9 10 2016

Most Americans treat our country’s two-party political system as if it had been handed down from on high, some kind of eleventh commandment. “Thou shalt only have two political parties, and all others shall be chastised as ‘spoilers’ and cast into outer darkness.”

Not only is this central tenet of American politics not one of The Lord’s commandments, it isn’t even in the US Constitution, which makes no mention of political parties whatsoever. Our current system, which makes it difficult for other political parties than the Republicans and Democrats to get on the ballot and share in the country’s governance, was, over time, tweaked by these two “major parties” to discourage competition,which was already damped down by our “winner take all” electoral system. It’s as if it were the water that we’re fish in, totally taken for granted, just as most people take our lack of a national health system, expensive college education, and lack of paid maternity leave, things which pretty much every other country anywhere near as well-off as ours has, totally for granted, and even dismiss as “unrealistic” the notion that we could have such things in this country.

Let’s use a metaphor to describe our situation. Suppose Ford and General Motors had total control over who could sell cars in America, and used that control to make sure that no foreign car companies were permitted to import their products into the US, and no other domestic car manufacturers could set up business, either. Suppose all that Ford sold was Pintos, which, for the benefit of my younger readers, were notorious for being “unsafe at any speed,” as Ralph Nader pointed out long ago when he was the fair-haired boy of the liberal Democrats. But I digress…suppose all Chevrolet sold was monster SUVs that got about 6 miles per gallon and also had serious safety issues. Suppose Ford and Chevrolet, or the corporations that owned them, controlled the automotive press, and reviews of their products stressed the safety and economy of SUVs and Pintos alike, and routinely trashed foreign cars and Mr. Nader, with his silly vendetta about those cute little Pintos.


election 2016–which will you choose?

That’s the American political situation today. Read the rest of this entry »


9 10 2016

This is the 22nd chapter of Charles Eisenstein’s book, “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.” You can buy the book, or read it on line, here.

I want to note that I am reading/posting this solely because it’s the next chapter in an ongoing series. I did not “pick out” this chapter to read at this time, although it seems remarkably appropriate to the ordeal of this year’s Presidential election.

When is the right time to do the right thing? No one can offer a formula to answer that question, because the rhythm of the phases of action and stillness has an intelligence of its own. If we tune in, we can hear that rhythm, and the organ of perception is the desire, the nudge of excitement or the feeling of flow, of rightness, of alignment. It is a feeling of being alive. To listen to that feeling and to trust it is a profound revolution indeed. What would the world be, if we all listened to that?

This kind of deep self-trust highlights the common habit of separation that is its opposite: the habit of struggle. In the old story, just as humanity as a whole is destined to conquer and rise above nature, so are we as individuals charged to conquer and rise above that bit of nature that we call the body, including pleasure, desire, and every physical limitation. Virtue comes from self-denial, willpower, discipline, self-sacrifice. Mirroring the war against nature, this war against the self can have only one result: you lose.


The futility of the War against the Self mirrors the futility of war in general, which always leaves the deep causes of the provoking situation untouched. The only exception would be if a nation or its leaders were just plain bad. If they are irredeemable, then force is the only solution. Similarly, if your bad behavior comes from an innate badness, an inherent elemental depravity within you, then it would also be true that the only solution would be to subdue it.

That logic leads eventually to despair, because what happens if you try to subdue it and fail? What happens if that depraved part of you is too strong, stronger than any force you can muster to subdue it? What happens when this part of yourself runs your life? What happens when the seemingly bad people run the world? As any addict can tell you, force is insufficient in the face of a much stronger force. The despair of the dieter, trying to overcome the force of desire, and the despair of the activist, trying to overcome the force of the consumptive powers that rule the world, are identical. We all wrestle the same demon in a myriad of different forms. Fortunately, our perception of the origin of the violence, greed, etc., is mistaken, as, therefore, is the remedy of force.

music: Richard Thompson, Beat the Retreat

Bob Teague, “Fall And Falling Leaves”

Richard and Linda Thompson, “A Heart Needs A Home



11 09 2016

Today’s date, September 11th, is, to borrow President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s words, “a day that will live in infamy.” On this date in 1973, Salvador Allende, the Bernie Sanders of Chile, salvadorallende_251who, unlike Bernie, had succeeded in become his country’s President, was killed in a military coup that had the full backing of the United States and especially our then-Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. The Chilean military, with the assistance of the United States, didn’t just take out Allende. They jailed, tortured, and murdered thousands of Chileans, and forced tens of thousands more into exile. The US then used Chile as a base for “Operation Condor,” which orchestrated the murder of thousands of mostly non-violent left-wing activists all over South America, most notoriously in Argentina, where “the dirty war” killed at least thirty thousand people. That’s a US government program, directly approved by Henry Kissinger, that targeted people like me and, probably, people like you. So, when I think about Hillary Clinton, who has repeatedly declared her admiration for Henry Kissinger, being President, when I notice the approbation with which her followers greet any mention of her faults or approval of the Green Party, when I read that a Clinton-supporting PAC has budgeted a million dollars to pay Clinton supporters to harass Sanders supporters and Greens on the internet, I start feeling a little nervous, and since today is the anniversary of the Chilean Bernie Sanders being murdered by Hillary Clinton’s inspiration, this becomes a more emotionally charged anniversary than it would be if a protegée of Henry Kissinger were not so likely to be our next President. Donald Trump is dangerous because he doesn’t really seem to have a plan.


Do not think about a Green Party!

Ms. Clinton, on the other hand, is dangerous because she does seem to have a plan–and it’s not one she’s sharing with the general public. With a horde of pundits and bloggers ready and willing to bend the truth to discredit any criticism of her, not to mention discrediting the critics themselves, I start wondering if we have a “Ministry of Truth” in our future.


Oh yeah, it’s also the fifteenth anniversary of the day a bunch of Saudis apparently hijacked several US airliners and flew them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, killing a mere three thousand people. OK, it was three thousand all at once, not one by one, but…. Anyway, because the Saudis did that, the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. If that makes sense to you, then you can accept the World Trade Center story exactly as the mainstream media portray it. It doesn’t make sense to me and I don’t accept the story, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. The Allende-Kissinger story is much more apropos. Read the rest of this entry »


14 08 2016

It’s getting wild out there. There’s a lot going on in the Presidential race, from the Green Party’s post-Sanders bump, to the Democratic Party’s increasing right turn and its decision to aim its propaganda weapons at us, to many curious tales of, and from, the Trump campaign. I’ll probably be back on those beats next month, but this month I’m going to take a look at genetically modified organisms from my “Deep Green Perspective”

Back in June, I received several emails from a long-time friend, urging me to accept the evidence that genetically modified organisms are safe to eat, and thus there is no reason to oppose their rapid introduction into our food stream. I confess, I kind flamed my old friend with the vehemence of my initial “no way!” response. I decided that I owed it to him to read the articles he had sent me with as open a mind as I could muster, and consider the pro-genetic modification argument, instead of only reading the anti-genetic modification campaigners like Greenpeace and the Union of Concerned Scientists. I read the National Academy of Science’s report on the safety of genetically modified foods, as well. I’ll tell you up front: I did not change my opinion on the appropriateness of widespread use of genetically modified organisms. Here’s what I wrote my friend.

Dear _______,

I think the best place to start is with this challenge from you:

It’s hard to make the case that we should trust science and act to stem global warming, while at the same time we are scoffing at the statements [PDF] of *snort* scientists on genetic modification.

 We’re looking at two very different kinds of science here. The science of global warming is pretty cut and dried. It involves measuring temperatures and gas concentrations over time, making a graph of them, factoring in possible different levels of future fossil fuel use and other factors that are coming into play such as deforestation, melting permafrost, etc., and noticing that, in a “business as usual scenario,” we are going to be toast in short order.


Already in the pipeline? (note green sky due to increased CO2 content)


It’s all very quantifiable, very basic chemistry and physics, and what that basic chemistry and physics tells us is that we have in all likelihood dangerously overshot the amount of carbon dioxide we can safely release into the atmosphere and we need to stop all fossil fuel use and commence extreme carbon sequestration and a carbon-neutral culture. Genetically modified crops, and the industrial/chemical agriculture system that they are part and parcel of, are a major source of the excess carbon in our atmosphere, and thus the answer to the science question is that the science of global warming trumps the science of factory farming, which includes pretty much all use of genetically modified organisms. Read the rest of this entry »


8 07 2016


The mainstream media are full of stories about the “angry white people” involved in Brexit and the Trump campaign. I think it’s important to understand what is making them angry. That’s a step on the road to transforming their anger into intelligent action.

Anger is often a reaction to having one’s boundaries violated, and that is very much the case with Brexit and Trump’s supporters. People are angry because the economic security they once had has been taken from them in the name of “austerity,” in the name of “free trade,”by outsourcing and automation of manufacturing and the jobs it once offered, and, ultimately, by the demand for higher corporate profits.

Another thing that angers Britons and Trump supporters is that, in the midst of their own fall, their communities are being swamped with immigrants and refugees. These refugee/immigrant streams were created by the actions of politicians–so-called “free trade agreements,” or any one of a growing number of wars, insurgencies, and failed or failing states. The politicians have been paying no price for creating these disasters, even building careers on the benefits that have accrued to the corporate class as a result of their actions, but the middle class correctly perceives that they are the ones paying the price–being underbid on jobs/wages, competing for a diminishing stock of affordable housing, and, at least in their perception, having their tax dollars funneled into services for the newcomers. That last one is a more complex question than I can fully deal with here, but it does have to do with the fact that corporations and the wealthy are paying an increasingly smaller share of many nations’ tax income, especially here in America, and the tax burden is falling increasingly on the middle class.

The fact that Polish immigrants to Britain that are being subjected to serious abuse indicates clearly that this anger is about class, not race. There’s no racial factor involved with Poles–they and the Scandinavians might be the only people “whiter” than Britons, and they aren’t Muslims. They just have the same trades skills that Britons have and they’re used to working for a lot less money. To blow off what is going on in Britain and the United States as “racism” is either to misunderstand it or to intentionally mislabel it to deflect attention from what it’s really about, which, as I said, is that working-class people are paying the price for decisions made by high-level politicians who, until recently, have been completely insulated from the catastrophic effects of their decisions. Brexit has changed that. Here in the US, Trump rode that resentment to the Republican nomination, easily brushing aside all the conventional Republican politicians who were closely identified in the public’s mind with “the establishment.” Hillary Clinton, too, is a legitimate target for that ire.


British or Polish?


British or Polish?

The inability of working class people to see the real cause of their problems and instead fall for Trump’s semicoherent ramblings is also the fault of the corporate establishment, who have done all they can to keep the public pliant, sedated, and ignorant with television. junk food, and widely prescribed psychiatric medications. The sedation has worn thin, and the pliancy is turning to resistance, but ignorance is harder to overcome. People in this country, in England, and over much of Western Europe are angry about being clobbered with “foreigners.” Yes, their response looks like racism and nationalism, and the neoliberal political class is dismissing it as such. So far, Trump supporters, and many Brexit supporters, haven’t gotten past who they have been clobbered with to go after the corporate/state parties that have actually been doing the clobbering. If or when they do, there will be a revolution, and Trump may well be one of its first victims.

Here in America, we are in a classic, crazy-making “double bind.” The choices appear to be, “vote for Trump and invite racist, nativist chaos, or vote for Clinton and ratify the corporate security state.” Neither is an acceptable option. In Eastern Europe, the so-called Communist regimes presented people with a similar situation, holding their hegemony together by convincing everyone that they were just one person who was powerless against the state apparatus. The day all those “powerless people” realized how many of them there were, governments didn’t just fall, a whole political system dissolved. Here in America, those of us in the Green Party and elsewhere who dissent from the corporate narrative have been portrayed as a small, powerless minority. The Sanders campaign proved otherwise, but there is still a lot of work to do, and no promise of success. That uncertainty is all the more reason to do our very best.


music: Jackson Browne, “Till I Go Down.”




7 07 2016

This is the 21st chapter of Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.” You can read or buy the whole book here. Please consider supporting Charles’ work.  Thank you!

What most needs attention is the part of us that we seek to avoid feeling. When we have tended to that, we are changed, and the world changes with us.

—Dan Emmons

Let me offer you an example from my own inner monologue that illustrates nondoing as an active principle. I dropped off my car one morning for state inspection and, rather than ask my then-pregnant wife Stella to wake up early to pick me up, walked the five or six miles home. Now let me be clear that this was no hardship at all—I love walking, I was wearing comfortable shoes, and the weather was cold but clear. But as I walked, I started thinking, “Gee, this is taking a long time. I wonder how I can milk this. I know, when I get home I’ll make a little show of being more tired and hungry than I am so that Stella thinks I underwent a hardship for her sake. Then she’ll be extra nice to me.”

That seemed a bit obvious, so I came up with a better idea. “I can put on a brave face and say I’m not tired or hungry, but subtly signal that I am. Then I will get credit not only for having made a sacrifice for her, but also for valiantly trying to keep it secret.”


What would have happened if, instead, I had noticed my secret plan to milk some benefits out of my trek, and then resolved to stop myself at all costs? What would have happened if I’d threatened myself with punishment (guilt, shame, self-castigation, verbal abuse by my inner voice [“What’s wrong with you!”]) and motivated myself with rewards (self-approval, telling myself I was mature, better than Uncle Bob, etc.)? I can tell you what would have happened. I would have withheld from Plan A or B in the obvious ways, but I would have done it nonetheless in a way that gave my own conscious mind plausible deniability. Because if my goal is simply to pass the muster of my own inner judge, then that judge and other parts of me will conspire to arrange a verdict of innocent. I need not elaborate on we humans’ capacity for self-deception. If the motive is self-approval, then self-approval we will get, even if it comes at the expense of everything beautiful.

That sounds alarming, doesn’t it? My purpose here is not to scare you into making a change. Maybe I would if I could, but this is not the kind of change one can be scared into making. I could scare you into trying, perhaps, but the result would be the same as in my scheme of reward and threat above. No, this is the kind of change that happens when it is time for it to happen.

music: Sheila Chandra, “Quiet #9

….Not that there is anything wrong with work. Work and play, work and leisure … it is time to question these polarities. That doesn’t mean indolence. When I worked in construction the labor was sometimes very strenuous, but it was rarely an ordeal. I didn’t have the feeling of fighting myself or forcing myself. There is a time to make great efforts, a time to push one’s capacities to the limit. We have after all been given those capacities for a reason. But struggle is not supposed to be the default state of life.

The same applies to spiritual practice. You may have also noticed that my recipe for releasing the habits of separation corresponds quite closely with Buddhist teachings and practices of mindfulness. Ah, finally, something to do! Now we can all embark on a heroic effort at mindfulness. We can admire those (especially ourselves, who if not as mindful as, say, Thich Nhat Hanh are at least more mindful than most people, right?) who are more mindful and look with disdain or patronizing indulgence at those who are less. We can use all the same psychological apparati toward a new goal: mindfulness.

I hope after having read this far you are a bit suspicious of this plan. Could it be that mindfulness too comes as a gift, when circumstances make us newly mindful of what had been beneath the threshold of our awareness? I urge you to see mindfulness as a gift and to cherish it as such. Fully accept that gift, indulge in it. Perhaps the path to mindfulness is not one of a fierce mustering of the will. We cannot will the exercise of will—volition too comes as a gift.

Music: Santana, “Flor de Canela>Promise of a Fisherman>Borboleta




5 06 2016

Things are reaching a pitch in the American political arena. Trumpenstein will be the Republican nominee, and, while the last chapters have yet to be written, it is now almost certain, as it really has been all along, that Ms. Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. The next phase of the contest, the Big Face Off Between The Democrat And  The Republican, is about to begin.

In social media, however, the contest between Bernie and Hillary seems far from over. Clinton supporters are upset by the expressed concerns of Sanders supporters and Greens like me, who feel that there is good reason to be wary of a Clinton Presidency. We are told that we are helping Trump get elected, that we are misogynists, that we need to deal with the world-as-it-is and not cling to “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible,” to steal a phrase from Charles Eisenstein. That’s all well and good, Clinton supporters say, but you must support Hillary or all hell will break loose. A la Margaret Thatcher, There Is No Alternative.tina

In an effort to respond to the many people I know who are telling me to get with the Clinton program, as well as those who seem to think Bernie would have won if only I’d supported him, and those who think I’m crazy, stupid, or sentimental not to back Trumpenstein, I want to examine all three of these candidates, as well as The Green Party’s Jill Stein, (cause, hey, this is a Green Party show/blog!) and talk about how they look from the ol’ Deep Green Perspective.

Let’s go for Trumpenstein first. I’m calling him that not just to make fun of him, but because he, like Dr. Frankenstein’s creation, was, in  a sense, brought to life by people who had their own motives for creating him, and who did not realize that he would get away from them and chart his own course. Trump was born (in the public mind) as a commercial, comedic figure, a Falstaffian man of bluff and bluster who was not afraid to say what he thought and exercise power, a man who drew viewers and made money for the network. When he chose to enter the political arena, he cut a sharp contrast with conventional politicians, who carefully shape what they say in a formal language that is intended to offend no one who might vote for them, but has begun to offend a lot of people for its vacuousness. Read the rest of this entry »

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