governor: Trump Thinks He’s Above the Law") and Republican Voters Against Trump (e.g., "Justin, a retired Army Ranger, explains why he left the GOP over Donald Trump").

AND of course, most recently, there is this irrefutable, unimpeachable testimony --
  • ANGELA DAVIS: I’m not going to actually support either of the major candidates. But I do think we have to participate in the election. I mean, that isn’t to say that I won’t vote for the Democratic candidate. What I’m saying is that in our electoral system as it exists, neither party represents the future that we need in this country. Both parties remain connected to corporate capitalism. But the election will not so much be about who gets to lead the country to a better future, but rather how we can support ourselves and our own ability to continue to organize and place pressure on those in power. And I don’t think there’s a question about which candidate would allow that process to unfold. So I think that we’re going to have to translate some of the passion that has characterized these demonstrations into work within the electoral arena, recognizing that the electoral arena is not the best place for the expression of radical politics. But if we want to continue this work, we certainly need a person in office who will be more amenable to our mass pressure. And to me, that is the only thing that someone like a Joe Biden represents. But we have to persuade people to go out and vote to guarantee that the current occupant of the White House is forever ousted. -- Democracy Now, 6/12/20

6.  Trump's Truthful Tweet

According to the Washington Post, the pathologically ill man in the White House has lied over 18,000 times since his installation, nevertheless, on 6/7/20, he actually tweeted a truth:
  • If I wasn’t constantly harassed for three years by fake and illegal investigations, Russia, Russia, Russia, and the Impeachment Hoax, I’d be up by 25 points on Sleepy Joe and the Do Nothing Democrats. Very unfair, but it is what it is!!! -- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
Lol. Trump understands something that the toxic Left (e.g., @cornelwest @aaronjmate  @ggreenwald @MMFlint etc.) doesn't, i.e., Mueller and the Impeachment took a heavy toll on him.

As I have mentioned in previous Words of Power posts, the Resistance has three dimensions, there is the Progressive Resistance, there is the Conservative Resistance, led by Never-Trumper refugees from the Zombie Cult formerly known as the Republican Party, AND there is the Governmental Resistance, those career professionals in Federal law enforcement, intelligence, diplomatic services, judiciary, EPA, etc., who sustain the continuity, integrity and institutional memory of the Republic.

And yes, they have dealt Trump some mighty blows (e.g., the Mueller Report and the Impeachment), weakening him, harrying him, preoccupying him, keeping on the defensive since 2016.

We would not be in the position we are now if they had not dealt these mighty blows. Some have sacrificed their careers to stand against this abomination.

Well, they are not finished. They continue to resist. But they cannot hold out forever. We must come to their rescue in November. We must justify their confidence in the blessedness of the Constitution.
  • A former federal judge appointed to oppose the U.S. Justice Department’s bid to drop the case against Michael Flynn said Wednesday the trial court should reject the move and instead proceed with sentencing the former Trump national security adviser, who has twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. John Gleeson, now a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, was appointed last month to counter the Justice Department’s extraordinary retreat from the prosecution and also address whether Flynn’s judge should begin a perjury inquiry. Gleeson on Wednesday recommended against a stand-alone perjury investigation, instead advising the trial judge, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District of Columbia, to consider Flynn’s statements at sentencing. “The government has engaged in highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the president. The facts of this case overcome the presumption of regularity,” Gleeson wrote in his 82-page friend-of-the-court brief. “The court should therefore deny the government’s motion to dismiss, adjudicate any remaining motions, and then sentence the defendant.” Gleeson called the Justice Department’s move to abandon the case a “gross abuse of prosecutorial power.” -- National Law Journal, 6/10/20
  • Trump was told in advance that Wikileaks would be releasing documents embarrassing to the Clinton campaign and subsequently informed advisors that he expected more releases would be coming, according to newly unredacted portions of special counsel Robert Mueller's report into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. In July 2016, political consultant Roger Stone told Trump as well as several campaign advisors that he had spoken with Julian Assange and that WikiLeaks would be publishing the documents in a matter of days. Stone told the then-candidate via speakerphone that he "did not know what the content of the materials was," according to the newly unveiled portions of the report, and Trump responded "oh good, alright" upon hearing the news. WikiLeaks published a trove of some 20,000 emails Russians hacked from the Democratic National Committee on July 22 of that year. Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen told federal investigators that he overheard the phone call between Stone and Trump. Agents were also told by former campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates that Stone had spoken several times in early June of something “big” coming from WikiLeaks. Assange first mentioned having emails related to Clinton on June 12. The new revelations are the strongest indication to date that Trump and his closest advisors were aware of outside efforts to hurt Clinton’s electoral chances, and that Stone played a direct role in communicating that situation to the Trump campaign. Trump has publicly denied being aware of any information being relayed between WikiLeaks and his advisors ... -- Jason Leopold, Anthony Cormier, Ken Bensinger, BuzzFeed News, 6/19/20
  • “I learned in a press release from the Attorney General tonight that I was ‘stepping down’ as United States Attorney. I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position, to which I was appointed by the Judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. I will step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate. Until then, our investigations will move forward without delay or interruption. I cherish every day that I work with the men and women of this Office to pursue justice without fear or favor – and intend to ensure that this Office’s important cases continue unimpeded.” -- Statement of Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. Attorney, SDNY, Full Text 
Audre Lorde, Austin Texas, 1980. Self-described "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet"
Photo Credit: K. Kendall, CC BY 2.0
7. The Oath

On 6/1/20, with Black Lives Matter protesters engulfing Lafayette Park, Trump sought to indulge his authoritarian appetite for state violence. He ordered the U.S. military on to the streets of the nation's capitol. He wanted to use the 82nd Airborne to crush this peaceful demonstration.

Even though he did get an obscene photo op holding a Bible upside down in front of the neighboring church, he didn't get to order the bayonets wetted. Something went wrong for him. He didn't get what Stephen Colbert would call his "Tiny-Man Square."

Looking back on what didn't happen that night, future herstorians, chronicling the fall of pathological patriarchy, may well determine that this was a pivotal moment. And ironically, the U.S. military which bent but did not break, may yet prove to be the final bulwark of the Republic ... If ...
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday predicted President Donald Trump will “try to steal” the general election in November by limiting Americans’ access to voting ... “I was so damn proud. You have four [chairman of the Joint] Chiefs of Staff coming out and ripping the skin off of Trump, and you have so many rank-and-file military personnel saying, ‘Whoa, we’re not a military state. This is not who we are,’” Biden said. “I promise you, I’m absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch.” - Politico, 6/11/20
  • IN UNION THERE IS STRENGTH. I have watched this week's unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words "Equal Justice Under Law" are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand — one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values — our values as people and our values as a nation. When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens — much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside. We must reject any thinking of our cities as a "battlespace" that our uniformed military is called upon to "dominate." At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict — a false conflict — between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them. James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that "America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat." We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law. Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that "The Nazi slogan for destroying us ... was 'Divide and Conquer.' Our American answer is 'In Union there is Strength.'" We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis — confident that we are better than our politics. Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children. We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln's "better angels," and listen to them, as we work to unite. Only by adopting a new path — which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals — will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad. -- Statement by Jim Mattis, 6/4/20, Full Text, The Atlantic
James Baldwin - Fire Next Time (First Edition Cover, 1963)