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)