Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tara Brach: See the One Who Longs To Love and Be Loved

Most of us need to be reminded that we are good, that we are lovable, that we belong. If we knew just how powerfully our thoughts, words, and actions affected the hearts of those around us, we'd reach out and join hands again and again. Our relationships have the potential to be a sacred refuge, a place of healing and awakening. With each person we meet, we can learn to look behind the mask and see the one who longs to love and be loved.

- Tara Brach 

Establishment Democrats Courting Disaster

(Screenshot via Dr. Strangelove)
In the 1964 film classic, Dr. Strangelove, Slim Pickens is seen riding a nuclear bomb down to his certain death – and perhaps to the end of us all – while he calmly inventories his survival equipment. 

The Democratic Party Establishment’s commitment to Hillary Clinton is a lot like that.

As Hillary falls behind Trump, the Establishment is doing all it can to to continue to discredit Sanders  -- who beats Trump handily -- and chase him out of the race.  Meanwhile, they comfort themselves with self-deluding lies to justify backing the only candidate Trump could beat.

Here’s some of the myths they’re spinning:

Myth #1: Sanders can’t win and his supporters can’t “do the math.” In an attempt to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy, the entire Establishment is declaring the race to be over. A typical slant used by pundits, the Party elite, the corporate media and the rest of theconfederacy of dunces that has opposed Sanders from the start is that Sanders supporters “can’t do the math.”  To hear them tell it, he’s been mathematically eliminated, or he has “no pathway to victory” and holding on is just hurting Hillary’s attempts to beat Trump.

Here’s the reality: Sanders needs 885 delegates to get the nomination; Hillary needs 613; there are 930 delegates remaining to be won and it is unlikely that either candidate can clinch the nomination without the aid of superdelegates. Meanwhile, Sanders is surging, while Hillary is self-destructing, so many of those superdelegates may be rethinking their commitment to Hillary. And if they aren’t, they ought to be.

Sanders has pulled even in California, and by the end of June 7, there’s a good chance he may go into the Democratic Convention having won 19 of the last 25 primaries, and certainly he will have won the majority of states in the second half. Try doing that math.

 Myth # 2: Sanders’ numbers would drop in the general election: This is one of the Establishments’ favorite lines. According to them, he hasn’t been exposed to the kind of assault he could expect in the general election, and given his history as a “socialist” he’d be easy pickings for the Republican hit machine and Trump. 

There’s two things wrong with this story, however. 

First, Sanders has been under a concerted and systematic assault in the mainstream media and from the Democratic Establishment since he began to threaten Hillary’s “inevitable” candidacy, yet his numbers have continued to skyrocket up in the polls. There’s little more the Republicans could do in this regard.  Which brings us to the Establishment’s second error.

Any political consultant will tell you that the two most important numbers in predicting a candidate’s performance are their unfavorability/favorability ratings and how trustworthy voters perceive the candidate to be.  

Here’s why. 

If a candidate is widely trusted, and if he or she has a net positive favorability rating, it’s harder to gain traction with negative adds.  Sanders has the highest favorability and trust ratings of any candidate, and his freedom from PACs and corporate money, together with more than 30 years of consistently pursuing policies that favor the middle class and the working poor makes him all but bulletproof.  There are no flip-flops, no equivocations, no spins, no claims that can be made upon him by moneyed interests. That’s why Sanders’ numbers keep getting better even though the media is doing it's best to burry him.


No, I Won't Work for Hillary Clinton: A Response to Robert Reich

Protesters with the Fight for $15 movement say Democratic presidential candidates must deserve their vote. (Photo: Joe Brusky/cc/flickr)
I don't know Robert Reich personally, but I greatly respect and appreciate his work; his voice is an important one in the fight against inequality.

He has, however, repeatedly come down on the wrong side of one crucial issue, an issue that has serious implications for the future of American politics broadly, and for the future of the American left in particular.

Last week, Reich published a piece on his blog that reiterated a few nuggets of advice heoffered on his Facebook page a week or so earlier.

While he directs advice to supporters of both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, naturally, as a Sanders supporter, I was drawn to what he had to say to backers of the Vermont senator.

Supporters of Bernie Sanders should, Reich argues, "Be prepared to work hard for Hillary Clinton if she gets the nomination."

Reich anticipated the backlash he ultimately received, writing that his advice "may be hard to swallow."

"But swallow it you must," he concluded, "not just for the good of the Democratic Party, but for the good of the nation."

He was right, of course, to expect strong reactions; I didn't like his advice, nor did many others. And I don't plan to act on it.

But as I read Reich's appeal, I was overwhelmed not by emotion, and not by a sense of outrage, but by a sense of déjà vu. I thought: I have heard, and read, this all before.

Indeed I had. Though Reich words his appeal eloquently and without condescension, it is the same appeal that has been made by the more crude apologists of "lesser of two evils" politics over the past several decades.

Matt Taibbi, in an article forRolling Stone published in March, put it his way: Democrats "have been saying, 'The Republicans are worse!' for so long that they've begun to believe it excuses everything."

To his credit, Reich correctly predicts this objection—but he does not deny its validity.
"I can’t criticize anyone for voting their conscience, of course," he writes of the large number of Sanders supporters who say they will not vote for Clinton. "But your conscience should know that a decision not to vote for Hillary, should she become the Democratic nominee, is a de facto decision to help Donald Trump."

The latter sentence is the crucial one, and the weight of his argument in favor of backing Hillary Clinton if she becomes the Democratic nominee rests on its potency. The problem:The claim that refusing to support Clinton "is a de facto decision to help Donald Trump" is erroneous.

Perhaps unwittingly, Reich is merely rehashing—in a new context—a rather old argument, one that was made most prominently by George Orwell in his screeds against pacifism in the midst of World War II.

"Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist," Orwell argued in an essay that appeared in 1942. "This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other."

As Corey Robin has observed, the Democratic establishment, in an effort to suppress dissent and silence legitimate criticism of their favored candidate, has adopted what is effectively a Leninist posture, one that prioritizes unity and conformity over basic principles that Democrats, in other contexts, are happy to champion—all under the guise of protecting the party and ensuring victory against the other side.

According to Reich, Sanders supporters who don't fall in line behind a candidate they believe to be part of the problem, not a potential solution, are objectively pro-Trump: You're either with us, Reich contends, or you're against us.

But this is a false dichotomy, as Orwell himself would come to recognize in print a few years later.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Pema Chödrön: War and Peace Start In the Human Heart

So war and peace start in the human heart. 
Whether that heart is open or whether that heart closes 
has global implications.
Pema Chödrön

A Veteran’s Perspective On Memorial Day

 Published on Monday, May 30, 2016 by BillMoyers.com
"The threat to the Constitution does not come from some 
far-off land," says Vets for Peace board chair.
A member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, 'The Old Guard,' placing flags at gravesites during the annual 'Flags-In' ceremony that honors veterans buried at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
As Americans mark Memorial Day, a holiday that invites us to reflect on the cost of war, we are reprinting these remarks that a leader of the Veterans for Peace made last week at Ralph Nader’s Breaking Through Power conference in Washington.

For 31 years, Veterans For Peace has been the only veterans organization that has rejected war, violence, nuclear weapons, the destruction of the environment created by war, the steady erosion of our civil liberties, the corporate greed that drives our wars and the systemic injustice it produces, here at home and abroad, all in the name of advancing the American empire.

As veterans, we refuse to accept the notion that, in order to protect the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, the Constitution that we swore to support and defend can be ignored, shredded and cast aside as an inconvenient nuisance standing in the way of American hegemony.

Our experience teaches that war and violence do not bring lasting peace.
It is abundantly clear that the threat to the Constitution does not come from some far-off land. It is not China or Russia or even ISIS that endangers the Constitution, but it is the enemy within the borders of our own country and right here in this city.

As members of Veterans For Peace, we bring to the peace movement our collective experience from our participation in every war from World War II up to and including the current wars in the Middle East. Our experience teaches that war and violence do not bring lasting peace. Therefore, our founders included in our Statement of Purpose a commitment that we would seek to end war, only by nonviolent means.

Many of our members come home from war broken down, physically, mentally, emotionally and morally. But we work to transform and heal ourselves from soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen trained to wage war to men and women committed to becoming non violent peacemakers.

We pledge to not give in to war and violence and the injustice it brings to all living things but to continue to work for peace with all likeminded people.

Please go here for the original article: http://billmoyers.com/story/veterans-perspective-memorial-day/
 (Photo: Arby Reed/cc/flickr)

Arundhati Roy: Anything Is Possible

Anything's possible in Human Nature ...
Love. Madness. Hope. 
Infinite joy.
- Arundhati Roy

For Memorial Day - Amy Goodman: When One Day The Veil Has Fallen From Our Eyes

I really do think that if for one week in the United States we saw the true face of war, we saw people's limbs sheared off, we saw kids blown apart, for one week, war would be eradicated. Instead, what we see in the U.S. media is the video war game...

Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes...reach the light of day?

- Amy Goodman
With Amy Goodman, who I love so much. May she inspire us all.

Bill Moyers Memorial Day Essay

Bill Moyers: "Over some 40 years now it has seemed to me that as time goes by we tend to remember wars, and the suffering they bring, as if they were inevitable, natural acts of history, rather than politically inspired choices. But war, as was famously said, is politics by another means - the lethal legacy of failed leadership, enabled, even ennobled, by propaganda, the partisan opiate of politics. It is good to be reminded, as my friend Louis so eloquently reminds us, that war is too important to forget, and that's one reason to observe Memorial Day. There is another - to hold before our face a mirror, so that we might see the images of war reflected in our own eyes."

Please go here for the full transcript and video: http://billmoyers.com/content/bill-moyers-essay-memorial-day/


I am so deeply grateful for Bill Moyers who again and again and again reminds us of deeper truths by illuminating larger pictures than what we are presented with in American culture and by the corporate media which is invested in serving the Military Industrial Complex and the plethora of other faces of Dark Money which have permeated and poisoned our democracy. As Ron and I walked around our local Fred Meyer yesterday and I saw all these little American flags at the end of each check stand, my heart felt sickened. Because the story we are fed is that those who died in war died out of necessity and "for our freedom," rather than in support of wealthy transnational corporate interests. And then there are the veterans who suffer profoundly who survived the war only to come back with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD and addiction and depression and violence that they can't leave behind, with many - 22 each and every day - commiting the ultimate act of violence: suicide. It is so vital to stop sending our children to war to kill other people's children, which only serves to line the pockets of the wealthy while fueling violence and terroism rather than diminishing it. It is vital to stop the madness and horror and suffering and tragedy of war by exposing the deeper truths through countering the propaganda by giving voice to the reality of this shadow side to America and the belief systems that need transformation. War is not peace. Peace is the way. Another world is possible.

Peace ~ Molly

Mary Oliver: Can You Imagine?

Can You Imagine?
For example, what the trees do
not only in lightening storms
or the watery dark of a summer's night
or under the white nets of winter
but now, and now, and now - whenever
we're not looking. Surely you can't imagine
they don't dance, from the root up, wishing
to travel a little, not cramped so much as wanting
a better view, or more sun, or just as avidly
more shade - surely you can't imagine they just
stand there loving every
minute of it, the birds or the emptiness, the dark rings
of the years slowly and without a sound
thickening, and nothing different unless the wind,
and then only in its own mood, comes
to visit, surely you can't imagine
patience, and happiness, like that.
~ Mary Oliver 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Arundhati Roy: Remember This

May more and more of us come together to heal the hearts and culture
and belief systems which have caused so much harm.
May more and more of us awaken.
- Molly

The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy 
what they are selling - their ideas, their version of history, 
their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. 
Remember this: We be many and they be few. 
They need us more than we need them.

- Arundhati Roy

For Memorial Day - Results of Interventionists Regime-Change Wars

Results of interventionists regime-change wars

Facts are facts. If we examine H*llary Cl*nton's hawkish foreign policy record, what we see is a truly disturbing repetition compulsion to push for preemptive invasions and "regime toppling" over and over again -- apparently without either the moral, ethical, or cognitive capacity to be able to learn a thing from her failed "mistakes." 

If after thousands upon thousands of the deaths and maiming of our U.S. troops... if after all of the the unconscionable devastation of entire countries that have resulted in bombed out homelands, the charred bodies of innocent civilians, and orphaned children... if after repeatedly helping to incite civil wars, instability, and political unrest leading to the power vacuums that have allowed extremist factions like ISIS to thrive in the Middle East region and spread throughout the world, with desperately frightened people fleeing in droves with no place to go... CLEARLY this dreadful woman who is being considered by some to be our next president is stark raving blind to viewing any of this as other than, in her own words, an exciting "business opportunity" for American corporations and financial institutions.

Hillary Clinton with war criminal Henry Kissinger

For Memorial Day - Arundhati Roy: The Business Of War

Wars are never fought for altruistic reasons. 
They're usually fought for hegemony, for business. 
And then of course there's the business of war.
- Arundhati Roy

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Howard Zinn On Memorial Day: The Memory of the Dead Deserves a Different Dedication

Memorial Day will be celebrated ... by the usual betrayal of the dead, by the hypocritical patriotism of the politicians and contractors preparing for more wars, more graves to receive more flowers on future Memorial Days. The memory of the dead deserves a different dedication. To peace, to defiance of governments.

- Howard Zinn