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).
Joe Biden’s Family Has Been Cashing in on His Career for Decades. Democrats Need to Acknowledge That – Ryan Grim (The Intercept, October 7, 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).
Trump Is a “Successful Sociopath” and a Predator Who “Lacks a Conscience and Lacks Empathy,” Says Former Harvard Psychiatrist – Shane CroucherR (Newsweek, October 29, 2019).
A Democracy-Killing Duo: How the Supreme Court and the Morbidly Rich Are Ruining Democracy in America – Thom Hartmann (Common Dreams, October 30, 2019).
Why the Impeachment Fight Is Even Scarier Than You Think – Thomas Pepinsky (Politico, October 31, 2019).
Democrats Can't Ignore Their Biden Problem Forever – Jacob Sugarman (Common Dreams, November 1, 2019).
Trump: The Most Corrupt President in U.S. HistoryThe Real News Networks (November 13, 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.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Queer Black Panther

NOTE: This post serves as the tenth and final installment in The Wild Reed's 2019 Queer Appreciation series.

Ryan Coogler's Black Panther was one of my favorite films of last year, mainly because of how groundbreaking it was on a number of levels. Most notably, Black Panther was the first film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to place a black superhero front and center. It's also one of only a very few films to feature a black director (Coogler) and a majority black cast (including Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, Angela Bassett, Daniel Kaluuya, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Forest Whitaker). In addition, Black Panther explores questions and issues about race and identity to a depth never before attempted by a film in the "superhero" genre.

Film critic Kenneth Turan succinctly sums up the significance and appeal of Black Panther when he writes:

A superhero movie whose characters have integrity and dramatic heft, laced with socially conscious commentary as well as wicked laughs, Black Panther is the model of what an involving popular entertainment ought to be but hardly ever is.

Queer appeal

Black Panther is, of course, based on Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's revolutionary comic book character of the same name.

As both a comic book and a film, Black Panther has a queer appeal. What do I mean by this? Well, I've come to understand that to be "queer" is to attempt to expand or go beyond (in thought, word or deed) the parameters of gender, race, heterosexuality, patriarchy, and other socially-constructed (or manipulated) concepts. Laurence Coleman, in discussing vocalist Dusty Springfield as a queer icon, says that embracing this understanding of queer “denotes a spectrum not only of identity and practice but also inquiry.” Accordingly, to be queer is to be a questioner and subverter of what Michael Warner has called “regimes of the normal,” and not just in matters to do with sexuality and sexual expression, but also in matters of gender, class, and race.

For many people, a definite appeal of Black Panther is that it boldly questions and subverts in entertaining ways, “regimes of the normal” as they relate to gender and race. (It almost did the same with sexuality, as Linda Lang documents here.)

I celebrate the subversion and transformation of any status quo that is oppressive and limiting, and without doubt Black Panther does this. Accordingly, I think it's fair to say that it is queer in the broadest and deepest sense of the word.

Queer male sexuality

Black Panther is also queer in the more focused sense of sexuality. Though not as obvious or resolute as its focus on race and gender, a queer take on sexuality is nonetheless observable, simply and beautifully, in the film's celebration of the impressive physiques of the main Wakandan characters (both male and female); in Black Panther's body-hugging outfit (one that emphasizes the male body's "tools of attraction"); in the sensual, cat-like way T'challa / Black Panther moves; and in the young king of Wakanda's journey and travails in becoming a hero.

This last observation is important as for many people who do not identify exclusively as heterosexual, the trials of comic book superheroes are often perceived to reflect their own struggle to be who they really are in a world that fears and misunderstands them.

“When I was a teenager,” one gay man told Gerard Jones, author of the book Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book, “superheroes were obviously about being queer. Clark Kent shedding that hideous [business] suit and shooting into the sky in his tights? What else [could it be about]?”

I think a very similar thing can be said for T'challa, not only in his donning of his tight-fitting Black Panther suit, but in his efforts to move Wakanda out of the shadows so as to openly reveal and share the country's immense riches and unique gifts with the wider world, a move that is both liberating and risky, much like coming out as queer.

I think it's also important to note that this sexuality-focused display of male queerness as described above is present in the original and current Black Panther comic books, as the illustrations below clearly show.

– Art by Rich Buckler and Glynis Wein; text by Don McGregor (1973)

– Art by Bob Brown; text by Steve Englehart (1973)

– Art by John Romita Jr. (2018)

Queer fan art

Of course, as has been noted previously at The Wild Reed, in the always entertaining world of fan art, many popular superheroes are often depicted as queer, particularly in relation to sex and sexuality.

The image at right by Steven Garcia is one of the more explicit examples of this. Yet regardless of how in-your-face or subtle such depictions may be, they all speak to just how many queer superhero fans there are out there, and how strongly they want to see themselves represented by and within this particular genre.

A common theme in a lot of "queer fan art" conveys the notion that the fierce tension and antagonism that exists between certain male superheroes is actually a sign of mutual (though repressed) sexual desire. The role of the fan artist, it would seem, is to give these characters an opportunity to let loose with this desire.

In the world of Wakanda, we see this depicted primarily in images showing T'Challa / Black Panther with Erik "Killmonger" Stevens (left, by NightWolf), but also with Bucky Barnes / the Winter Soldier and with M’Baku, leader of Wakanda's Jabari tribe.

Following are a few more examples of fan art that depicts a queer Black Panther. (NOTE: For NSFW depictions of queer Black Panther, see the version of this article posted at The Wild Reed's brother site, The Leveret.)

Above and below: T'Challa / Black Panther and Erik "Killmonger."


– Artist unknown





Above and below: T'Challa / Black Panther and Bucky Barnes / the Winter Soldier.

– Artist unknown


Above: T'Challa / Black Panther (right) and M’Baku, leader of Wakanda's Jabari tribe.


Above: Erik "Killmonger," T'Challa / Black Panther, and M’Baku.


Related Off-site Links:
The Racial Politics of Black Panther – Mikhail Lyubansky (Psychology Today, February 20, 2018).
The Revolutionary Power of Black Panther – Jamil Smith (Time, February 2018).
10 Important Things You Might Have Missed While Watching Marvel's Black Panther – Lanette Mantle (Odyssey, March 20, 2018).
Why Black Panther Is Such a Big Deal for Women – Emily Rems (Salon, April 4, 2018).
Black Panther Sequel Set for 2022 Release – Erin Nyren (Variety, August 24, 2019).
This Artist Reimagined Superheroes as Pinup ModelsGaiety, December 17, 2019).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Important Cultural Moment That Is Black Panther
Celebrating Black Panther – Then and Now
“Avengers Assemble!”
Jason Johnson on Stan Lee's Revolutionary Legacy
Another First for Black Panther
“Something Special,” Indeed!
Season of the (Scarlet) Witch
One Divine Hammer
What the Vatican Can Learn from the X-Men
The New Superman: Not Necessarily Gay, But Definitely Queer
Adam Sandel on the Queer Appeal of Harry Potter
Musings on the Possibility of “FinnPoe” in the Star Wars Saga
Thoughts on Queer Cinema

For previous installments in The Wild Reed's 2019 Queer Appreciation series, see:
Quote of the Day – May 31, 2019
James Baldwin's Potent Interweavings of Race, Homoeroticism, and the Spiritual
John Gehring on Why Catholics Should Participate in LGBTQ Pride Parades
A Dance of Queer Love
The Queer Liberation March: Bringing Back the Spirit of Stonewall
Barbara Smith on Why She Left the Mainstream LGBTQI Movement
Remembering the Stonewall Uprising on Its 50th Anniversary
In a Historic First, Country Music's Latest Star Is a Queer Black Man
Historian Martin Duberman on the Rightward Shift of the Gay Movement

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Something to Think About (and Embody!) . . .



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 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).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson on Amanpour and Company, 9/21/19
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson on The Breakfast Club, 8/29/19
“This Woman Is Going to Win the Nomination”: Matt Taibbi on Marianne Williamson in Iowa
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

Monday, September 23, 2019

Quote of the Day

This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!

You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you're doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.

You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.

. . . How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just “business as usual” and some technical solutions. . . . [Y]ou are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.

You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.

We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.

Greta Thunberg
Excerpted from her speech at the U.N. Climate Action Summit
September 23, 2019

Writes Chloe Bryan about this image for the ages. . . .

Climate activist Greta Thunberg watched as Donald Trump walked past at the UN Climate Change Summit on Monday. She did not look pleased.

Trump was initially expected not to attend the summit and was meant to be at a session on religious persecution instead. But he showed up, making a brief appearance just before Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's remarks. According to a pool report, he was there for 14 minutes.

Now footage is circulating of 16-year-old Thunberg's reaction to Trump's entrance. It is truly a glare among glares, which makes sense: Trump has called climate change a "hoax," despite incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, and he has promoted a ruthlessly anti-environment agenda during his time as president.

Related Off-site Links:
“How Dare You!”: Greta Thunberg Rages at “Fairytales of Eternal Economic Growth” at UN Climate Summit – Eoin Higgins (Common Dreams, September 23, 2019).
Attacks on Greta Thunberg Come from a Coordinated Network of Climate Change Deniers – Mat Hope (Teen Vogue, September 23, 2019).
Highlights From the Biggest Climate Strike the World Has Ever SeenTruthDig (September 21, 2019).
As Global Youth Demand Climate Action, Trump Heaps Praise on Coal-Obsessed Australian Leader – Andrea Germanos (Common Dreams, September 19, 2019).
Twenty-five Years Before Greta, There Was Severn and We Ignored Her – Louise Fitzgerald (The Irish Times, September 19, 2019).
Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot Make a Short Film on the Climate CrisisYouTube (September 19, 2019).
Greta Thunberg Is Right. The U.S.Congress Is Ignoring Science – and That Includes Democrats – Kate Aronoff (The Guardian, September 19, 2019).
Marianne Williamson: Climate Change Is the Result of an “Amoral” Economic System – Zack Budryk (The Hill, September 19, 2019).
Naomi Klein: Greta Thunberg Is a “Prophetic Voice” in Fight for Climate JusticeDemocracy Now! (September 17, 2019).
Why is Greta Thunberg So Triggering for Certain Men? – Jennifer O'Connell (The Irish Times, September 7, 2019).
The Misogyny of Climate Deniers – Martin Gelin (The New Republic, August 28, 2019).
An Open Letter to Greta Thunberg – Tim Druck (AfroSaiophile, September 23, 2019).

UPDATES: Donald Trump Mocks Teen Climate Activist Greta Thunberg in Late Night Tweet – John Fritze (USA Today, September 24, 2019).
Greta Thunberg's U.N. Speech Prompted Ugly Insults – Proving Her Critics Can't Fault Her Actual Message – Ezra Marcus (Mic, September 24, 2019).
Greta Thunberg Isn't the Only Trailblazing Young Climate Leader. Activists from the Amazon to Nigeria Share Their Ideas for Battling the Climate Crisis – Hilary Brueck (Insider, September 25, 2019).
UN Climate Action Summit Falls “Woefully Short” of Expectations – Olivia Rosane (EcoWatch, September 24, 2019).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – March 16, 2019
Five Powerful Responses to the Amazon Fires
As the World Burns, Calls for a “Green New Deal”
Jacob Weindling: Quote of the Day – November 19, 2018
Let Us Be “Energized by the Beauty That Is All Around Us”: Jane Goodall's New Year Message
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – August 29, 2017
The People's Climate Solidarity March – Minneapolis, 4/29/17
Prayer of the Week – April 24, 2017
“It Is All Connected”
Standing in Prayer and Solidarity with the Water Protectors of Standing Rock
Standing Together

Image 1: Source.
Image 2: Reuters.

Autumn's “Wordless Message”

The autumn (or September) equinox takes place today in the northern hemisphere, meaning that today is the first day of autumn in those parts of the world north of the equator.

To mark the occasion I share a beautiful and, to my mind and heart, richly meaningful reflection by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr. This reflection is excerpted from their 2005 book, The Circle of Life: The Heart's Journey Through the Seasons.

The mood of autumn is the ebb and flow of life. Autumn stands as an epiphany to the truth that all things are passing and even in the passing there is beauty. It holds out patterns of death and life. As the bright colors of fall fade away, and the leaves make their final descent, rich brown and charcoal colors take center stage. This is a decaying season, but the rotting ritual that surrounds us has another face. Compost and mulch are food for the soil. Here is life in the dying. Moments of death are full of life and our fear of the unknown sometimes hides that life. All this dying is a prophesy of life to come. Everything is dying to live.

While many people dread the approaching winter season, often these same people claim autumn as their favorite season. Perhaps this says something about the haunting call of this season to turn our eyes toward home. Autumn touches the core of the soul with the wordless message about the necessity of transformation and death. We are gently encouraged to look toward the west and embrace the bittersweet truth that all things are transitory. As we face the painful reality that nothing lasts forever, autumn teaches us humility. We learn to honor the dying. Everything is moving, flowing on into something new.

In this lovely season when the dance of surrender is obvious, we find large spaces left where something beautiful once lived. As one by one the leaves let go, a precious emptiness appears in the trees. The naked beauty of the branches can be seen, the birds' abandoned nests become visible. The new spaces of emptiness reveal mountain ridges. At night if you stand beneath a tree and gaze upward, stars now peer through the branches. This is an important autumn lesson – when certain things fall away, there are other things that can be seen more clearly.

– Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr
From The Circle of Life: The Heart's Journey Through the Seasons
Sorin Books, 2005
pp. 166-167

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Time of Transformation
Autumnal (and Rather Pagan) Thoughts on the Making of “All Things New”
The Prayer Tree . . . Aflame
Autumn . . . Within and Beyond (2018)
Autumn . . . Within and Beyond (2016)
Photo of the Day – September 22, 2016
O Sacred Season of Autumn
"Thou Hast Thy Music Too"
Autumn Hues
The Beauty of Autumn in Minnesota
Somewhere In Between

Related Off-site Links:
Happy Equinox! It's the First Day of Autumn in Earth's Northern Hemisphere – Doris Elin Urrutia (, September 23, 2019).
How To Celebrate The Fall Equinox, Or “Witches’ Thanksgiving” – Erika W. Smith (Refinery 29 (September 23, 2019).

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson on Amanpour and Company, 9/21/19


Related Off-site Links:
Marianne Williamson: Climate Change Is the Result of an “Amoral” Economic System – Zack Budryk (The Hill, September 19, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Is the New Gladiator – CK Sanders (Medium, September 17, 2019).
Marianne Williamson: “Trump Is a Reality Show, I'm Showing Reality”Weekends with Alex Witt (September 15, 2019).
Why the Media Scorns Yang, Tulsi, Bernie, and Marianne – Krystal Ball (The Hill – Rising, September 6, 2019).
The Meaning of Marianne WilliamsonThe New York Times (July 9, 2019).
Williamson Says Election About “the Love of Democracy” – Karen Dandurant (Sea Coast Online, July 6, 2019).

For more coverage at The Wild Reed of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, see:
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – November 5, 2018
Jacob Weindling: Quote of the Day – November 19, 2018
Something to Think About – February 19, 2019
Quotes(s) of the Day – February 26, 2019
Bernie Sanders: Quote of the Day – March 2, 2019
Talkin’ ’Bout An Evolution: Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Bid
Why Marianne Williamson Is a Serious and Credible Presidential Candidate
Pete Buttigieg: Quote of the Day – April 17, 2019
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – April 24, 2019
Marianne Williamson: Reaching for Higher Ground
Progressive Perspectives on Joe Biden's Presidential Run
Beto, Biden and Buttigieg: “Empty Suits and Poll-Tested Brands”
Pete Buttigieg, White Privilege, and Identity Politics
“A Lefty With Soul”: Why Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Deserves Some Serious Attention
Bernie Sanders: Quote of the Day – June 12, 2019
Sometimes You Just Have to Take Matters Into Your Own Hands . . .
Marianne Williamson Plans on Sharing Some “Big Truths” on Tonight's Debate Stage
Pete Buttigieg: Quote of the Day – June 27, 2019
Friar André Maria: Quote of the Day – June 28, 2019
Marianne Williamson: “Today Is a Day of Shame”
Brian Geving: Quote of the Day – July 20, 2019
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson: “We’re Living at a Critical Moment in Our Democracy”
Caitlin Johnstone: “Status Quo Politicians Are Infinitely ‘Weirder’ Than Marianne Williamson”
Marianne Williamson On What It Will Take to Defeat Donald Trump
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Monday, September 16, 2019

Family Time in Gunnedah

Even though I've been back in the U.S. from my recent month-long visit to Australia for just over a week now, I'm still documenting my time in the Great South Land here at The Wild Reed.

As most reading this would know, this particular visit to the land of my birth was precipitated by the August 5 death of my father, Gordon Bayly.

In this post I share images and commentary on the August 14-18 visit to Gunnedah, which I undertook with my mother and youngest nephew, Brendan (pictured with me at right).

As I've noted previously, Gunnedah and its surrounding area were originally inhabited by Indigenous Australians who spoke the Kamilaroi (Gamilaraay) language. The area now occupied by the town was settled by Europeans in 1833.

Left: One of a number of memorials to Gambu Ganuurru, "Red Kangaroo," the aboriginal warrior and leader of the Gunn-e-dar people of the Kamilaroi tribe. After his death in the late 1700s, he was buried in the traditional way inside a carved tree. This memorial is located at Pensioners Hill.

Through my maternal grandmother’s family, the Millerds, my family can trace its connection to Gunnedah back to the town’s earliest days.

For more about the town’s history and my family’s connection to it, see the previous Wild Reed posts, My “Bone Country” and Journey to Gunnedah.


Above: With my mum, Margaret Bayly (née Sparkes) and her younger sister, my Aunty Ruth, at Ruth's home in Gunnedah – Wednesday, August 14, 2019. The table we're sitting at belonged to Mum and Ruth's parents, Valentine and Olive Sparkes. I remember how, as a child, I would sit at this table in the enclosed back verandah of my grandparents' home.

Right: With my dear Aunty Ruth! – Saturday, August 17, 2019. Last year Ruth resigned from nursing under Hunter New England Health after more than 55 years in the profession. For the Namoi Valley Independent's July 20, 2018 interview with Ruth about the "struggles and the rewards" of her many years in nursing, click here.

Above: Enjoying lunch at Gunnedah's Courthouse Hotel with Mum and her brother Michael Sparkes – Thursday, August 15, 2019. Brendan snapped this pic! . . . And, yes, I'm wearing my Buffy Sainte-Marie t-shirt.

Above: Mum and Ruth with their two cousins Joan (left) and Betty (center), and the cousins' sister-in-law Raelee (right) – Sunday, August 18, 2019. Joan and Betty's mother, Peggy, was Mum's mother's sister, and Joan and Betty's deceased brother, Don, was married to Raelee.

Above: With my cousin Therese, whose mother Fay was my Mum's older half-sister – Friday, August 16, 2019.

Above: With my Mum and Brendan and family friend Brenda – Friday, August 16, 2019.

We're pictured standing beside Gunnedah's Miners’ Memorial (right). Erected in November 2000, this memorial honors the twenty miners who have died in a little more that a century of coal mining in the Gunnedah district.

Notes local author and town historian Ron McLean in his book The Way We Were:

Mining started in the Gunnedah area in 1880 when well-sinkers found a coal stream on the Backjack frontage to Wandobah Road. First miners Barney McCosker and James Pryor sank crude pits and started mining the seams, carting by dray to the railhead in Gunnedah.

The first fatality occurred in 1897 when 23-year-old Bernard McCosker, a nephew of Barney McCosker, was killed in a fall of rock at Gunnedah Colliery.

My maternal grandmother’s first husband, Jack Louis, was killed in a mine workshop accident in nearby Werris Creek. The eldest of their two children, Eric (my Mum’s half-brother) was hit and killed by a coal truck while traveling to work at the Gunnedah Mine on his motor cycle. He was only in his early twenties. Both father and son are honored on the Miners’ Memorial.

Left: With Mum and Brendan and family friends Brenda and Jillian – Friday, August 16, 2019.

You may recall that last July Jillian and her husband David visited me in Minneapolis. For images of their visit, click here.

Above: My cousin Greg and his boy Henry – Friday, August 16, 2019. Greg is the youngest of Ruth's two children.

Above and below: Brendan, Henry and Ruth playing basketball at Ruth's place – Friday, August 16, 2019.

Above: Mum and I with our good friends (and former Gunnedah neighbors) John and Heather Sills – Saturday, August 17, 2019. John and Heather are Jillian's parents.

Above: Mum with our good friends Peter and Delores Worthington – Thursday, August 15, 2019.

Above: Yet more wonderful family friends! . . . Mum and Brendan with Gwen Riordan, two of Gwen's daughters, Denise and Wendy, and Wendy's husband Gary – Friday, August 16, 2019. For more about our longtime friendship with the Riordan family, click here.

Above: With my childhood friend and neighbor David Syphers – Friday, August 16, 2019. We're pictured in his father's store, Bill Syphers Footwear, Saddlery and Repairs.

Above: Relaxing at Ruth's home where Mum, Brendan and I stayed while in Gunnedah. From left: Mum, Heather, Brendan (making us all some tumeric tea!) and Ruth  – Saturday, August 17, 2019.

Above: Out to dinner with family and friends at the Gunnedah Services and Bowling Club – Saturday, August 17, 2019. From left: Peter, Peter, me, Mum, Brendan, Louise, Joanne and Robert.

Left: With school friends Sue and Lisa.

Above: On our last morning in Gunnedah, Ruth hosted a lovely morning tea at her home. Pictured from far left: Betty, Ruth, Raelee, Mum, Joan, Brendan, and Joan's son Matthew – Sunday, August 18, 2019.

Right: Ruth with her (and Mum's) cousin Betty. . . . Yes, she's quite the character!

Above: From left: Me, Betty, Raelee, Mum, Matthew, Joan (partly obscured), and Brendan – Sunday, August 18, 2019.

Above, left, and below: On our way out of town and back to Guruk, we stopped to look inside the (relatively) newly renovated St. Joseph's Catholic Church.

Mum and Dad were married in St. Joseph's Church in 1959, and my two brothers and I were all baptized and confirmed here.

And, yes, I'm wearing my Marianne 2020 t-shirt!

NEXT: Return to Guruk

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Remembering and Celebrating Dad
Family Time in Guruk . . . and Glimpses of Somaliland
Across the Mountains . . . from Guruk to Gunnedah
An Unexpected Visitor
Australian Sojourn – April-May 2019: In the Land of the Kamilaroi
A Visit to Gunnedah (2017)
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Gunnedah
Australian Sojourn, March 2015: Gunnedah
A Visit to Gunnedah (2014)
Journey to Gunnedah (2011)
This Corner of the Earth (2010)
An Afternoon at the Gunnedah Convent of Mercy (2010)
My “Bone Country” (2009)
The White Rooster
Remembering Nanna Smith
One of These Boys is Not Like the Others
Gunnedah (Part 1)
Gunnedah (Part 2)
Gunnedah (Part 3)
Gunnedah (Part 4)

Images: Michael Bayly and Brendan Bayly.