Friday, May 31, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 33 - The Lines, Part 5

Nine in the fifth place means:
Friendly retreat. Perseverance brings good fortune.


It is the business of the superior man to recognize in time that the moment for retreat has come. If the right moment is chosen, the retreat can be carried out within the forms of perfect friendliness, without the necessity of disagreeable discussions. Yet, for all the observance of amenities, absolute firmness of decision is necessary if one is not to be led astray by irrelevant considerations.
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.

A Poetic Expression of Life and Death

Trey Smith

A photograph haunts my waking hours. In it a man is curled embracing a woman. His eyes are closed, his head against her chest. Her back is arched, right arm resting on his left; elbow finding a niche in the crook of his arm. From the pose alone, it is as though he had reached for her in his sleep; as though her wrist, bent down against his brow, might bend again, directing her hand to stroke his hair, his face, his bowing back; as though she and he together had paused to feel the beating of their hearts.

The Kama Sutra must have a name for their embrace, for it is beautiful and common. But catastrophe and not love is the subject of this scene, for these two are dead.

We don’t know how they lived or what they were called, whether they were lovers or strangers taking desperate hold of each other as the ceiling crashed and the walls came down and a bolt of aqua cloth with polka dots loosened like a winding sheet against their tomb of concrete and bent metal.
~ from The Hidden Price of the Fabulous Bargain by JoAnn Wypijewski ~
While Zhuangzi and Laozi remind us that words can be weak placeholders for experience, in the hands of a poetic wordsmith, they aren't always so shabby either. Words can restore beauty to ugliness and tenderness to tough circumstances.

On the other hand, poetic words can hide the depravity of one human against another. Words can be used to make us reflective without actually doing anything to try to change a given situation.

In the case of Wypijewski's poetic description of a tragic event -- the garment factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh -- I don't think this is the case at all. In this example, I think the author's intent is to move us to demand justice for strangers that we shall never meet. It is an invitation to examine how our lives as western consumers impacts others -- sometimes fatally -- who in live in the far flung corners of this world.

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - I Kill Therefore I Am

Performed by Phil Ochs





Meet the king of cowboys, he rides a pale pony
He fights the bad boys brings them to their knees
He patrols the highways from the air
He keeps the country safe from long hair
I am the masculine American man
I kill, therefore I am.

I don't like the black man, for he doesn't know his place
Take the back of my hand or I'll spray you with my mace
I'm as brave as any man can be
I find my courage through chemistry
I am the masculine American man
I kill, therefore I am.

I don't like the students now, they don't have no respect
They don't like to work now, I think I'll wring their necks
They call me pig, although I'm underpaid
I'll show those faggots that I'm not afraid
I am the masculine American man
I kill, therefore I am.

Farewell to the gangsters we don't need them anymore
We've got the police force, they're the ones who break the law
He's got a gun and he's a hater
He shoots first, he shoots later
I am the masculine American man
I kill, therefore I am.
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

Dead Men Can't Talk

Trey Smith


I'm sure that most of you are aware that another Chechen Muslim (aside from the two alleged perpetrators of the Boston Marathon Bombings) had a recent run in with the FBI and would up dead. Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic has written an article which details the many reports on this incident and shows very clearly that those details have changed significantly over time.

From the moment I heard of this incident, I was damn suspicious. The reason for my suspicion is that the individual killed -- Ibragim Todashev -- supposedly was in the custody of several law enforcement officials. Initially, we were told that Todashev had a knife and he lunged at the FBI man. How does a person in custody have access to a knife? The usual protocol in such situations is to pat down the person before you question them!

Later, the allegation of a knife disappeared from the narrative. In its place, we are being told that Todashev became upset. Is becoming "upset" now a reason for law enforcement to use lethal force? If so, then almost anyone in custody for ANY reason can be taken out at any time.

More recent reports indicate that Todashev was shot 7 times, including once in the head.

All of this information/disinformation makes it look like something else was going on here. Why did they want this particular guy dead?

Bit by Bit - Chapter 14, Part 14

Trey Smith

When Confucius returned from his visit with Lao Tan, he did not speak for three days. His disciples said, "Master, you've seen Lao Tan - what estimation would you make of him?"

Confucius said, "At last I may say that I have seen a dragon - a dragon that coils to show his body at its best, that sprawls out to display his patterns at their best, riding on the breath of the clouds, feeding on the yin and yang. My mouth fell open and I couldn't close it; my tongue flew up and I couldn't even stammer. How could I possibly make any estimation of Lao Tan!"

~ Burton Watson translation ~
What could one possibly say upon meeting a true sage? Like all transcendent experiences, me thinks it would be beyond words.

To view the Index page for this series, go here.

And Then the Phone Rang

Trey Smith


Three weeks ago in the post, Waiting For the Call, I shared with readers our mixed feelings about both wanting and dreading the phone to ring with news we might have a new place to live. Well, a call of that nature came Wednesday morning. While we aren't a lock to get the now-vacant apartment, I'd say the chances are 3 in 4 that we will get it and be moving soon.

We have applications out all over Western Washington plus a few in the central and eastern parts of the state as well as some for coastal Oregon. Of the more than 20 places we've applied, the two we are most interested in are both less than 1 hour from South Bend: Ilwaco in South Pacific County and Westport in Grays Harbor County. As luck would have it, the call came from the apartment complex in Westport. Here's a description of this small town from Wikipedia.
Westport is a city in Grays Harbor County, Washington, United States. The city's population was 2,099 at the 2010 census.

Westport is located on a peninsula on the south side of the entrance to Grays Harbor from the Pacific Ocean. The public Westport Marina is the largest marina on the outer coast of the United States's Pacific Northwest. The marina is home to a large commercial fishing fleet and several recreational charter fishing vessels.
The apartment we looked at has 2 bedrooms, but is less than 750 sq. feet or about one-half the size of where we live now. The kitchen is a lot smaller. On the plus side, we would be allowed to bring our two dogs, though not the cat. The apartment complex is located only about 3 or so blocks from the city center, so getting to the one grocery store, pharmacy and city hall wouldn't be much of an issue.

We will probably know within one week if all the paperwork we submitted is up to snuff and that we have been approved. If so, I am guessing that we will make the initial move in mid-June and then spend the next several weeks coming back to South Bend to work on cleaning up the house and property. By around the end of July or early August, we would give up all rights to our house to become full-time residents of Westport.

The transition to living in Westport (or anywhere else, for that matter) will be very difficult on me. I don't handle changes in my routine very well and moving is a major change. I had really hoped that, when we came to South Bend 6 years ago, it would be our last move, but the situation is what it is. I simply must muddle through it because, in time, wherever it is that we land, it will become my new normal.

I Ching: Hexagram 33 - The Lines, Part 4

Nine in the fourth place means:
Voluntary retreat brings good fortune to the superior man
And downfall to the inferior man.


In retreating the superior man is intent on taking his departure willingly and in all friendliness. He easily adjusts his mind to retreat, because in retreating he does not have to do violence to his convictions. The only one who suffers is the inferior man from whom he retreats, who will degenerate when deprived of the guidance of the superior man.
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.

Equalizing Things IV: Spontaneous Self-Rightness

Scott Bradley


Ziqi’s explanation of what it means that he has lost his ‘me’ seems to only raise more questions than it answers. Though lots of these questions remain, I’m going to try and summarize what I think his analogy of the three pipings intends to teach us.

The pipings of man, earth and Heaven, though individually identifiable, are really just one Happening. The piping of Heaven, however, is only discernible in and as the other two. “What identity could there be for the rouser”, he asks rhetorically, when everything just seems to happen by and of itself? The piping of Heaven is everything that happens and the Mystery of their emergence; it is not the causal source of that emergence . It is a kind of emptiness which can inform our own piping not as an external ‘other’, but as the very event of our own happening. The way to Dao is through our own individual expression of Dao. We honor the Mystery in fully embracing and affirming its expression.

Daoism agrees with Buddhism that all things are essentially empty in that they arise from and return to “emptiness”, but it differs from Buddhism in that this leads it to affirm and embrace all things rather than to negate them. They are empty; yet they are. They are “self-so”, which Guo Xiang also tells us, is the same as being “Heaven-so”. In this sense, Daoism preserves the unavoidable paradox of things both being and not-being more faithfully than does Buddhism. I have several times quoted Liu Xianxin (1896-1932) in this regard: “This chapter begins by showing the spontaneous self-rightness of all things. . . . The main principle of Buddhism is Emptiness: nothing is wanted, all is to be abandoned. The main principle of Daoism is vastness: everything is wanted; all is to be included.” (Ziporyn) We need not take this as a condemnation of Buddhism, but rather as a clarification of that watershed, the two possible fundamentally different directions we can take in response to our being-yet-not-being, through which we might better, as Ziqi says, “select out” our own way.

In declaring “the self-rightness of all things”, Ziqi is simultaneously declaring the equality of all things. Everything is perfect because everything is perfectly what it is. In the event that we call reality, each thing is absolutely affirmable, and this renders all things equal. And it is in the realization of this equality that Ziqi has lost his ‘me’. I have lost ‘me’” is not the negation of his self, but its fullest expression. ‘Me’, not ‘I’, is the means by which we separate ourselves from the world; it is the psychological act of self-identification which excludes all else and is the basis upon which we judge others as unacceptable. Ziqi has no-self in that his self is no longer self-contained, but is instead united with all things in the realization that all things are “Heaven-so”. He has come to understand the unity that underlies but does not negate diversity. All things are the same in that they are all different. ‘I’ without ‘me’ is an affirmation of self as utterly “self-right” in its uniqueness and the equality of all things in theirs. We might also call this openness.

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

TYT - Republicans and Democrats vs. The Press


Thursday, May 30, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 33 - The Lines, Part 3

Nine in the third place means:
A halted retreat
Is nerve-wracking and dangerous.
To retain people as men- and maidservants
Brings good fortune.


When it is time to retreat it is both unpleasant and dangerous to be held back, because then one no longer has freedom of action. In such a case the only expedient is to take into one's service, so to speak, those who refuse to let one go, so that one may at least keep one's initiative and not fall helplessly under their domination. But even with this expedient the situation is far from satisfactory -- for what can one hope to accomplish with such servants?
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.

Watch Out, Monsanto!

Trey Smith


When it comes to citizen activism, I live in a very pedestrian area. People around here don't tend to get collectively up in arms about anything. Use of drones? Yawn. Bailouts to Wall Street? Blink. Even hot-button social issues like abortion or same sex marriage don't cause the local minions to awaken from their lethargy.

So, it was rather shocking last weekend when a march (and informational booths) was held to protest the agri-giant, Monsanto. It wasn't heavily attended, but Della and I happened by near the end and the adjacent parking lot was crammed full of vehicles. This was at the point when things were winding down.

As reported by Democracy Now!, "actions were held in 52 countries and 436 cities around the world, including New York City and Mexico City." One of those cities happened to be Raymond, Washington!

You may not have realized that hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets last Saturday because, by and large, the mainstream media decided not to cover these events. No matter. The lack of coverage didn't dissuade people from joining in.

If I was Monsanto, I would be more than a bit alarmed. While I'm sure the corporate big wigs aren't shaking in their boots due to a small protest along the southwestern Washington Coast, they should be. If even people here are fed up with Monsanto and their GMOs, that would seem to indicate that a groundswell is growing against this corporate bully. Maybe, just maybe, the unwashed masses are starting to wake up.

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - Voice Of God Is Government

Performed by Bad Religion





Neighbors, no one loves you like he loves you
And no one cares like he cares
Neighbors, let us join today in the holy love of God and money
Because neighbors, no one loves you like he loves you
And what better way to show your love than to dig deep into your pockets
Dig real deep, until it hurts
Alleviate your guilt
Free yourself once again, because he gave to you, brothers and sisters
Please give a 10, 25, or a 50 dollar tax-deductible donation
And I assure you your modest pledge will be used to censor TV and radio
Ban questionable books, and contribute to many other godly services
No longer will young Christian Americans hedonistically indulge in masochistic submission
To rhythmic music, for with your monetary support
There is no end to what we can achieve in this country

The voice of god is government (3x)
In God we trust, sinners repent!

Can't you see what we believe in, all our thoughts and all our reasons
Pursuit of life and liberty and happiness we cannot see?
Speak of truth with a mighty voice, but politics are your real choice
Hire men to change the law, protect and serve with one small flaw

The voice of god is government (3x)
In God we trust, sinners repent!

If we shun God and Jesus Christ, religious love is sacrifice
Love for God is shown in cash, the love they send is mailbox trash
With every pamphlet we receive, more money asked for godly needs
Build a million dollar church, with money spent on God's research

The voice of god is government (3x)
In God we trust, sinners repent!

On late night TV, God can heal, a certain force you cannot feel
Love for money in God's name, religion's now a TV game!
Build a million dollar church, with money spent on god's research (2x)

The voice of god is government (3x)
In God we trust, sinners repent!

Yeah!
The voice of god is government (3x)
In God we trust, sinners repent!
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

Out From Under the Big Top

Trey Smith


One of my favorite memories of childhood is going to one or more circuses per year. Though the crowds of people made me more than a little bit nervous, I loved the clowns and the animal acts. Since I grew up in a somewhat large metropolitan city -- Kansas City, Missouri -- the circuses that came to town were the big outfits with the three rings: Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus and the Shriners Circus.

Next Monday a much smaller outfit -- one ring -- will be here in South Bend for two performances. Since I loved going to the circus as a child, it would be natural to think that I will go to the one here for no other reason than to bask in the nostalgia. But that won't be happening for two important reasons.

As many readers know by now, my social phobia has grown worse as I've aged. Just the idea of sitting under a packed Big Top is enough to make me queasy. So, the anticipated local crowds are enough to keep me away.

That is not the ONLY reason I will not attend. The more important reason is that I now am an opponent of circuses that feature "wild" animals. To me, no matter how humanely personnel try to treat their animals, it isn't humane enough!

As a child, I didn't take the time to consider the circus atmosphere from an animal's point of view. I simply went to the circus and was entertained. By the middle of my teen years, I realized that my entertainment wasn't worth removing animals from their habitats and social relationships. While I might marvel at an elephant balancing on a ball or a tiger jumping through a ring of fire, these were not the natural actions of these creatures. Circuses force these poor animals to go against their internal natures to become novelties for humans to ooh and aah at.

And so, the circus will come to town and I will stay far away from it. I don't wish to play ANY role in the exploitation of these animals.

Bit by Bit - Chapter 14, Part 13

Trey Smith

Confucius called on Lao Tan and spoke to him about benevolence and righteousness. Lao Tan said, "Chaff from the winnowing fan can so blind the eye that heaven, earth, and the four directions all seem to shift place. A mosquito or a horsefly stinging your skin can keep you awake a whole night. And when benevolence and righteousness in all their fearfulness come to muddle the mind , the confusion is unimaginable. If you want to keep the world from losing its simplicity, you must move with the freedom of the wind, stand in the perfection of Virtue. Why all this huffing and puffing, as though you were carrying a big drum and searching for a lost child! The snow goose needs no daily bath to stay white; the crow needs no daily inking to stay black. Black and white in their simplicity offer no ground for argument; fame and reputation in their clamorousness offer no ground for envy. When the springs dry up and the fish are left stranded on the ground, they spew each other with moisture and wet each other down with spit - but it would be much better if they could forget each other in the rivers and lakes!"
~ Burton Watson translation ~
I don't know if its germane or not, but on reading this snippet, I immediately thought of one of my all-time favorite movies, Lilies of the Field (1963). If you have never seen this superb film, you can watch it here.
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
To view the Index page for this series, go here.

The Lessons Never Learned

Trey Smith

What Obama has specialized in from the beginning of his presidency is putting pretty packaging on ugly and discredited policies. The cosmopolitan, intellectualized flavor of his advocacy makes coastal elites and blue state progressives instinctively confident in the Goodness of whatever he's selling, much as George W. Bush's swaggering, evangelical cowboy routine did for red state conservatives. The CIA presciently recognized this as a valuable asset back in 2008 when they correctly predicted that Obama's election would stem the tide of growing antiwar sentiment in western Europe by becoming the new, more attractive face of war, thereby converting hordes of his admirers from war opponents into war supporters. This dynamic has repeated itself over and over in other contexts, and has indeed been of great value to the guardians of the status quo in placating growing public discontent about their economic insecurity and increasingly unequal distribution of power and wealth.
~ from Obama's Terrorism Speech: Seeing What You Want to See by Glenn Greenwald ~
I find it sad that many liberal parents don't seem willing to learn the lessons they teach their own children! Two of these lessons are:
  1. Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.
  2. People should be judged more by their actions than by their words.
Barack Obama has repeatedly said one thing, then goes off in a completely different direction and yet each time he delivers some sort of important speech, these same people latch onto his words like manna from heaven! We've gotten to the point in which the first adage above needs a modern rewrite: Fool me once, twice, thrice or 100 times, shame on you. Fool me one thousand times, shame on me.

Look, this isn't solely an "Obama problem." People have been duped for centuries by those who are masters of oratory. However, in the olden days, it was a lot more difficult to know when an orator was being truthful or not. For one thing, most peasants had no idea whatsoever as to what the powers that be were up to inside their palaces and castles. For another thing, there was no media to speak of and there certainly wasn't this thing called the internet.

These days you can get assessments on what any politician says almost in real time. You can look up his or her record. You can rather easily compare what they say with what they tend to do. In Obama's case, what he says and does often are diametrically opposed. So, why do these folks still believe him?

His biggest rah, rah supporters -- those who christen everything he says with two big thumbs up -- have turned into some of the most embarrassing dupes in recent history. This man can violate progressive principles at will and these people cheer him ever more loudly. In the end, it doesn't say as much about him as it does about them.

Without realizing it, they have become the butt of an oft quoted line [incorrectly] attributed to P.T. Barnum: There's a sucker born every minute.

I Ching: Hexagram 33 - The Lines, Part 2

Six in the second place means:
he holds him fast with yellow oxhide.
No one can tear him loose.


Yellow is the color of the middle. It indicates that which is correct and in line with duty. Oxhide is strong and not to be torn.

While the superior men retreat and the inferior press after them, the inferior man represented here holds on so firmly and tightly to the superior man that the latter cannot shake him off. And because he is in quest of what is right an so strong in purpose, he reaches his goal. Thus the line confirms what is said in the Judgment: "In what is small" --here equivalent to "in the inferior man" -- "perseverance furthers."
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.

Equalizing Things III: The Great Clump Belches

Scott Bradley


Ziqi has lost his 'me' and his disciple, Yan, like ourselves, wants to know what this means. I was thinking to (reluctantly) discuss, with the help of past commentators, the self-creates-other dualism and all that, but though I probably will in the end, I have had the novel idea of first letting Ziqi tell us, as he did Yan. The problem with this admittedly obvious idea is that his 'answer' is so circuitous that it's hard to know how it answers the question at all. But maybe it will emerge with another reading.

Immediately, Ziqi suggests three "pipings", those of man, earth, and Heaven, and exhorts Yan to hear all three. And then we are in a forest storm: "When the Great Clump belches forth its vital breath [qi], we call it the wind. As soon as it arises, raging cries emerge from all the ten thousand hollows." (Ziporyn) Yan figures he knows what the piping of man is, playing an instrument. And the howling of the forest is the piping of earth. But what, he asks, is the piping of Heaven? Guo Xiang (252-312), final editor of and first extant commentator on the Zhuangzi answers, "Just this is the piping of Heaven." Just what? Just everything; all of the above. It is all things "that collectively form the unity called Heaven." One belch is and gives rise to the ten thousand belches.

Ziqi answers: "It gusts through all the ten thousand differences, allowing each to go its own way. But since each one selects out its own, what identity can there be for the rouser?" (Ziporyn) The implications of these words are enormous. (Though before I get too excited, it needs to be noted that various translations are possible). Guo Xiang seems to have understood it as it is here, and made it one of the cornerstones of his own Neo-Daoist philosophy. Since everything does what it does because that is how it does it, what need do we have for something to make them do it? "All at once," writes Guo, "each spontaneously self-generates. . . . Thus the self is 'so of itself'." What Guo is about here is breaking from every conception of causality; "reality" happens without being made to happen. (And thus, as Guo explains, "self-so" does not mean that things generate themselves.) The very emergence of "reality" is spontaneous, uncaused, and undirected.

But Ziqi has exhorted Yan to hear all three pipings, so the piping of Heaven must be precisely this spontaneous happening, and to ‘hear’ it is to be so informed by it that one similarly allows oneself to just happen. This parallels the exhortation in chapter 4 to go beyond hearing with the ear, to hearing with the mind, to hearing with qi, “an emptiness”. And there, when a different Yan does just this (through “fasting of the heart”) he discovers that “’myself’ has never begun to exist.” Can we assume then that losing ‘me’ is the outcome of experiencing the unity in diversity of all three pipings, those of man, earth and Heaven? “Since every ‘I’ is then the Heavenly,” asks Wang Fuzhi (1619-1692), “to what opposite [me] could I be coupled?”

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

TYT - Exclusive - Rumsfeld HYPOCRISY on Wiretapping


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 33 - The Lines, Part 1

Six at the beginning means:
At the tail in retreat. This is dangerous.
One must not wish to undertake anything.


Since the hexagram is the picture of something that is retreating, the lowest line represents the tail and the top line the head. In a retreat it is advantageous to be at the front. Here one is at the back, in immediate contact with the pursuing enemy. This is dangerous, and under such circumstances it is not advisable to undertake anything. Keeping still is the easiest way of escaping from the threatening danger.
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.

Bucket List

Trey Smith

In an unusual but bold move, the Justice Department has targeted a random aluminum bucket suspected of leaking “several drops of water,” according to a boastful White House press release.

The Obama administration has prosecuted six suspected leakers using the 1917 Espionage Act — more than all prior administrations combined — but this is the first time that the administration has targeted a simple, lifeless bucket.

“Some of you might be wondering if we can even prosecute an inanimate object,” remarked Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. during a Monday press conference. “I assure you we can. We’ve got it all figured out in a secret legal memo that you aren’t allowed to read.”

“Our decision to prosecute this leaky bucket should come as no surprise,” said Holder. “This administration is widely regarded as diabolically paranoid and inane, and we intend to protect our legacy, regardless of the consequences. If you leak, we’re coming for you. It’s that simple.” Then the Attorney General gently stroked his mustache, closed his eyes, licked his lips and added, “Leaks that help Kathryn Bigelow produce war porno are still okay though. Give it up for Bigelow, everyone!”

In a letter to Holder, the bucket’s owner, Bill Dickerson, begged the Justice Department for leniency. “My bucket did nothing wrong,” Dickerson wrote to Holder. “It’s a bucket.”

Dickerson ended his letter with an impassioned plea. “Can you please give me my bucket back? I really need it. Thank you.”

The Internal Revenue Service responded to Dickerson’s letter, informing him that he would be audited sometime next week.

Experts said the scope of the investigation goes beyond the known scale of previous leak probes.

“This investigation is broader and less focused on an individual, since they’re focusing on an aluminum bucket, and not an individual,” said Steven Adler, a government secrecy expert. “Essentially this means anything that could potentially leak is now fair game: sprinkler systems, rowboats, juice boxes, everything. You think Eric Holder won’t subpoena your dirty diapers? You are naive.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement that he is “very troubled by these allegations” and wants to hear the government’s explanation. “Why only go after one bucket? There’s gotta be more than one leaky bucket that we can nail,” Leahy said. “I want to know more about this case, but on the face of it, I am concerned that the government just doesn’t take leaks seriously.”

Responsible news outlets and Internet blogs have largely ignored the investigation, although ThinkProgress was brave enough to report yesterday that the “Republican Mayor of Cabbage Patch, Iowa Said Something That Could Be Interpreted As Racist.”
~ Obama DOJ Charges Aluminum Bucket In Leak Investigation by Riley Waggaman ~
I shared this column in its entirety because, though obvious satire, it points to a gnawing truth: The Obama administration wants us to know SOLELY what it wants us to know and nothing more. How ironic for a candidate who ran on the premise of greater transparency!

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - Animal

Performed by Ani DiFranco





more and more there is this animal
looking out through my eyes
at all the traffic on the road to nowhere
at all the shiny stuff around to buy
at all the wires in the air
at all the people shopping
for the same blank stare
at america the drastic
that isolated geographic
that's become infested with millionaires

when you grow up surrounded
by willful ignorance
you have to believe
mercy has its own country
and that it's round and borderless
and then you have to grow wings
and rise above it all
like there
where that hawk is circling
above that strip mall

more and more there is this animal
looking out through my eyes
seeing that animals only take from this world
what they need to survive
but she is prowling through all the religions of men
seeing that time and time and time again
their gods have made them
special and above
nature's law
and the respect thereof

and i think when you grow up surrounded
by willful ignorance
you have to believe that mercy has its own country
and that it's round and borderless
and then you just grow wings
and rise above it all
like there where that hawk is circling
above that strip mall

ask any eco-system
harm here is harm there
and there and there
and aggression begets aggression
it's a very simple lesson
that long preceded any king of heaven
and there's this brutal imperial power
that my passport says i represent
but it will never represent where my heart lives
only vaguely where it went

cuz i know when you grow up surrounded
by willful ignorance
you learn that mercy has its own country
and that it's round and borderless
and then you just grow wings
and rise above it all
like there
where that hawk is circling
above that strip mall
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

Equalizing Things II: Ziqi Spaces Out

Scott Bradley


The second of the Inner Chapters begins with Yan discovering his master, Ziqi, so spaced out that he wonders that it is even possible for someone's body and mind to be so still as to be like dried wood and dead ashes. This peculiar description of a positive spiritual attainment reappears elsewhere in the Zhuangzi and later Daoist literature. Personally, I don't find it all that appealing, but the explanation of the reason for this appearance does have its appeal. Ziqi seems "all in a scatter, as if loosed from a partner" (Ziporyn). It is not that there is no longer anyone there, but that that someone has somehow been released from "a partner" that binds him and disallows his being scattered everywhere. What partner? Ziqi doesn't equivocate and declares, "I have lost me."

Before we consider what this means, it might be helpful to remember the direction in which this story and the chapter generally are moving us. This is about realizing Dao as that which embraces all things without judging them; it's about experiencing the "vast openness" that this Dao implies. Does Ziqi lose his 'me' and then realize this Dao, or does he realize this Dao and thus lose his 'me'? Or, perhaps more to the point, is this anything more than just another fantastic story with no connection to experienced reality, a mere vehicle to point us toward a hypothetical possibility from which benefits accrue even if only through approximation?

Many commentators seize upon this passage and others like it as proof of a yogic tradition and an active pursuit of 'enlightenment'. Isn't this how we typically want these things to be; some kind of sure method, a convenient box into which to put Zhuangzi, an answer? Even though there are among us today those who similarly declare themselves to have lost their 'me', inveterate approximator that I am, I am personally inclined to forego such an 'ultimate' goal and to just have fun with the process. Though being "all in a scatter" has its appeal, getting "all strung out" trying to achieve it, does not.

So, what does it mean that Ziqi has lost his 'me"? Like most commentators, I can only guess; at best we can only consider it intellectually. But how else would have Zhuangzi expected us to do so, given that we are unlikely to have already realized it? In any case, our present consideration will have to wait for the next post.

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

Bit by Bit - Chapter 14, Part 12

Trey Smith

"He who considers wealth a good thing can never bear to give up his income; he who considers eminence a good thing can never bear to give up his fame. He who has a taste for power can never bear to hand over authority to others. Holding tight to these things, such men shiver with fear; should they let them go, they would pine in sorrow. They never stop for a moment of reflection, never cease to gaze with greedy eyes - they are men punished by Heaven. Resentment and kindness, taking away and giving, reproof and instruction, life and death - these eight things are the weapons of the corrector. Only he who complies with the Great Change and allows no blockage will be able to use them. Therefore it is said, The corrector must be correct. If the mind cannot accept this fact, then the doors of Heaven will never open!"
~ Burton Watson translation ~
This snippet goes to the heart of the act of possessing. When we have something we value, we become bound and determined not to lose it. Sometimes very ethical individuals will stoop to very unethical means to keep a hold of their "stuff."

Why is their war? It's all about possessions. Either you want to keep others from taking hold of your possessions or you covet theirs.

To view the Index page for this series, go here.

Do Not Ask Questions

Trey Smith


Anytime there is a human-caused event that terrorizes or scandalizes a significant portion of a region or the entire country, the government investigates the situation and then releases its findings. As we have been taught to do since we were very young, most people accept the various government pronouncements without giving them a second thought. The few who do question the findings are labeled "kooky conspiracy theorists." Everybody "knows" the identities of the culprit[s] and the majority of the causes, so why do some nerdy individuals continue to ask questions?

When these "conspiracy nuts" continue to question the official explanation -- like say, for 9/11 -- I continually hear average people say, "Look, if there was any substance to their suppositions, don't you think the truth would have leaked out by now?" Of course, the fact that these suppositions remain suppositions proves to the average person that they are the worked of an unhinged mind. They hold to their position in the belief that the truth cannot be suppressed for long.

It sounds like a reasonable argument. We know in our everyday lives how difficult it is to keep a secret. One person tells a family member, colleague or friend something they don't want broadcast to the public at large. Though sworn to absolute secrecy, the person provided with the secret tells one of their close confidants. That person tells someone else and, before you know, the secret is out of the bag!

So, if the government or some company was involved in highly illegal and nefarious activities, the general thought is that the secret couldn't be kept a secret for very long. Someone would spill the beans and, in time, the truth would be made known to the public.

I used to accept this kind of thinking like most everyone else...until I moved to Pendleton, Oregon. Pendleton is downwind from the Hanford Nuclear Site and, through two regional environmental groups, I began to learn that this typical belief doesn't necessarily match up with the facts.

In 1949, the US government intentionally released radiated gases into the surrounding atmosphere as part of an experiment called The Green Run. Scientists wanted to study the effects of radiation on an unknowing public. They already knew how dangerous and toxic nuclear materials are, but they wanted to study the long-terms impacts.

Though hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of people were in on this secret, the world didn't learn of it for 37 years! In fact, as it turns out, The Green Run was just one of thousands of such experiments that had taken place over the course of 30 years. By 1993, it was discovered that our government had run various experiments on an unknowing public which included:
  • Exposing more than 100 Alaskan villagers to radioactive iodine during the 1960s.
  • Feeding 49 retarded and institutionalised teenagers radioactive iron and calcium in their cereal during the years 1946-1954.
  • Exposing about 800 pregnant women in the late 1940s to radioactive iron to determine the effect on the fetus.
  • Injecting 7 newborns (six were Black) with radioactive iodine.
  • Exposing the testicles of more than 100 prisoners to cancer-causing doses of radiation. This experimentation continued into the early 1970s.
  • Exposing almost 200 cancer patients to high levels of radiation from cesium and cobalt. The AEC finally stopped this experiment in 1974.
  • Administering radioactive material to psychiatric patients in San Francisco and to prisoners in San Quentin.
  • Administering massive doses of full body radiation to cancer patients hospitalised at the General Hospital in Cincinnati, Baylor College in Houston, Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York City, and the US Naval Hospital in Bethesda, during the 1950s and 1960s. The experiment provided data to the military concerning how a nuclear attack might affect its troops.
  • Exposing 29 patients, some with rheumatoid arthritis, to total body irradiation (100-300 rad dose) to obtain data for the military. This was conducted at the University of California Hospital in San Francisco.
Think about this for a moment or two. All of these various experiments were run over the course of several decades and the ONLY reason the public became aware of the truth is when two groups filed a Freedom of Information Act request and 19,000 pages of previously classified documents were released. Had these two organizations not filed the request, who knows if we would know about much of this information at all!

The upshot here is that thousands or tens of thousands of individuals were privy to this secret information and yet the truth did not come to light for decades. Consequently, it is not unreasonable at all to think that in the coming years we may find out that the "official" version of what transpired on 9/11 or concerning the Boston Marathon Bombings is far different than what we currently are being told. Some of those kooky conspiracy theorists may be a lot closer to the truth than we think!

If you are interested in reading some of the questions that are being asked in regard to the Boston Marathon Bombings, you should check out the website, WhoWhatWhy. They are asking the sorts of questions you won't find in the mainstream media.

I Ching: Hexagram 33 - The Image

Mountain under heaven: the image of RETREAT.
Thus the superior man keeps the inferior man at a distance,
Not angrily but with reserve.


The mountain rises up under heaven, but owing to its nature it finally comes to a stop. Heaven on the other hand retreats upward before it into the distance and remains out of reach. This symbolizes the behavior of the superior man toward a climbing inferior; he retreats into his own thoughts as the inferior man comes forward. He does not hate him, for hatred is a form of subjective involvement by which we are bound to the hated object. The superior man shows strength (heaven) in that he brings the inferior man to a standstill (mountain) by his dignified reserve.
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.

Equalizing Things I: Qiwulun

Scott Bradley


The Zhuangzi, like wine, improves with age. How so? Since ambiguity is one of its principle intentions, and that intention is itself embedded in the medium, the further removed we are from the actual context of its creation the more ambiguity it contains, and thus the more its purposes are served. The less we 'understand' it, the better.

We might ask if Zhuangzi's contemporaries understood his writing any better than we. Since a great deal of our present inability to be sure of meanings is a consequence of not knowing for sure the meanings of words, we might assume that his contemporaries did not at least suffer this problem to the same extent. Still, judging from the final chapter, possibly written one to two hundred years after the Inner Chapters, where it is declared "Vague! Ambiguous!", understanding the Inner Chapters of the Zhuangzi must have always been a challenge.

Moreover, even when we are reasonably sure we have understood what Zhuangzi meant in a certain passage, we still cannot be sure that he really meant it! I recently read a scholarly work that quoted a certain passage to make a point which, though possibly correct, seemed oblivious to the fact that Zhuangzi himself offered the passage as something to question.

All of this is simply to remind us that Zhuangzi's mission was not to provide us with yet another "contending voice" vying for our intellectual assent, but rather to jar us out of our propensity to look for just that. It's an invitation to begin our own exploratory adventure.

With this introduction, we now come to the title of the second chapter of the Zhuangzi, Qiwulun. What does it mean? Who wrote it? And since we don't know the answer to the second question, what difference does the answer to the first make? Though we cannot know, it seems highly unlikely that Zhuangzi gave titles to his chapters, or that he had chapters at all. More likely, a later editor gathered together collected fragments, forged them into chapters, and gave these chapters names. Was he also divinely inspired? Since Zhuangzi himself was not, what difference does it make? This present exercise is simply a personal head-smacking intended to jar me into remembering that there is nothing in the Zhuangzi worth knowing since its central message is that the most ‘spiritually’ helpful knowing is not-knowing.

Brook Ziporyn offers several possible translations of the three words Qi wu lun. It’s largely a question of word order, though there is some debate even about the meaning of the words themselves. Lun is “theories”, “assessments”. Wu is “things”, but can be understood as “everything”, including ideas. Qi is “equalize” or “equalizing”. Are things equalized, or are theories equalized? It’s all a bit ambiguous, but as we begin to partake of the spirit of the chapter itself, we discover that it’s all of the above, and, of course, ultimately none of the above.

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

TYT - Wolf Blitzer Tries to Interview an Atheist, Fails


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 33 - The Judgment

RETREAT. Success.
In what is small, perseverance furthers.


Conditions are such that the hostile forces favored by the time are advancing. In this case retreat is the right course, and it is through retreat that success is achieved. But success consists in being able to carry out the retreat correctly. Retreat is not to be confused with flight. Flight means saving oneself under any circumstances, whereas retreat is a sign of strength. We must be careful not to miss the right moment while we are in full possession of power and position. Then we shall be able to interpret the signs of the time before it is too late and to prepare for provisional retreat instead of being drawn into a desperate life–and–death struggle. Thus we do not simply abandon the field to the opponent; we make it difficult for him to advance by showing perseverance in single acts of resistance. In this way we prepare, while retreating, for the counter–movement. Understanding the laws of a constructive retreat of this sort is not easy. The meaning that lies hidden in such a time is important.
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.

Forests on Fire

Trey Smith

Not so very long ago, the Occupy Movement sought to draw a bright public circle around the terrible influence enjoyed by the few over the many. Mainstream opinion will say the movement collapsed due to its own inadequacies, but recent revelations have shown how the movement was attacked and undermined by law enforcement, elements of "homeland security" ostensibly meant to be part of the federal government's anti-terrorism programs, and by private security firms hired by corporations and wealthy individuals to keep "undesirables" out of sight and out of mind.

Occupy was only the beginning, but may very well have been the last manifestation of peaceful resistance against the ever-widening chasm of inequality and desolation. The noose is tightening around the necks of average people, and more become radicalized with each passing day. The wealthy would do well to take note of this, and voluntarily move to square the savage imbalance that drives billions around the world into furious despair. It does not have to be this way, and if it continues in this way, eventually the dam is going to break. When that happens, woe be unto those who believe their wealth keeps them safe and cozy. On that day, the rock will not hide them, and the dead tree will give no shelter.
~ from The End of the Beginning of the End by William Rivers Pitt ~
You can only force so much air into a balloon. When you reach the point that no more air can go in and you keep blowing anyway, the balloon will pop in your face!

This is something that keeps me awake at night. As an avowed pacifist, I worry that the day is soon coming when this nation and world will explode into a wildfire of indiscriminate violence. A day in and day out riot of despair.

The unwashed masses can only take so much. In the years to come, there will be a tipping point. I don't know what it will be or when it will happen. But I do know -- using history as my guide -- that it WILL come.

When it does, it will get out of hand quickly. It will be like a lightening strike in dry tinder. Initially, it will spark a small fire in moisture-deprived underbrush. It may smolder there awhile, but as it creeps outside of its immediate area, the winds of subjugation and exploitation will fan it. It slowly will move across the forest floor and then, seemingly out of nowhere, it will jump into the trees as a raging inferno. When this happens, there will be nowhere in the forest to hide.

Chances are that this phalanx of the downtrodden will not sweep over the countryside in my lifetime. We are at the stage of the small fire in the underbrush. There are signs, however, that the fire slowly is starting to spread. While I do not expect it to become a full wildfire soon, such things are difficult to predict. We can never known when the needed breeze will pick up and hit the small fire in such a way as to fan it into a licking flame that soon will consume everything in its path.

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - I Am Not At War With Anyone

Performed by Luka Bloom





I am not at war with anyone
I am not at war with anyone
Go away warplanes
You bring fear and shame
I am not at war with anyone

I give my love to Iraq, and to America
I give my love to Israel, and to Palestine
We could live as one
Between the sea and sun
I am not at war with anyone

I don't need to be friends with everyone
But I'd like to live in peace with everyone
This rush to war is wrong
And so I sing this song
I am not at war with anyone
I am not at war with anyone

I am not at war with anyone
I am not at war with anyone
Go away warplanes
You bring fear and shame
I am not at war with anyone
I am not at war with anyone
~ from Lyrics Mode ~

100

Trey Smith

A report released early this year by the organization Oxfam International revealed that the combined income of the richest 100 people in the world is enough to end global poverty four times over, and that the gap between rich and poor has exploded by some 60% in the last 20 years. Rather than hinder this division, the recent global economic crisis has exacerbated it. Money does not disappear, you see, but tends to be translated up the income ladder in times of financial distress.

According to UNICEF, nearly half the world's population lives on less than $2.50 a day. One billion children live in poverty, and 22,000 of them die each day because of it. More than one billion people lack access to adequate drinking water, and 400 million of those are children. Almost a billion people go hungry every day.

The incomes of 100 people out of the seven billion on the planet could fix that, and then fix it again, and then fix it again, and then fix it again. The exact total of the wealth of these individuals is actually something of a mystery, thanks to the tax havens they use to hide their fortunes. There are trillions of dollars squirreled away in those havens - no one knows quite how much - and the subtraction of that money from the global economy has a direct and debilitating effect on the people not fortunate enough to be part of that elite 100.
~ from The End of the Beginning of the End by William Rivers Pitt ~
How much is one human life worth? That is a difficult question to pose and answer.

In the overall scheme of things, all lives -- human and otherwise -- are worth an equivalent amount. All life forms are born and then die. From the standpoint of Tao, God, Allah or the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster, no one or thing is more or less valuable than the next.

While it is true that many other species establish pecking orders, it is only the human species that determines intrinsic worth based almost solely on a fiction the we ourselves conjured up: wealth. This is why certain individuals can hoard far more than they could ever dream of utilizing and consider such behavior just and virtuous. 

But what does it say about human society where 100 people can amass so much that they impoverish billions? What does it say about our species when the miniscule few can so dominate our institutions that they hold more power than almost everyone else combined?

More importantly, how can these 100 people look themselves in the mirror when they know that their largess is responsible for the premature deaths of thousands of innocent children per day?

Bit by Bit - Chapter 14, Part 11

Trey Smith

"Fame is a public weapon - don't reach for it too often. Benevolence and righteousness are the grass huts of the former kings; you may stop in them for one night but you mustn't tarry there for long. A lengthy stay would invite many reproaches. The Perfect Man of ancient times used benevolence as a path to be borrowed, righteousness as a lodge to take shelter in. He wandered in the free and easy wastes, ate in the plain and simple fields, and strolled in the garden of no bestowal. Free and easy, he rested in inaction; plain and simple, it was not hard for him to live; bestowing nothing, he did not have to hand things out. The men of old called this the wandering of the Truth-picker.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
Fame is a double-edged sword. While a person could utilize their fame to help others or to model a sagacious lifestyle, I think either would be quite difficult, though no impossible. Why? Because fame has a great propensity for skewing a person's perspective. When any of us is continually lauded, it becomes hard not to believe your own press clippings!

To view the Index page for this series, go here.

What They (Really, Really, Really) Intended All Along

Trey Smith


Step into my time machine. We are going back to those frenetic days of...late February 2013. Having supposedly made a deal with the devil during the negotiations over raising the debt ceiling in 2011, it was time for Congress and the White House to face the music. Looming before them was this thing called the sequester, an almost across-the-board significant reduction in federal spending. Supposedly the sequester was like a doomsday machine -- one that neither political party would want to see deployed.

As this article from CBS news reported back then, "Everybody bought in, but nobody wants to claim ownership." Both political parties worked fervently to try to pin the blame for the sequester on the other. While the blame game took center stage, neither party made much of any effort to avoid the deadline and so the sequester went through as scheduled.

Since that time, no one has tried to reverse it. In fact, it is no longer an important issue in the beltway anymore. It is accepted by both parties as a given. This lack of interest should tell us something. It should tell us that the sequester is not something they genuinely wanted to avoid; it is what they really, really, really intended all along.

You see, they simply couldn't come out to say this. While politics predominantly is controlled by and for the elites, average American voters do play a key role. If the electorate becomes sufficiently upset, then the chance theoretically exists that they might throw their support to renegade candidates. That might mean that some members of the ruling junta could be voted out of office and replaced with enough individuals to muck up the system that patently favors the elites.

So, they had to create a spectacle. They had to create the illusion that neither party wanted the sequester and was forced into it by the recalcitrance of the other. The leaders of the [ostensible] two sides clamored up on their soapboxes to wage a war of rhetoric. They threw around their words like darts. They huffed and they puffed and eventually did nothing. And so, austerity came to America like a wolf in sheep's clothing. The American people got leveled by it before they even knew what hit them.

This gambit was a bit of a gamble, but the elites had already succeeded with a dry run experiment and so they were really confident that they could pull this off.

The experiment? Back during the mid-term elections after Obama's "stunning" victory, the GOP came up with a strategy to retake the House of Representatives. On the campaign trail, the number one issue of their candidates was jobs, jobs, jobs. Elect us, they said, and getting this nation back to work will be our number one priority. This tack worked. The GOP easily took back the House. Once back in the majority, the GOP advanced numerous issues, but the one issue they never got around to addressing was.......jobs. To this day, they have introduced NO legislation that directly addresses the employment crisis.

Of course, they blamed the Democrats for this "failure" and the Democrats blamed them. Both sides engaged in a war of words, but just as they would later do with the sequester, both sides accepted a lack of meaningful jobs legislation as a given. In no time at all, the issue disappeared from the radar screen.

I hope you are able to discern a pattern here. The sequester is not some train wreck that either the Democrats or Republicans truly tried to avoid. It was an elaborate masquerade that has succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Now that they know that this strategy works, there will be more train wrecks on the horizon that they somehow won't be able to "avoid" either and they will keep engaging in this charade UNTIL the public awakens from its collective stupor!

I Ching: Hexagram 33 (Tun)

above CH'IEN THE CREATIVE, HEAVEN
below KêN KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN


The power of the dark is ascending. The light retreats to security, so that the dark cannot encroach upon it. This retreat is a matter not of man's will but of natural law. Therefore in this case withdrawal is proper; it is the correct way to behave in order not to exhaust one's forces.

In the calendar this hexagram is linked with the sixth month (July-August), in which the forces of winter are already showing their influence.
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.

More Wind Riding

Scott Bradley


Zhuangzi made Liezi famous for his ability to "ride the wind", yet he also tells us that he was still using training-wheels. There are other ways to ride the wind which evince an even greater freedom. Wind riding might even be taken as a vehicle for understanding Zhuangzi's message in the first chapter of the Zhuangzi.

The mighty bird Peng, symbolic I think of existence, soars to ninety thousand feet for: "Only then can he ride the wind, bearing the blue of heaven on his back and unobstructed on all sides, and make his way south." (Ziporyn; ital. mine) This is the ride of necessity. Human existence requires struggle; if we wish to make the most of it, we'll need to beat our wings whether we are mighty like Peng or lowly like the cicada. This is "flying with wings"; always necessary, never obviated.

But Liezi went a step further; he realized a certain mastery of necessity which enabled him to use it effortlessly. The day-to-day mundane, chopping wood and carrying water, became for him an opportunity to soar. But still, without this achievement he would have felt a lack; he still depended on his accomplishments. He still flew with wings.

But what if, Zhuangzi asks, "you were to chariot upon what is true to both Heaven and to earth, riding atop the back-and-forth of the six atmospheric breaths, so that your wandering could nowhere be brought to a halt. You would then depend on — what?" This is "flying without wings", depending on nothing. What is "true" has already been offered as a matter for debate: Why is the sky blue? No conclusion has been reached; no matter, says Zhuangzi, wingless flight requires no answer. "Back-and-forth" (bian) is literally "disputation" and anticipates the opening trope of the next chapter where the trees hoot and holler as the wind passes through them. Though we must necessarily have our own hoot or holler, we can be more than our opinion of things; we can ride atop every opinion, even our own. No answers are fixed. No way alone is the Way; all ways are the Way. The Way is normative not as that which sorts through ways to find the truest, but as that which enables them all to arise while riding atop them all.

In a following story, the madman Jieyu tells Jian Wu about a "Spirit-Man" who "rides" should seem ridiculous; you'd have to experience it for it to be otherwise. Similarly, this anticipates a following story in which Huizi tells Zhuangzi that his philosophy is "big but useless". Of course it is, replies Zhuangzi; and this is precisely wherein one finds freedom.

No one flies anywhere, of course; to think so would not only be to fly with wings, but to try and do so inside a tiny cage. There is no Peng, Liezi took no actual magical flight, the Zhuangzian sage does not ride a heavenly chariot, and there is no Spirit-Man subsisting on "the wind and dew" while harnessing dragons. It's all ridiculous.

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

TYT - Crazy Radio Host: Shoot Hillary Clinton in the Vagina


Monday, May 27, 2013

What Is Left of the Left? IV

Trey Smith


Today's posts will feature parsed sections of an excellent editorial, The Silent Death of the American Left, by CounterPunch editor Jeffery St. Clair.
The environment is unraveling, thread by thread, right before our eyes. Each day brings more dire news. Amphibians are in stark decline across North America. Storms of unimaginable ferocity are strafing the Great Plains week after week. The Arctic will soon be ice-free. The water table is plummeting in the world’s greatest aquifer. The air is carcinogenic in dozens of California cities. The spotted owl is still going extinct. Wolves are beginning gunned down by the hundreds across the Rocky Mountains. Bees, the great pollinators, are disappearing coast-to-coast, wiped out by chemical agriculture. Hurricane season now lasts from May to December. And about all the environmental movement can offer in resistance are a few designer protests against a pipeline which is already a fait accompli.

Our politics has gone sociopathic and liberals in America have been pliant to every abuse, marinated in the toxic silt of Obama’s mordant rhetoric. They eagerly swallow every placebo policy Obama serves them, dutifully defending every incursion against fundamental rights. And each betrayal only serves to make his adoring retinue crave his smile; his occasional glance and nod all the more urgently. Still others on the dogmatic Left circle endlessly, like characters consigned to their eternal roles by Dante, in the ideological cul-de-sac of identity politics.

How much will we stomach before rising up? A fabricated war, a looted economy, a scalded atmosphere, a despoiled gulf, the loss of habeas corpus, the assassination of American citizens…

One looks in vain across this vast landscape of despair for even the dimmest flickers of real rebellion and popular mutiny, as if surveying a nation of somnambulists.

We remain strangely impassive in the face of our own extinction.
Of course, I already addressed this part of the equation earlier. ;-)

Just let me end this series of posts with the observation that liberals seem to have devolved into a blob intent on nothing more than profane hero worship. Whatever the first black President does, they applaud. It doesn't matter if what he does is much the same as his reviled predecessor. When Bush did x or y, the minions howled in indignation. They stood on their soapboxes to give stirring oratories. They declared that his actions were ruining the nation and the world.

But now that their hero is following the same course and, in many cases, one upping Dubya himself, they are ecstatic. The same strategies that they said only a few short years ago were a threat to freedom and democracy are now lauded as ideal virtues. And these people scream at those of us who simply beg for a modicum of consistency in perspective.

In so many ways, we are heading in the wrong direction. It certainly doesn't help when liberals lay down palms in the road as their hero passes by.

I Ching: Hexagram 32 - The Lines, Part 6

Six at the top means:
Restlessness as an enduring condition brings misfortune.


There are people who live in a state of perpetual hurry without ever attaininginner composure. Restlessness not only prevents all thoroughness but actuallybecomes a danger if it is dominant in places of authority.
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.