Author Archives: Judith Gayle

The Biggest Loser

By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

Hillary Clinton thinks she’s found the pin to pop Trump’s bubble of approval. Up to this point, no amount of reason has swayed his dedicated supporters, who are more enamored of his politically incorrect candor and authoritarian posturing than worried about the consequence of his leadership. Clinton, considering herself the presumptive, will go after his questionable business ethics.


We’ve seen how eagerly the disenchanted line up to buy what he’s selling, which is essentially the Trump brand. But everyone’s been burned a time or two.

Been promised one thing and received another, had their hopes dashed or their piggy bank emptied at the hands of a con artist.  Isn’t that one of the things the Trumpeteers are angry about? Failure to deliver as advertised?

This kind of Twitter may not find a perch in the camp of Trump’s faithful, but any undecided voters may think again. The discovery that money supposedly raised for veterans was never delivered has soured the military to Donald’s cause, and the fraud perpetrated on those who eagerly signed up for Trump University is still being litigated in the courts, although Donald’s swears by its legitimacy. Given the controversy, it won’t be a shock to learn that campaign contributions may have influenced the attorneys general of Texas and Florida to drop their litigation of the faux university.

Donald is a master at selling his name to the highest bidder, stepping away from the specifics of the deal, and if required, litigating his portion of responsibility. The man running for this nation’s highest office has upwards of 3,500 lawsuits under his belt, 169 of them federal.  The implications of this record, which he considers a bragging point, are that his cut-throat business tactics are less than ethical.

The Republican presumptive has a similarly simplistic approach to leadership. He proposes to keep us safe as he turns the desert under ISIS to glass. Things will fall in line due to the sheer force of his personality. He will come out on top of so many trade deals our vanished jobs will return to make America great again — and white again, let’s not forget white. That’s built in to ‘the strict father’ pecking order, a behavior model essential to conservative philosophy.

In essence, Donald J. Trump is the perfect autocratic candidate, stepping in to save those who think America has already failed its most important demographic — themselves — but his talent stops there. He’s made a career of assuming power while dodging responsibility. He’s riding high at the moment, with crowds cheering him, an audience for his tantrums and musings, but should he actually win the presidency the fun stops immediately.

Should Trump lose this election, his ego would require him to find a way to diminish his loss, shrug and move on, unaware that he was revealed, world-wide, to be a cretinous blowhard. Yet should he win this contest, he’ll be hampered on all sides by a political machine that’s frustrated bigger men than Donald.

Trump would find federal employees harder to manage than his own “yes men.” His lack of respect for the separation of powers would put him at odds on all sides of the political spectrum, and while an elected official is not required to give up business holdings, his vast financial empire would face a level of scrutiny not just unwelcome but unimaginable to someone whose profit-margin demands he work on the shady side.

He’d find his ability to bully and batter those who oppose him hampered by expectations of civility that won’t easily fade. He’d no longer have the ability to buy his way out of everything or promote his sleazy version of glitz and glamor, stripping the office of the dignity Barack Obama has returned to it. He’d lose the freedom to feed his voracious desires without world disapproval, and discover that he’s unable to litigate himself out of the messes he makes.

Oh yes, he’d make them, it’s in his nature. He has no understanding of the political process, he can’t take criticism, and he would be subjected to howls of indignation over his uninformed  — read that unintelligible — world view, not to mention his repugnant character. In short, the man who fancies he has the Midas touch and admiration of the public would find himself hamstrung in a trap of his own making. But if he wins, he won’t be the biggest loser — that would be everyone else on the planet.

At the moment of this mutable Grand Cross, I find it more than a little intriguing that Saturn shows up as the steadying energy — perhaps representative of the mythical father — staring across the breech at imaginative and/or deceptive Neptune. Both are square Jupiter as the expansive factor, optimistic and confident, sparked off by a darkened Gemini New Moon, hand in hand with Venus, our mythical mother.

As we face our fears of the future, the universe provided us a boon, a possible breakthrough. We can recapture our clouded values and find clarity, depending on how much heart we can bring to this contentious mix of energies, which is ready — if we are —  to reveal us to our selves. One way or another, with our future on the line, the seeds we plant now demand our careful consideration and highest aspiration.

Preparing For A Presidential Election

By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

How’s the political pulse, you ask? It’s racing. The usual suspects have fallen by the wayside, the outliers have cap​tured our imagination, and the situation remains fluid, no matter what established wisdom insists is true. ​All that and it’s not even summer ’til we smell the smoke from the barbecue (grab yer weenies, we’re almost there!).​

271+Judith_GayleThere are still three candidates in the race, although the attempt to marginalize Sanders has — from the very beginning — been substantial. While Donald Trump may prove the most dangerous candidate world wide, Bernie remains the most threatening to the political machine that feeds at the trough of big money and fiscal skullduggery.

The particulars of the race are, frankly, fascinating once you get past your personal desire, disgust, and despair. The Donald has rallied the right to gleefully anticipate and approve  his every small-minded and self-serving comment, sure it’s the utterance of the man who will save them from decades of decline foisted upon them by small-minded and self-serving liberals. The majority of his voters — those plagued with night terrors regarding  their own ‘small hands‘, apparently — are not swayed by facts, but the right has been comfortable with that scenario since inception.

The Clintonistas are pushing their boulder uphill, fighting against Donald’s smear campaign featuring the Billary years, his casual ability to ‘rename’ his opponents — Crooked Hillary —  and the unfortunate stream of ​revelations regarding the Clinton Foundation and Hil’s private e-mail server. With Clinton attempting to pivot towards the general and take on Trump, she’s still facing a very real populist movement that is threatening her super-delegate lead — especially worrisome as the polls show her in a dead heat against Donald, while Bernie beats them all with ease.

The Sanders campaign, meanwhile, continues to shake the bushes for new voters, despite the scathing accusations of establishment politicians that it threatens a Dem presidential win by remaining a loud and active counterpoint to same-old neo-liberal politics. Comes as no surprise, since the majority of Sanders supporters consider themselves Independents. That’s not a political party but a description of political independence, one that has become more anti-establishment with every revelation of corruption and example of plutocratic collusion over these last several decades.

I will admit my personal bias here, in that I have considered myself an Independent for more than thirty years, and — as you’ve noticed — that’s not been to move toward the middle in support of Pub policy, but to blast past the constipation that has brought full-throated democratic principle to a halt in the District of Columbia. Coming to this place and time has been a long, frustrating journey for us all.

Over the years we’ve continued to wander down ideological side roads, strolled down alternative political paths, unable, or perhaps unwilling, to open the larger can of worms that has to do with the machinery behind the governmental machine. But the worms are out and crawling now, and some of us are trying to deal with this worm-riddled system, while others are trying to stuff them back in the can.

So the left finds itself — declared Democrats or not — with dueling philosophies in Sanders and Clinton, who are not peas in a political pod: they are apples and oranges. The notion that Bernie could easily fold himself into a Clinton presidency ignores the essential, dramatic difference in their political visions for the nation. His is as close to a third party contest as possible without that declaration, and since it’s still a primary election and not the general, it continues to have the capacity to inform national politics without harming them.

Taking a calming breath is good advice. But gotta say, I’ve never seen anything quite like this, even as it echoes the passion of ’60s politics. It isn’t a traditional party split, as happens regularly among national voters. It isn’t even the right-left divide that was widened during the years of Bush the Lesser. This is more the birth pangs of a reality-based political spin off, although — like most creative acts — it may take longer than we’d like to take shape.

Outcome remains uncertain. Republicans are traditionally emotional creatures, nursing grudges and licking wounds. They vote for personalities, and Lord knows Donald Trump has a level of narcissim and inflated self-opinion for the fraidy cats to embrace, enough hot air to keep their worst fears warmed while protecting against harsher demographic truths.

Lefties care less about personality than they do about legislation. They are the larger umbrella that seeks the public good, or at least retains the capacity, having spent thirty or more years courting the moneyed class rather than dancing with those what brung ’em. They’re policy people, and Hillary is a policy wonk. She tells us what she would do for us as a formidable, and stern, candidate.

Bernie is a policy wonk as well, more general than Hil, less specific in legislative details. He tells us — as he did to a chanting crowd in California — “It’s not Bernie, Bernie, Bernie. It’s You, You, You!” Bernie employs the all-inclusive ‘we’ in most all that he promotes. The grass roots has an authentic champion. The old paradigm meets the new, the divide widens, and, as Eric Levitz writes in Daily Intelligencer, “Politics ain’t beanbag. Neither, presumably, are political revolutions.”


Curious about what the epic Uranus-Eris conjunction means for you? Intrigued by the dance of Neptune and Chiron in Pisces? In our exciting new class with Eric Francis, The Astrology of Now, your questions will receive thoughtful and insightful answers — and you’ll have lots of fun in the process. Sign up here.

With California coming up quickly, and the last of the primaries, we will know the outcome soon enough (although probably NOT soon enough for the Clinton campaign). Those Clinton loyalists who are concerned about the Bernie or Bust movement need to think back to Obama versus Clinton and the PUMA movement (party unity, my ass!) which was even louder and more angry than that of the Bernie Bro’s.  That worked out all right in the end, with everyone uniting against the possibility of McCain keeling over and leaving us with Sarah Palin at the helm. Of course Obama and Clinton were on the same page politically, giving voters less agita about coming together than today’s candidates.

Meanwhile, those who are afraid Bernie’s giving Trump an edge have decided that Elizabeth Warren’s twitter-war with Donald is the poison pill keeping him from pivoting toward hard core presidential politics (like appointing Newt Gingrich as his running mate, and I’m serious!). And now that Donald has dropped “goofy” as nickname for Warren to replace it with “Pocahontas” (because of a college application that included her Cherokee heritage,) Elizabeth seems to be taking a good bit of pleasure in becoming the interpreter of Trumpisms that illuminate Donald’s true elitist motives and ideals.

Donald would be a disastrous president, Hillary an efficiently calculating one, and Bernie? Who knows. He’s not as crusty as he appears, but he’s no ‘no-drama-Obama,’ either. Of the three, Sanders is the one I trust not to cover up, power-grab, or distort, which doesn’t mean I will go down with the ship on the Bernie or Bust summer cruise.

Robert Reich, a dedicated public servant, has been taking a bruising from those who refuse to consider what comes after the presumptive is chosen. It should be said that he echoes the people I trust — Moyers, Chomsky — who know that politics is compromise OF THE MOMENT in order to protect against worse (like ANY SCOTUS nominee from the Donald’s list of coathanger candidates, for instance, or total decline of American leadership in the free world), ​until a better opportunity comes along.​

Although we still have a way to go — and we haven’t even gotten to the presidential campaign, fer gawd’s sake — the real loser in this event is establishment politics. Republican leadership is farther along in this than their opposition. They’ve swallowed the bile that comes with losing control of their party. They don’t like it, but they understand Trump’s coat-tails are the only ones left to ride at this point, even if into oblivion.

On the left, I’m amazed and dismayed at how tone deaf the Dems are in getting honest with themselves over a system that’s been neutered in its ability to provide for the average citizen, while making the wealthy wealthier. This read from Politico on the possibility that Clinton could win the necessary delegates while getting whipped in California is full of quotes that make me shake my head at how clueless the political establishment has become to the pain of the people left behind.

But as long time activist, Jim Hightower, tells us, populism isn’t going away any time soon. That cat’s out of the bag, and we’ll see where it wanders, as cats are known to do. With the ‘free market’ a sham as result of corrupt trade agreements — capitalism gone the way of all vampiric creatures, glutted on life-force not its own — and the foot soldiers of the elite doing all they can to snuff out the sparks of anger that will light, God/dess willing, torches to go with the pitchforks held by disenchanted citizens, there IS no solution to this socio-political problem without a revolutionary shakeup to free the natives from their illusions and prompt a demand to re-draw the public contract.

This Memorial Day, let’s visualize the eventuality of a day when our veterans service to their country can be celebrated without a headstone — and the appreciation of the nation is for those who serve in ethics and honesty, rather than in blood.

It’s the Principle


The Spring Reading is now published. Order all 12 signs here or choose your individual signs here for immediate access. You may listen to a free audio introduction here.

By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

In the culture of the last century, my generation was schooled in civics and encouraged to stick up for our principles; if we had some, that is. Sadly, it seems that a lot of the Boomers have given up principles for comfort, and many of our younger citizens haven’t thought much about theirs.

Once identified, refusing to betray our standards may not be an effortless path, but it’s the one that allows us to feel good about ourselves, to sleep well at night. That may explain the epidemic of insomnia in America.

271+Judith_GayleAs I write, a television commercial in the background (promoting stock investment) insists that we must do whatever it takes to care for our families, which may explain why so many people aren’t bothered by working in jobs that routinely cross ethical boundaries. I’m calling a pox on having to choose between two concepts about which I feel so strongly, which probably also explains why I kept jumping off the corporate ladder, eager to distance myself from feeling ethically compromised.

I suppose that also explains my unimpressive bank balance. A legacy of the era just past is that crime DOES pay, which is one of the reasons Obama’s standard line about ‘playing by the rules’ rings hollow and seems a sure road to becoming one of Trump’s losers. Ask the kid with a college degree and no employment. Ask the industrial worker whose job has gone overseas. Ask the whistle-blowers and the truth-tellers who had to run for their lives.

Denying Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, is, arguably, the Republicans standing on principle — the one where the black guy mustn’t get anything accomplished on their watch. They’ve stood by silently while somewhere in the neighborhood of a million people lost out on food stamps in April, because, well, because their passion for family values doesn’t include feeding them. They feel the same way about school lunches, even though that’s the only real meal some kids get. Responding to the wishes of 80 percent of their base, they’ve rushed to embrace Donald Trump, although it seems as though they all despised him just twenty minutes ago.

In fact, some 67 percent of Pubs have decided that Don shares their values, 62 percent think he’s honest and trustworthy, and an astounding 54 percent think he has the temperament to do well in America’s top job. I think that the majority of those polled (NYT/CBS) were male, since Trump is champion of white males, but we can’t tell for sure. Women’s blanket bi-partisan disapproval of Trump does not guarantee political behavior.

In a recent conversation, my dear friend, Fishin’ Jim, said, “If you were a Republican woman you’d vote for him.” I answered, “If I was a Republican woman I would probably vote the way I was told.” My bias may be showing in that response, but anyone who could chart Trump’s patronizing of females he fancies, while directing mean-spirited attacks on those who cross him — all to be forgiven, it seems, with a sheepish, child-like “excuse me” (@ 6:41)  — and still champion him as the answer to America’s problems, has no authority over their own perceptions, let alone their reproductive decisions.

No, even with the Koch brothers pulling out their funding (warning: to focus on state candidates) and the religious contingent keeping mum, the GOP establishment is rushing to embrace their presumptive. Trump had a ‘great’ meeting with Paul Ryan on Tuesday, resulting in both announcing progress in ‘unifying the party.’ Later in the week, Donald met with Henry Kissinger for a friendly chat. Too bad Nixon isn’t still with us, the two share a level of cynicism and paranoia (read that pathology) that would lead to some fascinating sound bites.

Ultimately then, Donald Trump IS emblematic of today’s Republican Party, running from the party discipline of the old GOP and recreating it in his own image, which is so much a shape-shifter’s that it’s hard to tell what November will bring. Meanwhile, the Dems still have some sorting to do, despite Hillary’s announcement that she is, indeed, The One. The establishment candidate lost the Oregon primary and tied Sanders with less than a half percent ​ in Kentucky, similar to her win in Missouri with less than a full percentage difference. The Daily Beast called it a ‘razor thin’ win. It also called Hillary wounded.

Hillary was wounded going in. She represents all that’s solid and fixed — bought and paid for — at a time when none of that is welcome. Despite her numbers, it ain’t over ’til it’s over in the race for Democratic nominee. Yes, Hillary has the super-delegates. No, Bernie can’t collect enough to beat her. And yes, the system is rigged — SUPER delegates? Really?

No, Bernie is not likely to get the nod. Yes, he has a better chance of winning against Trump than Hillary does. And no, the establishment may (?!) win the fight for the status quo in 2016 but it will not — repeat, NOT — win the future of the prog​ressive movement. That is already well begun.

Over two decades of Clintonism — right-leaning triangulation and deference to corporate interests — have established loyalty to the system and its patrons as paramount for congressional lawmakers, especially with Citizens United poised to throw an expensive monkey-wrench into the works of those who don’t behave. While Bernie hopes that the super-delegates get a clue about who holds the stronger hand on the left, the cost of breaking ranks and turning toward the progressives is high indeed.

Any super-delegate who wishes to jump on board the Sanders express faces immediate punishment from the Democratic Party, which will withhold funds, important contacts, and positions. The very thought of it has put the whole left-hand establishment into panic mode, creating such an uproar over the Nevada caucus that you’d have thought those pesky Berners were actually Trumpeters, punching and bloodying those innocent Clintonistas.

That didn’t happen. Nothing was thrown but words. It’s difficult for the Berners not to be passionate about their candidate, since he’s the only one who is actually representing a progressive ticket. Noam Chomsky confirms that the Dem Party is actually an organization of moderate Republicans, all serving the same corporate masters. This is where Hillary fits nicely and will hardly work very hard to pass the left-leaning policies she’s been pushed to promote.

Sanders, on the other hand, is the real deal, the New Deal. If you’ve waited (your young life) to entertain the possibility that the principles of democracy and the promise of the Constitution could come to life in front of your very eyes, it’s impossible not to become impassioned. The press and the Dem establishment are trying very hard to make these millions of voters the enemy of the democratic process right now, and some will believe it, but don’t be blindsided by the PR. Even Nancy Pelosi, hardly a progressive zealot, thinks Bernie’s doing just fine, getting more people involved in the party.

I’m hearing a lot of stereo about the Sanders movement this week, and I’m going to leave you with a weekend read to encourage you that, whoever wins, the movement itself will continue. It’s by Seth Abramson, who tells us that Sandersism has already defeated Clintonism in the mind of the public, and I think he’s spot on. There are also groups coming together to capitalize on the Sanders platform, creating a larger network of progressive politics. This movement is just begun.

I’d say progressivism has made a come back, but, well, it never actually went anywhere, did it? Bernie Sanders has been ​making the same arguments for decades, waiting for us to catch up with the desperate need for checks and balances. What ‘came back’ was the need for democratic principles and a longing for ethical governance.

It’s going to be very ​difficult to put a stop to this movement Bernie has made the heart of his campaign.  ​This is the foundation of our political future.​ Trying to convince people who are newly invested in civic responsibility and political principles to just forget about it is like trying to stomp out a forest fire with your bare feet. Seems to me that anyone who tries is just gonna get Berned.

In The Eye Of The Beholder

In the first few years of this century, I wrote about the death of American college student Rachel Corrie, at the razing of Palestinian homes in Gaza. The demolition site had been declared a combat zone in the ongoing hostility between Hamas gun-runners and the Israeli army. Eventually, the bulldozer driver who ran Rachel down was proclaimed innocent by an Israeli military investigation, her death ruled accidental. That was a long time ago, as politics go, but it was a moment that severed the first strings of unquestioned loyalty to Zionism.


At the time, I was advocating for an end to settlers encroaching on land that had long been held by Palestinian families, and another grim and punishing intifada by the Israeli government. With the majority of Americans unquestioningly supportive of Israel, I was, essentially, spitting into the wind at the time; but my concern was not just for the situation at hand but for the generational signature that warring produces.

When one is raised in war, anxious from the cradle, subjected to violence and death, steeped in heated rhetoric and injustice, one’s internal gyroscope will be set to survival, resentment, hatred. We see it everywhere we look when we peel back the ‘what’ and examine the ‘why’.

We see it in Africa, where child soldiers seem inured to death and killing. We see it in Syria where those fighting on the ground, including both the U.S. Pentagon and CIA, are connected so incestuously to one another that we can’t tell the players without a score card — sometimes, not even then. We see it wherever ISIS works its dark mojo, merciless, drug-addled and mindless in its attempt to punish those not pure enough to suit its brutal version of God.

This kind of psychological imprint doesn’t need declared war to warp our children. In Colombia, in Rio, in Yemen and in most every third-world country we can think of, poverty has locked the population into a culture of tyranny and victimization by war lords or drug cartels. In the farthest reaches of the jungle, corporate bullies take without permission, confident in international trade laws that favor them.

And let’s not forget that America has its own versions of Rachel Corrie, run down by the machinery of authoritarianism and race hatred. They have names like Trayvon and Tamir and Sandra, and they stumbled into danger unwittingly, with even less awareness than did our idealistic young peace activist. Now, the movement to convince us that their lives do, indeed, matter is under attack by those who have decided they don’t.

I’ve read several articles lately informing me that now the cat’s out of the bag: America is a racist nation. The irony that Obama, as the first black president, would have become an even more hated (possible?) individual, his authority ignored and obstructed, if he’d attempted to lift up his own race can’t be lost on us.

Truthiness has won the debate. Statistics show that over half of conservatives in general, and Republicans specifically, believe Obama to be a Muslim born in Kenya, strategically placed to further the Democratic agenda. How this devious plot occurred, and authored by whom, is neither asked nor answered; it’s simply believed wholeheartedly by those who want it to be true.

This week, George Zimmerman — poster child for race hatred and vigilantism — decided to put the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin up for sale to the highest bidder. It was, he declared, “a piece of American History,” and he would use some of the money to fight against government injustice, Black Lives Matter and Clinton’s anti-gun rhetoric.

We allowed this man to get away with murder, proclaim himself a hero against the frightening (and largely illusory) specter of faceless troublemakers everywhere, and now we’re allowing him to make a Holy Grail of the weaponry he used to do it. Thanks to the founders who MUST have known what a can of worms they’d opened, we have no choice.

The First Amendment of our Constitution gives Zimmerman the liberty of free speech, so long as he isn’t yelling fire in a crowded theater. And yet, while some of us are sure beyond a doubt that that same Constitution asks us to weaponize and defend ourselves against the dreaded ‘outsider’, others of us wonder if open carry and belligerence bordering on provocation aren’t the very equivalent of yelling “fire!”

That’s where we find ourselves today, on either side of a divide that can be quickly identified by party affiliation, shifting back toward their earliest roots. It bears repeating that we are still arguing over states’ rights and the power of the federation.

The quasi-historians who say we fought the Civil War over states’ fiscal matters, not slavery, fail to mention that — thanks to Eli Whitney’s cotton gin — the cotton-dependent economy of the south required a massive influx of cheap labor. So, with black folks considered ‘farm implements’ — as one old boy around here likes to tell it — the entirety of the southern economy rested on the broad shoulders of continued human ownership.

Freeing the slaves was about as popular in the Confederacy as phasing out coal is to mining investors in West Virginia today. Just as mining regularly kills its workers off through environmental hazards, slavery had a similar effect due to strenuous working conditions and harsh treatment. Yet the south will still defend their battle flag and cultural station as superior to those they’d previously — with God’s approval, mind you — owned.

They can’t help themselves. This is their mythology; without it they believe they will lose their cultural identity. These are the historical bones of their very tribe, now endangered by the mixing of racial identity and the laws that require equality. This is their un-won war, quietly played out in decades of pent-up resentment against a government they despise.

This un-won war against government removed them from a class distinction they have romanticized over the years, as powerful and potent as the conspiracy theories they favor over truth. That elevated class distinction has almost faded from sight now, leaving them mere mortals, subject to ‘liberal’ law. This is the basis of their war mentality, with Trump their new General mounted on a white charger.


The Spring Reading is now published. Order all 12 signs here or choose your individual signs here for immediate access. You may listen to a free audio introduction here.

When someone like Donald comes along — playing to their bias in school yard taunts, beating tribal drums and promising what he’ll never deliver — he replaces FOX News in their minds, the contrived source of information they bathed in to cleanse themselves of all outsider influence pulling at their tattered self-image.

That most of what they were fed were lies built on innuendo and based on fantasy didn’t hit home until the pipe dreams failed to manifest. Trump is their brightest hope since Goldwater, and the Klan rallies of the 1920s before that.

If they were better students of history, they’d be less enthused by Donald and his big wall, braggart’s tone and doody-headed name calling. They had a less crass and craven example of similar energy with George W., and we know how that turned out.

In fact, if they were better students of history, they’d have licked their wounds, hitched up their knickers and moved on from their pity-pot long ago. And be warned: those of us on the other side of the political spectrum need to police our own sensibilities for this kind of destructive self-pity. Our lives have been tossed by the current energies as well — just yesterday’s news, if we don’t drag it along with us.

Blaming isn’t productive, nor is gaining from someone else’s loss. The notion that some of the millennials will cross over to support Trump may be true, but if so, these voters were never progressive to begin with, and really were after “free stuff.”

We must be mindful of what we build next. Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh tells us:

“We have the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast. But in the name of freedom, people have done a lot of damage. I think we have to build a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast in order to counterbalance. Because liberty without responsibility is not true liberty. We are not free to destroy.”

What we see in Trump — in the Trumpeters, et al — must be met with a compassionate heart. Our brothers and sisters are the product of that same generational programming I saw at work in Gaza years ago. Much as pit bulls are taught to fight to the death, racism and classism are passed along like a virus, one generation to the next.

To defeat Trump — and all those like him — we need to remember, as Thich warns, “Hatred and fear blind us. We no longer see each other. We only see the faces of monsters, and that gives us the courage to destroy each other.”

When we look into the eyes of those across the breach and behold the child within them, it will give us the courage to forgive and choose the way forward in calm and clear intention, to find the way of peace and love.

Best Laid Plans


The Spring Reading is now published. Order all 12 signs here or choose your individual signs here for immediate access. You may listen to a free audio introduction here.

By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. In Switzerland, a weasel chewed through a power cord at the Large Hadron Collider, forcing technicians to suspend operation of the 17-mile-long particle accelerator until mid-May. Having been counted down and out by MSM, Bernie Sanders beat Clinton soundly in Indiana, and his numbers are good in Oregon, West Virginia, and into future primaries. Meanwhile, sure her super-delegates are in the bag, Hillary has already turned her eyes toward the national debate.

271+Judith_GayleTed Cruz bonked his wife in the face with his elbow not once but twice while putting an unexpected end to his 2016 presidential run. His concession prompted Full Frontal’s Samantha Bee to tweet, “Shouldn’t #TedCruz have been forced to carry his unviable campaign to term?” Donald Trump — millionaire bully and blowhard, called a pathological liar by Sanders and a loose cannon by Clinton — has become the presumptive Republican candidate.

But things aren’t always the way they look, especially in these days of purge and pandemonium. Reports that a weasel stopped us from discovering the secrets of the universe were inaccurate, as the critter at fault was in the same family, but was most likely a beech martin, something of a weasel look-alike. No one can be sure, since munching on a 66,000-volt power cable leaves little behind to identify. If the smallest mammals were given epitaphs, this one would be a doozy. Stopping a 9 billion dollar project in its tracks is a pretty impressive trick.

Sometimes it’s the little things, you know? As Scottish poet Bobby Burns put it in his ode to another wee creature, the mouse whose winter burrow he’d inadvertently plowed up, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.” That last is translated “often go askew,” and I’ll add a big Amen to that.

There’s so much wrong with a Trump presidency that I could fill volumes, but one of the most dangerous problems seems to be his friendship with David Pecker, Chairman and Chief Executive of The National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media. This has evidently convinced Trump that every improbable thing he reads there is fodder for American foreign policy. And it doesn’t stop there.

With our Donald hopelessly addicted to conspiracy theories, it’s clear that Enquirer stories are the equivalent of candy to a sugar junky. While that’s unseemly in a wanna-be president, it’s completely appropriate to someone who monitors television 24/7 in order to know what’s up in the world. Easy to see how the notion that Obama is a Kenyan, a Muslim, a Commie or whatever yellow journalism might be found in the publication’s archives might inevitably show up in the contents of today’s tweets, and — stand by, citizens — tomorrow’s, regarding Hillary.

The rag’s egregious gossip-mongering led Donald to accuse religious extremist and family patriarch, Rafael Cruz, of helping Lee Harvey Oswald do in JFK. Really, Donald? It’s one thing to be corrupt, brutish and belligerent but quite another to be, at best, cynically opportunistic or, at worst, naive to the point of ignorance.

Comedian Bill Santiago called Donald “Archie Bunker with the nuclear code.” Will Pitt, over at TruthOut, said “Trump is genuinely dangerous, but he is at the end of the day a carnival barker with a flat head. He is a certain menace ….” These opinions (heard in stereo everywhere we turn) make us more comfortable with our own feelings of disbelief when it comes to Trump and his minions, hopefully un-electable if not easily forgotten. I particularly appreciate the legislators who have taken him on, people like Elizabeth Warren and Alan Grayson. Obama, too.

Outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid didn’t mince words about Trump: “He’s the embodiment of everything Americans hate about a system that’s rigged for the top 1 percent, he’s the definition of a man who was born on third and thinks he hit a triple. What’s worse, he uses his wealth to rip people off and is now sowing hatred and division every place he steps.”

Harry hit the nail. Donald Trump is running, full speed ahead, for CEO of America, Inc. It’s a ‘for profit’ enterprise. Trump is interested in growing the nation by furthering the art of the deal in backroom arm-twists and aggressive negotiation. He joins a good many people who see the job in exactly those terms: not the captain steering the ship of state but the boss, pulling the strings, risking the whole ball of wax and playing a blood sport, winner take all.

To anyone who has been watching these last years, it should be clear that occupying the bully pulpit makes a big difference in the tone of national progress, but not so much with specifics, as the Donald seems to think. The authority of the President is limited to considerable power in foreign policy, with a nod to Congressional approval, and much less power domestically. Eight years of Republican obstruction have given us a very clear picture of a president hamstrung by non-cooperation.

Doesn’t Donald see it? Most of what he would like to do can’t be done, at least not here and not now, but neither he nor his faithful have noticed. In fact, they don’t seem to care, they just like the ‘plan’ and the aggressive talk. What the Trumpeters don’t understand is that a Chief Executive Officer has a very different way of looking at the world than an American president who must be part statesman, part strategist, and wholly public servant, charged with putting the good of the country and its citizens ahead of any other goal.

For instance, the New York Times reports that Trump proposed “negotiating with creditors” while discussing the national debt this week. Basically, he’s suggesting not paying in full and repurchasing debt for less than face value, which is a common business practice. Clearly, it won’t wash. The U.S. government enjoys very low interest rates BECAUSE it can be depended upon to repay its debt, and the slightest hint of instability costs the nation dearly. A temporary delay of $120 million in interest payments in 1979 caused interest rates to climb, resulting in an increase to taxpayers of around $12 billion.

This “profit before people” issue has the blessing of the Republican ethos, if not its current talking points or its policy. Yet, even though the Robert’s Court has made corporations equal to people, and money the same as speech, there is still a job definition for POTUS that the Donald simply can’t inhabit with any comfort. There are way too many middle-men and women in the way of his authority, too many fingers stirring the pot, too many not on his personal payroll, too many wagging the dog to make someone like Trump —  who learned much of his politics at the knee of infamous mob lawyer, Roy Cohen — happy as the autonomous King of the Hill.

No, he hasn’t got all the delegates, although he’s got the Klan and the disenchanted right. He hasn’t got the establishment GOP, although he’s got billionaire Sheldon Adelson and ex-VP Dick Cheney. It’s the hostile take-over of a lifetime for the Donald, a power-play and reality show too heady not to shoot for, despite his disdain of a shabby little home like the White House and a salary he considers peanuts.

While he won’t have a hefty CEO retirement to count on — 100 CEO’s reportedly have as much in their company retirement assets as the entire retirement savings of some 50 million American families — he’ll have REAL brand-ability if it all works out, right? Right!

Why the Pubs don’t jump on this train, given their track record at supporting corporate concerns, nation-wide, with public money, is something of a mystery. Their willing participation in screwing over the citizenry was denounced by Matt Taibbi as ” … a scam of almost unmatchable balls and cruelty, accomplished with the aid of some singularly spineless politicians.”

Sounds Trump-like, don’t you think? Birds of a feather, yes? But Trump’s too much a maverick to please them, a man without a leash, a CEO and not a politico. Still, it’s hardly over at this point — not for Bernie or Hillary OR Donald. And strange things are afoot.

Consider: Mary Matalin, ex-assistant to Dick Cheney and the Bush tribe, infamously married to Dem strategist, James Carville, has registered as a Libertarian. She’s pissed at establishment leadership and thinks she’s “provisionally” for Donald, especially if he’d quit insulting women.

Think of it! Mary Matalin has LEFT the GOP behind, and that must mean that Hell has frozen over. Clearly, it’s a season of surprises and unintended consequences — and you just never know when you’ll find a weasel in the works.

The Last Gasp Of Gordon Gekko


The Spring Reading is now published. Order all 12 signs here or choose your individual signs here for immediate access. You may listen to a free audio introduction here.

By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

The populism that has begun to gel as a genuine political movement is largely based on financial issues, the one thing both sides of the political spectrum agree upon. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to citizens of the USA, whose independence was fought and won over the concept of improper taxation. When you blow away the mythology and romance, we’ve always been about re$ources. Just ask the indigenous people of this continent.


What IS surprising — even bewildering — is that one of those leading the anti-establishment coup is not just a member of Bernie’s ‘billionaire class,’ but as elite a member of the 1 percent as any born to it. As the Donald sweeps through a divided nation to capture the loyalty of reality TV watchers, the fact that he would throw any of them under the bus in pursuit of success seems lost on those likely to be thrown. With Trump outclassing Cruz on the right, it has become increasingly evident that our real religion here in the states involves worship of the almighty buck.

Cruz, in a limp attempt to buoy his failing campaign, has signed on former HP exec, Carley “Baby Parts” Fiorina as his presumptive VP. Ted hopes this covers all the bases his evangelical reputation lacked: private sector, big business, and — oh gawd! — lady stuff. Here’s Stephen Colbert putting that in perspective. Prepare to cringe.

While establishment politics and neo-liberal policy have pretty well lost their mojo, the same can be said of religion, which is still sliding in polls, especially among the young who find most of it coercive, limiting, and small-minded. While it seems to me that in its highest aspect, religion is an inadequate attempt to codify a genuine experience, we’re left to endure what Christianity has become in the hands of the snake handlers. This political season, Ted’s timing is seriously off.

It’s worthwhile to recall that the definition of fascism is collusion between government, corporations, and religion. The first two are a given in our current political situation, and the third seems to be giving way to secular fears at the loss of money and power. This is Donald Trump’s class war, manipulating those disenchanted citizens who embrace what might rightfully be called the religion of white supremacy (it’s crosses they burn, not dollar bills). If not actual fascism with a comb-over, there are surely fascistic foot-soldiers following behind.

Remember Michael Douglas as Wall Street mogul Gordon Gekko, who convinced us back in the ’90s that “Greed is good?” This week, “The Big Short” — a movie based on the true story of the Wall Street meltdown — came up on my Netflix queue, and now I know why Steve Carell got so many accolades for his performance as a hedge fund manager with a conscience. His stunned amazement that such a level of corruption could not only take root in the industry, but prevail undiscovered and unimpeded, matched my own — and matched, I presume, that of millions of people who couldn’t believe they’d lost their savings, their homes, their futures. They still chafe under the knowledge that none of the grifters have been held responsible.

The take-away from watching “The Big Short?” Greed isn’t good and too big to fail isn’t true, but too cold-blooded to give a rip certainly is. Knowing they’d be bailed out when things went south, nothing changed in the cold heart of the banking world when things went so very badly. The abstract sums that were lost to greed and avarice meant little to those who spun the wheel, yet with real suffering a consequence, those who botched the game suffered very little. In fact — as Bernie is fond of repeating — the banks too big to fail in the last decade are even bigger now.

This explains why the outliers are so popular, why government isn’t trusted to look after the welfare of the people, and why a bully like Donald has become irrationally attractive. Thanks to lax checks and balances, laws favoring corporations over the public, ideological tantrums, and a glut of political money, this level of fraudulent and unethical behavior happens under our noses every day.

Big Pharma was on the hot seat recently as the CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals testified before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. In what can only be considered price gouging — an industry standard — the executive apologized for acquiring two cardiovascular products and increasing their prices by up to 525 percent. He said, in Valeant’s defense, “In retrospect, we relied too heavily on the industry practice of increasing the price of brand name drugs in the months before generic entry.”

Peachy. If only apologies meant something in an industry dominated by greed and power, especially with this company. Valeant raised prices on 16 of its products in 2016 despite pledges to align price increases with market trends, and, as reported by CBS News, raised net prices on its portfolio between October 2014 and October 2015 by an obscene 41.3%.

While I doubt that congressional scrutiny of Valeant is sufficient chastisement to impact its policy, other mis-steps have put it in real financial trouble. The corporation is being investigated by the SEC and may end up having to sell some of its assets to meet its obligations, and that’s not all. It may yet serve as the flagship for further investigation into this kind of price-hike standard, considered by some — me, for instance — to be outright fraud.

It should be noted that the FDA could help mitigate this issue by approving generics, but it’s backlogged from so many years of inaction that in 2014 not ONE new drug was approved. But never fear, good citizen. We have an energized president who is proceeding with a list of small reforms to reduce drug prices.

For the same reason a Koch brother would consider voting for Hillary Clinton, the House Democrats have devised a plan to slow down any changes to pharmacy pricing. Turns out physicians get a nice little ‘kick back’ when they prescribe pricey drugs, and they don’t want to lose that.  The lobbyists visiting with Dem legislators have convinced them to ‘go more slowly’ with such a project.

Un-huh! The old ‘change by increment’ ploy, useful to soothe the public with small perks while leaving the essential policy unscathed. This was no doubt a more effective strategy when victimization of the public trust was not so dramatic (and noticeable) as we see today. Not for the first time, shame on Nancy Pelosi for leading this one.

Now that Bernie has signaled limited expectations for the nomination, it’s left to US to remember how much is at stake in the years ahead. Sanders has called for a 50-state-strategy for progressive change, one that does not concede power to the status quo or to the two-party system corrupted by the influence of big money.

“The Democratic Party has to reach a fundamental conclusion: Are we on the side of working people or big money interests? Do we stand with the elderly, the children, and the sick and the poor, or do we stand with Wall Street speculators and the drug companies and the insurance companies?”

Bernie will push through to California, stumping for progressive reform and calling for a revitalization of American democracy, and while he does so, we need to consider how far we’ve come, as well as where we are now. I know the thought of voting for Hillary Clinton has some of you in full reverse mode, but unless the Democrats take the bully pulpit and keep options open for the kind of push leftward that Bernie represents, our ability to recreate ourselves will take decades longer than we have to spare. Some of us remember the Tom DeLay years when Dems were allowed NO voice. Let’s not let that happen again!

In an effort to establish new organizations and bottom-up advocacy to keep “the Bern” movement thriving well past the election, here’s a new push to organize into the future. Greed is no longer good, but it’s still got the upper hand, so the enemy is clear. What we do next will make all the difference.

If it seems as though the Sanders campaign is slowing down, now is NOT the time for us to do the same. Mercury retro is a re-think, not a retreat. The top-down election campaign has to give way to bottom-up grassroots dynamics that put progressive governance in city, county, and state level leadership. The nation is waiting for that change, and this is the time when we prove, once and for all, that we’re the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Closing The Loopholes


Eric will have the exciting new Spring Reading for you by April 17. Pre-order today for the best price, and get the lowdown on Mars retrograde. Includes video!

By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

With Mars moving toward a retro in Scorpio, 8th House issues are popping up like mushrooms in the dark corners of the garden. Sex, death, and taxes come to mind, and today we’ll look at what’s going on with taxes. No, not the Panama Papers, which is growing into something much larger: perhaps a palm tree to relax under with one’s ill-gotten gains.

Speaking of Mars retrograde, there is a rich tapestry of detail available on how that effects your sign(s) along with other transiting influences, during our Spring Reading pre-sale. You’ll find the information you need to help you swim these choppy spring waters here.

271+Judith_GayleI’ve written before about corporations that establish their headquarters overseas in order to reduce their tax liability. Both Walgreens (drug store chain) and Burger King mulled a merger with foreign companies in 2014, a move known as corporate tax inversion. Walgreens stood to gain somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 billion with this increasingly popular procedure, Burger King around $275 million.

While this process is not illegal, the thought of making such a change to evade taxation strikes most Americans as highly immoral. The public, sensitized by the fraudulent behavior of Wall Street and banking loopholes that had birthed the fledgling populist movement, met the Walgreens and Burger King plans with a squeal of outrage and threats of boycott. Both corporations received such a drubbing that each decided to keep their headquarters stateside.

This week, President Obama threw an e-brake on plans by Pfizer Pharmaceutical to do the same by merging with an Irish company, Allergan (maker of Botox), in order to establish a new corporate entity. The deal would have saved them $160 billion — read that BILLION — in federal taxes.

The mechanics of having sufficient size/holdings to make such a merger is as convoluted as is our tax system, but suffice to say that this is a process that Pfizer has been working toward for years. No surprise, then, that investors became alarmed when Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced a new rule on acquisition, which threw their goal into doubt. In the hours after the announcement, Allergan shares fell 22 percent.

Besides putting a hitch in Pfizer’s giddy-up, this has also put the unwieldy U.S. corporate tax code into the spotlight. Much as Obama’s “You didn’t build that” speech fostered Elizabeth Warren’s further declaration that “There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody,” the attention has underscored the need for corporate tax reform and scrutiny of loopholes benefiting the wealthy.

That said, almost a year ago, Elizabeth Warren launched an investigation into the perks and pay-offs received by financial advisers. She was troubled that there was no law protecting consumers who assumed they were receiving financial advice that would benefit them, not their advisers. Turns out the perks received by some of these brokers were, as feared, lavish, while the investors were routinely encouraged to buy into risky annuities that lost them much-needed retirement funds.

This week, the administration put out new rules that require retirement advisers to put their clients’ interests before their own. All of us owe Elizabeth a debt of thanks for her influence, and Obama a thumbs-up for following through. These are important and necessary protections. Now if we could just get the entire corporate community to put their clients’ interests before their own, and approve a Supreme Court that favors real citizens over corporate personhood, we’d be on our way!

If this information was interesting to you, and if you’d like to get a fuller picture of the political, social, psychological, and spiritual influences we deal with on a daily basis, you might consider joining our Core Community. You’ll have access to the whole Planet Waves enchilada, and receive helpful updates and texts. Come join the conversation!

The First Amendment: The Crux Of It


Eric will have the exciting new Spring Reading for you by April 17. Pre-order today for the best price, and get the lowdown on Mars retrograde. Includes video!

By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution

It appears that Donald Trump, who has pranced through the 2016 political process with the less than perfected skill of a Dancing With The Stars contender, has finally put his foot in it. Speaking off the top of his head (which is unarguably the least attractive part of Donald, both literally and figuratively), he blurted out the naked truth about abortion, suggesting that when/if he makes it [sic] illegal, then women would need to face punishment for seeking the procedure.


Simple logic, that, calculated to earn the ire of liberal and independent women everywhere, yet his own [also sic] party sucked in their breath as though he’d kicked over the Holy Grail.

Donald is a caution, as my great-grandmother liked to say (and thanks to him, I now understand the reference). He speaks without thinking, shotgunning ideas out as if he’s brainstorming in a strategy session, not presenting himself to the public. In this instance he inadvertently put the Republican’s war on women in the spotlight in a way that even (poorly reported) prosecution of the doctored Planned Parenthood tapes couldn’t.

This stumble in conservative candor by the Republican front-runner produced quite a dust-up on cable news. Pundits pronounced, Trump spokeswomen (for heavens sake!) defended, and voices layered one over another lifting the decibels to shrill. I did find one island of sanity in a Planned Parenthood representative who asked, essentially, so what’s new in this pronouncement? Trump just articulated the traditional Republican position on abortion, with those who engage in it routinely punished.

Hillary spoke to this as well, pointing out the obvious hypocrisy of Cruz back-peddling when he commented, creepily I might add, on the need to create a culture that respects mothers of the unborn and embraces life (even, you know, murderers who refuse to behave like devoted little incubators). Unfortunately those she needs to impress with her commentary would not, ummmm, dump a bottle of water on her if she were on fire. The level of hatred aimed at Hillary even exceeds the disdain in which Obama is held on the right.

Still, she did her campaign good by speaking aggressively on the topic. She has the support of many women who fought the good fight for choice and find it astounding that, thanks to an entrenched right-wing, a woman’s constitutionally protected right to the functions of her own body is teetering on the edge.

Since the rise of the right wing, women dealing with unwanted pregnancy have been put in the cross-hairs of dilemma. There have been almost 300 restrictions placed on abortion services in the last four years, with individual states creating a hostile environment by mandating ridiculous procedures, closing clinics, and making access to services too costly or inconvenient for those who need them.

This has produced an up-tick in self-inducing. I think of this as the return of the ‘coat hanger’ years, something that generations of women cannot truly understand, since — gratefully — it has not been their experience. But all that is changing now. There are already millions of women in this nation without access to safe abortion. According to “The Nation“:

Thirty-eight states have some sort of fetal homicide law, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Some exempt pregnant women, specifically, but many don’t. At least 17 people have been arrested or convicted for self-induced abortions in the United States, including Purvi Patel, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year for feticide. In 1990, a Florida teen who couldn’t afford an abortion shot herself in the abdomen, and was charged with third-degree murder. In 2009, a teenager in Utah paid a man $150 to beat her up, hoping it would cause a miscarriage; she was charged with solicitation to commit murder.

In Texas, where clinics have been cut by 50 percent in these last years, women are being forced to carry their dead fetus to term. That level of cruelty disgusts me and seems a far cry from the “small government” that the conservatives insist they want. But women’s issues? Much too dangerous (read that threatening to the patriarchy) to allow women to decide for themselves!

Over at Hullabaloo, Digby quoted Salon’s Amanda Marcotte on the logic of Trump’s position, which flies in the face of the upside-down and backwards Pro-Life rhetoric:

[T]he official stance that Republicans are supposed to take is that women are victims of abortion and therefore cannot be held responsible for it. Yes, it’s true that women pick up the phone, make the appointment, talk through their decisions with medical professionals, sign paperwork and then either take a pill or let the doctor perform an abortion, but none of this should be taken, in conservative eyes, as evidence that women are the people responsible for the abortion happening. Women are regarded by conservatives as fundamentally incapable of making grown-up decisions. If they choose abortion (and by implication, if they choose sex), it’s because the poor dears were misled.

Yes, the same people that conservatives treat as literally too stupid to understand what making a medical decision entails are then expected to raise children.

To which Digby commented:

The party line is that abortion is murder but the woman who solicits it is not guilty by reason of insanity or mental defect. Keep in mind that one third of American women have an abortion at some point in their lives. That’s a whole lot of defective crazy ladies we’re allowing to roam free in society.

The Republican culture war — with its assault on women’s choice at the heart of it — has largely failed on a national level under a Dem administration, although they keep on trying. In 2012, my senator, Roy Blunt, proposed an amendment “allowing any U.S. employer, not just those affiliated with a religious institution, to deny contraceptive health coverage to its employees based on religious or moral objections.”

The legislation was co-sponsored by Marco Rubio, and failed by a mere handful of votes with every Pub but one — a woman, Olympia Snowe — supporting it. This came on the heels of Obama’s mandate that employers provide birth control in their health care provisions, with exemptions for religious institutions and those affiliated.

At the time, it prompted this commentary from McConnell and Kerry — the right and the left:

“Look: this is precisely the kind of thing the founders feared,” McConnell said. “It was precisely because of the danger of a government intrusion into religion like this one that they left us the First Amendment in the first place, so that we could always point to it and say, ‘No government, no president has that right. Religious institutions are free to decide what they believe. And the government must respect their right to do so.'”

Democratic Senator John Kerry, of Massachusetts, argued the opposite point.

“The Blunt amendment is in fact an assault on” First Amendment objections, he said. “It imposes one view on a bunch of people who don’t share that view, or on those who want to choose for themselves.”

Here’s the crux of it, then, what it all comes down to, politically. It’s another of those donnybrooks over constitutional interpretation that divides the parties, and on issues of religion, has done so since the rise of a politicized church with Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority in the mid-’70s.

Because SCOTUS has become polarized along those same lines, what happens next in the High Court is crucial. At this moment, the Court is still understaffed by one, with the Pubs determined to allow Trump or Cruz to nominate. If anything would get a fractured and disenchanted Republican party out to vote this year, the very thought of a liberal court will do it. For both parties, what happened this week should prove how important it will be to get out the vote, whether we’re annoyed at the eventual candidate or not!

When Scalia died, all the pending cases in which he held an opinion had to be done over. One such was Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case poised on weakening public sector unions, which seemed all but decided during oral arguments in January. The conservative branch of the Robert’s court has routinely depended on first amendment arguments to water down the organizing power of unions, and seemed ready to do so again.

This week, a decision was passed down — or perhaps a non-decision would be more accurate. Without Scalia to cast his vote against the teachers union, the vote broke even between conservative and liberal jurists. With the vote tied, the earlier decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stands, ruling that the union shops do not violate the first amendment. At least for the moment, the conservative attack against union organizing is halted, but not all the news is good.

According to Mother Jones, choice is up next :

Women’s Whole Health v Hellerstedt and Zubik v Burwell: The court is poised to hear several major challenges involving women’s reproductive health rights. In Women’s Whole Health, the court will decide whether Texas’s restrictive abortion law, which has already resulted in the closure of many clinics and, if fully enforced, would close even more clinics and force women in Texas to travel long distances or leave the state in search of a legal abortion, is constitutional. The conservative Fifth Circuit upheld most of the law, but the Supreme Court blocked parts of it from taking effect until the case could be heard. If there’s a tie at the Supreme Court, the abortion clinics are all but doomed.

This week, Donald Trump displayed his political naivete, stumbled over his own tongue and made us all look at something very important. This week, we’ve discovered how the court will operate unless it is fully staffed and why that selection is so important. This week, we got a sense of how crucial the outcome of this presidential election will be, with up to three additional appointments to the court in the near future.

Much as a vote for Hillary continues to be my distasteful Plan B (for a long list of reasons), I’m counting out the Susan Sarandon Plan in order to encourage Bernie’s political revolution. The result of taking that purity test produces more of my ‘pony in the horse shit’ theory because, true enough, everything works to good, however painful, depending on how it informs us and how we respond to the challenge. But with theocratic Ted Cruz coming up right behind, the whole of Roe v. Wade is on the line — and plenty more where that came from.

Perhaps this week we’ve seen why no matter who ends up as the candidate for POTUS, not only do we need to put aside our differences in order to vote for the democratic principles we believe in and a progressive interpretation of our first amendment rights, we also need to encourage everyone we know to exercise this critical responsibility to self and others. If we’d done that in 2014, we’d be a heckuva lot better off today.