Saturday, May 25, 2024

Tina Turner on “Changing Poison Into Medicine”

On my last night with the McGowan family in Gulmarrad, we watched the 2021 documentay Tina, about the late, great Queen of Rock’n’Roll, Tina Turner.

Following is the trailer for this compelling work of film-making from directors Dan Lindsay and T. J. Martin.

A few weeks before my Australian sojourn I encountered through my work as a hospital chaplain in Minneapolis, a patient whom I’ll call Tony.

I had a very heartfelt and meaningful encounter with Tony who shared with me his recent experience of dialysis, and how he’ll most likely need dialysis twice a week for the rest of his life. He became tearful when he told me that his daughter had offered him one of her kidneys.

What’s this got to do with Tina Turner? . . . Well, I mentioned to Tony that a famous person he may have heard of had also dealt with multiple health issues, including the need for dialysis and a kidney transplant. Yes, Tina Turner.

This information was new to Brian but it piqued his curiosity as he was an admirer of Turner, her music, and her life story, one that’s all about overcoming adversity. Brian wanted to know more and so I shared with him what I knew about Turner’s experience from my recent reading of her second autobiography, My Love Story.

I visited Tony again the next day. He told me how he felt very blessed in having recently found the strength to make important changes and choices in his life. Building on Tony’s admiration for Tina Turner, I reminded him that she too had gone through many health crises and had made certain choices in terms of how she viewed and responded to them. This struck a chord with Tony.

I then shared with Tony an excerpt from Turner’s 2010 book, Happiness Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good. This excerpt relates Turner’s experience of “changing poison into medicine.” Brian said he very much resonated with both this imagery and the experience it described.

In talking about this particular experience, Turner mentioned the need to engage in “wholesome practices” like chanting, praying, meditating and/or exercising so as to “create meaningful and lasting changes” in one’s life. Brian identified reading the Bible as his preferred “wholesome practice.” His favorite Bible reading, he said, is Psalm 23.

Following is the excerpt from Happiness Becomes You that I shared with Tony.


The concept of changing poison into medicine is based on the idea that when you raise your life condition, you can use the resulting wisdom, courage, and compassion to convert any negative into a positive. If you have a minor problem, you can transform it into a minor benefit. If you have a major problem, it has the potential to become a major benefit.

Changing poison into medicine, then, starts with the simple step of facing your problems with the confidence that you have the power within you not just to overcome challenges, but also to thrive because of them – to rise up to greater heights than you ever have before.

The key is raising our life condition. By “life condition” I mean our ever-changing moods, thoughts, and general states of being that powerfully influence our emotions, our actions, and our view of ourselves and others. When you lack confidence, when you’ve lost focus, or when your mind-set needs a boost, then super-charge your intention by chanting, praying, meditating, exercising, or whatever wholesome practice lifts you up.

Elevating your life condition through one or more of these practices is essential to creating meaningful, lasting changes in your life.

Only when we achieve a high life condition can we face any circumstance head-on with an open, embracing spirit. There is then no problem too difficult to overcome, no obstacle too stubborn to move.

From this elevated state, we can see that the obstacles we face hold the lessons we must learn to make our dreams come true.

With this understanding, we can call up the wisdom to choose positive responses and actions (in thought, word, and deed) that will lead to constructive changes and help us to avoid making situations worse for ourselves, or others.

Thanks to this process, I began to see that any problems in my life were also opportunities for growth and becoming a better, happier version of myself. Every obstacle could help me to become a wiser, stronger, and more compassionate person.

. . . Jazz music is an example of changing poison into medicine. African Americans created jazz, a great medicine for people’s hearts, out of the poisonous experience of slavery. Jazz developed from African culture, gospel music, and blues to lift up the spirits of oppressed people, and now it brings joy to people the world over.

Jazz holds a special place in my heart, too.

When I left Ike in 1976, I was penniless. I wanted to work, but it was difficult to relaunch as a solo act. Whenever someone heard the name “Tina,” they’d say, “Where’s Ike?” I lacked the most basic resources I needed to start my new life. Through those hardest times, two jazz musicians – Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock – and their families helped to keep me and my sons afloat. . . . They inspired me to never give up, to dream even bigger dreams.

– Tina Turner
From her book, Happiness Becomes You:
A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good

Atria Books, 2010


I close this post by sharing the music video for “Something Beautiful,” Terry Britten’s 2023 remix of Tina Turner’s song “Something Beatiful Remains,” from her 1996 album Wildest Dreams.

For more of Tina Turner at The Wild Reed, see:
Rhone Fraser: Quote of the Day – May 24, 2023
Remembering Tina Turner
What Life Taught Tina Turner
Remembering Tina’s Foreign Affair

Previously 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 | Sheku Kanneh-Mason | Susan Boyle | D’Angelo | Little Richard | Black Pumas | Mbemba Diebaté | Judie Tzuke | Seckou Keita | Rahsaan Patterson | Black | Ash Dargan | ABBA | The KLF and Tammy Wynette | Luke James and Samoht | Julee Cruise | Olivia Newton-John | Dyllón Burnside | Christine McVie | Rita Coolidge | Bettye LaVette | Burt Bacharach | Kimi Djabaté | Benjamin Booker | Tina Turner | Julie Covington

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Quote of the Day

I can safely say I’ve never been more disgusted with my country. The Iraq war era with all of its torture and bombing and displacement was grotesque but what we’re witnessing right now [in Gaza] is very clearly a genocide. The cherry on top is that I’m convinced on some level *everyone knows* it's a genocide. And yet the establishment continues to facilitate it.

The moral rot at the core of the power center of this country is so much more putrid and deranged than I could’ve ever imagined. The incentives are both financial and ideological. It’s the perfect storm that culminates in ultimate evil right in fromt of our eyes.

Kyle Kulinski
via Facebook
May 23, 2024

Related Off-site Links:
“Obvious Evidence of Genocide”: Mass Grave Discovered in Gaza’s Nasser Hospital – Olivia Rosane (Common Dreams,April 21, 2024).
“Collective Punishment”: As Gaza Assault Continues, Israel Ramps Up Violence in Occupied West BankDemocracy Now! (April 22, 2024).
“Genocidal Actions” Persist in Gaza as Israel Blocks Aid and U.S. Weapons Flow – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, April 12, 2024).
Journalist Abby Martin Explains Why She Considers Israel’s Actions in Gaza to Constitute GenocideMiddle East Eye (April 3, 2024).
Briahna Joy Gray Unpacks IDF Lies About the Slaughter of World Central Kitchen Aid Workers in GazaRising (April 3, 2024).
“A War Machine Out of Control”: Israel Keeps Attacking Aid Workers as Gaza Faces FamineDemocracy Now! (April 3, 2024).
Draft U.N, Report Finds Israel Has Met Threshold for Genocide – Brett Wilkins (Common Dreams, March 25, 2024).
As Israel Blocks More U.N. Aid, Gaza Is on the Brink of “Most Intense Famine” Since WW2Democracy Now! (March 25, 2024).
“Children Are Dying”: Doctor Just Back from Gaza Describes Severe Malnutrition and Preventable InfectionsDemocracy Now! (March 22, 2024).
U.N. Panel Says IDF Appears Set on “Physical Destruction of Palestinian Children” – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, March 22, 2024).
There Is No Moral Argument That Justifies the Sale of Weapons to Israel – Mary Lawlor (The Guardian, March 21, 2024).
Former U.S. Diplomat Says “Collaboration” in Gaza Genocide Could Make Biden “Target of Prosecution” – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, March 21, 2024).
The West Is Complicit in Israel’s Genocide – Yanis Varoufakis amd Raoul Martinez (Novara Media, February 17, 2024).
Why Must Palestinians Audition for Your Empathy? – Hala Alyan (Salt Lake Tribune, October 29, 2023).

UPDATES: Israel Used U.S.-Made Bombs in Deadly Attack on UNRWA School – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, June 6, 2024).
“Apocalyptic”: 40 Killed in Israeli Airstrike on U.N. School Sheltering Displaced Palestinians in GazaDemocracy Now! (June 6, 2024).
Children Among Dozens Killed in “Appalling” Israeli Attack on UNRWA School – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, June 6, 2024).
Thousands Protest Gaza Genocide in “Red Line” White House Rally – Jessica Corbett (Common Dreams, June 9, 2024).
“Massacre”: Analyst Slams Israeli Military Raid That Frees 4 Hostages, Kills 270+ PalestiniansDemocracy Now! (June 10, 2024).
“War Is Not the Answer”: Meet the Israeli Peace Activist Whose Parents Were Killed on October 7Democracy Now! (June 10, 2024).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Judith Butler on the Ongoing Student Protests Against the Gaza Genocide
Naomi Klein’s Powerful Words on Israel’s and the West’s Ongoing Gaza Genocide
Outrage and Despair
“This Is a Genocidal Project”
“A Genocide Has Been Normalized”
Voices of Reason and Compassion on the Crisis in Israel and Gaza
More Voices of Reason and Compassion on the Crisis in Israel and Gaza
Josh Paul: Quote of the Day – March 28, 2024
Phyllis Bennis: Quote of the Day – March 28, 2024
Michael Fakhri: Quote of the Day – February 27, 2024
Sabrina Salvati: Quote of the Day – January 2, 2024
Christmas 2023 – Reflections, Activism, Art, and Celebrations
Jehad Abusalim: Quote of the Day – December 8, 2023
Ta-Nehisi Coates: Quote of the Day – November 2, 2023
In the Midst of the “Great Unraveling,” a Visit to the Prayer Tree
Prayer of the Week – October 16, 2023
Something to Think About – October 12, 2023
Eric Levitz: Quote of the Day – October 11, 2023
Phyllis Bennis: “If We Are Serious About Ending This Spiraling Violence, We Need to Look at Root Causes”
“Nothing About Today is ‘Unprovoked’”
“The Mistreatment and Discrimination Against Palestinians Is Not Unprecedented. It’s Baked Into the Foundation of the Political System in Israel”
Progressive Perspectives on the Ongoing Israeli-Palestinian “Nightmare” (2021)
Something to Think About – July 29, 2018
Noura Erakat: Quote of the Day – May 15, 2018
For Some Jews, Israel’s Treatment of Palestinians is Yet Another Jewish Tragedy
Remembering the Six-Day War and Its Ongoing Aftermath
David Norris: Quote of the Day – August 12, 2014

Image: Christoph Reichwein/Picture Alliance via Getty Images.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Liberal/Centrist/Corporatist Democrats Have Just Launched “Left Punching” Season

In the U.S., centrist Democrats Hillary Clinton and Jonathan Chait have launched “left punching” season. If you’re unaware of what left punching refers to, or what exactly liberals like Clinton and Chait are saying so as to launch a season of left punching, then I invite you to watch the 18-minute video commentary below by Briahna Joy Gray.

As I see it, there is just so much critically important information and insight conveyed in this video. Indeed, if you’re concerned about a potential Trump win in November and the overall state of politics in the U.S., this is the video for you!

Before watching it, though, here are some highlights of Gray’s commentary.

• Left punching season is that time of year when all of the Democratic party’s failures are heaped on liberals’ most beloved scapegoat: progressives.

• Of course, no movement or political orientation is above criticism, but the left’s complaint isn’t about being merely critiqued. [As progressives] our complaint is that left punching by liberals is a performative strategy used to deflect blame from the Democratic party’s own failures onto a largely powerless but increasingly popular populist left. Liberal criticism of the left is rarely substative or principled. In fact, left punching liberals often defensively insist that they agree with the left on 99% of things, even as they disparage us. They insist we share the same ideals; that they are, in fact, progressives too. . . . [They argue] that they are just more pragmatic; [that] they understand the real stakes.

• The core argument that underlines so many liberals who see themselves as the “adults in the room” is that to win you have to make yourself appealing to the centrist middle. There’s just one problem: the cohort that’s abandoning Biden the fastest, despite his non-stop pandering to the middle, are moderate and conservative-leaning voters, not the left.

• The weakness of a centrist electoral strategy should come as no surprise at this point. One of the key insights to come out of Trump’s 2016 win was that very few voters identified themselves with the mix of socially liberal / economically conservative views that liberal or, should I say, neoliberal Democrats pandered to with their mix of identity politics and austerity measures.

• [Liberals see themselves as “resonable.”] But what’s “reasonable”? A poll from last September shows that two-thirds of Democrat-leaning voters didn’t want Biden as a presidential candidate at all. Is the Democratic party being "reasonable" in shutting down the primary in process and preventing the voters from vetting alternative choices? . . . [Is] Biden’s promise to veto Medicare for All [which is supported by 57% of U.S. adults] a choice driven by “reasonability”? Or might it have something to do with the fact that Biden has taken more money from the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries than any other politician in America?

• [As progressives] our efforts to push populist policies aren’t designed to hurt Democrats. Adopting them will quite literally help them succeed. Popular policies are popular. It’s right there in the name. . . . The most significant left criticism of liberals isn’t that they aren’t willing to take on the more fringe positions of the left but that they reject the popular ones.

• Biden is on the brink of losing an election, and it’s not because he’s been forced into unpopular positions by a radical fringe left but because he’s chosen to take his base for granted and instead chase moderate status-quo loving voters during an election that pollsters say is a “change election.” Punching left, turning your back on economic populism is what earned Democrats Donald Trump. And it looks very much like their insistence on being “the adults in the room” is going to put Donald Trump back in the White House again. If it happens, don’t blame the left. We quite literally told you so.

In her video commentary Briahna Joy Gray highlights and critiques Jonathan Chait’s recent New York Magazine piece, “In Defense of Punching Left,” in which he critiques Leah Hunt-Hendrix and Astra Taylor’s book, Solidarity: The Past, Present, and Future of a World-Changing Idea, published earlier this year.

Following is Max Moran’s response to Chait, a response that was first published by Common Dreams on May 19.


I Don’t Think Jonathan Chait
Read the Book on “Solidarity” He Reviewed

By Max Moran

Common Dreams
May 19, 2024

Earlier this year, progressive philanthropist Leah Hunt-Hendrix and organizer Astra Taylor published Solidarity: The Past, Present, and Future of a World-Changing Idea. I’ve admired both Hunt-Hendrix and Taylor for years now (full disclosure: I’m a fellow at Revolving Door Project, and Hunt-Hendrix’s organization Way to Win has been among its many funders), but hadn’t gotten around to reading their book. That is, until last Friday, when New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait suddenly wrote an impassioned critique of it. Chait’s piece, titled “In Defense of Punching Left,” fervently pushes back against censorious groupthink dressed up as political strategy, a dangerous conflation which he attributes to Hunt-Hendrix and Taylor.

Solidarity provides the lengthiest and most serious case I’ve seen for why liberals should withhold criticism of the left,” Chait claims. He argues that “while they urge liberals not to criticize the left, they do not make any similar demand that leftists withhold criticism of liberalism. The requirements of factional quietude run one way.” Chait claims that Hunt-Hendrix and Taylor “misunderstand my job description” with their critiques of his brand of punditry, before solemnly declaring that “Liberals have serious differences with leftists over both strategy and first principles, and those distinctions shouldn’t be subsumed into a popular front.”

Chait’s piece confused me. This didn’t sound like either Hunt-Hendrix or Taylor, both of whom I know to have worked in coalition with center-left liberals on multiple issues. Out of curiosity, and with a rare block of free time, I bought a copy of Solidarity and read it over the weekend. Then I reread Chait’s 2,900-word piece and compared.

To put it simply, Chait is arguing against a book that doesn’t exist. He either didn’t read Solidarity or is too self-centered to take in any information which he cannot relate back to himself (or perhaps both). In any case, it’s a disservice to his readers, New York Magazine, and the quality of our public discourse.

According to Chait, “‘Don’t punch left’ is the core tenet of Solidarity,” a maxim which he calls “a growing, if not yet universal, norm of movement discipline. [...] [W]hen disagreement arises within the progressive family, the liberal’s role is to accept critique from the left without returning it.” There’s really no other way of saying this: “Don’t punch left” is not “the core tenet” of Solidarity. It’s just not what the book is about. At all. Instead, the book is an attempt to coherently define the titular concept and theorize what a society built around it would look like. Structurally, it’s one-part intellectual and movement history, one-part sociology, and one-part philosophy.

Hunt-Hendrix and Taylor trace the origins of “solidarity” to the Latin “obligatum in solidum,” a form of communal debt in the Roman empire. (Taylor, notably, is a co-founder and lead organizer of the Debt Collective, the United States’ largest and most militant debtors’ union.) They discuss the French solidarist movement of the 1850s, which helped formulate our modern understanding of the word, before analyzing contemporary sociopolitical movements. The book then critiques elite philanthropy, while arguing how to make the best of a bad system; envisions a reformulated welfare state built firstly around listening to the public’s demands; applies similar principles to global trade policy, emphasizing a lens of decolonization; and finally touches on the spiritual and soul-feeding aspects of building a solidaristic community.

Virtually none of it is about how liberals need to pipe down and praise leftists more. I don’t think intra-elite discursive norms come up at all, except in passing. As far as I can tell, Chait only got the idea that the book’s “core tenet” is liberal-policing from one-half of one paragraph of a Washington Post feature about the book, in which Hunt-Hendrix mentions Chait and his contemporary Matt Yglesias as examples of public figures whom she hopes read the book’s fourth chapter on conservatives’ “divide-and-conquer strategy.” That chapter mostly discusses organized right-wing efforts like the Southern Strategy, not the topic preferences of contemporary pundits.

This may come as a shock to Chait, but I don’t think that Hunt-Hendrix or Taylor think about him – or figures like him – very much at all. Their book’s actual argument is that individuals, and even groups of individuals cohered around a common identity, are not the protagonists of history. To Hunt-Hendrix and Taylor, it’s only when dedicated groups of people stand up, sacrifice, and risk blood and teeth for other dedicated groups of people, who then return the favor, that society advances and complex problems can be solved. The point is mutual interdependence, in all its messiness and beauty. By contrast, Chait’s singular focus on the nobility of liberals standing up to leftists not only has nothing to do with the book’s argument, it’s self-centered in a way directly opposed to the real thesis of Solidarity. Chait doesn’t seem to realize this.

So what does Chait have to say about Solidarity? Well, he hinges plenty of analysis on one quote, in which Hunt-Hendrix and Taylor write “Too often, liberals seek to legitimize their positions by punching left, distancing themselves from social movements to make themselves appear reasonable by comparison, which only strengthens the hands of conservatives and pulls the political center to the right.” This quote is from page XXXIII of the introduction. Yes, this quote is before the title page of the book! It’s also the only entry in the book’s index for “liberals/the Left, danger of popular passions of.”

He likewise claims that Hunt-Hendrix and Taylor “have no apparent sense of what liberals believe” because they contrasted, in their words, Democrats’ “growing progressive flank pushing to redistribute wealth, tackle climate change, and further racial and gender justice” with “a corporate wing clinging to the increasingly unequal status quo.” This quote is on page XVII of the introduction. Notably, Chait says it’s wrong to imply liberals hate change and love corporations . . . but Hunt-Hendrix and Taylor never said they were talking about liberals. The fact that Chait self-selects into the “corporate wing clinging to the increasingly unequal status quo” says much more about his view of where he is within the party than the authors.

His final characterizing quote from Solidarity is “If conservatives wield a scythe, demonizing different groups with sinister and destabilizing abandon, their liberal counterparts prefer to use garden shears, perpetually trimming solidarity back to manageable, and certainly not transformative, proportions.” That’s from page 94, which is the second page of chapter four, the chapter which Hunt-Hendrix specifically said Chait should read in her Washington Post interview. To reiterate: it’s a chapter about racist violence, regressive laws, and industrial deregulation, not about pundits criticizing non-profit organizations.

The only other part of Solidarity which Chait addresses directly is one quote about education reform. By “one quote,” I do not mean that he focuses on something Hunt-Hendrix and Taylor wrote themselves. No, instead he spends five paragraphs lambasting the authors for themselves quoting one sentence of a 504-page Rand Corporation report (Chait doesn’t name the highly pedigreed source) about an old Gates Foundation initiative called the Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching (IPET).

In Solidarity, Hunt-Hendrix and Taylor use the quote to help illustrate Gates’ failed education initiatives, which are just one example in a wider chapter about the chauvinism of philanthropy. Rand wrote that IPET – essentially a standardized testing regime – failed because “the near-exclusive focus on TE [teacher effectiveness] might be insufficient to dramatically improve student outcomes.”

Chait stretches this example within an example into five paragraphs, castigating an apparent conspiracy of teacher’s unions for scaring “some of the experts” (which ones?!) away from “breaking ranks with the left.” To his credit, he notes that his wife works “at a nonprofit firm whose clients include both traditional and charter schools." According to her online bio, she “led policy for a D.C. charter school group.”

I can’t tell you how strange it is that the most sustained policy discussion in Chait’s piece is about his own policy preferences, which are completely tangential to any of the ones in Solidarity, a book which argues for the total reorganization of American domestic spending and trade policy. There is truly so much to talk about with this book – and, if one disagreed, so much to criticize! I thought the book was good, but Chait might not have. It’s a shame that his own intellectual laziness foreclosed the kind of high-minded, nuanced debate which Chait claims the left won’t allow these days.

It’s also hard not to see this, at least to some extent, as a male intelligentsia dismissing out of hand the work of two women writers. And that fits a broader theme, since what they are writing about, Chait misunderstands at a pretty basic level.

Chait advises Hunt-Hendrix and Taylor to spend less time organizing protests – “the primary form of political activity” for leftists, according to Chait – and more time persuading moderate or cross-pressured voters. “Persuasion, though, plays little role in their understanding of politics,” Chait writes. Apparently Bernie Sanders won multiple presidential primaries, and Squad members knocked off establishment Democrats, primarily via protests.

If Hunt-Hendrix and Taylor didn’t want to persuade people, then I don’t know why they wrote a 300-page book in the first place. Solidarity argues that everyone benefits from movements that uplift everyone – for example, Hunt-Hendrix writes about being a wealthy heiress-turned-class traitor, and argues that ending economic inequality would actually help the (currently) rich too. In other words, Hunt-Hendrix and Taylor are saying that anyone, including current moderate and cross-pressured voters, would benefit from joining progressive movements. Chait’s advice only makes sense if he takes the labels “moderate” and “cross-pressured” as static fixtures, rather than political orientations that can be changed through (gasp!) persuasion.

He also warns that “when conservatives use well-organized factions to steamroll over the preferences of a majority, we call that ‘minority rule.’ Electoral politics, for all its shortcomings, is a more democratic method for resolving differences than bringing bodies into the streets.” Protests can also “create legitimacy problems even within the progressive movement itself,” Chait claims, because “every cause is framed as a matter of absolute moral urgency.”

There’s a lot to unpack here. First of all, the “well-organized factions” in conservatism are located in Congress, C-Suites, and national media outlets, to say nothing of terrorist militias. They can “steamroll over the preferences of a majority” because they already have institutional power, and are willing to kill people if they lose it. Progressives don’t and aren’t, which is why they turn to protest, as Hunt-Hendrix and Taylor painstakingly reiterate multiple times: “regular voters have virtually no impact over public policy in the United States, largely because they lack the economic resources required to sway elected officials accustomed to pandering to big donors,” they write, citing a classic Cambridge political science study. All of this is before one factors in the electoral college, gerrymandering, Senate disproportionality, and all the other parts of the American system that lock the preferences of numerical majorities out of power.

Moreover, Chait’s argument about intra-progressive prioritization again makes me wonder if he actually read the book. Through countless examples, Hunt-Hendrix and Taylor show that across American history, movements which challenge established hierarchies either succeed together or fail together. This is, again, what the word ‘solidarity’ means. It’s when one cause double-crosses their would-be allies that the betrayed movement crumbles, followed shortly by the betrayer.

In this respect, Chait’s column is helpfully clarifying. He is straightforwardly declaring that he will willingly and gladly break ranks whenever it is convenient for his personal pet causes – that he does not believe in the virtues of solidarity. I’d warn the good people of the NYMag Union that Chait is a scab through and through, but well, they already know.

It’s clear that Hunt-Hendrix and Taylor believe in solidarity because they care deeply about other people. They want all of humanity to flourish, and they don’t need any credit or kudos to act toward that goal – improving the world is its own reward. It’s hard to come away from “In Defense of Punching The Left” thinking the same is true of Chait.

– Max Moran
Common Dreams
May 19, 2024

Related Off-site Links:
Record Low Primary Turnout as Chicago Democrats Shift Further to the Right – Kristina Betinis and Andy Thompson (World Socialist Web Site, April 3, 2024).
Centrist Dem Group Goes on Attack Against Progressive Summer Lee – Madison Fernandez (Politico, March 14, 2024).
No, Progressives Didn’t Ruin Cities Like San Francisco – Madison Fernandez (Common Dreams, February 25, 2024).
A Split Among Democrats May Threaten “the Squad” – and Help Trump – in 2024 – David Smith (The Guardian, December 25, 2023).
Centrist Democrats Urge Progressives to Tamp Down Rhetoric – Hanna Trudo (The Hill, January 12, 2022).
If Joe Biden Rejects His Progressive Base, Trump Will Win – Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan (Common Dreams, August 20, 2020).
Moving to the Center Has Led to the Failure of the Democratic Party – Marco Rivero (Metea Media, January 9, 2020).

UPDATE: How to Break Free of “Vote Blue No Matter Who”: An Interview with Eddie Glaude Jr.Bad Faith via YouTube (June 3, 2024).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Sabrina Salvati: Quote of the Day – January 2, 2024
Mark Harris: Quote of the Day – August 10, 2023
Progressive Perspectives on Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Run (2023)
More Progressive Perspectives on Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Run
Marianne Williamson: “We Must Challenge the Entire System”
Jen Perelman: Quote of the Day – November 17, 2022
Cornel West on Responding to the “Spiritual Decay That Cuts Across the Board”
Ralph Nader: Quote of the Day – January 20, 2022
A Deeper Perspective on What’s Really Attacking American Democracy
Will Democrats Never Learn?
Cornel West: Quote of the Day – December 3, 2020
Biden’s Win: “As Much the Sounding of An Alarm As a Time for Self-Congratulations” (2020)
Branko Marcetic on the DNC: “Progressive Symbolism and Empty Rhetoric in Place of Real Political Vision”
Progressive Perspectives on the Biden-Harris Ticket (2020)
Marianne Williamson on the Contest Being Played Out by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders
Progressive Perspectives on Joe Biden’s Presidential Run (2019)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Quote of the Day – March 10, 2019
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders
Christopher D. Cook: Quote of the Day – February 17, 2016
The Big Switch

Image: Emmanual Polanco.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Australian Sojourn – April-May 2024

Part 6: Happy Birthday, Bernie!

Above: My friend Bernie McGowan with her youngest daughter Collette (left) and daughter-in-law Kristy – Saturday, May 18, 2024.

My 2024 Australian sojourn continues! . . .

I returned to Guruk this evening from the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales and the Sunshine Coast of Queensland where I was part of a number of events to celebrate my dear friend Bernie’s 70th birthday.

As I’ve mentioned previously at The Wild Reed, I first got to know Bernie, her spouse Mike, and their family in Goulburn, where Mike had been the principal of the primary school at which I taught from 1988-1993. Before relocating to the U.S. in 1994, I taught two of the McGowan children – Jeremiah (in 1989) and Tess (in 1992). I’ve stayed friends with all the members of the McGowan family ever since our shared time in Goulburn, and I always try to catch up with as many of them as I can each time I visit Australia from the U.S.

Above: A photo taken by my Dad showing myself and Mum with Mike and Bernie McGowan and their eldest son Jeremiah – April 1993.

Mike and Bernie’s second eldest son Raph visited and lived with me in the Twin Cities for a good part of 2004. He visited me again in the U.S. in 2011.

Back in Australia in 2014, Raph cycled over 1900 kilometers in memory of his sister Tess and to raise awareness and funds for melanoma research and prevention. (For more about this inspiring achievement, click here, here, and here.)

In the years since his epic bike ride, Raph has worked tirelessly to create and market the bakslap, a “lotion applicator that makes it easier to protect yourself from the sun when enjoying the outdoors.”

When on the Sunshine Coast to celebrate Bernie’s birthday, I stayed with Raph and his partner Millie (right).

Part of Bernie’s birthday celebration involved a (strenuously) fun time at Treetop Challenge, “Australia’s highest and most thrilling adventure park.” Here we engaged in high ropes maneuvers and glided along ziplines of varying lengths and heights. And, yes, I discovered muscles I didn’t know I had!

Above (from left): Mim, Kristy, Jeremiah (partly obscured) Bartley, Helen, me, Raph, Millie, Bernie, Sonny, Frankie, Collette, and Mike – Saturday, May 18, 2024. As you can see, we all had special socks for our treetop challenge adventure! And in celebration of Bernie’s birthday, our socks were as colourful as her regular hair and attire.

After I texted my friend Deandre back in Minneapolis about our Treetop Challenge adventure, he responded, “I didn’t think you had it in you.”

I said that going into it, I wasn’t sure either; but that I pushed myself through it by channelling my inner Black Panther! 😄

Later that night we all gathered first at The Boat Shed restaurant, overlooking the beautiful Maroochy River, and then at Jeremiah and Kristy’s home to officially celebrate (with lots of wings and bling) Bernie’s 70th birthday.

The following morning we enjoyed breakfast and time on the beach at Mooloolaba.

Above: With Frankie and Sonny at Mooloolaba
– Sunday, May 19, 2024.

Last Days in Australia

Australia Sojourn – April-May 2024
Farewell Minnesota Spring
Hello Australia Autumn!
Bundanoon, Batemans Bay, Braidwood and Goulburn
Hanging Rock
Family Time in Melbourne, Guruk, and Gunnedah
Guruk Sunset

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Mooloolaba (2023)
In Northern Rivers Country (2019)
Townsville (2016)
Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast (2010)
Raph’s Inspiring Journey
Raph’s Journey Continues
A Surprise for Raph! . . . Well, Somewhat
Return to Oz . . . Sydney to Be Exact!
A Day Roving the Mid North Coast
A Bushland Wedding
“Flooded-In But Loving Life”
A Fresh Take on Masculinity
“Your Perception Is a Choice”
Our Sacred Journey Continues: An All Saints & Souls Day Reflection
The Australian Roots of My Progressive Catholicism

Images: Michael J. Bayly and friends.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Marianne Williamson on NewsNation – 5/19/24

For reasons to vote for Marianne Williamson instead of “uncommitted” so as to voice your opposition to President Biden’s Israel/Gaza stance, click here and here.

And here is Marianne’s take:

A vote for me means that you align with the issues [my campaign] talks about. And with every vote there is a greater possibility of [. . .] influencing the agenda at the Democratic convention.

[Some may be] wondering, “Do I vote 'uncommitted’ or do I vote for Marianne Williamson?” A vote for “uncommitted” still gives those delegates to Joe Biden. If you give the delegates to me, then what you’re doing is giving delegates to a woman who can call-up Bibi Netanyahu and say, “No more!”

It’s important to remember that the sending of “uncommitted” delegates to the convention is dependent on state and party thresholds. In other words, the party still gets to call the shots when it comes to the impact of any kind of write-in campaign.

More significantly, it’s been reported that a DNC spokesperson has said that “any 'uncommitted’ delegate that does get sent to the convention must vote for a candidate that is eligible for the nomination otherwise their vote will count as 'present’.”

In short, an “uncommitted” vote is a vote taken from the sole potentially-eligible “cease fire” candidate, Marianne Williamson.

Related Off-site Links:
Marianne Williamson: “The System is Bleeding Voters” – Urja Sinha (NewsNation, May 19, 2024).
Marianne Williamson: “The Presidential Debate on June 27th Should Include More Than Trump and Biden” – YouTube (May 16, 2024) Love, Democracy, and Gangster Politics – Marianne Williamson (Transform, May 5, 2024).
Marianne Williamson on Why She’s Fighting for Gen Z in This Election – Julia Merola (Her Campus, May 3, 2024).
One Season Passes and Another Begins – Marianne Williamson (Transform, April 11, 2024).
Marianne Williamson, Still in Democratic Presidential Bid, Says Campaign Isn’t About Winning: “There’s More Than the Horse Race” – Isabella Murray (ABC News, March 29, 2024).
Why I Keep Going – Marianne Williamson (Transform, March 16, 2024).
In Hopes of a Future Harvest – Marianne Williamson (Transform, March 13, 2024).
How Marianne Williamson’s Name Became the Placeholder for “Uncommitted” Protesters in Arizona – Alex Tabet (NBC News, March 19, 2024).
Primary Purpose and Power – Marianne Williamson (Transform, March 12, 2024).
Marianne Williamson Surprises by Coming In Second in Multiple States, Leapfrogging Dean Phillips – Timothy H.J. Nerozzi (Fox News, March 6, 2024).
I Remain in the Race – Marianne Williamson (Transform, March 6, 2024).
Marianne Williamson Returns to Presidential Race, Saying Biden Is Vulnerable Against Trump – Anders Hagstrom (Fox News, February 28, 2024).
Biden and Other Centrist Democrats Keep Bragging About the Economy. But Here’s the Problem – Perry Bacon Jr. (The Washington Post, February 20, 2024).

UPDATE: Marianne Williamson Says Campaign Was Sabotaged by DNC – Victor Hahan (USA Today, May 28, 2024).

See also: Marianne 2024 Official Site | About | Issues | News | Events | Donate

For The Wild Reed’s coverage of Marianne Williamson’s 2024 presidential campaign, see the following chronologically-ordered posts:
Marianne 2024
Marianne Williamson Launches 2024 Presidential Campaign
Progressive Perspectives on Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Run
More Progressive Perspectives on Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Run
Ben Burgis: Quote of the Day – March 10, 2023
Despite the Undemocratic Antics of the DNC, Marianne Williamson Plans on “Winning the Nomination”
The Biblical Roots of “From Each According to Ability; To Each According to Need”
Marianne Williamson on The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton – 05/30/23
Marianne Williamson’s Economic Bill of Rights
Three Progressive Voices on the War in Ukraine
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – June 27, 2023
Marianne Williamson on The Issue Is with Elex Michaelson – 07/20/23
Voters, Not the DNC, Should Choose the Nominee
Marianne Williamson in New Hampshire
Marianne Williamson: “Repairing Our Hearts Is Essential to Repairing Our Country”
Marianne Williamson on Trump’s Day in Court
Marianne Williamson on NewsNation – 08/25/23
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Joins NYC’s March to End Fossil Fuels
Marianne Williamson on Your World – 10/6/23
Marianne Williamson’s “Radical Idea” of Putting People First
Marianne Williamson: “We Need to Disrupt the Corrupt”
“We Are Surging”
“Let the People Decide”: Marianne Williamson on the DNC’s Efforts to Deny and Suppress the Democratic Process
Democratic Presidential Debate: Marianne Williamson and Dean Phillips – 1/8/24
The Democrats Challenging Biden
Bannering for Marianne
Campaigning for Marianne Williamson in New Hampshire – Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Marianne Williamson: “I Have Decided to Continue”
Marianne Williamson in Nevada – 2/4/24
Forever Grateful
What Marianne Williamson Learned from Running for President
Marianne Williamson: Playing It Big
Minnesotans Launch Super Tuesday Push for “Suspended But Not Ended” Candidate Marianne Williamson
A Welcome Return
This Super Tuesday, Don’t Be “Uncommitted” . . .
Super Tuesday in Minnesota
Marianne Williamson, the Cassandra of U.S. Politics, on the “True State of the Union”
Marianne Williamson in Arizona – 3/17/24
“This Is the Moment”
Marianne Williamson on Washington Journal (4/2/24) and The Letterhack (4/4/24)
For Marianne Williamson, One Season Passes and Another Begins
Cylvia Hayes: “Why I’m Voting for Marianne Williamson”

See also:
Marianne Williamson: “We Must Challenge the Entire System”
Marianne Williamson on the Current Condition of the U.S.
Marianne Williamson’s Politics of Love: The Rich Roll Interview
Now Here’s a Voice I’d Like to Hear Regularly on the Sunday Morning Talk Shows
A Deeper Perspective on What’s Really Attacking American Democracy
Marianne Williamson on the Tenth Anniversary of Occupy Wall Street
Marianne Williamson on How Centrist Democrats Abuse Voters with False Promises
“Two of the Most Dedicated and Enlightened Heroes of Present Day America”
Deep Gratitude
“A Beautiful Message, So Full of Greatness”
Marianne Williamson: “Anything That Will Help People Thrive, I’m Interested In”
Caitlin Johnstone: “Status Quo Politicians Are Infinitely ‘Weirder’ Than Marianne Williamson”

Monday, May 13, 2024

Remembering Evita

I strive every day to remove from my soul all sentimentalistic attitude in the face of what those who suffer and work the most ask of me. I don’t want to be ashamed of myself in front of them. I go to my job to perform my duty and to serve justice. No lyricism or chatter, no comedy, no poses or romances. Not even when I come in contact with the most needy can anyone say I play the charitable lady who abandons her welfare for a moment to figure out that she performs a work of mercy.

Eva Perón

Last Tuesday (May 7) was the 125th birthday of the late Eva Perón (1919-1952).

Popularly known as Evita, Eva Perón was an Argentine actress, politician, and social justice activist who, as the spouse of President Juan Perón (1895-1974), served as First Lady of Argentina from June 1946 until her death on July 26, 1952.

I first became aware of Eva Perón’s life and story when as a young teenager I found myself intrigued by images and newsreel footage of her in the music video for “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” by Julie Covington. The song, from the 1976 concept album (and soon-to-be musical) Evita, was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. It was a No. 1 hit in the UK in February 1977 and then later that year in countries around the world, including Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Australia.

Sorcha O’Higgins writes that “the song book-ended the original [concept album and] theatre performance and was sung at both the beginning and the end to evoke the generosity of Evita’s spirit in death by asking the public not to mourn her. Upon its release in 1976, the song went to number one in the UK, and went on to win . . . an Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically. . . . [It] is one of the most memorable parts of [Evita], if not one of the things that people from abroad associate most with Argentina.”

As a teenager I was intrigued enough by Eva Perón to choose her as the subject of a 5-minute “talk” I had to give for one of my Year 8 classes, probably either English or General Studies, I can’t remember for sure.

What I do clearly remember is how when I went to the front of the room and announced the subject of my talk, derisive howls of "Who?" were directed my way by a number of my classmates. Our teacher, however, was having none of that. Mr. Hammond was his name, and he silenced the room by roaringly ordering my detractors to shut-up so that they might actually learn something.

I don’t think anyone had ever before stood up for me and the different-kind-of-things I was interested in. It was an unforgettable moment for sure, and one that I’m sure helped build my self-confidence, even if at the time I wasn’t consciously aware of it. So thanks, Mr. Hammond!

Anyway, to (belatedly) mark the 125th anniversary of the birth of María Eva Duarte de Perón, aka Evita, I share today not only the great quote from the woman herself that opens this post but also the song about her that first sparked my interest in her life and an excerpt from María Teresa Hernández’s article, “A Prayer for Evita,” published earlier this year.

Writes María Teresa Hernández . . .

Early every morning, just as she reaches her workplace at a labor union in Buenos Aires, Ángeles Celerier heads to the chapel and prays to Saint Cajetan, Saint Teresa and Eva Perón.

Perón – unlike the others – has not been canonized by the Vatican, but this doesn’t matter to Celerier.

“For me, she is the saint of the people,” the 56-year-old Argentine said.

Many union members think of Evita as their patron or gaze at her photos with nostalgia, feeling that she and her husband, three-time President Juan Domingo Perón, brought prosperity to their country through an equality and social justice-driven movement that was named after him in the 1940s: Peronism.

That movement is currently the biggest opposition force in Argentina. And some political observers attribute the recent vote to elect President Javier Milei as a means to defeat Peronism and its previous hold on the presidency.

“For us, she is the spiritual reservoir of the people,” said Julio Piumato, human rights director at the largest union in Argentina. He signed a 2019 document requesting Evita’s beatification.

“No other figure has a deeper significance,” Piumato said. “The humble sectors are synthesized in Evita.”

According to the union leader, between 1946 and 1952, when Evita died of cancer at age 33 and Perón concluded his first term, the couple dignified the working class and prioritized social justice.

“Saints show us paths to reach Christ and intercede before God for us,” reads the beatification request delivered to the archbishop. “In our homeland, one generation after another continues to be converted by the humanist and Christian message of the standard bearer of the humble.”

Aside from a 1996 movie starring Madonna or Andrew Lloyd Weber’s 1978 musical, many foreigners know relatively little about this former first lady who died 71 years ago.

But in Argentina, Evita is a constant presence. Her face is printed on 100-peso bills, decorates a mural on a key government building, and greets guests from an altar placed in a restaurant called Saint Evita.

The secret behind the fascination that she awakens might be hidden in her name.

Long before becoming first lady, she called herself María Eva, a girl who left the town of Los Toldos to try her luck as an actress in Buenos Aires. As a modest film star she was known as Eva Duarte and afterwards became Eva Perón, the president’s wife. Then came Evita.

“Evita is the one who is close to the people,” said Santiago Regolo, a researcher at Museum Evita. “People began to call her that, and that construction is linked to the political and social work that distinguished her from the women who preceded her and take her as an example to this day.”

Evita was the one who paid visits to elders and single mothers. The one who handed out toys for children and bread for families. The one who promoted paid vacations for workers who had never been able to afford a break and gave a final push to achieve the women’s right to vote in 1947.

She has also inspired some feminists – who carry her photo along with their green scarves during protests – as well as a political organization that asks for social transformation using her image as a logo.

“Having Evita on our flag represents being with those in the lower classes and trying to vindicate her name over time,” said Iván Tchorek, from the Evita Movement, which has 155,000 members nationwide and was created after an economic crisis in 2001.

She’s relevant as ever, Tchorek said, because Peronism is. Thousands of workers like him recently led a general strike against the right-wing Milei, who defeated Peronist candidate Sergio Massa last November. Soon after, Milei issued a decree that would revoke or modify hundreds of existing laws in order to limit the power of unions and deregulate an economy that has traditionally featured heavy state intervention.

Even as a union standard-bearer in polarized times, Evita and her memory have the ability to transcend politics. “Certain issues are linked to matters of a sentimental, sacralized nature,” Regolo said. “She is seen as a companion, a sister, a mother for the humble.”

At her home in an impoverished neighborhood outside Buenos Aires, 71-year-old Rita Cantero says she almost met Evita. When her mother asked the first lady for help, she was pregnant with her.

“My mother used to say that Evita was very supportive, that people really liked her for the service she provided.”

Aware of the challenges of being a single mother, Rafaela Escobar attended a public event held by Evita in a plaza near her home. After being able to approach her and confide in her distress, Evita hugged her and said: “Don’t worry, I will help.”

Three weeks later, Escobar received a cradle and clothes for her unborn child.

Cantero says her mother never met Evita again, but she sent her letters and the first lady replied with envelopes carrying money.

“For us she is like a saint,” Cantero said. “Many judged her because she was a woman, but she was an honest, hard-working girl. She fought for our nation and was the force of Perón.”

Perón died two decades after Evita, in 1974, but his name continues to spark both admiration and hatred, yearning and blame.

His critics – among them legislator Fernando Iglesias, who has published several books contending Peronism ruined the country – claim that Perón was an authoritarian leader and his movement’s social assistance disguised corruption and patronage while generating too much dependence on the government.

Critics address Eva too. Her foundation pressed donors for resources, some say. She was careerist and a hypocrite, others assert. On the one hand, she claimed to defend the poor and on the other, she dressed in Dior.

“Would she be the saint of the lazy?” a user tweeted when the union requested her beatification. “Patron of criminals,” someone else wrote.

Erasing her from history was once a command. After a coup overthrew Perón in 1955, it was forbidden to say her name, display her image or keep her gifts. The military removed her embalmed body from a union’s headquarters, where it was initially kept, and sent it to Europe.

The body came back after 14 years, and when the military took over again in the 1970s, it was given to her family under one condition: She would be buried eight meters underground, sealed in a marble crypt so that no one would ever see her again.

. . . Víctor Biscia, 36, says that he doesn’t keep photos of Evita at home, but he does have images of the late President Néstor Kirchner and his wife and successor Cristina Fernández, another Peronist couple that prompts devotion and resentment among Argentines.

“They were key to achieving rights that are being curtailed by the current government,” said Biscia, who thinks of Fernández as a sort of 21st-century Evita.

“She reflects a lot of what we are as Argentines,” says Gimena Villagra, 27, standing next to Evita’s tomb. “I don’t think there’s anyone for whom she doesn’t mean something.”

María Teresa Hernández
Excerpted from “A Prayer for Evita:
Here’s Why Many Argentines Are Devoted
to a First Lady Who Died in 1952

Associated Press
February 19, 2024

Related Off-site Links:
Argentines Yearn for Evita, 70 Years After Her Death – Daniel Politi (AP News, July 27, 2022).
Eva Perón, An Iconic Mystery Who Continues to Polarise – Esther Lozano (SBS, May 17, 2019).
“The Poor Like to See Me Beautiful”: How Eva Perón Used Fashion As a Political Tool – Lucía Franco (El Pais, November 15, 2023).
The Untold Story Behind the Song “Don't Cry For Me Argentina” – Sorcha O’Higgins (Culture Trip, December 11, 2023).
Evita at STC Flips the Show’s Script to Reveal the Real Eva Perón – Alexandra Bowman (DC Theater Arts, September 21, 2023).
Ballet Hispanico Offers New Take on Controversial Figure Eva “Evita” Perón – Eric Volmers (Calgary Herald, September 8, 2023).