With an interesting week behind us, including more than half of the current Mercury retrograde, our first re-think project of the year is going swimmingly. That’s not to say it isn’t painful in some measure. Looking backwards to see where we’ve been always stirs the mix in the memory jar. You know, lost loves and missed opportunities, things left undone and hopes unfulfilled come to mind. Or days better than these, now behind us, the thought of which carries its own signature of sorrow. Staying in the present moment is an art.
Time slows a bit in a Merc retro, which is a boon these days when the clock seems so tightly wound that the hours race ahead faster than we can fill them. We get some breathing room with retros, which allows for thoughtful assessment. Had to laugh — ruefully — at a ledeline over at Raw Story this week: “Sean Penn interviews El Chapo and suddenly journalists care about ethics.” That’s how hindsight works when it’s successful. Hypocrisy noted, and hopefully integrated into the larger picture.
Crisis du jour, the Iranian hostage situation lasted about a minute and a half, long enough for the right-wing to lick its lips in anticipation of some ass-kicking — theirs, not ours. “Morning Joe” Scarborough evidently felt the tingle in his nether-regions too, prompting him to announce “Hey, Iran, you have exactly 300 days left to push a U.S. president around, enjoy it while you can. After that, there will be hell to pay.”
Obama evidently didn’t feel too pushed, not even mentioning the event in his State of the Union, so let’s affirm that Joe’s wrong on both counts. Let warmongers everywhere note that diplomacy, and the pending lift of financial sanctions, won the day and the American sailors — who eventually admitted ‘navigational problems’ as opposed to faulty engines that caused inappropriate drift into Iranian waters — were released. As good an excuse as any, I suppose, and although the conservatives swallowed their tongues in apoplexy, the video of apology from one detained American sailor seemed not just justified but appropriate.
Following Obama’s hopeful SOTU — looking back at his tenure, and forward to an America in league with her better angels — the Republican debate was, as described by one writer this morning, a “schlong contest.” Credit Trump for cheapening the rhetoric. It was Donald versus Ted trading insults this time around, with Jeb attempting to jab from a position so weak, people are wondering why he doesn’t just pull the plug.
From his tone, Jeb appears to have acquiesced to defeat, saying that he misjudged the intensity of anger among Republican voters. Add that he “believes the country in 2016 is ‘dramatically different’ than in past elections,” and there you have the perfect establishment candidate, clueless to the powerful zeitgeist goading the nation. Add Mrs. Clinton to that description, feverish to break the mold her decades of political triangulation have earned her without getting too far from the middle.
Rubio stood by as the ‘reasonable’ third place candidate, making points only when he went after Hillary, which they all did at some point. It’s spectacular how much they hate/fear her. No stranger to caustic movies and their historical ramifications, Hillary must quietly stew now that there is a new one, released today, designed to bring as much instability to her platform as fracking has to the Oklahoma countryside.
The Benghazi biopic, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, comes just two weeks before the Iowa caucus. Poorly reviewed, the movie is being sold as non-political, with no names (Clinton, Obama) used, but its purpose — and timing — are obvious. The Guardian called it “Michael Bay playing politico for the Fox News crowd.”
No surprise, then, that Trump has bought out a movie theater in Iowa and is giving away free tickets to those who RSVP. His aides have advertised that the Donald just wants everyone to know the truth about what happened in Benghazi (much like he wants his dear friend Ted Cruz to clear up that pesky little birther issue). I suspect this is not the kind of Merc retro reconsideration Hillary’s people appreciate.
The right considers Bernie a joke, so he hasn’t caught much Republican ire (yet). Our Fe quoted Gandhi last week with spot-on analysis of the situation: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Yes, it’s true. It’s even possible. Bernie’s numbers are so close to Hil’s that he is now considered not just a contender but a threat.
Speaking of movies, his passionate intent to trust-bust has its companion piece in the Oscar-nominated film The Big Short, which is receiving rave reviews and is right on the money (or the disappearance of it, in this case). The challenges of inequity still turn on Wall Street corruption and elitism, the kind they don’t even attempt to hide.
Feeling the heat, Hillary has gone after Bernie on guns, having aligned herself with Obama’s call for tighter laws. Gabby Giffords endorsed her this week, and Hillary has telegraphed her intent to take on Sanders over his 2005 gun control stance in their final debate before the Iowa caucus.
Much as Trump has pulled his fellow candidates to the right, Bernie has pushed Hillary to the left, their differences looming large only in the eyes of progressives. Much as Mrs. Clinton ‘evolved’ on gay issues during her tenure as Secretary of State, she has evolved on guns this campaign, leaving behind, it seems, Obama’s quip in the 2008 campaign that a proudly armed Hillary was the equivalent of Annie Oakley. Another thing she won’t want anyone to review.
Hard to misinterpret, Mrs. Clinton is no longer the shoo-in the nation expected. It was supposed to be Clinton v. Bush not so long ago, not Trump vs. Sanders. We’re watching the ascent of the outliers, which appears unstoppable. Establishment politics is being pushed to the side as American grievances have finally exploded into a frenzy of discontent, and the remaining establishment candidates are picking up the tab.
Memory of George W.’s spending habits, and flashes of that same half-baked and ill-deserved self-confidence, have soured brother Jeb’s chances, and perhaps it has finally sunk in on the left that every complaint over an Obama pick for some important post came with an asterisk that the person was a holdover from the Clinton administration.
While the establishment continues to endorse Clinton, judging her the ‘electable’ one, the progressive block — including The Nation magazine and MoveOn.org — endorsed Sanders this week. They’ve eschewed issues of personality in favor of policies that lift the average citizen. That comes as such a shock to most of the nation that they’re still scratching their heads, wondering what it means.
Now we’re all beginning to think the unthinkable. It might be Bernie, it might be Donald. (And although I agree, I was surprised to hear Bill Maher say it better not be Cruz because he’s “high intelligence in service to evil.” I doubt that I would use the world evil, though, and I’m surprised Bill did. Quite a statement for an infamous atheist).
Our exercise in ‘re-think’ arrived just in time to note that many Americans are entertaining interesting new possibilities, even willing to take a chance because to remain the same seems unthinkable. That seems to me a validation of Obama’s candid remarks on how gerrymander and financial corruption in politics can no longer be tolerated.
If — as Elizabeth Warren asserts — the game is fixed and we can’t find a way through, then we need to go up and over. Or maybe, given the roadblocks, just make a hard turn to the left, with one corresponding on the right. Then, in the manner of real populism, we’ll just let We, the People pick its poison.
Truth be told, if Trump takes the lead on the right, it won’t be a right turn — it will be whatever Trump finds most expedient to reflect his religion (money) and politics (money.) The choices are a return to building a movement toward restoration of democratic principles (because a Bernie presidency would get no farther than Obama’s did, given the congressional mix, but he would not — repeat NOT — be so gracious about where blame should fall) or one in which the republic makes no bones about becoming an authentic oligarchy, with the president the CEO of American corporate interests.
Make no mistake: either choice would put ‘truthiness’ out of business, but not without ripping the lid off to let all the worms out. Chris Weigant put the bones of such a race on the table for examination in a piece he called “Sanders Versus Trump, Revisited.” We are, indeed, revisiting so much, aren’t we? And it should provide just a tad of relief to note that with the advent of these candidates, the purity tests are out the window.
Bill O’Reilly says that if Bernie wins the election, he’ll move to Ireland (bonus!). I remember how many people were going to move away if Bush got another term, and some of them did. Tonight, Bill Maher returns from hiatus and asks his panel if a Bernie win is possible, what that would look like. It’s a question we’ll all be asking soon, I think, as we leave the absolutes of politics behind and begin to recreate them on the other side of the box. I’ll catch you up on Maher’s take in the comments.
Jupiter and Mercury are slowed, and so are we. Let’s keep reviewing, rethinking, minding hints of repeating pattern that come in waking and dream time. Take a breath now and then because there’s space in your day to do it, even a time-out if you think you need it. Remember, staying present is an art and it requires that we recall the past without losing ourselves, dream the future without flying away.
Confronting what has been considered impossible, unthinkable, and moving beyond it is an exercise in transformation. Unless we’re willing to do that, transformation remains mere potential. One of the reasons Ram Dass told us to ‘be here now’ was because it’s our only point of power, the moment in which we can make our choice — and our every choice defines reality for our own lives, for that of the nation and the world, and a transformed future, waiting to bloom.