Sunday, July 24, 2016

Carrying It On

Sometimes you have to be content to plant
good seeds whenever you can and be patient
as you watch them grow and ripen.

Perhaps, like me, you felt somewhat dispirited by the news last month that Hillary Clinton had been declared the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee over Bernie Sanders.

Much to the chagrin of a number of my friends, I simply cannot celebrate the prospect of Hillary Clinton being the Democratic presidential nominee – even as I acknowledge that I may well vote for her in November so as to ensure Donald Trump comes nowhere near the White House.

Yet the ugly reality remains: Both Clinton and Trump champion neoliberalism, an economic ideology that has proven to be destructive and dehumanizing. Author George Monbiot contends that neoliberalism is at the root of all our problems; a "self-serving racket" that sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations and which redefines citizens as consumers whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling. Neoliberalism, Anis Shivani reminds us, dictates that "persons have no status compared to corporations, nation-states are on their way out, and everything in turn dissolves before the abstraction called the market."

I lament that the one presidential candidate who opposed this ideology is now effectively out of the race. For as Shivani writes at Salon:

The reason why Bernie Sanders, self-declared democratic socialist, is so threatening to neoliberalism is that he has articulated a conception of the state, civil society, and the self that is not founded in the efficacy and rationality of the market. He does not believe – unlike Hillary Clinton – that the market can tackle climate change or income inequality or unfair health and education outcomes or racial injustice, all of which Clinton’s impending ‘victory’ (whatever machinations were involved in engineering it) will only strengthen neoliberalism, as the force that couldn’t be defeated even when the movement was as large and transcendent as Sanders’s. Although Sanders doesn’t specify ‘neoliberalism’ as the antagonist, his entire discourse presumes it.

So you can see why I'm not enamored by the idea of "market worshipers" like Clinton and Trump being presidential candidates, and why I'm disappointed that someone like Sanders is out of the race.

Beyond a "status quo corporatist candidate"

And now there's the recent news of Clinton's selection of her vice-presidential running mate, Tim Kaine. I find this choice also to be disappointing, and the following three quotes sum up well my reasons for this.

Underwhelmed, disappointed, actually – betrayed. I'm sure Tim Kaine is a good person. But as this article relates, he is decidedly to the right of progressive values on the vast majority of issues that Bernie backers were energized around. His selection does NOTHING to bring us excitement. NOTHING to earn our vote. From reproductive rights to climate change to financial regulation to trade agreements, Kaine adds NOTHING to the ticket. A good man, to be sure, but his selection reveals that Clinton – in the aftermath of a fierce battle for the nomination (and one that it is now PROFOUNDLY evident the DNC colluded on her behalf to such an extent that it is far from clear she could have won without a very tilted field) – is so arrogantly certain of her ascension to the White House that she can turn her back on the most energized members of her own party. After everything UGLY at the RNC [last] week, Clinton played it woefully safe ... and may have played right into the hands of that ugliness.

– David Weiss
via Facebook
July 23, 2016

Here’s what Hillary Clinton’s selection of Tim Kaine as her VP tells us:

• She suffers from a possibly fatal mix of arrogance and political cluelessness that may well hand the election to Trump;

• She is totally beholden to the Oligarchy she claims to want to reign in;

• She’s not a progressive – and her so-called leftward “evolution” on issues was a calculated, cynical and clumsy attempt to neutralize Sanders.

Before we explore these issues, let’s get some perspective here. Tim Kaine is not a right wing zealot. He’s backed expanding payroll taxes to cover a broader range of income to increase Social Security’s solvency. He’s supported some limited expansion of gun control in a state that loves its guns. He’s got a reasonably good record on LGBT rights (after “evolving” a bit). He’s got a mixed record on climate and energy, banning some but not all fracking when governor of Virginia, and supporting the use of fossil fuels as a “bridge” to clean energy (including support for clean coal); but at least he acknowledges the science on climate change. He’s suggested that waging war against ISIL requires congressional authorization, and he called for withdrawing from Afghanistan as quickly as possible.

But he’s also supported Fast Track and praised the TPP, although he’s declined to say whether he would vote for it.

In short, he’s pretty much a centrist candidate much like Hillary. And therein lies the problem.

. . . It’s always been apparent that Trump was playing to the primitive lizard brain, and with his fear mongering acceptance speech on Thursday it showed he’s intending to double down on this tactic. It’s classic demagoguery. First, neutralize the press; second, make people afraid. Third, declare “I alone, can fix it.”

Most Americans won’t swallow this swill. But if turnouts are as low as 2014 when only 36.3% of eligible voters showed up, then Trump could win by getting only 20% of eligible voters. And while Trump’s campaign is a study in chaos, the man has proven good at one thing: generating passion; not to mention irrational frenzy. These people may be crazy, and they may constitute a minority, but they will turn out.

Contrast that with Hillary. At a time when people are desperately looking for something other than a status quo corporatist candidate, she's the quintessential party politician, complete with PACs, and dragging her past support for Wall Street, the Big Banks, perennial Wars, and trade policy behind her like a giant buzz kill. The only thing that saved her in the primary was strong backing by the press, the elite party members, and – inexplicably – African Americans. That and her “evolution” to the left.

The only folks who feel passion for Hillary are women over 40 and the elite economic and political establishment. A powerful group, but not big in terms of numbers. After significant concessions in the platform debate, she had some hope of winning over at least some real progressives. Tim Kaine’s appointment will cut that number significantly.

Nominating a political clone is exactly the wrong thing to do if you want a higher turnout. And Kaine is a clone.

But Kaine’s appointment tells us something else – Clinton’s brief feint to the left wasn’t for real. Kaine is obviously a dog whistle to show Big Banks and Wall Street that her tough talk during the campaign wasn’t to be taken seriously.

Now it’s likely that turnouts for a Presidential race will be higher, but by how much, and the real question is how will it be enough for her to win, after this appointment?

– John Atcheson
Excerpted from "Clinton's F-You to Progressives:
This is How Trump Could Become President
Common Dreams
July 23, 2016

The fire alarm that should be going off is that while the average Bernie backer will drag him/herself to the polls that day to somewhat reluctantly vote for Hillary, it will be what’s called a “depressed vote” – meaning the voter doesn’t bring five people to vote with her. He doesn’t volunteer 10 hours in the month leading up to the election. She never talks in an excited voice when asked why she’s voting for Hillary. A depressed voter. Because, when you’re young, you have zero tolerance for phonies and BS. Returning to the Clinton/Bush era for them is like suddenly having to pay for music, or using MySpace or carrying around one of those big-ass portable phones. They’re not going to vote for Trump; some will vote third party, but many will just stay home. Hillary Clinton is going to have to do something to give them a reason to support her — and picking a moderate, bland-o, middle of the road old white guy as her running mate is not the kind of edgy move that tells millenials that their vote is important to Hillary. Having two women on the ticket – that was an exciting idea. But then Hillary got scared and has decided to play it safe. This is just one example of how she is killing the youth vote.

– Michael Moore
Excerpted from "Five Reasons Why Trump Will Win"
Vox Populi
July 25, 2016

The very real threat of Trump

Yes, there are political commentators such as Michael Moore and Alan Minsky who are predicting that Donald Trump may well be the next U.S. president. From my perspective, this is a truly horrendous thought.

Yet at the same time I'm tired of hearing some Democrats shaming people for considering or pledging to vote for the Green Party's Jill Stein. I've come to the conclusion that if Hillary Clinton loses to Donald Trump, it won't be because of people voting their conscience but, first and foremost, because the DNC rigged, or at the very least tilted the playing field of the primary system to undermine and defeat Bernie Sanders, the one Democratic candidate that polls consistently and overwhelmingly showed could beat Trump in a general election.

If Trump wins the presidency, it will because the DNC dishonestly selected and ran the wrong candidate in the face of the many challenges before us, including the threats posed by both neoliberalism and the neo-fascism of Donald Trump.

When I recently shared this sentiment on Facebook, along with expressions of my disappointment at the corruption within the Democratic Party and my informed criticism of Hillary Clinton's past record and current platform, one friend responded by declaring:

Yes, but Trump is terrifying. It scares me that anti-Clinton stuff is still being put on Facebook. We need to spend all our energy at this time on defeating Trump.

To be clear, the prospect of a Trump presidency deeply concerns me too. But what's also of concern is the idea of allowing our fears to become so powerful that we censor ourselves when it comes to critiquing and holding accountable any of our leaders and potential leaders. In the realm of politics, no one should be given a free pass.

Therefore, I think it's not only possible but critically important to both critique Clinton in an informed manner and work on exposing and defeating the neo-fascist Trump. I'm committed to doing both these things here at The Wild Reed (see for example here, here and here).

Another friend responded to my critique of Clinton's choice of Tim Kaine as her running mate by saying, "Michael, I have a great deal of respect for your advocacy and activism, but frankly, you come off as a whiny, self-righteous purist if Tim Kaine isn't progressive enough for you."

My response to this charge brings us back to the issue of neoliberalism:

On the crucial and foundational issue/problem of our times, the economic doctrine of neoliberalism, neither Clinton nor Kane can be considered progressive. If being aware of this reality and speaking out about it makes me a "whiny, self-righteous purist" in your eyes, then so be it. As a progressive, I am passionate about identifying neoliberalism is an ideology that must be resisted if environmental sustainability is to be achieved and humanity is to have a future marked by justice, peace and compassion. I don't see either Clinton or Kaine offering the level of resistance that's required. Nor do I see them offering or championing alternatives. I find this to be both profoundly disappointing and troubling.

"Here to improve or damn it?"

Now, don't think for a minute that my informed critique of people like Hillary Clinton or Tim Kaine is, as one acquaintance suggested, an example of "burning it all down." I'm not a slasher and burner; nor am I a cynical naysayer who only ever criticizes and denounces. In fact, I strive to be hopeful and proactive in all areas of my life, including when it comes to talking about the political and social problems and challenges we face.

I also believe we can acknowledge disappointing developments within the political realm without losing either a sense of perspective or hope. Rep. Keith Ellison recently demonstrated this well when he responded to the failure of the Democratic Party to include in its platform genuinely progressive "planks" such an universal healthcare and opposition to the neoliberal-inspired Trans Pacific Pact trade deal.

Speaking on July 12 to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, Ellison said the following.

[The] proposal [to oppose the TPP], which is very meritorious, and which I support, was not embraced. That’s too bad. But, let me tell you . . . I’m an optimistic person. Right? Whenever we don’t get every single thing that we want, it’s not my way to say, pooh-pooh on the whole process. I say we have made important demands and debated this issue. We have made them pay attention to what we’re talking about, and the struggle continues. We’re not gonna stop fighting for Medicare for all just because it didn’t get adopted into the Democratic Platform. We’re gonna keep the fight alive, because people across the country need it that way, because it is a more human, more effective way to deliver health care to the American people. So, I just say take heart in the success that we had. Keep the battle going. Keep the fight up for a fairer, more equal America. That’s what we do.

Planting good seeds

I find I need inspiring people in my life to help me stay positive and proactive. Perhaps you do too.

One such person is Buffy Sainte-Marie, a woman who through her music, activism and life inspires me to no end. I've seen her twice in concert, met her once, and am very much looking forward to once again seeing her perform next month at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis.

Prior to last month's announcement that Hillary Clinton had secured the Democratic presidential nomination, Buffy shared the following about her support for Bernie Sanders.

My head for a very long time . . . has been very much in the way of thinking of Bernie Sanders. I have supported him, not because of him but because I support the same issues and we happen to agree on just about everything. And even though I have worked with Hillary Clinton and was on one of her committees [when she was First Lady], I'm very much still in favor of the issues that Bernie Sanders is supporting and I'm glad that he has influenced American politics, at least to some extent, and I intend to stay in that camp.

Buffy's embodiment of hope in the face of seemingly intractable obstacles to social evolution is truly inspirational. She has never grown cynical or jaded, and at age 75 still feels that her mission is far from done. In the Blair Stonechild-penned biography, Buffy Sainte-Marie: It's My Way, Buffy is quoted as saying the following.

We all make our little contributions when we can and things change a little bit at at time. I think that's what ripens life. Bit it always seems so slow when you're carrying this Medicine and you know it can make things better, but there are gatekeepers profiting on the problems, and you'll have to wait awhile until the world is ready to receive it; so you go bit by bit: give when you have the chance.

It's futile to try to rush the river, and pretty hard to hurry the moon, and sometimes you have to be content to plant good seeds whenever you can and be patient as you watch them grow and ripen. Thinking about my early attempts to be effective, I can say that in my lifetime things have not changed nearly enough; but when I look back on the last forty years, things have changed incredibly and I have great faith that the world will continue to ripen.

And then there is this from Buffy . . .

Everybody's always waking up. . . . We're all ripening every minute, all of us – even the guys that we think are the "bad guys." They too are evolving. So for me the whole idea is being willing to mutate, in a good way, and recognizing in other people that each of us is evolving, ripening, growing in our own way. That is very good news.

How beautiful! How hopeful! . . . And how challenging! The "bad guys" are evolving too! And, yes, like each one of us, someone like Donald Trump is capable of evolving. Now, that being said, I'm still going to do my utmost to ensure he doesn't become president. But if I could once pray for George W. Bush and his transformation, perhaps it's time to start doing the same for Donald Trump . . . and indeed all people in positions of power.

Of course one way that I have (hopefully) been facilitating positive transformation – within my own life and in the church and wider world – is through my writing. My hope has always been that the things I write – and the commentaries of others that I share – aren't the equivalent of bombs thrown out to destroy and discourage. Rather, I hope my endeavors here at The Wild Reed and elsewhere are seen for what I intend them to be: efforts at planting good seeds – seeds that contain the potential to encourage, give hope, and, yes, at times challenge and critique . . . though always in an informed, respectful and loving way.

I'm going to carry these seeds on; I'm going to keep planting them. And in the words of Buffy, I'm going to keep "saying, playing and praying" as I "carry it on."

And what exactly is this "it"?

I see it as my passionate embodiment of hope, awareness and love in a world dominated by political and economic systems that far too often heap contempt on such qualities and their embodiment through individuals and communities.

So . . . yes, despite the many disappointments, uncertainties, and challenges, I remain inspired by Buffy and so many others, past and present, to keep doing that human-being magic of "carrying it on" . . .

Hold your head up
Lift the top of your mind
Put your eyes on the Earth
Lift your heart to your own home planet

What do you see?
What is your attitude –
Are you here to improve or damn it?

Look right now
and you will see we’re only here
by the skin of our teeth as it is
so take heart and take care
of your link with life and . . .

Oh, carry it on – we’re saying
Oh, carry it on – keep playing
Oh, carry it on – and praying
Oh, carry it on

It ain’t money that makes the world go round
That’s only temporary confusion
It ain’t governments that make the people strong
It’s the opposite illusion

Look right now
and you will see they’re only here
by the skin of our teeth as it is
so take heart and take care
of your link with life

Oh, carry it on – keep saying
Oh, carry it on – and playing
Oh, carry it on – and praying
Oh, carry it on

Look right now
and you will see we’re only here
by the skin of our teeth as it is
so take heart and take care
of your link with life
. . . it's beautiful!

If you got the sense to take care
of your source of perfection
Mother Nature, she’s the daughter of God
and the source of all protection

Look right now
and you will see she’s only here
by the skin of her teeth as it is
so take heart and take care
of your link with life

Oh, carry it on – keep saying
Oh, carry it on – and playing
Oh, carry it on – keep on praying
Oh, carry it on

About her song "Carry It On" Buffy said the following in a July 2015 interview:

I’m just pointing out that we live in this incredible world and yet, because of human boneheadedness, we are under threat of shooting ourselves in the foot. It’s not something to be afraid of. It’s something just to step up to. You know, it’s like doing the dishes; you’ve got to do it all the time or it piles up on you. I know that it's down home and folksy, but that’s kind of my attitude to the world. I’m not a combatant, at all. I’m really into alternative ways of looking at things. It comes naturally to me to do so and then to try to pass that on to people who are being advertised to death and conned in every which way. Buy this, buy that. Life is simpler than that. . . . It isn’t money that makes the world go around. I really believe that. That is the corporate hallucination by which we are controlled. It’s not as if we have to get up in arms and go and fight the world. No. You don’t. No, no. Stay calm and decolonize.

Related Off-site Links:

Buffy Sainte-Marie
A Video Profile of Buffy Sainte-MarieFirst Talk with Tamara Bull (Season 3, 2009).
Interview with Buffy Sainte-Marie (Part 1)Bust TV (October 2009).
Interview with Buffy Sainte-Marie (Part 2)Bust TV (October 2009).

A Lethal Parasite Has Infected the Brains of Politicians and Economists: Finding a Cure for Neoliberalism – Robert Kadar (Evonomics, November 2015).
Economist Debunks Huge Free-Market Fallacy About Government – Mariana Mazzucato (Evonomics, March 5, 2016).

Hillary Clinton
Please Recognize Your Privilege If You Can Afford 8 Years of Hillary Clinton and the Status Quo – Tony Brasunas (HuffPost Politics, April 4, 2016).
Poll: Voters Want an Independent Candidate to Take on Clinton and Trump – Jessie Hellmann (The Hill, May 18, 2016).
A Contested Convention is Exactly What the Democratic Party Needs – John Nichols (The Nation, May 23, 2016).
Clinton Positions Herself to the Right of Trump in National Security Speech – Phyllis Bennis (The Real News, June 2, 2016).
Media Trumpwash Clinton’s Reckless Foreign Record – Adam Johnson (FAIR, June 3, 2016).
Hillary Clinton Brings Disgraced DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz Onto Her Campaign – Nathan Wellman (US Uncut, July 24, 2016).
Does Hillary Get It? – Robert Reich (Common Dreams, July 24, 2016).

Bernie Sanders
Democrats Will Learn All the Wrong Lessons From Brush With Bernie – Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone, June 9, 2016).
Why Sanders Must Continue His Campaign – Robert C. Hockett (The Hill, June 9, 2016).
Sanders' Success: Democratic Socialism Goes Mainstream – Roger Bybee (The Progressive, June 10, 2016).
Dear Global Progressives Who Wanted Bernie Sanders to Drop Out and Support Clinton – Christian Christensen (Common Dreams, June 10, 2016).
Sanders: "I’ll Do Everything in My Power to Stop Trump" – Jonathan Fuentes (The Progressive Brief, June 10, 2016).
"The Campaign Will Go On": Sanders Backers Vow to Keep Fighting to Change Nation and Democratic PartyDemocracy Now! (June 10, 2016).
I’m Sticking With Sanders – And Voting for Clinton – David Korten (Yes!, June 15, 2016).By Endorsing Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders May Have Positioned Himself to Win The Presidency – Edison Starkweather (Medium, July 12, 2016).
The Sanders Endorsement and the Political Revolution – Robert Borosage (Common Dreams, July 13, 2016).
As Sanders Endorses Clinton, How Far Left Has He Pushed the Democratic Party Platform?Democracy Now! (July 12, 2016).
What the Bernie Sanders Candidacy Meant, According to a Historian of the Left – Andrew Prokop (Vox, July 12, 2016).
Bernie Sanders Campaign Chief Says Someone Must Be "Accountable" for What DNC E-mails Show – Mary Alice Parks (ABC News, July 22, 2016).
Wikileaks Revelation: DNC Had Hillary Moles Inside Bernie Campaign – Jim Hoft (The Gateway Pundit, July 23, 2016).
DNC Influenced Reporters to Sandbag Sanders, Leak Shows – Mary Kay Linge (New York Post, July 24, 2016).
Bernie Sanders to Address Convention Amid Drama Over Leaked E-mails – Nicole Gaudiano (USA Today, July 25, 2016).

Donald Trump
Can a Catholic in Good Conscience Vote for Trump? – Catholic News Agency (March 16, 2016).
The Republicans Waged a Three-Decade War on Government. They Got Trump – Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann (Vox, July 18, 2016).
"We're Screwed": GOP Pollster Laments Losing Millennial Voters to Socialism and Sanders – Lauren McCauley (Common Dreams, July 19, 2016).
Here’s What Bernie Sanders Had to Say About Donald Trump’s RNC Speech – Paige Lavender (The Huffington Post, July 21, 2016).
Nine Lies in Donald Trump’s Big Speech to the Republican Convention – Aaron Rupar, Aviva Shen, Judd Legum and Ryan Koronowski (Think Progress, July 21, 2016).
Clinton Inflames Progressive Base with Choice of Tim Kaine as Vice President – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, July 22, 2016).
Trump's Appetite for Destruction: How Disastrous Convention Doomed GOP – Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone, July 22, 2016).
Clinton's F-You to Progressives: This is How Trump Could Become President – John Atcheson (Common Dreams, July 23, 2016).
Why Donald Trump Could Be the Next President of the United States – Alan Minsky (TruthDig, July 22, 2016).
Trump and Putin. Yes, It's Really a Thing – Josh Marshall (Talking Points Memo, July 23, 2016).
Can't Win? Post-Convention Bump Sends Trump Surging in Polls – Nadia Prupis (Common Dreams, July 25, 2016).
Five Reasons Why Trump Will Win – Michael Moore (Vox Populi, July 25, 2016).

The DNC E-mail Leak Scandal
Wikileaks Proves Primary Was Rigged: DNC Undermined Democracy – Michael Sainato (Observer, July 22, 2016).
Bernie Sanders Campaign Chief Says Someone Must Be "Accountable" for What DNC E-mails Show – Mary Alice Parks (ABC News, July 22, 2016).
Wikileaks Revelation: DNC Had Hillary Moles Inside Bernie Campaign – Jim Hoft (The Gateway Pundit, July 23, 2016).
DNC Influenced Reporters to Sandbag Sanders, Leak Shows – Mary Kay Linge (New York Post, July 24, 2016).
Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Resign as DNC Chair as E-mail Scandal Rocks Democrats – Dan Roberts, Ben Jacobs and Alan Yuhas (The Guardian, July 24, 2016).
Bernie Sanders: DNC E-mails "Outrageous" But "Not a Shock" – Amita Kelly and Eyder Peralta (NPR News, July 24, 2016).
DNC E-mail Leak: Sanders Calls for New Leader as Clinton Camp Blames Russia – Alan Yuhas (The Guardian, July 24, 2016).
With DNC Leaks, Former "Conspiracy Theory" is Now True – and No Big Deal – Adam Johnson (FAIR, July 24, 2016).
Hillary Clinton Brings Disgraced DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz Onto Her Campaign – Nathan Wellman (US Uncut, July 24, 2016).
DNC Leak Reveals Party Insiders Promised Obama Access in Exchange for Cash – Nika Knight (Common Dreams, July 25, 2016).
In the Face of Trump, the Democratic Party is Revealing Its Own Ideological Bankruptcy – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, July 25, 2016).
WikiLeaks' Julian Assange on Releasing DNC E-mails That Ousted Debbie Wasserman SchultzDemocracy Now! (July 25, 2016).

Tim Kaine
Hillary-Kaine: Back to the Center – William K. Black (Common Dreams, July 24, 2016).
Tim Kaine, and Other Faith-Based Politics – Corey Robin (Jacobin, July 24, 2016).
Donald Trump’s Strategy for Victory is Clear, But Are Democrats Able to See It? – Sonali Kolhatkar (Common Dreams, July 24, 2016).

Other Recommended Links
A Shift Will Happen in 2016 and It Will Change Everything – Jesse Chen (LinkedIn, January 6, 2016).
Democrats Against Democracy, Self-Styled Progressives Against Progress – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, June 13, 2016).
Ethicists Say Voting With Your Heart, Without a Care About the Consequences, is Actually Immoral – Olivia Goldhill (Quartz, June 23, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Actually, There's No Question About It
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singing It and Praying It; Living It and Saying It
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Still Singing with Spirit, Joy, and Passion
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "The Big Ones Get Away"
Hope, History and Bernie Sanders
Quote of the Day – April 20, 2016
Super Tuesday Thoughts on Bernie Sanders
Something to Think About – February 22, 2016
Quote of the Day – February 17, 2016
Rocking the Cradle of Power
Capitalism on Trial
In a Blow to Democracy, U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Corporate Personhood
R.I.P. Neoclassical Economics
Threshold Musings
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump
Something to Think About – July 18, 2016
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders
Progressive Perspectives on Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton

For The Wild Reed's special series of posts leading-up to the May 12, 2015 release of Buffy's most recent album, Power in the Blood, see:
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That "Human-Being Magic"
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Lesson from the Cutting Edge: "Go Where You Must to Grow"
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "Sometimes You Have to Be Content to Plant Good Seeds and Be Patient"
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Power in the Blood

Opening image: "The Sower" by Johne Richardson.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Australian Sojourn – May 2016

Part 2: Morpeth

Continuing my series of posts documenting my recent visit to Australia, I share today photos and commentary from my time spent in the little town of Morpeth, where my younger brother and his family live. (To start at the beginning of this series,click here.)

Situated on the southern banks of the Hunter River (above), Morpeth serves as a satellite suburb of the rural city of Maitland, located in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. Morpeth is about a two-hour drive north of Sydney, where I had arrived from the U.S. on May 6.

Right: With my brother Tim, friend Raph, and niece Sami at the Morpeth Cottage Bakehouse – Sunday, May 9, 2016.

Left: When I left Minnesota on May 4 spring was bursting forth with much beauty. It was a different kind of natural beauty I was witnessing and experiencing in Australia, as for one thing, it was autumn not spring.

And although the seasons are nowhere near as pronounced in much of Australia as they are in Minnesota, one can readily see many beautiful signs of the changing seasons.

About the Wonnarua people, the indigenous inhabitants of the area, Wikipedia says the following.

The Wonnarua people, a group of indigenous people of Australia, are those Australian Aborigines that were united by a common language, strong ties of kinship and survived as skilled hunter–fisher–gatherers in family groups or clans scattered along the inland area of what is now known as the Upper Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia. Their traditional territory spreads from the Upper Hunter River, near Maitland west to the Great Dividing Range, towards Wollombi.

Meaning people of the hills and plains, the Wonnarua were bounded to the south by the Darkinjung, to the north–west by the Nganyaywana, to the north–east by the Awabakal, and to the south–east by the Worimi peoples. The Wonnarua also had trade and ceremonial links with the Kamilaroi people. Their creation spirit is Baiami, also known as Koin, the creator of all things and the Keeper of the Valley.

Above: The historic building known as Closebourne.

Notes Wikipedia:

The town of Morpeth was initially created through the private actions of Lieutenant E.C.Close, who selected a property of 1,000 hectares and developed it as a river port from 1831-1841. The lieutenant built his house, known as Closebourne, on the property. A two-storey Georgian home made of sandstone, the house became an episcopal residence from 1848-1912, which eventually became the nucleus of St John's Theological College on Morpeth Road.

Above: With my brother Tim at the Blackbird Artisan Bakery in Maitland. This charming bakery and café is actually located n the old Maitland Gaol, one of New South Wales' premier heritage listed sites and one that attracts visitors from all over the world (although it was obviously a quiet day at the gaol the day my brother and sister-in-law and I visited!)

About the history of the site the Maitland Gaol website says the following.

The foundation stone was laid in 1844 before opening officially in 1848. Maitland Gaol closed its gates as an operating facility in January 1998, giving the gaol a history that spanned 150 years. Throughout that time many buildings where modified or removed and the last of the new buildings was completed in 1993. The site as it remains today is how it was left when the doors where finally shut on this architectural beauty.

Inside the massive sandstone façade, the walls and cells tell the stories of inmates. The graffiti and illustrations are records of time, of life and in some instances death. With 150 years of history the site saw discipline including whippings of convicts right up to the lighter treatment of the white collar criminals in the later years. As you walk around the gaol there is a strong notion of history, you can see that the pain and struggle to survive, the frustration and determination is all evident within the walls.

Above: Pictured on the steps of the East Maitland Courthouse, located not far from Maitland Gaol.

Above: Morpeth blooms!

Above: With Sami, the youngest of my two nieces. Sami's older sister Layne lives in Port Macquarie, the same mid-north coastal NSW city where my parents live.

Above and below: The many historic buildings of Morpeth, New South Wales.

Above: I could happily live in a lovely little house like this!

Above: The former Morpeth Post Office now serves as the community's veterinarian clinic.

Morpeth takes its name from Morpeth, Northumberland, near Newcastle upon Tyne, in England.

About the town's history Wikipedia notes the following.

[Established in 1831] the river port grew steadily throughout the 1830s; St James's Church on Tank Street was built from 1837 to 1840. It was partly designed by John Horbury Hunt and now has a Local Government Heritage listing. A major merchant at this time was James Taylor, who built a bond store circa 1850, located near the bridge and now heritage-listed. The town continued to expand. Morpeth Court House was built circa 1861 in a Greek Revival style; the police station followed in 1879.

The construction of the Great Northern Railway in 1857, bypassing Morpeth, meant that Newcastle developed as the regional port. Morpeth became less significant commercially, but still survived as a township with its own history and heritage.

The town today is a tourist destination due to its many historical buildings and river bank setting.

Above: Wandering through an arcade of arts and crafts shops in Morpeth – Sunday, May 9, 2016.

In one of these shops I saw the beautiful sculpture at left depicting a hare – an ancient symbol of both enlightenment and homosexuality.

Above and left: On one of our morning walks in Morpeth, my brother and niece and I made the acquaintance of three friendly horses.

Above: The main street of Maitland, New South Wales, featuring the city's Town Hall.

Here's some interesting history, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Originally Maitland consisted of three separate towns which arose roughly all around the same time. West Maitland, now just Maitland, was a privately founded town which grew because of its proximity to the river and which today is the commercial centre of the city. The other areas were East Maitland, which was established by the colonial New South Wales government, and Morpeth, another private town founded by Lieutenant Close, a Peninsular War veteran. Each town functioned as if they were separate municipalities.

The name, Maitland, was reported in 1885 to have had its name taken "from Sir George Maitland, ... Under Secretary for the Colonies, and M.P. for the Borough of Whitchurch, in Hampshire, England" (The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Thursday, February 12, 1885, p.7).

Above: At the Maitland Regional Art Gallery.

Both my nieces take after their mother and are very talented artists. While I was visiting Morpeth, my youngest niece Sami had a piece in an exhibition at the Maitland Regional Art Gallery on extinct and endangered animals. Her drawing was of the presumed-to-be-extinct Gould's mouse (right).

Above: Sami at work.

It may have been autumn when I visit Morpeth in May, but there were still many flowers in bloom, both native (above) and non-native (below).

Next: Melbourne

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 1 – Maroubra
Australian Sojourn, March 2015: Part 1 – Brooklyn and Morpeth

Photography: Michael J. Bayly.
Artwork: Ainslie Roberts. As I write in Part 1 of this series, Roberts' artwork reflects the beauty of both Australian indigenous culture and the Australian landscape; two realities that really are inseparable – a truth I acknowledge and honor. Roberts acknowledged and honored this truth too. We see it in his art. And then there's this beautiful anecdote: Toward the end of his life, Roberts described himself as "a communicator . . . a white man painting in a white man's way and trying, visually, to show the white people of Australia that this fascinating land they live in has a rich and ancient cultural heritage that they should be aware of and respect."

Friday, July 22, 2016

Trump's Playbook

In every case of a dark mark in history, you will find a common thread: the mix of fear and deeply held beliefs, which lead to a herd mentality. This has been a very successful tool from the Salem Witch Trials to Nazi Germany to the McCarthy hearings. Every dark event in history bears this trait.

You will find in every rise of a dictator a common thread: making people think they are under attack and unsafe while convincing them the current leaders are weak and they, and only they, can keep the people safe.

Common traits among fascist regimes, including [those led by] Hitler, Mussolini and Franco: the use of patriotic symbols and mottos, identification of the enemy, supremacy of the military, controlling of the media, sexism, intertwining of religion and government, corporate power is protected, an obsession with national security.

From Hermann Goering, a leader of the Nazi Party: “It is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or fascist dictatorship, or a parliament or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peace makers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

This is Trump’s playbook.

– Scarlett5124
Excerpted from "It's Time We Stopped Being Polite About It"
The Daily Kos
July 21, 2016

Related Off-site Links:
Nixon, Hitler, and Nationalism: Donald Trump's Speech Triggers Alarm Bells – Nadia Prupis (Common Dreams, July 22, 2016).
Classic Authoritarianism: In a Speech Filled with Fear and Xenophobia, Donald Trump Accepts NominationDemocracy Now! (July 22, 2016).
Donald Trump’s Nomination is the First Time American Politics Has Left Me Truly Afraid – Ezra Klein (Vox, July 22, 2016).
Fact Checking Donald Trump's Republican Convention Speech – National Public Radio (July 21, 2016).
Nine Lies in Donald Trump’s Big Speech to the Republican Convention – Aaron Rupar, Aviva Shen, Judd Legum and Ryan Koronowski (Think Progress, July 21, 2016).
Donald Trump Drags GOP Into Very Ugly Territory – Jonathan Alter (The Daily Beast, July 22, 2016).
Donald Trump and the Dark Soul of the GOP: The Republican National Convention Was a Parade of Fear and Loathing – David Corn (Mother Jones, July 21, 2016).
Donald Trump is a Threat to Free Democracy – Robert Christian (Millennial, July 21, 2016).
Donald Trump Tries to Trick Americans Into Believing Crime is Spiking – Ryan J. Reilly (The Huffington Post, July 21, 2016).
Make America Hate Again – Timothy Egan (The New York Times, July 22, 2016).
Trump's Neo-Fascism Appeals to Victims of Obama/Clinton EconomicsThe Real News, (July 22, 2016).
Here’s What Bernie Sanders Had to Say About Donald Trump’s RNC Speech – Paige Lavender (The Huffington Post, July 21, 2016).
"I See Your Bullshit": Jon Stewart Returns to Take Down Trump and the GOP – Matt Wilstein (The Daily Beast, July 22, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump
Something to Think About – July 18, 2016
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders
Progressive Perspectives on Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton

Image: Damon Winter/The New York Times.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Pelican Lake

I spent this past weekend with my good friend Angie and her family at their summer get-away spot on the shores of beautiful Pelican Lake.

Located just outside of the town of Glennwood in Pope County, Minnesota, Pelican Lake is about a two hour drive from the Twin Cities on Interstate 94 West, U.S. Highway 71, and Minnesota State Highway 28.

The lake covers an area of 519 acres and is approximately 34 ft deep at its deepest point. Its waters are home to a variety of fish including Black Bullhead, Black Crappie, Bluegill, Brown Bullhead, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Pumpkinseed, Walleye, White Sucker, Yellow Bullhead and Yellow Perch. Perhaps because of this, many pelicans also make the lake and its surrounding area their home in the summer.

Right: With Angie in 1998. I first met Angie in 1995 when we both were students at the College of St. Catherine (now the St. Catherine University) in the Twin Cities. We've been friends ever since!

Above: Lake Pelican, MN – Friday, July 15, 2016.

Above: Angie and her husband Bryan – Pelican Lake, Sunday, July 17, 2016.

Right: With Angie and Byran's three beautiful daughters (from left) Teresa, Cece, and Amanda – July 17, 2016.

I'm wearing what I call my Cernunnos t-shirt, and we're standing close to some wild reeds!

Left: Angie's family come from Montevideo in south-western Minnesota. Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s I spent many happy summer weekends and Thanksgiving holidays in Montevideo with Angie and her family. They welcomed me as one of their own!

So this past weekend, when Angie's mum Elva, sister Patty, and niece Ashley heard I was going to be in Pelican Lake for the weekend, they drove up from Montevideo to see me.

It was a lovely reunion as it had been almost five years since we'd last seen one another.

Above (from left): Byran, me, Cece, Amanda, Elva, Teresa, Luke, Jordan, and Ashley.

Above: With Cece.

Above: Angie and her mum – Sunday, July 17, 2016.

Above and below: Views of beautiful Pelican Lake, Minnesota.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Gull Lake
Days of Summer on the Bayfield Peninsula