This week felt a lot like the changing of the guard, what with Jon Stewart waving a tearful goodbye, the GOP candidates providing a first taste of their brackish 2016 Kool Aid, and Obama announcing his most ambitious environmental regulations yet with an enhanced Clean Power Plan. That signature of change — arriving just as Jupiter, Mars and Mercury enter new territory — has global implications, and parsing them provides a hint of where we’re headed.
For instance, in the good news department it appears we have a proven vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus in rhesus monkeys, needle-free to boot. Next on the agenda is development of something more effective after the fact. With our climate challenges bringing new pathogens, this is a wondrous breakthrough.
In Nepal, administrators of a religious festival responsible for the sacrificial slaughter of half a million animals has announced that it will no longer allow critters to die in this traditional petition for prosperity and blessing. They have urged followers of the Hindu Goddess of Power, Gadhimai, to substitute fruits and coconuts as a worthy offering. Makes my heart happy!
Making lemonade, the death of Cecil the lion at the hands of an American poacher has brought scrutiny to a black hole of unexamined ills, including hunting of endangered species, illegal poaching, and transporting of trophies, as well as the politics of Zimbabwe. The sacrifice of this majestic beastie has brought awareness to issues that had long been buried in obscurity.
These are examples of heart-opening projects, the kind that are born of fledgling compassion and a growing respect for life. That’s where we’re going, if haltingly. Believe it.
In news today, Senator Chuck Schumer, heir-apparent to Harry Reid as Democratic leader, has come out against Obama’s Iran deal, and I’m not surprised. I’ve never been impressed with Chuck, whose Zionism defines him. Say what you will about Harry Reid, his Mormonism never got in the way of his politics. To their credit, the left is not taking this well.
MoveOn.org spoke plainly about the Senator’s position against nonproliferation with Iran: “Our country doesn’t need another Joe Lieberman in the Senate, and it certainly doesn’t need him as a Democratic leader.” The group finds Schumer’s stance — which will give cover to other Dems who want to back away — so offensive that it has pledged to withhold contributions from any Democrat until his name is taken out of the running to replace Reid in 2016.
This level of hardball is an echo from an earlier era of activism, and it pleases me because it’s highly effective. You can find more information on supporting the Iran proposal at http:///www.60DaysToStopAWar.com.
Schumer’s position plays into the hands of the Neocon war hawks — all of the GOP along with those beholden to the military-industrial complex — who want no easing of the stringent policies now in place unless it is to completely cut the nation off from allies, while bombing to the strains of something by John Philip Sousa. This hawkish rhetoric is, of course, old hat to those who remember painful Bush militarism — the smoke ‘n mirror campaigns that lured citizens by appealing to blatant nationalism — which is much of the American public, weary with war.
Threading the needle between Iranian threat, both real and imagined, and a de-escalation of nuclear capability seems important enough, at this juncture, to bring an open mind to the table, and that’s what Obama is pitching, calling out the Pubs for their jingoism:
“… superpowers should not act impulsively in response to taunts, or even provocations that can be addressed short of war. Just because Iranian hardliners chant “Death to America” does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe.
In fact, it’s those hardliners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It’s those hardliners chanting “Death to America” who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus.
The American Jewish community finds itself in the spotlight as both Obama and Netanyahu make appeals for their support. Once a given, younger Jews no longer line up with the Zionist policies furthered by Netanyahu’s radical Lukid party. The brutality of a Palestinian baby burned to death in a settler attack has forced the government into an apologetic posture this week, and done little to garner sympathy for their cause.
Now, as Netanyahu beats his chest and rails against the Iran deal, a number of his ex-generals and security chiefs, as well as the current Israeli president, have urged him to accept the agreement as a deterrent to nuclear capability. Change happens with or without our cooperation, which Mr. Netanyahu seems destined to discover, and timing is everything, as Senator Schumer may reflect upon very soon.
An elephant in the room of the first GOP debate, looming and ignored was climate change. It was never mentioned, which seems something of a stumble since McConnell, who (rightly) considers Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) a “war” on the carbon-dense coal industry, has pledged to defeat it. Let’s not forget that the Kochs want the Environmental Protection Agency dismantled, and let’s not pretend that the Kochs don’t own much of the GOP. As the Donald pointed out last evening, when one makes a sizable donation one expects something back. Candor has its virtues, does it not?
Let’s hope that those watching the election hijinks are also scanning the news with a critical eye, as the Koch brothers have dropped any pretense of funding their campaigns from behind the curtain. Now they’re in our face. They’re waving their Citizens United flag, loud and proud, pledging over 800 million bucks for this campaign. They’re now engaged in a PR push to make themselves both visible and acceptable, just patriots attempting to restore America to all she used to be (think Gilded Age and weep). Remember: all she used to be was unregulated.
Flying in the face of the Pope and his unwelcome encyclical on the climate — denying empirical evidence in reports from the United Nations and the World Health Organization — Koch representatives are pushing the concept that attempting to regulate energy would produce more poverty and victimize developing countries. Outed by activism, ALEC, the legislative arm of the Koch billions, no longer bothers to hide in the shadows, although its satellite agencies still do.
Beware anything you read from the (Exxon-funded) Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), which asserts that “climate-related restrictions harm poor families far more than climate change will.” Expect Americans for Prosperity, the Kochs’ Libertarian group, to question the Pope’s ‘radical’ religious values, accusing him of deliberately causing harm to the world’s poor, intent on increasing their numbers and sending them deeper into poverty, especially in America where Obama, climate scientists, and the Pope are all in cahoots.
So you can imagine the Kochs’ response to the President as he announced national standards to eliminate carbon emissions from power plants. His speech spoke to his awareness of environmental issues, and where he wants to go. The opening of the Arctic for drilling and the still-undecided Keystone pipeline project give us pause, but it’s evident that Obama knows the seriousness of the problem. His decisions seem more a matter of ship-of-state policy than personal desire. We can only hope that as he picks up speed in the next months, anxious to get things done, more of that authentic Obama comes to the table — and pounds it.
Sensing the moment, bless the Progressive caucus for stepping up to the plate this week to propose a resolution supporting Pope Francis’s views on climate change, putting congressional believers on the spot. Along with Senators Leahy (D-VT), Sanders (I-VT), Udall (D-NM), Merkley (D-OR), and Baldwin (D-WI.), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) introduced the resolution, which included the following:
“The Senate stands with Pope Francis and the scientific consensus that human activity is the primary driver of climate change; present climate trends are unsustainable; and immediate action must be taken to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the deleterious effects of human-induced climate change.”
August is always a month when the Leo energy spurs our passions and raises the decibels, and that will be magnified by Mars’ entry into the sign of the Lion this evening. We’re deep into the prelude to an anti-establishment election — long time coming and so very welcome, in my opinion — that has no more patience with the buggered system or the moderate ‘triangulation’ made famous by the Clinton administration. Populism rules the day and the Kochs’ attempt to sell themselves as moderate-right populists is pure baloney. The appeal of the outliers (and front-runners, Donald and Bernie) is in their independence from big-money and backers who would force them to do their bidding, which allows them an unaccustomed level of candor that Mrs. Clinton is simply in no position to embrace.
Regarding the smackdown between the narrow view of the evangelical GOP and the progressive vision of Rome’s current Vicar of Christ, remember that the Pope is due to visit in September. He will address this Congress and, hopefully, challenge them to take an ethical stand on climate and capitalism and poverty. Of all the shows we’re privy to, here in well-wired and plugged-in America, that’s one I don’t want to miss.
In the long hot summer of 2015, it may look like we’re going nowhere fast, but — trust me — the universe always knows what it’s doing. Lean back and enjoy it as you can, and don’t fail to appreciate the beauty and progress you see around you. We were warned that we were the change that we had expected, and (although we pretended that would be painless) now we know it’s true. And we’re stronger now, seasoned by our challenges and wiser for them. What each of us brings to the table will define our nation’s future, so keep a good heart and a vision for a healed and loving world. As Marianne Williamson told us, this is no time to play small.