Thursday, April 28, 2016

And As We Dance . . .



. . . we realize that we don't have to stay
on the little spot of our grief,
but we can step beyond it.

We stop centering our lives on ourselves.
We pull others along with us
and invite them into the larger dance.
We learn to make room for others
– and the Gracious Other in our midst.

And when we become present
to God and God's people,
we find our lives richer.
We come to know that all the world
is our dance floor.
Our step grows lighter
because God has called out others
to dance as well.

. . . Prayer puts us in touch
with the God of the Dance.

– ‎Henri Nouwen
Excerpted from Turn My Mourning Into Dancing
(Thomas Nelson Publishing Company, 2004).



For more of Henri Nouwen at The Wild Reed, see:
To Be Held and to Hold
Active Waiting: A Radical Attitude Toward Life
A Guidepost on the Journey
Lent with Henri
In the Garden of Spirituality – Henri Nouwen

See also: the previous posts:
The Soul of a Dancer
The Dancer and the Dance
The Art of Dancing as the Supreme Symbol of the Spiritual Life
The Premise of All Forms of Dance
The Church and Dance
The Naked Truth . . . in Dance and in Life
We All Dance
A Kind of Dancing Divinity
Memet Bilgin and the Art of Restoring Balance
In the Dance of Light, Eyes of Fiery Passion
Unique . . . Yes, You!
Divine Connection
"Then I Shall Leap Into Love"
Shall We Dance?

Image: Lloyd Knight and Abdiel Cedric Jacobsen of the Martha Graham Dance Company. (Photo: Ken Browar and Deborah Ory of the NYC Dance Project)


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Quote of the Day

One of the many unintended consequences of the [Black Lives Matter] movement has been opening up space for talking about the complexity of black identity and [how] blackness is not monolithic. It’s so many things to so many people. People have different identities. We’re talking about the trans community in public in ways that we haven’t before.

As a gay black man it’s important to me to show up – that I’m able to show up as my whole self, in every space that I’m in, because that’s how I’m able to be the most true to who I am.

– DeRay Mckesson
Excerpted from Michelangelo Signorile's article,
"DeRay Mckesson, Baltimore Mayoral Candidate,
on His Sexuality and Black Lives Matter
"
The Huffington Post
April 1, 2016



Above: DeRay Mckesson in Ferguson, MO
in the summer of 2014.



Related Off-site Links:
Why DeRay Mckesson Matters – Janet Mock (The Advocate, February 25, 2016).
“I Didn’t Want That to Be the Story About Mike Brown”: Meet the Man Showing America the Real Ferguson Story – Sarah Jaffe (Slate, December 8, 2014).
John Waters and Jack'd Endorse DeRay Mckesson for Baltimore Mayor – Daniel Reynolds (The Advocate, March 30, 2016).
After leading in Black Lives Matter, DeRay Mckesson Finds Himself Trailing in His Bid to Become Baltimore Mayor – Hunter Walker (Yahoo! News, April 26, 2016).

UPDATE: DeRay Mckesson is Famous. Here’s Why That Didn’t Sway Baltimore Voters – Julia Craven (HuffPost Black Voices, April 27, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Remembering Prince, "Fabulous Freak, Defiant Outsider, Dark Dandy" – 1958-2016
Something to Think About – December 29, 2015
Quote of the Day – November 25, 2015
"We Are All One" – #Justice4Jamar and the 4th Precinct Occupation: Photos, Reflections and Links
An Update on #Justice4Jamar and the 4th Precinct Occupation
Rallying in Solidarity with Eric Garner and Other Victims of Police Brutality
Quote of the Day – June 19, 2015
"Say Her Name" Solidarity Action for Sandra Bland
In Minneapolis, Rallying in Solidarity with Black Lives in Baltimore
Thoughts on Prayer in a "Summer of Strife"


Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Enkindled Spring



This spring as it comes bursts up in bonfires green,
Wild puffing of emerald trees, and flame-filled bushes,
Thorn-blossom lifting in wreaths of smoke between
Where the wood fumes up and the watery, flickering rushes.

I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration
Of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze
Of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration,
Faces of people streaming across my gaze.

And I, what fountain of fire am I among
This leaping combustion of spring? My spirit is tossed
About like a shadow buffeted in the throng
Of flames, a shadow that's gone astray, and is lost.










See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Photo of the Day – April 13, 2016
Let the Greening Begin
Springtime by the Creek
A Springtime Walk Along Minnehaha Creek
Dreaming of Spring
Photo of the Day – April 15, 2015
Photo of the Day – May 6, 2014
Photo of the Day – April 25, 2011
Spring in Minnesota
In the Footsteps of Spring

Images: Michael J. Bayly, April 2016.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Quote of the Day

[Michael Voris (pictured at right), editor of ChurchMilitant.com and supporter of the Courage apostolate] is . . . telling the world he has a homosexual past. He speaks as if he is somehow "over" his past sexual orientation, which he chooses to see as a "forfeiting of masculinity."

I'm truly sorry for his suffering. I have to conclude, though, that there's such a deep, crippling sickness and confusion among right-wing Christians, whether Catholic, evangelical, or Mormon, around these issues of sexuality. Just sick – the need to lie, pretend, uphold rigid binary stereotypes about gender and impose them on all the rest of the world as divine revelation, deny the rich diversity of God's created world that does not fit into the narrow paradigms of the Christian right.

All that, and a ravenous need to target LGBTQ people and call that activity holiness. Sickening – and it creates sick, twisted people, when people buy into these thought patterns.

May Voris find some healing and liberation (and stop shouting at the rest of the world and come into vital contact with his inmost self when he quiets down).

William D. Lindsey
via Facebook
April 22, 2016


Related Off-site Links:
Michael Voris of Church Militant Addresses His Gay Past in Shocker Video Statement – William D. Lindsey (Bilgrimage, April 22, 2016).
Anti-Gay Catholic Activist Michael Voris Confesses: I Used to Live a Sinful Life with Homosexual MenJoe My God (April 23, 2016).
SHOCK: Anti-Gay Preacher Was Having Some Very Gay Sex – Dan Tracer (Queerty, April 25, 2016).
Anti-Gay Catholic Evangelist Reveals He Used to Have a Lot of Gay Sex – Sean Mandell (Towleroad, April 25, 2016).
New York Archdiocese Denies Allegation That It Sought to Smear Michael VorisCatholic Herald (April 22, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Dreaded "Same-Sex Attracted" View of Catholicism
Officially Homophobic, Intensely Homoerotic
Gay Men in the Vatican Are Giving the Rest of Us a Bad Name
The Many Forms of Courage (Part I)
The Many Forms of Courage (Part II)
The Many Forms of Courage (Part III)
Be Not Afraid, You Can Be Happy and Gay
The Many Manifestations of God's Loving Embrace
What Is It That Ails You?
What the Vatican Can Learn from the X-Men


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Remembering Prince, "Fabulous Freak, Defiant Outsider, Dark Dandy" – 1958-2016


I can't say I was a "fan" of Prince, the trail-blazing music legend who was found dead this morning in his Paisley Park estate and studio in Chanhassen, just outside of Minneapolis. I certain recognize and appreciate his contribution to music, but I just wasn't personally ever into this unique contribution to the degree that I bought any of his albums.

That being said, I was definitely aware of how Prince was a constant presence on the music scene in the years when I was in high school and college in Australia. I can even say I had a favorite Prince song, 1985's "Raspberry Beret." And of course, once I relocated in 1994 to Minneapolis, Prince's birthplace and home base, I became much more aware of his music and his contribution to what's known as the Minneapolis sound.

Yet even though Prince's music didn't always, er, grab me, his look – especially his early look – certainly did.

It was a look that exuded sexual awareness, availability, and confidence. As a closeted and somewhat fearful gay boy, I took note of how Prince appeared totally comfortable wearing next-to-nothing, and how he didn't seem to have the need to pose in stereotypical macho ways. There was an openness and a vulnerability in his masculinity that I found, and still find, incredibly attractive (and which, in my own way today, I seek to emulate).

Only later did I realize how groundbreaking such a combined display of sexiness and vulnerability was for a man to embody – and, in particular, for a black man within the hyper-macho black culture of that era.

I guess another way of speaking about all of this is to say that Prince wasn't afraid to break certain taboos around gender and sexuality, primarily by mixing and matching certain qualities and attitudes – to engage in genderfuckery, as one commentator calls it. Prince could, for example, excel at looking demure and vulnerable (qualities our society generally assigns to women) while at the same time convey a sexy self-confidence bordering on the, well, cocksure.



I also appreciated (and, truth-be-told, was turned-on by) the fact that physically, like so many men in the 1970s and early '80s, Prince had a very natural masculine beauty. By this I mean he clearly wasn't an over-pumped-up gym bunny. Yet he was still incredibly sexy, as I'm sure you'll see by the images I've chosen to accompany this post.

Following are comments I've come across today in various tributes to Prince that explore his taboo- and rule-breaking charism in relation to gender and sexuality.



He was a straight black man who played his first televised set in bikini bottoms and knee-high heeled boots, epic. He made me feel more comfortable with how I identify sexually simply by his display of freedom from and irreverence for obviously archaic ideas like gender conformity.






When I showed my teenager pictures of Prince, she said: “He looks disgusting.” Well, precisely. Did I actually fancy this rather strange little satyr of a man in his funny heels? He confused me, so I was never actually sure what I felt, except what I knew the music made me feel. To see him live was to a see a performer who seemed capable of having sex with every individual member of the audience. . . . Much has been well said about his sexual ambiguity, which opened up new ways for so many other artists to be. But Prince was doing something perverse on every level, pushing every conventional signifier of race or sex past its limit. This queerness was the beginning, not the end point of desire. What was subversive was that it really didn’t matter how you got off – as long as you did.

His ability to embody the feminine, to utilise it, to play with it – I find androgynous absolutely the wrong word for him – made him unbelievably seductive. Here was a man singing about female desire in a way women understood. His absolute cockiness was always present alongside his willingness to be objectified: a killer combo.

– Suzanne Moore
Excerpted from "Prince Didn't Write About Sex.
He Was Sex
"
The Guardian
April 22, 2016



Prince repelled and fascinated me because he represented every side of all the contradictions I felt. I felt nervous even looking at him, and yet I couldn’t look away. What would it mean if I opened myself up to the letting go of all those rules he seemed to have dispensed with? That purple clothing, those high heels and ruffled shirts: was he proudly feminine, or so secure in his masculinity he didn’t mind others questioning it? That small frame and that tight, small butt that seemed to leave him “shaking that ass, shaking that ass” for men and women alike? Who was he trying to turn on with "Sexy MF" or "Cream" – and what if someone thought I wasn’t getting turned on by his big-haired dancers, but by the artist himself?

Prince was a paradox in that he expanded the concept of what it meant to be a man while also deconstructing the entire idea of gender. Like Michael Jackson, Prince seemed to perform a kind of black masculinity that was neither neutered nor completely in line with the hypermasculinity so common in the rap coming out of nearby Los Angeles at the same time. It was as fluid and luscious as his long eyelashes, and as delicious looking as those lips of his – and it seemed to welcome everyone. His gaze was as slippery, self-assured and questioning as his music itself. And when those eyes of his (paired with the light scruff around his mouth) caught yours from an album cover, almost daring you to look away with their confidence, they also seemed to know you’d be powerless not to.

– Steven W. Thrasher
Excerpted from "Prince Broke All the Rules
About What Black American Men Should Be
"
The Guardian
April 21, 2016






[Prince] inlaid his albums with brazen pansexuality and gender norm coquetry – provocations made all the more potent by his staggering talents as a singer, hook-writer, and guitar shredder. Years before the leaders of the gay and lesbian community began to embrace a more nuanced, less binary notion of queerness – and decades before transgender and genderqueer politics became mainstream topics of interest – Prince presented a living case study in the glorious freedom a world without stringent labels might offer.

“I’m not a woman. I’m not a man. I’m something that you’ll never understand,” Prince sang on 1984’s “I Would Die 4 U.” He was right – few could claim to fully grasp Prince’s easy embodiment of both maleness and femaleness. His schooled evasion of conventional classifiers made him endlessly fascinating.

. . . For fans, Prince’s expansive presentation of gender and sexuality offered promise of a more honest, open existence. “I became unafraid to display the many stereotypically feminine qualities that were within me,” StainedGlassBimbo, a self-described heterosexual man, wrote on a Prince fan forum. “[He showed me that] you don’t have to be a masculine in order to be a man.” Another message board commenter marveled at Prince’s macho braggadocio wrapped in the trappings of the fairer sex: “Here was a man wearing lace and jewels – and he's singing of having sex with women in ways I didn't even know existed!”

. . . In 2006, gay musician Rufus Wainwright wrote in the Guardian that Prince’s genderfuckery is still unmatched in modern pop music. “It feels weird talking about Prince as a gay icon now, but you have to applaud a black man in the American record industry who could be so playful with androgyny,” Wainwright wrote.

– Christina Cauterucci
Excerpted from "How Prince Led the Way
to Our Gender Fluid Present
"
Slate
April 21, 2016





I wasn't sure if he was straight, gay, bi, or even male or female – such was the fluid electricity of his persona, one that galvanized our puritanical country long before gender became everyday discourse, filling it with the throbbing sounds of passion while celebrating the fabulous freak, the defiant outsider, and the dark dandy.

. . . To me – and many other gays searching for meaningful role models – he was an LGBT icon, implicitly representing sexual freedom and acceptance, especially since he so emphatically endorsed fruity fashion, Liberace-style home décor, and anything-goes lyrics, accompanied by pulsing rhythms that hammered sex and sexuality into your soul as you danced it off.

– Michael Musto
Excerpted from "Why Prince Was an LGBTQ Hero
– And a Nightmare
"
Thump
April 22, 2016



Prince helped redefine notions about black masculinity by challenging ideas about gender and sexuality not only in his appearance, but through his music. He actively questioned the idea that presenting as feminine or androgynous somehow dictates one's sexual orientation. Prince was soft. He was all frills and satin, lycra and lace. He was all those things, and he loved women. A lot. His highly sexual, complex relationship to women (Apollonia, Vanity, and so on) challenged the idea that being "soft" meant being gay. It was the perfect demonstration of how gender expression and sexuality are not the same thing. It was a reminder that black masculinity, constantly policed and undermined, could be redefined.

The narrative around Prince, gleaned from his persona and his music, was that he toyed with duality – masculine and feminine, black and white. But the beauty of Prince’s pushing of societal boundaries was that he exposed our own preoccupations with placing people, especially black people, in boxes. His racial ambiguity didn’t detract from his blackness, and his feminine aesthetic did not make him any less of a man. . . . The fact that, even after all the brave and bold expressions of masculinity he introduced to the world, he still seemed to struggle with other forms of gender and sexual expression later in his life says a lot about the ways those boxes creep back up on us.

– Zeba Blay
Excerpted from "Prince’s Revolutionary and
Complicated Relationship With Black Masculinity
"
HuffPost Black Voices
April 22, 2016






In politics, as in so many things, Prince [tried] to transcend the binary. This led him [after becoming a devout Jehovah’s Witness in 2001] to a stance on queer people that, at best, can be described as confusing. Perhaps he saw that the conversation on the issue had become too rote, too obvious, with much of the transgressive edge behind calls for liberation drained away by the simple march of progress. It was progress he helped cause, regardless of how he later felt about it.

– Spencer Kornhaber
Excerpted from "Prince: Gay Icon,
Whether He Wanted to Be or Not
"
The Atlantic
April 22, 2016



I had the good fortune of seeing Prince close to a dozen times. It was as spiritual an experience as I’d ever had; community and connection I’d never been a part of. I can distinctly remember that first time I saw Prince at Philadelphia’s Tower Theater, looking around the arena and thinking: “These are my people!”

It turns out I felt at perfectly at home with the freaks. This was family.

And among so many other gifts, this was the very solitary magic of Prince. He brought completely disparate groups of humanity together and made them feel they fit. He transcended musical genres and broke through color lines and challenged gender roles, and he boldly declared the dance floor big enough for all of us and open all night. And in that joyful and free place, we all danced.

When you were at a Prince show, you were the right color, the right shape, the right religion, the right you. And in that space you felt free in your own skin, and deeply connected to those around you in ways that defy explanation.

– John Pavlovitz
Excerpted from "How Prince Gave All the Freaks a Dance Floor"
JohnPavloitz.com
April 21, 2016




Prince was protean; there were – there are – millions of Princes, one for each fan. For me, his preternatural virtuosity was imposing but not inhibiting; his larkish faith in the moment – in perfect absences, inspired accidents, arresting convergences, towering harmonies – showed even those of us of modest proficiency that every idea ought to be chased at a gallop, that a good idea is one that feels good tonight, and if it doesn’t feel good in the morning, that’s OK; another one is on its way. He taught me, long before I read such things in books, that sexuality was fluid, that partners should equally give and receive pleasure, that real liberation depends on all of us and is possible. He reminded us that a single artist could use vanguardism as mass culture's minor seventh, that technical prowess was about dirtily programmed drum machines as much as it was about dazzling guitar fills. I’m proud to have lived near him.

– John Pavlovitz
Excerpted from "How Minneapolis Made Prince"
Slate
April 22, 2016



[With the deaths of David Bowie and Prince] we’ve lost two men who had an expansive, almost luxuriant vision of what it meant to be a man and lived out that vision through decades when it was much less safe to do so. . . . But if conventional notions of gender were only one of the things that didn’t constrain Bowie and Prince, their transcendence of this particular category is still a particularly significant part of their legacies. In the clothes they wore, the lean bodies they lived in, the way they positioned themselves in their music and art, their relationships to LGBT communities and in so many other ways, Prince and Bowie were living arguments that there is no one way, and no correct way for a man to dress, to move, to decide what he values, to choose who he loves or where he stands in relation to that person.

– Alyssa Rosenberg
Excerpted from "Mourning Prince and David Bowie,
Who Showed There’s No One Right Way to Be a Man
"
The Washington Post
April 21, 2016





How milquetoast, New York Times. [Prince] didn't "defy" shit. He fucked what the NYT so daintily described as "conventional notions of race and gender" hard, and dared you to say anything about it.

A black man, practically naked on his first album cover in 1978 – there was nothing more menacing than that then. Race, gender, sexuality, he fucked his way through all of those taboos, and it was both scary and thrilling. And he got by with it because he had the talent to back it up. And that's just a little bit of why we already miss him so hard.

Jim Burroway
via Facebook
(in response to the New York Times story,
"Prince Defied Conventional Notions of Race and Gender"
April 21, 2016



If you can’t fully embrace the humanity of the Princes walking around your community – the ones being bullied, disrespected, dehumanized, assaulted, and killed on a daily basis – I’m going to have a difficult time believing the sincerity of your outpouring of love and respect for the Purple One today. Prince had the inner fortitude, and perhaps external supports, to be his damn self and reach his potential….despite you. And though his ascension into super stardom -and the money, fame, and celebrity deification that come with – may have afforded him some protection from perspectives like yours, the truth remains many of you would have hated him if you actually knew him.

. . . If you’re unapologetically queerphobic, transphobic, homophobic, or against anyone having the audacity to live outside of your norms as it pertains to sexual and/or gender expression…you are not a Prince fan. Maybe you’re a fan of what you have told yourself Prince is, but certainly not a fan of the man who (through his words, music, messages, and performance) left no doubt about who he truly was and what he stood for.

Natasha Thomas-Jackson
Excerpted from "The Impossibility of Loving Prince
While Hating Queerness
"
The (Be)-Girl Manifesta
April 21, 2016



Prince was and always will be a default frame of reference for boys, particularly black boys, who feel left of center, eccentric – and fluid. Like the symbol that briefly became his moniker, much of what made Prince magical can't be pigeonholed, and we won't attempt to. Instead, we honor his ambiguity, mystery and genius, which told so many that the spectrum in which they themselves lived, created and loved in had value.

Continue clutching them titties, sir. We hope the paradise you're in now is music-filled, purple (obviously) and big enough for your beauty.

April 21, 2016





"A strong spirit transcends rules."

– Prince
1958-2016


Related Off-site Links:
Prince, Singer and Superstar, Dies Aged 57 at Paisley ParkBBC News (April 21, 2016).
Prince May Have Died Days After an Opiate Overdose of Percocet, a Prescription Painkiller – Edwin Rios (Mother Jones, April 22, 2016).
"He's With Our Son Now": Prince’s Ex-Wife Mayte Garcia Says She's "Deeply Saddened and Devastated" – Carly Ledbetter (The Huffington Post, April 21, 2016).
Prince: A Shy, Nonconformist, Unknowable Talent – Alexis Petridis (The Guardian, April 22, 2016).
How Prince Gave All the Freaks a Dance Floor – John Pavlovitz (JohnPavlovitz.com, April 22, 2016).
Prince Gave Black Kids Permission to Be Weirdos – Michelle Garcia (Vox, April 21, 2016).
Prince Was an Activist Who Fought for Justice Every Chance He Got – Madhuri Sathish (Bustle, April 21, 2016).
How Prince Became an Enduring Political Symbol – Lilly Workneh (HuffPost Black Voices, April 22, 2016).
How Minneapolis Made Prince – Dylan Hicks (Slate, April 22, 2016).
"He Was Ours": Mourning the Loss of Prince, Music Genius and Eternal Seeker – David Walsh (MinnPost, April 21, 2016).
The Prince I Knew – Tavis Smiley (USA Today, April 23, 2016).
When Prince Met Kate Bush – Daisy Jones (Noisey, April 22, 2016).
Prince Rogers Nelson – Alicia Garza (BlackLivesMatter.com, April 23, 2016).
The World Lights Up Purple for Prince – Lydia O’Connor (HuffPost Entertainment, April 21, 2016).
Prince: Every Album Rated – and Ranked – Simon Price (The Guardian, April 22, 2016).
25 Years On: Lovesexy by Prince Revisited – David Bennun (The Quietus, July 10, 2013).
This is Already the Saddest Year in Music History – Carly Ledbetter (HuffPost Black Voices, April 21, 2016).
Why We Grieve Artists We've Never Met, in One Tweet – Caroline Framke (Vox, April 21, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
David Bowie: Queer Messiah
Rockin' with Maxwell
A Fresh Take on Masculinity


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Quote of the Day

Even if one were to take it as granted that Hillary Clinton will eventually capture the nomination, I actually think the best thing Bernie Sanders can do for party unity is to keep right on campaigning. He’s engaging younger voters in the Democratic process and setting a bold standard for what it means to be a liberal inside the Democratic Party. And as Paul Waldman writes, the stronger the Sanders movement grows, the more likely it is that the opportunistic and ideologically malleable Clinton will tack leftward: “As president, Hillary Clinton will be as liberal as liberals force her to be.” Sanders supporters may not love or even like Clinton, but keeping pressure on her is the best way to turn her into a candidate they can live with.

– Simon Maloy
Excerpted from "Bernie Must Forge Ahead"
Salon
April 19, 2016


Related Off-site Links:
Hillary Clinton Won New York, But Her Image is Underwater – Dan Balz (The Washington Post, April 19, 2016).
Sanders Wins Majority of New York Counties Despite Clinton Victory – Lisa Hagen (The Hill, April 19, 2016).
Why Hillary Clinton Could Be the Kind of President Bernie Sanders Supporters Will Love – Paul Waldman (The American Prospect, April 18, 2016).
The Democratic Stockholm Syndrome – Peter Bloom (Common Dreams, April 20, 2016).
Has Clinton Actually Won Anything? The Theft of Election 2016Justice Gazette, April 20, 2016).
Yes, Bernie Sanders is Not a Democrat — and Hillary Represents the Very Worst of the Party – Ben Norton (Salon, April 20, 2016).
Sanders Defiant: :We Still Have a Path to the Nomination" – Harper Neidig (The Hill, April 20, 2016).
Sanders Campaign’s Commitment to Victory Irritates Media, Offends Clinton Campaign – Kevin Gosztola (Common Dreams, April 21, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders
Super Tuesday Thoughts on Bernie Sanders
Something to Think About – February 22, 2016
Quote of the Day – February 17, 2016

Image: Kristen Solberg.


Vanessa Redgrave: Speaking Out


For International Women's Day last month (March 8), the Australian website Film Ink published "Cinema’s Rebel Femmes," an informative and entertaining piece by Steve Saragossi and Erin Free that profiled "some of the movie industry’s toughest, smartest, and most rebellious women" – including Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Pam Grier, Frances Farmer, Tuesday Weld, Jean Seberg, Ida Lupino, Dorothy Dandridge, Ava Gardner, and Maya Deren. I was happy to see my two all-time favorite actresses also included: Judy Davis and Vanessa Redgrave.

Following is what Saragossi and Free say about the latter, under the headline "Vanessa Redgrave: Speaking Out."

“It’s a kinky part of my nature – to meddle.” Like a British Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave came to prominence in the sixties as a beautiful, talented actress, had a famous actor-father, has fought vociferously and passionately for many controversial causes, and has maintained a highly respected career as she crossed from doe-eyed beauty to serious roles.

As at home on the stage as on screen, Redgrave has eschewed almost all trappings of movie stardom, and has resolutely stuck to her own creative path, choosing her roles with increasing deliberation. She often stars in adaptations of stage plays, and has been careful to choose roles that, whilst not reflecting specific left-wing political views, have certainly been selected for their leanings. It's rare to find an actress who will put her beliefs on the line at the expense of her standing in the industry, but Ms. Redgrave has never shied from controversy, be it having full membership of the Workers Revolution Party, lecturing on Marxism, getting jailed at an anti-nuclear demonstration, or passionately supporting the Palestinian cause.

Having been the darling of the sixties stage and screen, and enjoying a personal and professional relationship with director Tony Richardson, she embarked on a stormy relationship with actor Franco Nero, and then one-time Bond Timothy Dalton. As her political activism became more pronounced, so her film work became less prolific. The films that Redgrave has made, however, are as impassioned as she is. Isadora (1968), The Devils (1971), A Quiet Place In The Country (1971) and Julia (1977) all reflect the burning political and sexual activism that have, and still do, run through this uncompromising actress.

Slipping easily in and out of the mainstream, Redgrave remains a challenging figure in the arts. "I've opened my mouth on a lot of subjects,”" she once said. "I thought that the more prestige you get, you have the power to do what you like. It's not true. I am misrepresented very often, but so is everybody with something to say."

– Steve Saragossi and Erin Free
Excerpted from "Cinema’s Rebel Femmes"
Film Ink
March 8, 2016



Above: Vanessa Redgrave, visiting a refugee centre in Athens, Greece – January 5, 2016. At the media conference that followed her visit to the Elaionas refugee camp, the 78-year-old actress urged the world to help debt-stricken Greece to provide shelter to hundreds of thousands of refugees who are in search of a better life in Europe and the west.

"Greece can't solve this problem and yet Greece has given us the most important lesson of all, the lesson of humanity", she said, thanking personally "all those helping the refugees from all over the world."


For more of Vanessa Redgrave at The Wild Reed, see:
Vanessa Redgrave: "Almost a Kind of Jungian Actress"
Vanessa Redgrave: "She Has Greatness"

See also:
Natasha Richardson, 1963-2009
Lynn Redgrave, 1943-2010
Rallying in Solidarity with the Refugees of Syria and the World


Monday, April 18, 2016

Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders


Once in a lifetime, the longed for
tidal wave of justice can rise up,
and hope and history rhyme.



For quite some time now I've been vocal in my support for Bernie Sanders and his presidential campaign. This is because I strongly believe he is a personification of that "longed for tidal wave of justice" of which poet Seamus Heaney speaks.

Of course, no one's perfect, including Bernie Sanders. Michael Arria, for example, documents what he calls Sanders' "troubling" support of U.S. military intervention in Kosovo and Afghanistan, and his support of Israel's "assault on Gaza."

Yet I maintain that, overall, of all the candidates, Bernie Sanders offers what the U.S. (and the world) needs most: a leader refreshingly unbeholden to corporate interests and committed to justice for all.


Why Bernie Sanders and not Hillary Clinton?

The most obvious way that Sanders demonstrates his commitment to justice is through his career-long challenging of crony capitalism and its detrimental impact on U.S. society.

Filmmaker Charles Ferguson provides a helpful historical context to all of this when he notes that the financial elites of the U.S. "are now so corrupt, arrogant and predatory that political leaders [such as presidential candidate Hillary Clinton] who are beholden to them can no longer reliably deliver economic or political security, mush less fairness or progress for the American people."

Continues Ferguson:

American politics is now truly, fundamentally up for grabs for the first time in decades – a hugely exciting but also terrifying prospect [as] American reaction against corruption and decline could bring out our best [as expressed in Sander's democratic socialist ideals, the goals of which are to create a nation of economic and social justice] or our worst [as demonstrated in Republican presidential candidate Donald Tramp's fascist tendencies and authoritarian rhetoric]. The Democratic establishment [maintains that] only a pragmatic, moderate insider [such as Clinton] can get anywhere now. Actually the truth is the opposite. American insider politics is now so corrupt and dysfunctional that nobody within it can get anything done.



Historical perspectives

In responding to the question, "Does the Hillary, Bernie battle matter that much?," Les Leopold, like Charles Ferguson, provides a helpful historical perspective and, in doing so, cites the crucial factor of neoliberalism.

We are witnessing the first campaign since 1933 that directly challenges the essential features of our economy. We are now living through a 40-year neoliberal dystopia. Finally it is under assault. Any objective observer would note that Hillary operates within that neoliberal order while Bernie is its attacker.


Yet what exactly does Leopold mean by "neoliberal"? What actually is "neoliberalism"?

I first became aware of the term neoliberalism when I was involved in various protests against corporate-led globalization in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Thanks to the writings of people such as Susan George, Vandana Shiva, David Korten, and Naomi Klein, I not only began to understand that neoliberalism was the name given to the ideology that underpins corporate-led globalization, but that such an ideology must be resisted if environmental sustainability is to be achieved and humanity is to have a future marked by justice and compassion.

As Susan George explains in her invaluable little book, Another World Is Possible, If . . .:

Neoliberalism is an economic doctrine . . . based on open competitive markets and the ‘price mechanism,’ meaning that prices must be determined by supply and demand, not by government intervention or subsidies. Neoliberals are against most state interventions in the economy, they are pro-free trade and anti-trade unions. They see the array of social protections afforded by the welfare state as nothing but state-organized theft and consequently they want to reduce taxes.

One of their number in the U.S. is Grover Norquist. He heads the organization Americans for Tax Reform and says, “We want to get government down to the size where you can drown it in the bathtub.” Except, of course, for the military . . .

Whatever the qualifiers used – corporate-led, finance-driven, or neoliberal – they all describe world capitalism’s most recent phase which it entered roughly around 1980. From the onset, say about 500 years ago, capitalism existed as a global phenomenon. The difference today lies in its scope and the nature of its major actors: giant corporations and mega-financial institutions now have remarkable latitude to set rules that govern everyone, especially because they also frequently control the media. They seek ever greater power to bend national and international policies to fit their needs. . . . Fortunately, both anger and revolt are on the rise.


Yes, and we're seeing this rising anger and revolt in the surging popularity of "outsider" candidates in the current U.S. presidency race, be these candidates from the right (Donald Trump) or the left (Bernie Sanders).



Neoliberalism: "The God that failed"

As you're reading this post, you're probably recognizing that, as an economic ideology, neoliberalism is most famously associated with the policies introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom and Ronald Reagan in the United States. Some academics see the implementation of neoliberal policies and the acceptance of neoliberal economic theories in the 1970s as the root of financialization and of one of this form of capitalism's most destabilizing consequences, the financial crisis of 2007–08.

Writing after this and a string of other crises, George Monbiot reminds us that "neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that 'the market' delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning."

Because of its devastating economic and political impact on people, culture, and the environment, Monbiot refers to neoliberalism as "the God that failed" and as "the zombie doctrine at the root of all our problems."

Les Leopold also provides a succinct definition of neoliberalism, along with a helpful overview of its emergence and ongoing impact, especially in the U.S.

Neoliberalism refers to the set of theories and practices that swept through our political system (and many others) in the late 1970s. Put in its most simplified terms, it argues that prosperity for all will occur only if we 1) cut taxes (especially on the higher income brackets); 2) cut government regulations on the private sector, and; 3) cut/privatize government social programs. This combination of policies, it is argued, maximizes economic efficiency and increases economic incentives which together continually improve and expand our economy.

By the time Reagan came into office, both political parties had adopted this model. In short, order trucking, airlines, telecommunications and finance were deregulated. Taxes on the highest income earners were slashed. Cuts in welfare became the order of the day. Both parties tripped over themselves to “unleash” the private sector.

Both parties also oversaw cuts in government employment and the privatization of government services. Corporate taxes as a percent of state and local revenues fell by half. Both parties acted as if any and all jobs in the private sector, by definition, were more wholesome than those in the public sector. And both parties competed strenuously for Wall Street campaign funds by eviscerating New Deal controls on speculative activity and the size of financial institutions. Goodbye Glass Steagall — Hello too-big-to-fail banks.

That set in motion a generation of runaway inequality as the incomes of the wealthy skyrocketed while the wages of the average worker stagnated.


So how does Bernie Sanders fit into all this talk about neoliberalism? Well, Sanders is unique among the presidential candidates as he is consistently talking about the "runaway inequality" set in motion by the ideology of neoliberalism. Accordingly, he is well-versed in highlighting and discussing two crucially important and related realities: the destructive undermining of the social fabric, of democracy, and of the environment by neoliberalism and the reality of neoliberalism itself as the cause of this destructive undermining. The Republican candidates sure aren't identifying neoliberalism as the underlying problem. They're all for it! And Hillary Clinton is far too beholden to corporate interests to offer a viable and credible way out of the "neoliberal dystopia" we've been in for the last 40 years.



Bernie Sanders, however, has "walked the (anti-neoliberalism) talk" throughout his 30+ political career. That's why those who recognize and understand the neoliberal ideology at the root of our many problems are so excited about his candidacy. They see hope in him and in his campaign.

Furthermore, what Bernie Sanders has to say and how he understands the real issues, problems, and solutions inspires and unites people across generational, cultural and racial lines – more so than any other candidate. I find that, in itself, hopeful.



"A chance to rewrite history"

It continues to both astound and disappoint me that anyone who considers themselves progressive would choose the hawkish and Wall Street-beholden Hillary Clinton over the consistently progressive Bernie Sanders.

I often hear statements like: "I agree with Bernie but I’m going to vote for Hillary because she can get things done." I'm sorry, but there is nothing in Hillary Clinton's record that demonstrates an ability to make the kind of fundamental changes so desperately needed for the economic, political, and environmental flourishing of the U.S. I hear these types of arguments from Clinton supporters and am reminded of how terribly sad it is when people convince themselves to vote against their own hopes, principles, and ethics. In doing so they are supporting a system they admit is rigged and a candidate they know is "flawed," "not particularly inspiring" and who will enact a "terrifying foreign policy" (all descriptions I've heard in relation to Hillary Clinton).

In short, those who support Clinton over Sanders are, in the words of author John Atcheson, "missing the point and the moment."

"At this moment, in this time," writes Atcheson, "we have a chance to rewrite history . . . to restore government to a role in which it assures an equitable economy and society; a role that isn’t one of a scapegoat, a punch line, or a tool of the Oligarchy; a role where once again, government is the vehicle we use to accomplish great things together."

Scholar and activist Cornel West makes a similar point when he writes that "the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders is unique in American history. Never before has there been such a popular upsurge within the two-party system, led by a democratic socialist rooted in the best of the prophetic Jewish culture. This historic campaign is more than a monumental battle over the soul of the Democratic Party. It is, more significantly, a moral and spiritual awakening of fellow citizens for the rebirth of American democracy."




"A new symbol . . ." At a rally at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore. on Friday, March 25, 2016, a small bird alighted on Bernie Sanders' podium. According to birders it was a female finch. The finch is said to be an animal totem unafraid to express what makes its heart sing. Outwardly jovial and upbeat, it has many lessons to teach about joy, appreciation, optimism, and simplicity. It is said that its appearance portents to exciting and joyful times ahead. One writer at The Daily Kos shared Caleb Cruse's image above, and expressed the belief that the appearance of the finch at Bernie's rally was "a new symbol for a new age."


___________________________


I close with a selection of excerpts from recent articles and commentaries about both Bernie's campaign and the Democratic presidential race in general.


Here’s the reality: Sanders is shooting up in the polls, and Hillary is trending down. The gap between the two has all but disappeared at the halfway point of the primary season. Sanders main opponent isn’t Hillary Clinton, however, it's the combination of time and an Establishment media that steadfastly refuses to cover the movement that is feeding his ascendency.

– John Atcheson
Excerpted from "How Can Sanders Win It All?
It's The Passion, Stupid

Common Dreams
April 5, 2016



Bernie represents a special phenomenon in progressive politics. He singularly has made inequality and poverty the focal point of the presidential election – that is his contribution to progressive politics and he’s energizing young people to an extent never seen before. Whether you are supporting him or opposing him there is no denying the impact that he’s had on progressive politics.

– Ritchie Torres
Quoted in Gloria Pazmino's article, "After Public Anguish,
Bronx Councilman Endorses Sanders on Eve of Primary

Politico New York
April 18, 2016



For once in a very long time, we have the opportunity to elect a New Deal Democrat with a clean record, who is calling out the system for what it is, who is changing the conversation, who has been on the right side of history time and time again, who refuses to rely on Super PACs, who is powered by contributions from everyday people, who continues to set unprecedented fundraising milestones ($44 million in March) - and who beats Trump by double digits in almost all of the national polls (at a greater margin than Clinton).

Let that all sink in.

A Sanders presidency would be revolutionary – a yuuge break from the stranglehold corporations have on our government. Those are but a few reasons why I #FeeltheBern.

. . . Right now, despite what the mainstream media would have you believe, we still have a real choice. And instead of having to vote for the lesser of two evils, we have the opportunity to vote for the greater good.

– Kris Seto
Excerpted from "27 Honest Questions for Hillary Supporters
HuffPost Politics
April 7, 2016



In this election, we have an alternative. In Senator Bernie Sanders, we have a truly progressive candidate who has spent 25 years in Congress passing substantive legislation, never wavering from his ethics and principles for the sake of money or power. Unlike past progressive candidates, Senator Sanders has built a strong following, has more than adequate funding, and can handily beat any Republican candidate in the general election. Yet the DNC is supporting – again! – Hillary Clinton, a weak, flawed candidate who constantly flip-flops on crucial issues, has a record of hawkish foreign policy, may be indicted for violations of national security, is in bed with corporate interests, has a consistently unfavorable rating with voters, and will be hard-pressed to beat even the weakest Republican in the general election.

– Nikki Lambert
Excerpted from "The Moral Relativity Principle
No Longer Applies to Progressives
"
OpEd News
March 18, 2016



The Sanders campaign rejects the neoliberal order. It argues that Wall Street and our campaign finance system are “rigged” and must be radically restructured. Each of his proposals is designed to redistribute wealth from the billionaire class to the rest of society and re-establish robust social services.

The emblematic proposal is the financial speculation tax to fund free higher education. It hits neoliberalism where it lives. It moves hundreds of billions of dollars from Wall Street into the expansion of higher education. Just like the GI Bill of Rights after WWII, it would produce millions of new jobs to construct, teach and administer at expanded colleges and universities. And none of these jobs could be exported.

Sanders knows that these proposals, along with campaign finance reform, massive infrastructure investments, single payer health care, and public banks will crash into a mighty neoliberal wall of resistance. Nearly every Republican congressperson, along with corporate Democrats, will defend their system and undermine Sanders proposals. Hence, the pie-in-the-sky critique.

And Sanders knows what he’s up against — what we’re up against. Nothing changes unless we mobilize en masse to take on the neoliberal machine. An election here or there won’t change it. It requires following the path of civil rights activists and labor organizers who in the past built mighty movements in the streets, in the courts and in the political arena.

– Les Leopold
Excerpted from "Does the Hillary, Bernie Battle Matter That Much?
Common Dreams
April 16, 2016



The most significant fact about the [Sanders] movement is the disproportionate youth of its supporters. As such, it has the potential to go from an insurgency against the Democratic establishment to becoming the future of the Democratic Party. I think that young Democratic leaders with ambition are realizing that, which explains why some of them have chosen to come out in support of Sanders. However, Sanders is less a savior than a harbinger – more John than Jesus. If the potential of his movement is to be realized fully, it will be at the hands of others - perhaps an Elizabeth Warren or Cory Booker – who will put in the blood, toil, sweat and tears to take it from vision to reality. And, above all, it will require a institutionalization of the ideals into something at once more mundane and more durable – an establishment. In this, it can follow the example of the conservative movement of the 1960s, which led ultimately to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, and a conservative vise-grip on American politics for a quarter century. To achieve similar success on the liberal side, the Sanders movement will need to go from attacking the Democratic establishment to becoming the Democratic establishment.

– Ali Minai
Excerpted from "The Promise and Peril of Bernie Sanders
Barbarikon
April 17, 2016



The irony of [economist Paul] Krugman's [and others' attacks on Bernie Sanders' proposed economic programs] is that [these] proposals represent what were once Democratic party positions and programs – positions that have been abandoned by the party and its mouthpiece economists since the 1980s as it morphed into a wing of the neoliberal agenda.

Sanders' critics have been especially agitated that their own economic models are being used to show that Sanders' proposals would greatly benefit the vast majority in the U.S. But debating Krugman and his neoliberal colleagues on the grounds of their faulty economic model – a model that failed miserably under Obama to produce a sustained, real economic recovery in the U.S. – is not necessary. Their model has been broken for some time. Some straightforward historical facts and recent comparative studies are all that's needed to show that a real financial transaction tax can generate more revenue than is needed to fund a single-payer type [healthcare] program.

– Jack Rasmus
Excerpted from "Neoliberal Economists:
Against Bernie Sanders and Common Sense

TeleSUR via TruthOut
April 9, 2016



Yes, he’s still vague on details. But if Sanders doesn’t know enough about foreign policy (yet) at least he’s willing to say so. Ultimately Sanders is taking most heat because he refused to bullshit his way through places where he felt out of his depth. But as a foreign policy expert, I was heartened by his willingness to say, “I haven’t thought enough about that yet,” and his comfort in acknowledging and correcting mistakes of fact or semantics. I see this as a strength, not a weakness – in my students, in my colleagues, in people generally and certainly in a Presidential candidate. The world is a complex place and none of us are or can be experts on everything. Indeed, as someone who lived under the rule of George W. Bush – a President who also knew precious little about the world but acted as if he didn’t need guidance from experts – this foreign policy “pro” finds the humility of Sanders’ stance, coupled with the sensibility and morality of his vision, not a little reassuring.

– Charli Carpenter
Excerpted from "'Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Know "Enough"
About Foreign Policy'? Who Does, Really?
"
Duck of Minerva
April 10, 2016



Some might feel that it is hopeless to fight the economic juggernaut, that once market economy escaped [as a result of neoliberalism] the boundaries of morality it would be impossible to bring the economy back under the dictates of morality and the common good. I am told time and time again by the rich and powerful, and the mainstream media that represent them, that we should be "practical," that we should accept the status quo; that a truly moral economy is beyond our reach. Yet Pope Francis himself is surely the world’s greatest demonstration against such a surrender to despair and cynicism. He has opened the eyes of the world once again to the claims of mercy, justice, and the possibilities of a better world. He is inspiring the world to find a new global consensus for our common home.

– Bernie Sanders
Excerpted from his speech at the Vatican,
"The Urgency of a Moral Economy:
Reflections on the 25th Anniversary of Centesimus Annus
"
April 15, 2016



Sanders has made no secret of his regard for Pope Franis' economic analysis. Before leaving the Vatican, he told reporters: “I have been enormously impressed with Pope Francis speaking out and his visionary views about creating a moral economy, an economy that works for all people, not just the people on top.”

Hailing Pope Francis for saying "over and over again: 'We cannot allow the market just to do what the market does, that is not acceptable,'" Sanders used his talk at the Vatican to amplify the argument that an economy that allows "unfettered capitalism" to define its direction and outcomes is "immoral and unsustainable." Sanders placed that argument in historical and contemporary context, referencing Catholic social teachings and concerns about "reckless financial deregulation" and "an unprecedented flow of money into American politics," and the senator said that in the United States, "Rather than an economy aimed at the common good, we have been left with an economy operated for the top 1 percent, who get richer and richer as the working class, the young, and the poor fall further and further behind."

– John Nichols
Excerpted from "Bernie Sanders Went to Rome to Discuss
the Immorality of Unfettered Capitalism
"
The Nation
April 17, 2016



The depth of Clinton’s contempt for Sanders has had a deeply destabilising effect, allowing a space for the full articulation of long held suspicions about the extent to which the ideological differences between leftists and progressives are reconcilable to surface. Since the 1990s, progressives have increasingly focussed their egalitarian spirit towards issues like marriage equality and the gender pay gap; the social justice concerns of the upwardly mobile. Of course in questions of identity politics these issues are as good as any other, but they do not a complete worldview, nor a presidential platform make. The contradiction that the Sanders campaign has forced into the arena is that, if you are more or less a neoliberal, you can ill afford to scrutinise too rigorously broad-based questions of economic justice. The problem is what it has always been, class. Yet instead of getting down in the trenches and grappling with it, Clintonites have gone on the offensive, levelling all manner of accusations at Sanders advocates. They are privileged, they are white, they are young, they are single issue, they are not playing the long game, they are impractical, they are irresponsible, they do not understand realpolitik and they absolutely cannot do math. This commentary has been so shot through with condescension, disregard, and a general tone (pardon the pun), that it could be construed as an attempt to filibuster a way to the start line. I mean, who needs Republicans when you have friends like that? These allegations however have not dampened the mutinous spirit. Sanders is still in the race and he is gaining momentum, stretching even longer the distance between leftists and progressives that at some point will need to be bridged or abandoned.

Clinton is a pioneer, certainly, and it does matter that she is a woman, of course it does. But it does not matter more than the fundamentals of a long and hazardous struggle for economic justice. Nothing ever has. The momentum of the Sanders campaign is a result of his open acknowledgment of the centrality of economic justice to the possibility of every other thing, and no amount of identity politicking is going to be distracting enough to obscure that. Feminist Andrea Dworkin famously noted in her critique of a left that would conflate pornography with freedom, that “the Left cannot have its whores and its politics too.” It looks as though Clintonites are fast discovering that as far as the Sanders platform is concerned, progressives cannot have Wall Street and their equality politics too. Theatrics aside, on both sides of politics, paradigm shifts look set to be negotiated in what might yet prove to be democracy's finest hour.

– Aisling O’Donnell
Excerpted from "How Sanders Exposes the
Democratic Establishment's Neoliberal Underbelly

Common Dreams
April 6, 2016



While Clinton is great at warring with Republicans, taking on powerful corporations goes against her entire worldview, against everything she’s built, and everything she stands for. The real issue, in other words, isn’t Clinton’s corporate cash, it’s her deeply pro-corporate ideology: one that makes taking money from lobbyists and accepting exorbitant speech fees from banks seem so natural that the candidate is openly struggling to see why any of this has blown up at all.

To understand this worldview, one need look no further than the foundation at which Hillary Clinton works and which bears her family name. The mission of the Clinton Foundation can be distilled as follows: There is so much private wealth sloshing around our planet (thanks in very large part to the deregulation and privatization frenzy that Bill Clinton unleashed on the world while president), that every single problem on earth, no matter how large, can be solved by convincing the ultra-rich to do the right things with their loose change. Naturally, the people to convince them to do these fine things are the Clintons, the ultimate relationship brokers and dealmakers, with the help of an entourage of A-list celebrities.

. . . The problem with Clinton World is structural. It’s the way in which these profoundly enmeshed relationships – lubricated by the exchange of money, favors, status, and media attention – shape what gets proposed as policy in the first place.




Sanders’ critique of Clinton isn’t that she is unqualified or inexperienced. It is far tougher and more substantive. His campaign is premised on the belief that she is too compromised and conservative to be the president we need. It isn’t about character or experience; it is about direction, program and independence.

Sanders argues that our economy is rigged to favor the few, and our politics is corrupted by the big money, special interests and revolving door appointments that keep fixing the game. He argues we need fundamental change, not simply piecemeal or incremental reform if we are to make this economy work for working people once more.

Sanders is running because he believes that Clinton is too compromised in her agenda. He has defined major substantive areas of disagreement: on corporate trade policies, on the need for major public investment and a sweeping initiative to take on global warming, on national health care, on breaking up the big banks and curbing Wall Street, on progressive taxation that will pay for tuition free public college, on $15.00 an hour minimum wage and empowering workers to organize, on dialing down our interventionist foreign policy and more.

– Robert Borosage
Excerpted from "Sanders on Clinton: Not Unqualified, Compromised
Common Dreams
April 11, 2016



Hillary supporters think Bernie supporters are always bashing her. I say they're exposing her. Sometimes telling the truth looks like bashing, especially when the truth is really, really ugly. The fact of the matter is, Hillary Clinton is on the corporate Wall St. payroll, Bernie Sanders is on ours. She works for them, and he works for us. Any questions?

– Mike
via Facebook



Not voting for Hillary Clinton doesn't mean you're guilty of selling out another woman. It's sadly true that many of the criticisms of Hillary Clinton – from her pantsuits to her politics – are colored by sexism. But there are numerous legitimate reasons to not vote for Hillary, too. There are feminist voters who can't forgive her spotty record on LGBT rights. There are feminist voters who don’t like how she backed an escalation of the war in Afghanistan while she was Secretary of State. There are feminist voters who like how Bernie Sanders has been a leader against mass incarceration for years.

We're beyond the political era of supporting women just because they're women – would female voters go to hell for not supporting, say, Sarah Palin? Nope. Because regardless of her gender, you can disagree with her policies. That's the sticking point here – arguing that female voters should support Hillary Clinton solely on the grounds that she is a woman does her a disservice. Women should vote for Hillary Clinton if they believe she’s a competent, intelligent, and inspirational politician who is good at sometimes delivering particularly delicious orations shutting down Republican anti-abortion extremists. The pervasiveness of sexism in the framing and discussion of Clinton means we can't judge all criticisms of her in the same way we judge criticisms of male politicians—as many writers have pointed out, her tone, looks, and word choice are all policed more harshly than Sanders'. But that doesn’t mean we can't be critical of her at all.

– Sarah Mirk
Excerpted from "You Can Be a Feminist
and Not Support Hillary Clinton
"
Bitch Media
February 9, 2016



No one else in this race has earned millions of dollars from speeches to Wall Street banks and investment firms. No one else was paid $675,000 for a series of speeches to Goldman Sachs. And, no one else in the race is trying to make the case that despite their financial ties to Wall Street that they are best positioned to hold that industry accountable for its practices.

Only Clinton.

Those are the facts. Clinton isn't being held to a different standard on the release of her paid speech transcripts. She's being held to a standard commensurate with her place in the race (the front-runner), her emphasis on her resume during the campaign and her message that she is the best equipped to address the economic inequality rampant in the country today.

– Chris Cillizza
Excerpted from "The New York Times Just Perfectly Explained Hillary Clinton’s Goldman Sachs Speech Problem
The Washington Post
February 26, 2016



We should expect Hillary to show the world that she’s tough. Her support for the Iraq War was not an aberration. She has consistently been more hawkish than Obama on Syria by asking for more support for the so-called moderate rebels, and in calling for a highly problematic no-fly zone. While she says that currently America should not send more ground troops to the Middle East, she is quite comfortable with the steady use of special ops.

More importantly, she was clearly in the General Petraeus camp by urging Obama to put 40,000 troops into Afghanistan to conduct a wider counter- insurgency war. That should give great pause to Hillary supporters, like former anti-Vietnam War leader, Tom Hayden, who should be suffering horrendous flashbacks when they hear such enthusiastic support for counter-insurgency. It seems that the interventionists learned nothing from the death and destruction wrought by counter insurgency in Vietnam. Even Tom Hayden seems to be suffering from selective amnesia.

Hillary calls her foreign policy doctrine ‘smart power’ — the projection of democratic values, human rights, and American interests through diplomacy, backed by force if necessary. Regime change is never off the table. Rather it is something that should be done smarter, rather than the way Bush and the neo-cons pursued that strategy in Iraq.

Yet when Hillary pushed for regime change in Libya, it would be hard to find any smartness in the chaos which followed and is still with us. Had Obama taken her advice in Syria, the arms she wanted to send to the “moderate” rebels would probably have flowed to ISIS. Her ill-conceived no-fly zone didn’t even have the support of the military who thought it would require the support of 70,000 U.S troops and possibly lead to a conflagration throughout the region. But all of that is part of her “smart power” doctrine.

– Les Leopold
Excerpted from "Would Hillary Overthrow a Government Run by Bernie?
Common Dreams
April 18, 2016



Passion drives turnout, and turnout determines elections. It’s that simple. Consider the 2014 mid-terms – the most disastrous election for the Democratic Party in modern history. Democrats lost the Senate and the House by near record margins. Why? Progressives were fed up, and the majority of the people in the US—on an issue-by-issue-basis—are progressive. They were fed up by politicians who took money and orders from plutocrats, while running from any positions that might require commitment, constancy, and accountability. When Republicans mounted a PR campaign against Obamacare, Democrats ran from it. They hid from global warming and the need to curtail fossil fuels; they refused to embrace government as a power for public good, allowing Republican talking points about the evils of government and regulation to stand unopposed.

The result was the lowest voter turnout since World War II. Progressives stayed home in droves, while ignoramuses jacked up on fear, hate, and blame, poured out to vote. To quote Yeats' "The Second Coming," The best lacked all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity . . .

Until Sanders forced her to take progressive positions, Hillary Clinton was pretty much indistinguishable from the Democratic candidates who so repulsed voters in 2014. In fact, she is the second least-trusted and most disliked candidate in the race. Trump is the only candidate that beats her on both counts. Sanders is the most trusted and most well-liked candidate from either party.

If the Establishment continues to attempt to declare Hillary’s coronation as inevitable, and continues to ignore Sanders, there’s some danger they may succeed in making it a self-fulfilling prophesy.

And if she is the Democrats’ standard bearer, look for real progressives to once again stay home in droves. It may be that the horror of Trump simply isn’t enough to get people to once again betray their values in voting booth. In that case, the worst, full of passionate intensity, will show up at the polls, while the best stay home.

Which brings us to one more trend . . . In head-to-head races against the remaining Republican candidates, Sanders does better than Clinton against each one of them. And not by a little bit. In fact, while Kasich gets walloped by Sanders, Clinton loses outright. People have been aching for a choice that doesn’t include candidates who are beholden to corporate money. Sanders has given them that. If he were the candidate, not only would the Democrats have more assurance of taking the White House, but they’d do better in the House, Senate, and in state governments – which at the time are overwhelmingly Republican.

So to all those in the Establishment calling for Bernie to get out of the race for the good of the Party and to the superdelegates who are supposed to be representing the interests of the Party – please consider this: the person who should bow out for the good of the party might just be Hillary Clinton.

Bottom line: The Democratic Party has a choice – they can be the Party of the Plutocrats, in which case they can continue to split the difference between a minority of those voting, or they can be the Party of the People, in which case they will win across the board.

– John Atcheson
Excerpted from "How Can Sanders Win It All?
It's The Passion, Stupid

Common Dreams
April 5, 2016





Related Off-site Links:
Democrats March Toward Cliff – Robert Parry (Consortium News, April 18, 2016).
Magical Realism, and Other Neoliberal Delusions – Corey Robin (Jacobin, April 16, 2016).
Can Bernie Sanders Upset Hillary Clinton in New York? – John Cassidy (The New Yorker, April 10, 2016).
Why Bernie Sanders is More Electable Than People Think – Benjamin Studebaker (HuffPost Politics, February 12, 2016).
Report: Sanders Earned Less in a Year Than Clinton in a Single Speech – Mark Hensch (The Hill, April 15, 2016).
Juan González: Clinton Has "Really Distorted" What Happened When New York Daily News Interviewed SandersDemocracy Now! (April 15, 2016).
Move Over, Trump: Polls Show Bernie Sanders is 2016’s Most Popular Candidate – Ariel Edwards-Levy (HuffPost Politics, April 15, 2016).
Here's Why I Totally Disagree with the Daily News Editorial Board's Hillary Clinton Endorsement – Shaun King (New York Daily News, April 13, 2016).
"She's Baldly Lying": Dana Frank Responds to Hillary Clinton's Defense of Her Role in Honduras CoupDemocracy Now! (April 13, 2016).
Hillary Clinton's Double Standards on Human Rights – Stephen Zunes (National Catholic Reporter, April 11, 2016).
Disqualifications, Not Qualifications – Hank Edson (Common Dreams, April 9, 2016).
A Short History of the Media Smugly Dismissing Bernie Sanders' Campaign at Every Step of the Way – Branko Marcetic (In These Times, April 5, 2016).
Year of the Outsider: Why Bernie Sanders’ Democratic Rebellion is so Significant – Thomas Palley (ThomasPalley.com, April 5, 2016).
While Clinton Backed 2011 Trade Deal, Sanders Foresaw Panama Papers Fiasco – Lauren McCauley (Common Dreams, April 5, 2016).
 Bernie Sanders Will Make the Economy Great Again – Robert Pollin (The Nation, March 29, 2016).
Like Obama in 2008, Sanders Seeking Superdelegate Switcharoos – Deirdre Fulton (Common Dreams, March 28, 2016).
How the Democratic Party Establishment Suffocates Progressive Change – Thomas Palley (Common Dreams, March 22, 2016).
Is Democratic Socialism the American Dream? – John Bellamy Foster (The Washington Post, March 23, 2016).
I’m a Blue-collar Worker in the South and I Support Bernie Sanders — Here’s Why – Amanda Girard (U.S. Uncut, March 26, 2016).
This One Bird for Sanders: World Peace, Political Revolution, and the Sparrow – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, March 25, 2016).
Bernie Marches with Verizon Workers as Its Execs and Lobbyists Give Big to Hillary – Zaid Jilani (AlterNet, October 26, 2015).
Hurricane Katrina and Bernie Sanders: From Neoliberal Disaster to "Political Revolution" – Adolph Reed, Jr., Michael Francis and Steve Strffler (BernieSAnders.com, August 29, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Super Tuesday Thoughts on Bernie Sanders
Something to Think About – February 22, 2016
Quote of the Day – February 17, 2016
In a Blow to Democracy, U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Corporate Personhood

Image 1: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife Dr. Jane O'Meara Sanders wave to the crowd as they take the stage on February 2, 2016 in Claremont, New Hampshire. (Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty)
Image 2: CNN.
Images 3-5: Michael J. Bayly.
Image 6: A sign spotted in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. (Photo: kzoop/flickr/cc)
Image 7: Elizabeth Landers/CNN.
Image 8: Caleb Cruse.
Image 9: The Associated Press.