Sunday, October 20, 2019

Return to Guruk (August 19–29, 2019)

It's been almost two months now since I returned from my August visit to Australia, and I'm still working on documenting that important time in the land of my birth here at The Wild Reed.

I say "important" because as most reading this would know, this particular visit was precipitated by word of my father Gordon Bayly's sudden decline in health and his subsequent death on August 5, a day I never actually experienced as it was the day I "lost" as I traveled across the International Date Line to Australia from the U.S.

In this post I share images and commentary on my time spent in Guruk (my name for the coastal town of Port Macquarie) with my mother, Margaret Bayly, from August 19-29. This 10-day period immediately followed a 5-day visit to my hometown of Gunnedah that Mum, my youngest nephew Brendan, and I undertook from August 14-18.

Once back in Guruk, Brendan returned to his home and studies in Melbourne, while Mum and I settled into a quiet routine, one that involved me accompanying and supporting her as she did all those practical but poignant things required after the death of a spouse – things like transferring the title of the car to Mum's name, taking Dad's name of various bank accounts, and collecting his ashes from the funeral home. At night after dinner, Mum and I would watch documentaries (via YouTube on the TV) of various singers and actors we admired – Jane Fonda, Shirley Bassey, Nat King Cole, Petula Clark, Karen Carpenter, Kenneth Williams and Yootha Joyce.

During the day we'd often have lunch with friends whom Mum and Dad had first gotten to know when they moved to Port Macquarie from Gunnedah in 2002. All are wonderful people, and a great support to Mum.

I'd also spend time alone by the ocean, usually at dusk, an experience I always find both grounding and healing.

Above and below: Cowarra Dam – Tuesday, August 27, 2019.

The area around Port Macquarie (Aboriginal: Guruk) and the Hastings River (Aboriginal: Doongang) has been home to the Birpai Aboriginal peoples for tens of thousands of years. Traditional Birpai life changed forever with the mapping and naming of the area by Surveyor-General John Oxley in 1818. Three years later in 1821, Port Macquarie was founded as a penal settlement for convicts sentenced for secondary crimes committed in New South Wales. The region was opened to free settlers nine years later.

Above and below: Grants Head, the headland at the northern end of Grants Beach, located just south of the coastal town of Bonny Hills.

I climbed this headland on the morning of Wednesday, August 28. I climbed it last just this past April when I was in Australia visiting my ailing Dad.

Above, right, and below: On Thursday, August 29, Mum and I took a day-trip south along the coast to the town of Laurieton.

I should say that the restaurant sign (below) was totally misleading. When Mum and I were seated inside we were told that the $12 lunch was a vegetarian dish while the local black snapper was the Fish of the Day, and priced at something like $25! 🤣 . . . Although neither of us went for that, we still had a pleasant lunch.

NEXT: Journey to Northern Rivers Country

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Remembering and Celebrating Dad
Family Time in Guruk
Across the Mountains . . . from Guruk to Gunnedah
An Unexpected Visitor
Family Time in Gunnedah

Images: Michael Bayly and Margaret Bayly.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Quote of the Day

Many in the corporate media claimed that flailing candidates like Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar did well in the [fourth Democratic presidential] debate, mostly because such pundits have been pushing the whole fallacy that the way to win isn’t by appealing to the progressive majority; rather it’s by trying to peel off a few people from the minuscule so-called “center” of the party.

There are two things wrong with this. The first was addressed by Sanders when he noted that polling clearly showed that most of the electorate favored progressive issues, so running on them wasn’t only the right thing to do, it was the smart thing to do. But the second problem is deeper, and reveals that the centrist/corporatists have a fundamental misunderstanding of how and why Trump won.

. . . Since Bill Clinton, centrists have been increasingly dependent upon the ultra-rich and corporations, and they’ve drifted to the right, and as a result, voters drifted away from them.

That’s why we have Trump; that’s why until 2018 Democrats had been losing ground at all levels of government for decades.

And once again, the corporate centrists are trying to sell the idea that progressive ideas are just too far out there.

And the usual suspects – the pols, pundits and mainstream media who told Democrats that Trump couldn’t win, and who told them to run a centrist in 2016 – are telling the Party that if they want to beat Trump, they need to . . . well . . . run a centrist.

The scary thing is, since they control much of the media, and most of the Party, they just might convince folks to commit the same mistake they made in 2016.

– John Atcheson
Excerpted from "Reminder: Trump Didn't Win, Democrats Lost"
Common Dreams
October 17, 2019

Related Off-site Links:
Dear Centrist Democrats: There Are No Moderate Republicans to Work With – Charles P. Pierce (Esquire, October 16, 2019).
Centrist Democrats Want You to Think They're the Big Boys on the Stage – Elie Mystal (The Nation, October 17, 2019).
Pete Buttigieg Is the Past – Paul Blest (TruthDig, October 16, 2019).
The Centrists Are Alive and Kicking – and Ready for 2020 – Jennifer Rubin (Chicago Tribune, December 11, 2018).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – April 24, 2019
Quote of the Day – March 10, 2019
Quote(s) of the Day – February 26, 2019
Beto, Biden and Buttigieg: “Empty Suits and Poll-Tested Brands”
Pete Buttigieg, White Privilege, and Identity Politics
Quote of the Day – September 7, 2017
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders

Image: “Reeds” by Kristen Solberg.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Sweetness and the Sorrow

For "music night" this evening at The Wild Reed I share Shirley Bassey's stirring rendition of the song that's been on my mind (and heart) of late: Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Klebansince's "What I Did for Love," from the musical A Chorus Line.

As Wikipedia notes: "[The song] was quickly recognized for its show-business potential outside Broadway and was picked up by popular singers to include in their performances in their club and television appearances. Both female and male singers have made it an inclusion in their recorded albums to great effect."

Shirley Bassey recorded "What I Did for Love" for her 1976 album, Love, Life and Feelings. Following is her 1979 performance of the song on the BBC TV series she had at the time.

Kiss today goodbye
The sweetness and the sorrow
We did what we had to do
And I can't regret
What I did for love, what I did for love

Look, my eyes are dry
The dream was ours to borrow
It's as if we always knew
But I won't forget what I did for love
What I did for love

Love is never gone
As we travel on
Love's what we'll remember

Kiss today goodbye
And point toward tomorrow
Wish me luck, the same to you
Won't forget, can't regret
What I did for love

For more of Shirley Bassey at The Wild Reed, see:
Time of the Tigress
The Living Tree: Shirley Bassey and Me
The Rhythm Divine
History Repeating
Oscar Highlights 2013
Quote of the Day – February 26, 2013
Shirley, Shirley, Shirley!
Happy Birthday, Shirley!

Previous featured musicians at The Wild Reed:
Dusty Springfield | David Bowie | Kate Bush | Maxwell | Buffy Sainte-Marie | Prince | Frank Ocean | Maria Callas | Loreena McKennitt | Rosanne Cash | Petula Clark | Wendy Matthews | Darren Hayes | Jenny Morris | Gil Scott-Heron | Shirley Bassey | Rufus Wainwright | Kiki Dee | Suede | Marianne Faithfull | Dionne Warwick | Seal | Sam Sparro | Wanda Jackson | Engelbert Humperdinck | Pink Floyd | Carl Anderson | The Church | Enrique Iglesias | Yvonne Elliman | Lenny Kravitz | Helen Reddy | Stephen Gately | Judith Durham | Nat King Cole | Emmylou Harris | Bobbie Gentry | Russell Elliot | BØRNS | Hozier | Enigma | Moby (featuring the Banks Brothers) | Cat Stevens | Chrissy Amphlett | Jon Stevens | Nada Surf | Tom Goss (featuring Matt Alber) | Autoheart | Scissor Sisters | Mavis Staples | Claude Chalhoub | Cass Elliot | Duffy | The Cruel Sea | Wall of Voodoo | Loretta Lynn and Jack White | Foo Fighters | 1927 | Kate Ceberano | Tee Set | Joan Baez | Wet, Wet, Wet | Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy | Fleetwood Mac | Jane Clifton | Australian Crawl | Pet Shop Boys | Marty Rhone | Josef Salvat | Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri | Aquilo | The Breeders | Tony Enos | Tupac Shakur | Nakhane Touré | Al Green | Donald Glover/Childish Gambino | Josh Garrels | Stromae | Damiyr Shuford | Vaudou Game | Yotha Yindi and The Treaty Project | Lil Nas X | Daby Touré

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Prayer for a Changed Relationship

Our relationships do not die,
they just change form.

– Marianne Williamson

Dear God,
In releasing this man, I feel both dejected and relieved.
I pray for the power to trust completely my decision
and to love him so totally that I shall move beyond
feelings of sadness and any sense of failure.
For my love, I know, shall set me free.

Let me not be tempted to minimize the experiences
of the last four years.
Let me see how they have helped us
both grow and evolve.
May we both now fly free.
May I keep my faith in the wisdom of all things.
May we both learn to respect each other's choices
to go where we each need to go.

May we both find another love,
may these loves flourish.
For truly, the arc of love
is a blessing on us all.

Wherever he goes, loving God,
please go with him.
May he be blessed in all his doings.
Please protect and guide him
Please protect and guide me.
Bring us joy.
May we be happy.
May we be loved
May we both find our way.


Adapted by Michael Bayly from a prayer by Marianne Williamson
in her book, Illuminata: Thoughts, Prayers, Rites of Passage (1994).

NEXT: The Sweetness and the Sorrow

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Wishing Him Love
In the Abode of the Heart
Vessels of the Holy
The Choice and Risk That Is Love
The Gravity of Love
To Be Held and to Hold
Real Holiness
The Path Ahead . . .

Image 1: November 2018.
Image 2: September 2017.
Image 3: September 2019.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Relevance and Vitality of Marianne Williamson’s 2020 Presidential Campaign

She may not have made the September or October debates, but Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson is still very much in the race.

Last week, for instance, her campaign announced that she had raised $3 million in the third quarter, a haul that, as CNN reports, “is a significant boost from the $1.5 million Williamson raised respectively in both the first and second quarters of 2019.” Furthermore, “Williamson's ability to double her third quarter haul during a three-month period where it is notoriously difficult to raise money, signals she may have the fundraising base to sustain a longer run.” . . . Yes! And I'm happy and honored to be part of that fundraising base! Indeed, Marianne remains the presidential candidate about whom I feel most excited and energized.

Another hopeful sign of the vitality of Marianne's 2020 presidential campaign is that in a field of 19 remaining Democratic candidates, Marianne registered sixth place in the national Monmouth Poll released on October 2. This despite being frequently (and disparagingly) labeled an “outsider” and a “long-shot,” kept from the third debate, and smeared with predictable stereotypes dished out by the corporate mainstream media.

Speaking of the mainstream media and its stereotypes, I don't know who created the meme below but it gave me a much-needed chuckle, especially after Saturday Night Live's recent skit involving “Marianne” (Chloe Fineman, left).

Of course, the real Marianne has never talked about crystals, essential oils, yoni eggs, magic, or the astral plane. I guess it's easier to make fun of an erroneous caricature than to actually acknowledge and find reality-based humor in the depth and substance of her message and/or the establishment's efforts to marginalize this message.

Just how serious and informed is Marianne Williamson's message? Well, you be the judge by checking out the following video compilation of her "best moments" in the second Democratic candidates' debate back in July. (These two videos are followed by a compilation of comments excerpted from articles and op-eds generated by her debate performance.)

[Williamson] used her limited time on the microphone to maximum effect, attracting attention for meaningful answers on race and Democratic ideology. She was the top-searched candidate of the night, according to Google Trends, besting Sanders and Warren. She drew cheers when she wondered aloud why some of her rivals “seem to think there’s something wrong about using the instruments of government to help people.” And she invoked language unusual for a political candidate when, referring to the legacy of slavery and racism, she vibrated her hands in the air and warned of “an injustice that continues to form a toxicity underneath the surface, an emotional turbulence that only reparations will heal.”

– Holly Bailey
Excerpted from “Marianne Williamson
Had a Big Night in the Democratic Debate

The Washington Post
July 31, 2019

Across Twitter, there was a bit of a two-step reaction. First, “Hahaha, the new age guru just used the phrase 'dark psychic force.'” Then, second, “Wait, there’s something to what she just said.” . . . It is absolutely, positively crystal clear that Trump builds much of his appeal with his base on his own rage and fury. He stokes anger and then basks in the chants and cheers. No one can look at Trump and argue that he is trying to bring Americans together. . . . Williamson’s moment may have been the most important of the entire debate [because] she tapped into something real. There is, in fact, something dark lurking in American civil society, and all the wonks and all the plans in either party won’t purge that darkness so long as stoking partisan fury is seen as the most expedient path to power.

– David French
Excerpted from “The Meaning of the Marianne Williamson Moment
National Review
July 31, 2019

Again and again, this impossibly youthful 67-year-old broke through with a cut-the-crap sensibility. She kept pushing her higher-profile competitors to think, and talk, in deeper perspective and sweeping context. . . . [Marianne Williamson] seemed to grasp what others on the stage didn’t as they argued over small differences. As Trump proved in 2016, voters don’t much care about 10-point policy plans — what Williamson calls “wonkiness” — nor even about whether a politician’s promises are realistic. They like candidates who speak plainly and passionately. . . . [She is right about many things including] one big thing, which she returned to in the closing moments of the debate. "Our problem is not just that we need to defeat Donald Trump," she said. “We need a plan to solve institutionalized hatred, collectivized hatred and white nationalism. And in order to do that, we need more than political insider game and wonkiness and intellectual argument.” Williamson will not be the Democratic nominee. But hopefully the one who will be is taking note.

– Dana Milbank
Excerpted from “Marianne Williamson Won’t Be President.
But Her 2020 Competitors Should Take Note

The Washington Post
July 30, 2019

Political observers seemed stunned to hear best-selling author and spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson speaking so eloquently on issues near and dear to the average Democratic voter’s heart. They shouldn’t have been. A quick visit to her website or a Google search could have disabused them of the idea that she’s a dingbat interloper in the Democratic race.But why do research when you can snark and mock instead? Full disclosure: Williamson is a friend, so I have been well aware of her brilliant mind, well-honed worldview and deep thinking around the most important issues we face as a nation. I’ve been frustrated watching her be denigrated and caricatured based on a profound ignorance of her experience and abilities.

– Kirsten Powers
Excerpted from “Don't Mock Marianne Williamson,
Democrats Need Her Spiritual Politics in Dark Trump Era

USA Today
July 31, 2019

Marianne Williamson’s draw is her uncanny ability to drive straight to the spiritual heart of the issues at hand. She not only lays out the expected progressive ideology but goes further, housing it in a metaphysical context. While the Left of recent years has claimed a position of moral authority on the political issues of the day, Williamson actually provides something of an underlying framework for this demand. As her campaign’s tagline, “Turning Love into a Political Force,” exhibits, Williamson seeks to redefine why we have government in the first place. Her campaign has demanded “a politics that goes much deeper, . . . a politics that speaks to the heart.” Williamson sees politics as a platform to heal the psyches of the American people. For her, politics isn’t [primarily] about policy, it’s about an ongoing battle between wisdom and fear.

– Kayla Bartsch
Excerpted from “Marianne Williamson Offers
Priestly Wisdom for a Nation Adrift – Seriously

National Review via
August 12, 2019


I close with Marianne's September 19 C-SPAN interview and the text (with added images and links) of her October 11 e-mail to supporters of her presidential campaign. Enjoy!

Many voters say “I just want someone who can win!”

I understand that, and it’s why I’m running. A politics of love is the BEST possible politics to defeat a politics of fear.

In 2016, people were angry. But that’s not the dominant emotional tenor of the American voter in 2019. Today, people are exhausted. They aren’t looking for a fight now; they’re looking for inspiration.

We need a candidate who can counter the president’s outrageously dangerous lies with outrageously exciting truths. His campaign in 2020 will be laced with fear, but mine will be stronger than his because it’s a politics laced with love.

What will win the presidency in 2020 is the ability to create a new political coalition – based not on people’s anger but on people’s conscience. Not on people’s rage, but on people’s desire to believe once again in the promise of America.

And we will give it to them.

• We’ll make every school in America a palace of learning, culture, and the arts.

• We'll make a just transition from a dirty economy to a clean economy, reversing climate change and leaving a healthier planet for our children.

• We'll move from a war economy to a peace economy, and restore moral authority to American foreign policy.

• We'll pay reparations for slavery and repair our relationship with Native Americans.

• We'll massively infuse the life of the average American with economic hope and opportunity.

• We'll establish a Department of Children and Youth, and a Department of Peace.

• We'll provide universal health care.

• We'll base every public policy on one core principle: that it should help people thrive.

That is our message, and it is why we will win.

– Marianne Williamson
October 11, 2019

Related Off-site Links
2020 U.S. Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson in Conversation with Jonathan Capehart92nd St. Y via YouTube (September 19, 2019).
Marianne Williamson is the New Gladiator – CK Sanders (Medium, September 17, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Goes Beyond the Surface – Sable Knapp (Bleeding Heartland, September 14, 2019).
Marianne Williamson on How to Bring Consciousness to PoliticsMindValley via YouTube (May 9, 2019).
Marianne Williamson on Climate, Respecting the Right, and the Blind Spots of the Elite Media – Olivia Nuzzi (New York Magazine, September 24, 2019).
Marianne Williamson on Climate Change – The Greatest Moral Challenge of Our GenerationMarianne2020 via YouTube (September 25, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Calls for Impeachment Inquiry – Zack Budryk (The Hill, September 24, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Discusses Stress of Campaign with Voters in “Candidate Café” – Adam Sexton (WMUR 9, October 7, 2019).
Marianne 2020 – The official Marianne Williamson for President website.

UPDATES: Tonight's Debate and the Power of the People – Marianne Williamson (Marianne 2020, October 15, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Isn't on the Debate Stage But Reminded People She's Still Running – Nicholas Wu (USA Today, October 15, 2019).
We May Never See Marianne Williamson on a Debate Stage Again. That's a Pity – Jonathan Capeheart (The Washington Post, October 15, 2019).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Something to Think About (and Embody!)
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson on Amanpour and Company, 9/21/19
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson on The Breakfast Club, 8/29/19
Marianne Williamson On What It Will Take to Defeat Donald Trump
Caitlin Johnstone: “Status Quo Politicians Are Infinitely ‘Weirder’ Than Marianne Williamson”
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson: “We’re Living at a Critical Moment in Our Democracy”
Friar André Maria: Quote of the Day – June 28, 2019
Marianne Williamson Plans on Sharing Some “Big Truths” on Tonight's Debate Stage
Sometimes You Just Have to Take Matters Into Your Own Hands . . .
“A Lefty With Soul”: Why Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Deserves Some Serious Attention
Marianne Williamson: Reaching for Higher Ground
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – April 24, 2019
Why Marianne Williamson Is a Serious and Credible Presidential Candidate
Talkin’ ’Bout An Evolution: Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Bid
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – November 5, 2018
In the Garden of Spirituality – Marianne Williamson
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – August 29, 2017

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Quote of the Day

I guess the strategy is to make the-once-unthinkable – asking the Communist Party of China and an ally totally dependent on U.S. aid in its war against Russia to “investigate” a political rival – seem normal by saying it out loud. It is not normal. It is un-Constitutional. It is un-American. It is the behavior of a mob boss, not a President.

If you don't understand that, you aren't a “conservative” standing-up to “liberal elites” or the “deep state” or whatever; you are an enemy of the U.S. Constitution, the rule of law and American sovereignty, someone so unpatriotic he puts loyalty to Trump over loyalty to country. For patriotic Americans, the integrity of the Constitution is more important than tribe. This isn't debatable anymore.

Ken Darling
via Facebook
October 3, 2019

Related Off-site Links:
Trump Confirms He Asked Ukraine to Target Biden in Covered-Up Call, Then Says China Should Target Biden Too – Ben Mathis-Lilley (Slate, October 3, 2019).
Trump Goes on Live Television to Do Exact Thing Whistleblower Said He Did – Ryan Bort Rolling Stone (October 3, 2019).
The Impeachment Crisis Just Got Worse for the GOP – Joan Walsh (The Nation, October 3, 2019).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Progressive Perspectives on Corruption in U.S. Politics
“A Man Who Has Never Known a Love That He Hasn’t Had to Pay For”: Edward Snowden on Donald Trump
Quote of the Day – February 28, 2019
Quote of the Day – May 23, 2018
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson: “We’re Living at a Critical Moment in Our Democracy”
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump

Image: President Donald Trump answers questions while departing the White House on October 3, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)

Wednesday, October 02, 2019


. . . in Autumn Light

Writes Miranda Aldhouse-Green in her 1993 book, The Celtic Myths: A Guide to the Ancient Gods and Legends:

There is no hint at a dark side in the Celtic presentation of Cernunnos [KER-noo-nos] himself, but his human/beast ambiguity fed into early Christian notions of beastiality, pagan chaos, and contradictions of the notion that humans had been fashioned in the image of God.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Beloved and Antlered
Integrating Cernunnos, “Archetype of Sensuality and the Instinctual World”
The Devil We (Think) We Know
A Day to Celebrate the Survival of the Old Ways
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Pagan Thoughs at Hallowtide
The Pagan Roots of All Saints Day
Celebrating the Coming of the Sun and the Son
Advent: A “ChristoPagan” Perspective
I Caught a Glimpse of a God
The Prayer Tree

Related Off-site Links:
Cernunnos: Wild God of the Forest – Patti Wigington (Learn Religions, June 25, 2019).
Cernunnos: The Horned Pan of the Celts – Moe Bedard (Gnostic Warrior).
Cernunnos: History and Mythology of the Enigmatic Celtic Horned God – Dattatreya Mandal (Realm of History, July 27, 2019).
I Call to CernunnosThe Leveret (November 16, 2016).
Concerning Cernunnos (Part 1)Musings from Gelli Fach (July 23, 2011).
Concerning Cernunnos (Part 2): Accessing the Fruits of the WildMusings from Gelli Fach (July 27, 2011).

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

“A Man Who Has Never Known a Love That He Hasn’t Had to Pay For”: Edward Snowden on Donald Trump

Donald Trump strikes me as nothing so much as a man who has never known a love that he hasn’t had to pay for. And I think that forms all of his decision-making. I think that explains all of the things that we see. This is someone who sees the world through a prism of a very, very sad lens, which is that what he is, who he is, does not today, and never has, and never will have any value. The only thing that matters is what he has, what he can trade. And I think that really explains all of the transactional corruption that we have seen throughout this administration. [He’s] simply someone who thinks that’s what life is.

Related Off-site Links:
Edward Snowden on the NSA, His Book Permanent Record and Life in Russia – Dave Davies (NPR News, September 19, 2019).
Edward Snowden Condemns Trump’s Mistreatment of Whistleblower Who Exposed Ukraine ScandalDemocracy Now! via Common Dreams (September 30, 2019).
Edward Snowden Claims Private Contractors Responsible for US Intelligence’s “Creeping Authoritarianism” – Andrew Buncombe (The Independent (September 30, 2019).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Progressive Perspectives on Corruption in U.S. Politics
Quote of the Day – January 8, 2019
Quote of the Day – May 23, 2018
Quote of the Day – March 12, 2018
Quote of the Day – December 19, 2017
Trump's America: Normalized White Supremacy and a Rising Tide of Racist Violence
Quote of the Day – April 2, 2017
Quote of the Day – March 26, 2017
On International Human Rights Day, Saying “No” to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump as President of the United States
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump

Monday, September 30, 2019

Progressive Perspectives on Corruption in U.S. Politics

There is much to be shocked about in an intelligence officer’s whistle-blower report that is roiling official Washington — but perhaps nothing more shocking than the fact that when it reached the Trump Justice Department, the complaint was met with a big “nothing to see here, folks.”

The allegations in the complaint, which was partially revealed [last] Thursday morning, go way beyond just one phone call between President Trump and the new president of Ukraine, in which Trump pressured the Ukrainian leader to do him a political favor. They detail a months-long pattern of abuse and evidence that “the president of the United State is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 US election,” the whistle-blower wrote.

The memo also raises the fear that “senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records” of Trump’s July 25 call with President Volodymr Zelensky of Ukraine “especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call.” The use of that separate system to shield the conversation is itself both suspect and further evidence that “White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.”

– The Editorial Board
Excerpted from “Blowing the Whistle on Corruption
The Boston Globe
September 27, 2019

Trump has been breaking norms since the moment he declared his candidacy and in many of his biggest policy and political moves while in office. In the past week, Trump has violated a notably large number of norms surrounding good government, but the general pattern of gleeful, frequent norm-breaking has defined most of the Trump presidency.

That’s the meta-scandal of the Trump administration: Each individual scandal stems from the president’s fundamental character, his lack of interest in the workings of democratic government and outright contempt for the idea that corruption might be a bad thing.

Trump sets the tone, and lower-ranked officials in his administration follow suit. The quality of American government is being eroded, slowly but surely, to the point where the kind of corrupt, undemocratic behavior that’s typically found in fragile young democracies is becoming a regular feature of the world’s oldest. This is the kind of norm erosion that’s undeniably scary, one that undercuts some of the rules of the road that democracies genuinely do need to function properly.

Now, it’s important to note that the problems in American democracy don’t start and end with Trump. There are much deeper sources of democratic rot in the United States, even in the Republican party alone, than one person. Trump is a symptom rather than a cause.

– Zack Beauchamp
Excerpted from “The Real Scandal Behind
the Last Week of Trump News

September 9, 2019

When allegations of ethical lapses or wrongdoing surface against people on one side of the aisle, they can always claim that someone on the other side has done far worse. But taken together, all of these examples have contributed to a toxic norm. Joe Biden is the man who, as a senator, walked out of a dinner with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Biden was one of the most vocal champions of anti-corruption efforts in the Obama administration. So when this same Biden takes his son with him to China aboard Air Force Two, and within days Hunter joins the board of an investment advisory firm with stakes in China, it does not matter what father and son discussed. Joe Biden has enabled this brand of practice, made it bipartisan orthodoxy. And the ethical standard in these cases – people’s basic understanding of right and wrong – becomes whatever federal law allows. Which is a lot.

Who among us has not admired or supported people who have engaged in or provided cover for this kind of corruption? How did we convince ourselves it was not corruption? Impeachment alone will not end our national calamity. If we want to help our country heal, we must start holding ourselves, our friends, and our allies – and not just our enemies – to its highest standards.

– Sarah Chayes
Excerpted from “Hunter Biden’s Perfectly
Legal, Socially Acceptable Corruption

The Atlantic
September 27, 2019

The Ukraine crisis exposes the bipartisan corruption inherent in the US imperialist foreign policy. An investigation into Ukraine may expose what are actually common practices by both Democratic and Republican administrations in regime change efforts. As John Kiriakou explained when he gave a talk at the Venezuelan Embassy during the Embassy Protection Collective action, the CIA has a secret regime change office that provides plans to overthrow any government the US chooses to target. These plans involve similar tactics – the investment of large amounts of money into NGOs (often “human rights groups”), support for a violent opposition, installing US-trained and controlled leaders and payoffs for those involved.

– Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
Excerpted from “‘Ukrainegate’ Teaches Us More
About Ourselves Than Trump OR Biden

Popular Resistance
September 29, 2019

The efforts by the Democratic Party and much of the press, including CNN and The New York Times, to remove Trump from office, as if our problems are embodied in him, will backfire. Our social, cultural, economic and political crisis created a demagogue like Trump. These forces will grow more virulent if Trump is impeached. The longer we fail to confront and name the corporate forces responsible for the misery of over half the U.S. population and our broken democracy, the more the disease of cultism will spread. It was the seizure of power by corporations that vomited up Trump. And it will be only by freeing ourselves from corporate rule, by rebuilding our democratic institutions, including the legislative bodies, the courts and the media, that we can roll back from the abyss.

– Chris Hedges
Excerpted from “The Problem With Impeachment
September 26, 2019

Corruption largely operates on autopilot at equal levels within Democratic and Republican parties, resulting in a bloated concentration of control and an anti-democratic sense of entitlement at the top. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed with policy changes and beyond superficial modifications.

In her 1997 book, Healing the Soul of America, [2020 Democratic presidential candidate] Marianne Williamson wrote: “Clearly we must work on healing our own neuroses in order to become effective healers. But then, having worked on our own issues a while, another question begs for an answer: how healed can we ultimately become while the social systems in which we live and move, and have our earthly being, remain sick?”

Williamson has a background in grassroots organizing and recognizes the underlying issues propelling the widespread self-sabotage happening in our country. She describes this dynamic in her most recent book, A Politics of Love. She has a keen ability to identify proposed policies that hinder democracy and has adamantly opposed such policies, while supporting proposals that boost voter engagement.

– Sable Knapp
Excerpted from “Marianne Williamson Goes Beyond the Surface
Bleeding Heartland
September 14, 2019

Related Off-site Links:
The Impeachment Inquiry: “We Could Not Ignore What the President Did” – Scott Pelley (CBS News, September 29, 2019).
After Dismissing Whistleblower Complaint as “Nancy Drew Novel,” Top Trump Aide Stephen Miller Destroyed by Direct Questions on Fox News – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, September 29, 2019).
The Week That Changed Everything – Lili Loofbourow (Slate, September 28, 2019).
Trump Acts as If He is Above the Law. The Law Has Begun to Fight Back – Sarah Churchwell (The Guardian, September 28, 2019).
Will Constitutional Outlaw Trump Implode With Lies Before He is Impeached? – Ralph Nader (Common Dreams, September 28, 2019).
Would Ousting Trump Rebuild the Country’s Faith in Government? Lessons from Latin America – Rachel E. Bowen (The Conversation, September 27, 2019).
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Donald Trump is Probably the Most Corrupt President in the Modern History of This Country” – Lindsey Ellefson (The Wrap, September 27, 2019).
How Bill Barr Turned the Justice Department Into a Cover-up Operation for Trump – Jay Willis (GQ, September 27, 2019).
Trump Is Deserving of an Impeachment Inquiry, Many Times Over – Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan (Common Dreams, September 27, 2019).
The Problem With Impeachment – Chris Hedges (TruthDig, September 26, 2019).
The Acting Director of National Intelligence Just Showed How Corrupt the Trump Administration Is – Paul Waldman (The Washington Post, September 26, 2019).
The Untold Story of the Trump-Ukraine “Scandal”: The Routine Corruption of US Foreign Policy – Joe Lauria (Consortium News, September 26, 2018).
Trump’s Ukraine Scandal Shows Why Leaks Are Vital to Democracy – Trevor Timm (Medium, September 26, 2019).
The 3 Favors Trump Asked the Ukrainian President in New Transcript – Morgan Baskin (VICE, September 25, 2019).
Rudy Giuliani “Directly Involved at Nearly Every Stage” of Ukraine Scandal – Devan Cole (CNN, September 25, 2019).
Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of TrumpThe New York Times (September 24, 2019).
Trump Has Figured Out How to Corrupt the Entire Government – Jonathan Chait (New York Magazine, September 9, 2019).
“Corruption in Plain Sight”: Trump's Son-in-Law Jared Kushner's Firm Took in $90 Million From Unnamed Foreign Entities Since 2017 – Eoin Higgins (Common Dreams, June 10, 2019).
Elizabeth Warren Makes a Case for Democrats to Be the Anti-Corruption Party – Sheelah Kolhatkar (The New Yorker, June 7, 2018).

UPDATES: Trump Is Tweeting About “Civil War” and Asking for His Political Opponent to Be Arrested – Jack Holmes (Esquire, September 30, 2019).
“Beyond Repugnant”: Cracks in GOP Begin to Show as Trump Suggests “Civil War” Over Impeachment – Igor Derysh (Salon, September 30, 2019).
Trump's “Civil War” Quote Tweet Is Actually Grounds for Impeachment, Says Harvard Law Professor – Alexandra Hutzler (The New York Times, September 30, 2019).
Trump Seeks Whistle-Blower's Identity – Annie Karni and Eileen Sullivan (The New York Times, September 30, 2019).
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Took Part in Ukraine Call, Official Says – Courtney McBride and Sadie Gurman (The Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2019).
Attorney General William Barr Personally Asked Foreign Officials to Aid Inquiry into CIA and FBI Activities in 2016 – Devlin Barrett, Shane Harris and Matt Zapotosky (The Washington Post via MSN, September 30, 2019).
Trump Asked Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for Help Investigating Mueller Inquiry – Andrew Probyn, Conor Duffy, Andrew Greene and Brett Worthington (ABC News, September 30, 2019).
Rudy Giuliani, “Wildest of Wild Cards,” Subpoenaed For Trump Impeachment Inquiry – Eoin Higgins (Common Dreams, September 30, 2019).
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Says Senate Will Put Trump on Trial If House Votes to Impeach – Fadel Allassan (Axios, September 30, 2019).
Impeach the Malignant Fraudster – Charles Blow (The New York Times, September 30, 2019).
Donald Trump is Finished – Bill Blum (TruthDig, September 30, 2019).
Trump’s Children Take in Millions Overseas as President Slams Biden’s Son – Noah Bierman and Chris Megerian (The Los Angeles Times, October 10, 2019).
How Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump Have Profited Off Their Dad's Presidency – Jay Willis (GQ, October 14, 2019).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Hope in the Midst of Collapse
Quote of the Day – May 23, 2018
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson: “We’re Living at a Critical Moment in Our Democracy”
Progressive Perspectives on Joe Biden's Presidential Run
Bernie Sanders: Quote of the Day – February 6, 2018
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump

Image 1: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.
Image 2: Visar Kryeziu / AP.