It’s finally time for big, structural change

three_richest_people-graphic
image via commondreams.org

Dear Readers, usually I am careful on this blog to avoid sounding strident or provocative to the point where some of you won’t bother to read it. But today I feel that I must speak out about the absolute urgency of our common crisis moment here in America.

The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated the American economy during the past six weeks. Congress has passed several unprecedented economic recovery bills, which they touted as helping everyday Americans and especially small businesses to get through the emergency intact. Yet, it is coming out into the public that a large percentage of the billions of dollars designed to help small businesses and their employees, is instead (once again) lining the pockets of corporations and billionaires who are siphoning off the money from the ones who cannot survive without it. Read the Forbes magazine article  here.

“We’re not going to be able to check all the loans before they go out the door because there’s over 26,000 of these loans, but before we forgive these loans, we’ll check every single one over $2 million,” Mnuchin pledged on Tuesday. “I encourage everybody to look at this and pay back these loans now so we can recycle the money if you made a mistake.”

More than 220 public companies have applied for at least $870 million in small business loans, according to data analytics firm FactSquared.

Under the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, The Paycheck Protection Program was originally allocated $349 billion for emergency small business loans, but that funding was quickly exhausted amid overwhelming demand that has often caused glitches in the system. Despite weeks of controversy around the PPP, another $310 billion was injected into the program thanks to the latest $484 billion coronavirus relief bill passed last week. “–Forbes magazine

Among ALL of the immense lessons Covid-19 has been teaching us, this particular one is definitely in the top 3 for people to pay attention to. We watched as giant corporations consolidated their wealth during the 2008 Great Recession. We saw predatory companies buy up smaller ones, including many banks. During the past 12 years, wealth consolidation by the wealthiest corporations and CEOs has gone from terrible to inconceivable. It is inconceivable that literally a handful of humans’ net worth is more than well over half of the population of the United States combined. Let that sink in for a moment.

Top wealthy people US-Forbes-2019

Top wealthy people 2-US-Forbes-2019
www.forbes.com/forbes-400

Further reading:  https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/04/27/no-were-not-all-together-how-super-rich-are-cheating-america

Watching the news spectacle coming from Washington DC each day during the pandemic, many of us feel by turns angry, frustrated, sad, devastated, or perhaps even resigned to the ineptness and absurdity we are hearing from the POTUS and his administration. One author from Ireland commented about it this way (from Commondreams.org) :

The gifted Fintan O’Toole offers a fresh, brilliant, devastating perspective on a time when the sense of America as a great country “has all but evaporated.” Now the epicenter of a pandemic, he describes a nation “locked down with a malignant narcissist who, instead of protecting his people from Covid-19, has amplified its lethality. This is not mere ignorance – it is deliberate and homicidal stupidity,” he writes. “It is one thing to be powerless in the face of a natural disaster, quite another to watch vast power being squandered in real time – willfully, malevolently, vindictively, often in the recurring horror show of briefings in which all the neuroses that haunt the American subconscious dance naked on live TV.” 

The question most of us wonder is, Where do we go from here? When will the citizens finally awaken out of the nightmare of what life in America has become for the majority of us? Isn’t it way beyond time to open our eyes and squarely face the obscenity of unbridled greed and power-mongering being flaunted right before our faces? And then say:  NO MORE. EVER AGAIN. The hundreds of millions of people who continue to suffer due to monstrous inequity by the power elite deserve better. The Covid-19 pandemic is showing us our collective neuroses like never before.  May we each have the deep courage and strength to finally, creatively, and loudly point it out, protest, petition our members of congress, and most importantly, to vote for real, structural change to the status quo. The criminals must be permanently stopped, and the time is NOW.

The Only One to Show Moral Courage

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The show continues, dear Readers. Those of you who follow politics know that this week brought a fiasco in Iowa with the first caucus to determine the Democratic presidential candidate. And today, as everyone already surmised, the Republican-majority senate acquitted the US president of the impeachment charges against him. The only moment of reckoning was when Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, stood and gave a heartfelt speech explaining his reasons for voting with the Democrats, saying “the verdict is ours to render under our Constitution. The people will judge us for how well and faithfully we fulfill our duty. The grave question the Constitution tasked senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor. Yes, he did.” Senator Romney continued to explain his rationale for voting to remove the president, the leader of his own political party, thus:

“The president’s purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.

What he did was not perfect. No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.

Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.  (video here) 

I’m aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters I will be vehemently denounced. I’m sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me? (NYTimes, Feb 5, 2020)

Senator Romney made it clear in his speech that the main reason he voted against his party to remove President Trump stems from his deeply held belief in God and his moral duty to act in a way coherent with that divinity. He is well known as a Christian of the Mormon faith. Unlike many of his senate colleagues, however, Romney’s faith gave him the moral imperative and courage to LIVE his beliefs through his vote. In the Christian Bible, Jesus the Christ is famously quoted as saying, “By their acts will you know them.” To his credit, Senator Romney took those words seriously. He began his speech by stating,

“As a senator-juror, I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.

Romney ended his speech with these words,

“My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate, but irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability believing that my country expected it of me.

I will only be one name among many, no more, no less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the president did was wrong, grievously wrong. We are all footnotes at best in the annals of history, but in the most powerful nation on Earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that distinction is enough for any citizen.” (find the transcript of his speech here https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/us/politics/mitt-romney-impeachment-speech-transcript.html

What strikes me the most about Mitt Romney’s speech, followed by his act of voting Trump guilty of article 1, Abuse of Power, is the fact that he is the lone Republican senator to display true moral courage, as Senator Adam Schiff spoke so eloquently of during his argument for convicting and removing President Trump last week.  Schiff implored every senator in the chamber to put their party aside and find their moral courage, which is more difficult to garner than courage in battle. Yet, when it came down to the impeachment vote, only Romney was able to dig deeply enough into his soul to discover that moral courage and then to act upon it. In his interview with the New York Times before the vote, he admitted he would “pay an enormous price” for choosing to vote the way he did and go against his political party.  Indeed, nearly the moment he uttered the word “guilty” people in Trump’s sphere began to vilify him and shout for his removal from the Republican party.

Yet, as many readers of today’s NYTimes commented, it is Mitt Romney who will be remembered in history as the majority senator who courageously stood up to Trump’s bitter bullying, humiliation and pressure to stand with party over country. In these extreme times of shredded democracy, surreal MAGA concert-like performances by the current presidential administration, and a type of civil war not seen since the American Civil War of the mid-19th century, it can be easy to forget just how many thoughtful, intelligent and compassionate people actually live in America. Yes, there are many who are blind, in denial, ignorant and just plain stupid, BUT there are also millions of us who deeply care about the ideals of democracy, liberty and freedom that the framers of the US Constitution intended. As Senator Schiff hammered home repeatedly during the trial, the implications of today’s acquittal will reverberate for decades to come. A blatant defiance of the system of checks and balance of power between the presidency, the Senate and the House is sure to deeply and negatively impact that balance, along with stacking the judiciary with far right-wing judges for many years to come.

Thomas Jefferson once stated, “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves ; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.” Tonight, at the end of this grueling and arduous impeachment inquiry and trial, I wholeheartedly agree that Americans who paid close attention received a large education in the past few months as to how our system of government and trial works, and how deeply flawed it has become. We learned firsthand about what obstruction of justice is, what abuse of power is, what partisanship is and why exactly it is so harmful to a democratic system. And, we all got to see and hear from those whom We, The People, elected as they “did their jobs.” Now, dear Readers who have the great privilege of being able to vote in the 2020 primary and election this coming November, it is up to you.

Please take the time to read this excellent editorial by the NY Times editorial board concerning the impeachment vote and general malaise within the Democratic party at the moment. Here is the link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/opinion/impeachment-vote-trump-acquitted.html

References:

https://everydaypower.com/thomas-jefferson-quotes/

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/us/politics/trump-acquitted-impeachment.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/us/politics/mitt-romney-impeachment-speech-transcript.html

 

 

 

The Shakedown of False Belief Systems

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image via Sciencealert.com

The vortex energies of January are swirling. Everyone feels them, whether they are conscious of them or not. People’s nerves are frayed, anxiety levels are skyrocketing, many are feeling helpless, hopeless or both. It doesn’t seem to matter where you are on the planet, how much money you possess, or your position in society. This world is shaking loose of its foundations, and it’s happening fast.

As you look around and observe your part of the world, what signs of major change are you experiencing? Is it unnerving you a bit (or perhaps a lot)? Many of us here in the United States have been watching or listening to the Senate’s impeachment managers present their arguments for impeachment and removal of President Trump. There has been copious amounts of evidence presented through many grueling hours of argument brought forth for all 100 US senators to consider. Senator Adam Schiff, head of the impeachment management team, spoke passionately and eloquently on behalf of protecting the United States Constitution, as he made their case that to allow this president to walk away and be acquitted of wrongdoing in spite of the huge amount of evidence against him, is tantamount to crushing the very foundations of democracy that the United States was built upon 233 years ago,

Schiff evoked Senator Bobby Kennedy as he stated, “Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues and the wrath of their society. And then I understood by that measure just how rare moral courage is.

“One of the things that we in this fellowship of office holders understand (that most people don’t) is that real political courage doesn’t come from disagreeing with our opponents, but from disagreeing with our friends and with our own party because it means having to stare down accusations of disloyalty and betrayal.”

Schiff closed his remarks by imploring Republican senators to permit new testimony before rendering a final verdict. He reminded them of “how unforgiving history can be” before closing his speech with a plea: “I ask you, I implore you, give America a fair trial. Give America a fair trial. She’s worth it.”  You can watch Senator Schiff’s closing remarks here. It is worth the time, for those of you interested in seeing modern American history being made.

During his closing remarks, Schiff spent time predicting how the Trump defense team would present their defense. I am pretty certain his predictions will be spot on. Tragically, it will most likely be the case that none of the Republican senators, who have the majority in Congress, will vote their conscience (if any of them even have any conscience left) and side with the Democrats for impeachment.  Senator Schiff’s warnings will go unheeded, and Trump will probably remain in power for the remainder of his presidency in 2020. BUT. The presidential elections that will take place in November very well may (as many hundreds of thousands of us here in America pray they will) see the outworking of the impeachment trial in the form of the Democratic party seizing power in the White House and in the Senate. Schiff commented in his speech that Americans are intelligent and are paying close attention to how the senators will vote, and they will remember and vote accordingly. Obviously we will have to wait until November to find out if his prediction is accurate.

But there is another aspect to the changes I’d like to mention here, dear Readers. We are living through a moment in our history that is hyper-emotionally charged. In fact, it is not difficult to see that there are different realities competing for our attention on a daily and even moment-by-moment basis. Looking through the websites of news outlets such as the New York Times, Newsweek and CNN this evening, what is clearly apparent is simply the overwhelming amount and diversity of stories all vying for our attention. When I step back from my emotionality and feelings of right vs. wrong, I can see that the whole thing is one big ludicrous show. Our world is an immense stage or movie set, made up of millions upon millions of mini-shows being acted out nonstop. Seeing the world from the higher perspective, it becomes somewhat easier to breathe. The despair I feel at the state of not only America’s demise, but the state of our planet and its failing ecosystems, somewhat abates when I am able to step back and see the show for what it actually is, realizing once more that I am not responsible for all the tragedies of this world. What is my responsibility then? Every thoughtful person must turn within to reflect on this important question, and find one’s own answer. It is all of our responsibility to not look away, not deny what we plainly see before us. The problems humanity faces are immense and threaten all that we hold dear, including our very lives as a species on Earth.

The decade we’ve just entered will, I predict, shake each of us down to our very core, exposing the lies and darkness that still remain to be brought to the light of Truth. This light is intended to heal what needs healing, which involves crisis. Find your calm center, gather your support team around you, and remember to keep breathing.

https://www.newsweek.com/adam-schiff-respect-trends-powerful-closing-speech-1483998