Where To Invade Next, OR … How Did the USA Get So %#!&@ STUPID?

Swami’s Dictionary:

Ignoranus: Massive ignorance meets massive arrogance; the kind of thinking behind Mad Cowboy Disease. See “assaholism”.

Last week, Trudy and I went to see Michael Moore’s latest, Where To Invade Next, and we were heartened by the positive — yes, positive — message. Iconoclastic Moore traveled the world looking for ideas to “capture” on behalf of the USA, and the result was a glimpse into the relative “sanity” of the rest of the world, compared to the USA.WheretoInvadeNextPosterSML

There was Italy, where ordinary working people enjoy at least six weeks paid vacation, and France, where school lunches consist of REAL food, Slovenia where higher education is free, and Norway where maximum security prisoners are greeted with a video where the guards and other prison employees sing, “We Are The World.” Seriously. Not tongue in cheek.

Then there is Iceland, where banksters were put “on ice” and got to serve prison terms for their perpetrations. And lots, lots more.

Moore does a good job relating disenfranchisement of black males via prison to the southern states remaining largely Republican. (In most European nations, prisoners still have the right to vote and candidates actually campaign in prisons!)

In every one of these cases where our common wealth could have been spent to enhance the wellbeing of the commonwealth, in the USA that money has been scarfed up the military industrial complex, the medical industrial complex, drug companies, agribusiness, the petrochemical industry, and of course corruption and speculation.

The movie begs the question, how did the American people get so %#&&@ STUPID?

One clue emerges during Michael Moore’s visit to Germany, where children get an unflinching look at the Holocaust. Some 70 years ago at Nuremberg, the world’s eyes were opened to the Nazi’s perpetrations. Instead of shrinking from this horrific moment in their history, the Germans have “owned it.” They have nothing to hide. They have scanned and scoured their history, and they are spiritually richer for it. No skeletons in the closet. No closet.

Here in the USA, we have of course acknowledged slavery … and the genocide of Native peoples not so much. Conversation has devolved into the toxic substitute for truthful discourse, “political correctness” and arguments continue about whether it’s proper to call the Washington football team the Redskins or our baseball teams the Indians and the Braves.

I’m sure on reservations or casinos, the day it is announced that the Atlanta baseball team has reverted to its pre-major league nickname, the Crackers, a huge audible cheer will go up — not.

Nobody — except a few political poseurs and their well-meaning white liberal allies — will care. The life of Native peoples will pretty much go on as before. Just as the lives of black folks matter about as much as they did BEFORE Obama became president.

But that’s not even the biggest reason for the America public’s willful ignorance.

I would chalk it up to PTSD.

Ever since the United States entered Orwell Country when it renamed the Department of War the Department of Defense, ever since the moment where our leaders imagined we could use the Nazis’ scientists and technologists without being tainted by their heart of darkness, the stage was set for our experiment in self-governance to become consumed by its own shadow. Several years ago, the dark joke came to me that with the Civil Rights era, the KKK morphed into the KKK-KKK … Kill Kennedy, King, Kennedy and the Kent Kids.

If you’re one of those “coincidence theorists” who cling to the self-serving myth that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, I double-dog dare you to read James Douglass’s book, JFK And the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters.

Interestingly and appropriately, the picture of the year at the Academy Awards last night was Spotlight, a film about exposing pedophile priests in Boston. Using their clerical garb — and the mighty sword of their religious dogma — these individuals intimidated and traumatized young people, leaving them to believe they were somehow responsible for bringing on their own abuse.

Same with the American people.

We have been abused by the American empire since the beginning of the Cold War. We now know that Stalinism killed more civilians than Hitler did, and the worker’s paradise was a living hell. True enough, and … much of postwar American foreign policy was really about thwarting economic justice across the globe, making the world safe for United Fruit and US Rubber. Disguised as anti-communism, it was really anti-populism, anti-economic justice, and anti-human. Imagine if we HAD been on the right side of those issues … communism could never have gotten a popular foothold.

With the JFK assassination, America’s body politic was so traumatized that half a century later, we are still unable to discern truth from lies. We “bought” the 9/11 story, the anthrax scare, the “Patriot” act, the invasion of Iraq, etc., etc., etc.

Today, one third of our electorate is poised (or is it “poisoned”?) to elect Donald Trump. Meanwhile, the mainstream Democrats rather than standing up for the working people and middle class seem reminiscent of the timid tourist asking a New Yorker, “Excuse me … could you tell me how to get to Times Square — or should I just go f— myself?”

As Trudy and I walked out of the movie theater, it became clear that for the United States to reclaim its political and spiritual heritage there would have to be a “peoples upwising” — where we collectively awaken to what has been done in our names, and wise up and rise up to a higher view that we humans are indeed all it in together.

Perhaps it will take something like what South Africa did, a “truth and reconciliation” movement … where truth, justice and forgiveness replace the desire for punishment and an “eye for an eye”. Keep in mind that at the root of every religious, spiritual and ethical path is some version of the Golden Rule. Now science too is telling us, cooperate and survive.

No law, no policy, no elected official will be able to change things one iota in this country until and unless this shadow is faced, and healed. With nothing left to hide and protect — either in our governance or in our psyche — we will actually be able to “go sane”.

Meanwhile … see the movie. See what we’ve been missing. Support Bernie because his candidacy represents a movement for awakening. Discover and embrace the truth, speak it from your heart, and watch the relief on people’s faces as they recognize their truth as well.

_______________________

Support Bernie’s campaign here: https://go.berniesanders.com/page/content/splash

March Forth 4 Bernie. Join Swami for a fund-raising event for Bernie Sanders on March 4th in Santa Cruz. Details below.

And … go ahead. PATRONIZE ME!

I’ve recently discovered a crowd-funding site called Patreon that allows fans to support worthy endeavors that are given away rather than sold (like blogs and podcasts). Prior to setting up on that site, I would love to get a sense of how my audience values my contribution. If you feel so moved, you can make a contribution now via PayPal, and if response warrants it, I will set up a Patreon page. And in any case, I love getting your feedback … and feel free to share this post widely.

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In Her Own Words – Hillary Tells You Why You Should Vote for Bernie

“Together, we create our own WE-ality.” — Swami Beyondananda

After Bernie Sanders’ big win in New Hampshire last week and the debate that followed, I received two emails — one from the Bernie Sanders campaign, and the other from Hillary’s team. In comparing the two, I saw the stark contrast between who and what each candidate is about. First, here is the Bernie message:

Bernie just had the breakout moment at the Democratic debate tonight.

The moderator asked both the candidates about the influence big money donors — the kind of donors who dump millions into super PACs — have on politicians in the Democratic Party.

In response, Hillary Clinton claimed that the fact that many Democratic politicians took money from big banks — and voted in favor of bills like Dodd Frank — somehow proved they were not influenced by big money.

But Bernie wasn’t having it. Here’s what he said:

“Let’s not insult the intelligence of the American people. People aren’t dumb.

“Why in God’s name does Wall Street make huge campaign contributions? I guess for the fun of it? They want to throw money around?

“Why does the pharmaceutical industry make huge campaign contributions? Any connection, maybe, to the fact that our people pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs?

“Why does the fossil fuel industry spend huge amounts of money on campaign contributions? Any connection to the fact that not one Republican candidate for president thinks and agrees with the scientific community that climate change is real and that we have got to transform our energy system?”

Bernie is exactly right. Billionaires, and the corporations they control, know exactly what they’re getting for their investment. That’s why it is so incredibly important for us to stand up, right now, and say — as Bernie would say — ENOUGH is ENOUGH.That was Bernie.

Now here is Hillary’s message:

— Ann (for some reason, I am “Ann” to Hillary’s campaign)

Tonight, I worked to show this team and our country what it looks like to get right back up and fight after you’ve been knocked down.

I hope I made you proud — and inspired you to dig a little deeper and do a little more. Will you chip in $1 right now to say you’re with me?

Join Swami in Santa Cruz on March 4th for a March Forth for Bernie event, details below

Join Swami in Santa Cruz on March 4th for a March Forth for Bernie event, details below

Can you see / feel the difference? In actuality, Hillary’s response to Bernie’s pressing question was condescending and avoided the real issue, the one that impacts every one of us who have been disenfranchised by a pay-to-play political system. And if you compare their post-debate, post-New Hampshire messages the one simple difference is that Bernie’s message is about WE. Hillary’s is about ME. (Not actually “me” as in “you and me”, but about HER.)

Hillary — in writing to this imaginary “Ann” she thinks I am — is about identity issues. As a woman, I might well relate to Hillary’s plight and pluck in being “knocked down” and then standing back up. This is basically what Hillary is offering. Besides the symbolism of being the first woman President, she offers the same thing the Democrats have been offering up since the Reagan years — vote for us, we’re not as bad as those other guys.

Bernie’s message is much more about where he stands on the one key issue that will determine whether we ever have government of the people, or whether we devolve past oligarchy to neo-feudalism. It moves past identity to the IDENTICAL issues Americans face, particularly as we deal with the economic impact of oligarchy and worse.

“Naturally” — unnaturally, actually — the mainstream press continues its drumbeat to diss Bernie, distort his message, and associate supporting Hillary (the lesser of the evils, but way more evil than Bernie) with “being realistic”.

Well, I suppose if we are OK with the current political reality, then being realistic is … realistic. However, if you are ready for a new WE-ality, where we the people actually have some real input into our political reality, you’ll join the awakening young people and jump aboard the Bernie campaign. Oh, and in regards to Bernie being paralyzed by a Republican Congress, Bernie will activate young voters and very likely sweep in a new Congress with him. Hillary will be unable to improve on Obama’s status quo. Which is fine for her, because like Obama, she has “pre-compromised” on all the key issues of governance, foreign policy and who actually rules America.

I’m just sayin’ …

Support Bernie’s campaign here: https://go.berniesanders.com/page/content/splash

March Forth 4 Bernie. Join Swami for a fund-raising event for Bernie Sanders on March 4th in Santa Cruz. Details below.

And … go ahead. PATRONIZE ME!

I’ve recently discovered a crowd-funding site called Patreon that allows fans to support worthy endeavors that are given away rather than sold (like blogs and podcasts). Prior to setting up on that site, I would love to get a sense of how my audience values my contribution. If you feel so moved, you can make a contribution now via PayPal, and if response warrants it, I will set up a Patreon page. And in any case, I love getting your feedback … and feel free to share this post widely.

Click here to donate via PayPal to support Notes From the Trail  Donate Button

 

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The Video That Stopped Me Dead, No, Startled Me Alive in My Tracks

“The truth shall UPSET you free.”  — Swami Beyondananda

Every now and then something so graphic appears, that keys into an issue so profoundly that no further explanation is needed. Please watch this video now. It’s about six and a half minutes long, and it will shock, and hopefully stir you to a new awareness and action.

Watch the video NOW before reading any further.

OK, good.

Now you probably already thought that wealth distribution is unfairly skewed in this country. What this video graphic shows in such stark detail is HOW MUCH it is skewed, and how this imbalance is far, far greater than we think. It might explain another recent article that reported that 56% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their bank accounts, and nearly 25% have less than $100.

I’ll get right to the point.

There is ONE THING happening right now that will make a difference — that IS making a difference — and that is the Bernie Sanders campaign for President. Ah, I can hear that sigh from you long-suffering progressives. You’ve seen how over the past 35 years, the Democratic Party has become the “other corporate party”, the place where progressive votes go to die.

This year is different. Very different. Young voters have awakened, and the under-30 crowd in Iowa went for Bernie over Hillary 84% to 13%. So … you might say, so what? Anyone who has lifted the veils to any extent knows how entrenched this system is, and how little influence electoral politics seems to have.

My answer is, yes I know. I have been studying political science since the 1960s, and I have no illusions about the darkness that has prevailed until now. That’s why I see the Sanders campaign as a crack in the system that will let the light in — potentially so much light, that we the people (like the 92% of us surveyed in the video) will recognize and assume our own power.

The one thing that is different about the Bernie campaign — different even from activist Ralph Nader’s third party run sixteen years ago — is that there is a movement building underneath, behind and even in front of Bernie. It is a growing movement, and regardless of the outcome in the primaries or in November, it will continue to grow. Electing Bernie will give voice to this movement, and this movement will give Bernie the “ground support” he will need if elected.

Bernie is no savior, and many of his other policies are old paradigm.

Join Swami in Santa Cruz on March 4th for a March Forth for Bernie event, details below

Join Swami in Santa Cruz on March 4th for a March Forth for Bernie event, details below

But his election will signal a shift toward a new world view, led by the Millennials who actually will be living in this world for the next half century or more. It is the one thing we have in front of us now than can and very likely WILL move the dial — first on economic inequality, next on climate change, and ultimately in moving from a system based on fear and “survival of the fittest” to one based on love, connection and “thrival of the fittingest.

No, Bernie cannot do all of that for us. However, he can facilitate the field where we can more easily do that for ourselves, and — incidentally — in time to save our species form extinction.

And because of that, I have taken on a mission for the next three months and I ask you to support me if you are willing and able. Given the hugely positive response I have gotten to my recent blogs about Bernie, it sparked a new mission for certainly primary season, and if we are fortunate, for the next nine months.

I am launching a weekly Bernie Blog (with updates more frequently) that will do the following for the campaign, for the body politic, and for the future we all know is possible:

  1. Glean and proliferate the most pertinent material in support of the Sanders campaign, and weave it into a larger context.
  1. Specifically seek to reach the boomers and older folks who have been playing it safe in supporting Hillary, and show them how Bernie can and will do much, much better than she will in the general election.
  1. Gather ideas and energy to build a movement around and through this campaign, a movement that gives Bernie the ground cover to address and courageously face the seemingly intractable corporate state.
  1. Create and empower that movement independent of the Sanders campaign.
  1. Use the three blogging platforms I have now, the Huffington Post, Daily Kos and OpEd News — along with my own growing list that includes other cultural creatives and transpartisans — to spread the word throughout communities that may have been politically dormant until now.
  1. Do it with wit and humor, in a way that will be picked up and virally shared.

Yes, there is a “people’s upwising” afoot where more and more people every day recognize that the one thing that just might save our species during these times of crisis is awakening to our connection with one another and the web of life, and acting on that connection. There are many, many, many projects and ideas that have been moving this upwising forward. In his book Blessed Unrest, Paul Hawken cites literally hundreds of thousands of well-intentioned nonprofits working to address one aspect of the “problem”. As “single-cell organisms” they can thrive in a limited way, but ultimately are in competition with one another for funding.

What is required is a movement.

That movement currently has no name, and needs no name. At this very moment it is working through the Bernie Sanders campaign. If you agree, please support him and / or contribute to his campaign here.

Join Swami for a fund-raising event for Bernie Sanders on March 4th in Santa Cruz. Details below.

If you like my approach and posts, please share them widely and encourage others to do the same. And if you agree that these posts can “loverage” support for Bernie, and you would like to help me help Bernie help us all, you can make a financial contribution in any amount through my PayPal account swamib@saber.net. (I am not being paid by the Sanders campaign or any other organization … just by individuals like yourselves who see the value of this work and want it to move forward.)

Click here to donate via PayPal Donate Button

Again, I thank you for reading this and supporting this endeavor if it feels right to you.

The upwising has begun!

Steve Bhaerman

MarchForBernie

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