Full Circle, as Demonstrated by Susan the Snowflake Collins

Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Meets With Democratic Senators On Capitol HIll

The notion behind our democracy was that if people could vote, we’d have representatives who were doing what the majority of the people wanted them to do. If someone wasn’t doing that, then the answer was for the majority of people to vote them out of office and install someone more to their liking.  Citizens United (and, no, I haven’t forgotten that the suit against campaign finance laws was originally titled Citizens United Not Timid — an anti-Hillary group) changed that.

Because the US doesn’t fund election campaigns, politicians have to raise money to afford ads, staff, mailers, canvassers, etc.  And political action committees (PACs) and rich people such as the Koch brothers can provide more of that money in one fell swoop than a politician can raise in months of appeals to small donors (you and me).  PACs and other “dark money” groups (groups that don’t have to reveal where they got their money) can then demand whatever favors they want — tax cuts, cuts to the regulatory protections to our air, water, food, consumer services, etc.  These groups can also stop politicians from doing things the groups don’t like.  “Gee, if you don’t vote the way we want, we’ll not only not fund (aka bribe) you, we’ll fund a primary challenger to you in your next election.  We’ll run negative attack ads against you.  That’s scary to incumbents because, first, the challenger might win and, second, even if the incumbent wins, they’ll have had to spend money, effort, political capital, etc. before the actual election even starts.  And, so, without ever actually spending a dime, these groups can threaten their way to whatever goodies they want.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse writes about this in his excellent book,  Captured:  The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy.

Citizens United did not add to America’s policy debate; it gave big special interests a weapon to suppress debate, with political threats and bullying they did not have the power to use before.  . . . .

Before [Citizens United] a corporate CEO could threaten to host a fund-raiser for your opponent, he could put his support for your opponent in the employee newsletter, or he could send your opponent a $10,000 PAC check, and that was about it.  And he’d have to do it all publicly.  It was a crime, for instance, for the CEO to launder a donation through an employee, friend, or family member to boost his giving clout or hide his role.  Now, the corporate CEO (or more likely his political operatives, as he probably doesn’t want to get his hands too dirty with the new “wet work” of politics) simply has to approve a dollar number and unleash the new apparatus.  Since corporations regularly seek benefits in Washington worth many billions of dollars for their industry, the natural limit on the dollar amount number [that] it makes sense for the CEO to unleash is very high.

The result has been representatives who care far less about what their constituents want than about what the big money donors want — and don’t want.

Susan Collins is a good example.  Her constituents don’t want to see Roe v. Wade overturned.  For years, Senator Collins has played a stupid game in which she gets the SCOTUS nominee to make vague promises about respecting precedent, she votes for them, they go to the Court and overturn precedent and she acts surprised.  It’s pretty clear that she’s made a commitment to approve Judge Kavanaugh despite the fact that everyone knows he plans to overturn Roe v. Wade and then go for birth control and the right to privacy.  (It’s likely her big money donors want Judge Kavanaugh more for his pro-corporate stance than for his abortion aversion, but it hardly matters.  The result is the same; they call the tune and Senator Collins dances.)

Senator Collins understands how the game works; she not only receives a ton of money from big donors who want favors from her,   she’s married to a wealthy lobbyist CEO .    A lobbyist is a person who buys votes from representatives on behalf of large corporations, other countries, rich people.

Now, a group of citizens  have gotten together online and — in a GoFundMe-type action — have raised money for a potential challenger to Senator Collins if she votes to approve Judge Kavanaugh.  She’s outraged and the media is playing along with her.  She gave an interview to a right-wing media outlet and complained that the money was a  bribe.  NBC reported on it, calling the challenge questionable fundraising.

We’ve come full circle.  When citizens try to elect people who actually represent them, that’s “bribery” and it’s “questionable,” but when huge corporations and big lobbyists buy representatives with money and financial threats, that’s totally OK.

There’s a short-term solution to this and a longer-term solution.  The short-term is to continue to raise money and to use it to vote out politicians who ignore the will of the majority of their constituents.  Longer-term, we need to undo Citizens United.  Oh, and shame on Senator Collins.  People of Maine:  do better.

Picture found here.

Monday at the Movies (Sort Of)

To be honest, this is a political ad, not a movie, per se.  So, shoot me.

When I saw this, I almost cried with joy.  I was pregnant when I was very young and it was clear to me then that I was never likely to amount to much of anything.  (In the end, I did, a bit, and I got the world’s most wonderful Son out of the deal, but that’s another story.)  Pregnant women were the opposite of strong, powerful people.  I’d have given anything to have had something like this to give me a different view of myself.  Pregnant women can be law school professors, attorneys general, politicians!

Look, for women, being at the doctor’ office — having our reproductive bits examined, being pregnant, trying to get pregnant, trying not to get pregnant, dealing with the results of pregnancy, managing our periods, our lack of periods, our super-heavy periods — is a BIG part of our lived experience.  And it’s an experience that too few politicians (who are still mostly men) have had.  One of the reasons I was so enthusiastic about a Hillary Clinton presidency was the hope that finally we’d have a president who’d had periods, given birth, nursed, and gone through menopause.  We’ve never had even one president who has had those experiences, even though just over half of our population has — and is often defined by — those experiences.

I can already hear the criticisms of Ms. Teachout “exploiting” her pregnancy.  Give me a break.  Every man who ever pulled his “adoring” family up onto stage with him has “exploited” his family.

If I lived in NY, I would crawl on broken glass to vote this week for Zephyr Teachout and Cynthia Nixon.

The Magical Battle for America 9.9.18

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Now’s probably a good time to remind everyone to check/refresh the wards on your home or wherever you do this work.  Be sure that you’re rested, grounded, and in a comfortable position.  Maybe wrap up in a blanket or cloak and grasp a stone or talisman that matters to you.  Grow your roots, send them deep into the soil, let them intertwine and grow small hairs to attach to the mycelia in your own landbase.

Breathe.

Anchor yourself firmly to your landbase.  Notice a small detail that will call you back when this working is finished.

Ground and center.  Cast a circle.

Breathe.

As you move to our American plain on the astral plane, you can see again the safe hillock where you do your work.  You can see the five giant banners, shining in the sky: Walden Pond, the Underground Railroad, the Cowboy, the Salmon, and Lady Liberty.  Do they seem more defined since we began our work? Do they have anything special to tell you this week?

For a few moments, just sit on your hillock and allow yourself to become comfortable.  This place should be feeling very real to you by now; we’ve been working together to create it for months and months.  What’s become familiar to you?  A tuft of prairie grass?  Buffalo off in the distance?  The scent of sand carried on the wind?  You’ve been involved in a months-long magical working here, joined with magic workers from across the globe.  Feel your connection to this place on the astral plane. It is always here for you, always a source of strength.

Now, look to Lady Liberty in the north.  Her banner begins to grow larger and larger until it fills the entire sky.  It becomes three-dimensional and you can walk onto the ferry that will take you from New York City to her island.  Gulls call out overhead, hoping tourists will toss them a french fry.  Parents point out the island to their children and tell them its story.  Large puffy clouds float across the clear blue sky.  Near the railing, two young lovers hold hands and share dreams.   It’s a perfectly peaceful day, a lovely day for a visit to Lady Liberty.

But off in the distance, storm clouds are gathering.  They threaten to throw everything into darkness, to bring havoc and chaos to the peaceful harbor.

Your ferry can scarcely tie up to the dock because the waves are becoming so choppy.  You help an older couple to step onto shore and then you wander over to the base of the statue.  The winds are howling now and icy rain splatters everywhere.  As you look up, you see Lady Liberty trying to stand alone against the storm of darkness.  She holds her torch high, but the darkening storm threatens to put out her bright light.

Lady Liberty needs your help.

Put your hands on her strong base and help to hold her up.  Draw energy from the earth — the ground here likely has sweat and tears from your own ancestors — and send it to Lady Liberty.  Even when your muscles grow weary and your attention threatens to flag, keep supporting Lady Liberty.  Call you your ancestors of blood and spirit.  Call on America’s heras and heroes.  Call on all who have fought to bring increased liberty and freedom to America’s shores.  Send strength and determination to Lady Liberty and all the values for which she stands.  Feel the energy move through your body, into your hands, and from there to Liberty’s base.

Gradually, the storm abates.   The forces of darkness lose and Lady Liberty’s torch shines brightly once again.  The sky clears and the gulls swoop again over the waters.  You can see the older couple that you helped, a bit soggy but none the worse for the wear.  They are returning to the ferry.  You, too, need to return.  As you take one last look at Lady Liberty, you can see that this tempest has actually strengthened her, left her cleaner and brighter.  As you reach New York City, the Lady tips her torch to you to say “Thank you.”  You land and begin to walk back out of the banner to your own hillock.

Now, breathe.  Slowly, come down from your hillock and begin to walk back to your own landbase.

Open your eyes.  Rub your arms and face.  Notice the detail that you selected to call yourself back.  Drink something, maybe some cider or a cup of strong coffee.  Have something to eat, maybe a pear or a pumpkin scone

Maybe you can set up a small altar dedicated to Lady Liberty. You may want to repeat this working several times this week.  You may want to journal about it.  Are you inspired to make any art? If you’re willing, please share in comments what happened and how this working went.

Picture found here.

“Bring It” Indeed

Just when we thought the news cycle couldn’t speed up any faster:

Preview copies of Bob Woodward’s book Fear come out, and the media goes nuts because…he reports a bunch of stuff anyone paying the least bit of attention in the past three years already knew about TrumPutin. HOW ARE Y’ALL EVEN PRETENDING TO BE SURPRISED AT THIS POINT?

The anonymous Times op-ed comes out, same (and David Frum is excellent and succinct on why it’s a HUGE problem that this is being handled this way).

Republican rat fucking is already out of control, and the elections are still two months away. (Receipts and receipts and receipts.)

Oh – and more than 16 Puerto Ricans (who, let me remind you, are AMERICAN CITIZENS) died in Hurricane Maria. A lot more. Like 3000 more. Directly because of the utter incompetence of the TrumPutin administration.

500 undocumented immigrant children are STILL separated from their parents. And the TrumPutin administration just decide that those who’ve been lucky enough to be reunited can be detained together indefinitely.

Despite a shameful lack of media coverage, the #KremlinAnnex protests continue. 53 consecutive days and counting.

Kamala Harris leads the charge, with Cory Booker right behind her (and Mazie Hirono and Dick Durbin right behind him, and Diane Feinstein right behind them), on Democrats FINALLY understanding that you need to bring a KNIFE to a knife fight, not a kitten, a plate of cookies, or appeals to “normal order.”

We learn that Brett Kavanaugh is a lying liar who lies (even under oath) and parrots NRA and pro-forced-birth talking points like a good little shill. And somehow, incredibly, his confirmation for a lifetime appointment to an immensely powerful position might still happen.

(and if you want to see a MASTERFUL prosecutor at work, look no further)

And that’s all pretty much just this week. Jesus.

A bunch of us have been saying for the past few months that this may not, pace Winston Churchill, be the beginning of the end, but it appears to be the end of the beginning.

I’m going out on a limb and saying: I think this is the beginning of the end. Certainly for TrumPutin and perhaps for the entire complicit Republican party. (Yes, even you, Ben Sasse, with your ridiculous, passive-aggressive “But what could I possibly DOOOO????? Woe is me!!!!!” tweets. You’re a goddamn US Senator. Surely you can think of SOMETHING.)

And much like all extinction events, we’re seeing an explosion of energy and activity right before the crash.

I don’t know what to tell you other than:

  • Keep up the voter registering, phone banking, canvassing, postcard writing, and donating. Two months y’all.
  • Keep up your magical work – it’s working! But also check your wards.
  • Take your vitamins and eat your Wheaties. And get your flu shot. We need every member of The Resistance operating at peak effectiveness.
  • Hold on to your ass, because this ride is about to get seriously bumpy.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes to the Hills

40460107_232341480768235_3737904973942358016_nI was born in the Rocky Mountains and have lived most of my life in the shining city on a swamp that is (the area in and around) DC.  But ever since my parents took us for a car trip up into the Blue Ridge Mountains — down into the Luray Caverns, high up into the twisty roads around the mountains — a large part of my soul has lived up in those most ancient of mountains.  I can conjure the feeling of cloud shadows on the mountain to self-comfort whenever I need and, every morning when I meditate, I invoke meadows full of moths and trees growing out of old rocks.  And when, in Wendell Berry’s words, “despair for the world grows in me/ and I wake in the night at the least sound/in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,” I literally head for the hills.

I’ve been busy of late.  I’ve taken on a lot of commitments related to the Nov. 6th election; I have a big presentation to prepare for an occult group; the recent rains have left my garden too full of weeds (wood sorrel — I hate that stuff); there’s a family wedding in the offing;  I have kale, and collards, and bok choy  to pick and process; I’m still trying to “really” organize the family photographs; I want to have dinner with my grandson; the dark moon is this weekend.  And so every day I wake up, meditate, pull weeds (but not enough), and then work, and work, and work.

But today, I lifted my spirit up into the hills.

A dear friend and I drove up, up, up — up into the lovely blue mountains.  It’s said that the blue coloring , noted even by the First Peoples, is due to a chemical that the trees release.  Maybe, or maybe it’s just magic.  But those mountains are blue, not purple like the mountains in the West, or dry gold, or brown.  Those mountains are blue and they are blue all year long, and they call to me and make me whole.

The Virginia Arboretum is at the foot of the mountains and it’s one of my most spiritual places.  We all have these, right?  The places we go to when we need to feed our spirits, settle our souls, reset everything back to where it should be.  The entire arboretum is magical (there’s a secret place where they’re growing experimental American chestnut hybrids, and they have a herb bed that’s special, and the trees planted along the opening circle make a shadow sun dial) but, today, the magic centered on a swampy bit at the center, filled with our recent heavy rains.  (There are also standing stones there where I imagine the local Druids gather, and there are community gardens there, full of dahlias, and there are, actually, lots of labeled trees there, including some that have sheltered me when I took conference calls on days when I was not in the office.)

My friend adores swamps — those liminal places between dry land and water, those factories of experimental biology where amphibians swim, seeds float, skies are reflected, land and water plants grow together.  And, so, we slowed to watch and were rewarded with a giant white egret, fishing in the swamp.  I love ballet and so I couldn’t help but enjoy the stately dance :  step — pause — step — pause — snatch a fish (or frog, or snake, or lizard), and then, slowly, in the intense sun:  step — pause — step — pause . . . .  We watched for the better part of a quarter of an hour or so — long enough for me to sunburn my knee — just so honored and blessed to watch what goes on every day while we’re down in DC, fighting for our lives.  I sent a blessing; I hope that lovely egret survives the winter, makes lots of babies, comes back to fish in that swamp . . . .

When it was time to leave, we went to a tiny, country place that makes the best vinegary BBQ in Virginia — no, really — and that is the food of my piplpe — and then to a tiny jewel we’ve discovered:   the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.

Right now, they have a beautifully-curated exhibit of Mayfield Parrish’s works.  Liking Parrish is akin to liking Handel’s Water Music — all the sophisticated people know better.  But I’ve long loved Handel and I’ve long loved Parrish.  And this exhibit is really, as GreenMan noted, incredibly well presented and full of tiny gems.  I fell in love with a screen set Parrish did for a local theatre and a giant panel of Renaissance gentlemen talking to lovely ladies in a window.  You have to love this museum — they have a wooden collage of Patsy Cline just outside a great exhibit of Episcopalian  Virginia furniture and they have a barn full of old tools just beside a set of windows that mirror a grain silo just across the meadow.

And, then, we drove home.

We drove down, and down, and down, watching the giant clouds, the Maxfield Parrish clouds, gathering up at the edge of the mountains and preparing to spill rain on our shining city on the swamp.  We drove down into the horrific traffic (too many people, not enough planet) and back to my weed-filled herb bed.

But I came back with my spirit intact.

May it be so for you.

Photo by Greenman.  If you copy, please link back.

 

Words for Wednesday

SeptemberLight_8X10_300ppi
To the Light of September
~ W.S. Merwin
When you are already here
you appear to be only
a name that tells of you
whether you are present or not
and for now it seems as though
you are still summer
still the high familiar
endless summer
yet with a glint
of bronze in the chill mornings
and the late yellow petals
of the mullein fluttering
on the stalks that lean
over their broken
shadows across the cracked ground
but they all know
that you have come
the seed heads of the sage
the whispering birds
with nowhere to hide you
to keep you for later
you
who fly with them
you who are neither
before nor after
you who arrive
with blue plums
that have fallen through the night
perfect in the dew.
Picture found here.

Do the Wave

Here’s some good news:

This is just a glimpse of what we could be spending our time and resources on if we didn’t have to spend every minute fighting to stop Trump from ripping babies from their mothers’ breasts, from alienating our allies, from encouraging white supremacists, from trying to undermine justice . . . .

If you’re like me, you wake up most days just wanting this to be over.  But it won’t just go away on its own.  We have to work to get rid of it — we have to work harder than they do.  And our next (and maybe last) best shot is this November, when we have the chance to vote in Democrats from the smallest local seats all the way up to the United States Senate.

Are you registered to vote?  We are coming up on registration deadlines in a number of states, so please do this now!  You can go here and register.

Please also figure out one way that you can help get out the vote for Democratic candidates.  You can go to the website for a candidate that you like (anywhere in the country; you don’t for example, have to live in Texas to phone bank for Beto O’Rourke).  You can also go the website for your local Democratic Party.  Especially now that Labor Day’s come and gone, most of them are going into high gear and need volunteers to do everything from phone banking, postcard writing, canvassing, putting together and delivering lawn signs, making buttons, handing out literature at the farmers’ market, registering voters at the metro, . . . .

Whatever happens on November 6th, I want to know that I did everything that I could to try and save America.  I bet you do, too.