No Turning Back Now

In a nutshell: the last forty years (since Reagan) has been an exploration of the neo-conservative proposition that the only legitimate way to negotiate the distribution of power is the free market. It led initially to deregulation and then “trickle-down economics.” As the evidence mounted that those strategies were failing, the ideologues used their control of government to rig the system so that the subscribers to the ideology enjoyed financial success — a “tinkle-down” economics that undermined the operation of the free market.

What we are witnessing in 2020 is demonstration after demonstration that the profit motive, left unchecked, creates fragile systems that cannot survive disruption. To survive in this era, the public at large will move to make the economic elite irrelevant. That is evident in political exercises that insist “we will take care of those threatened by economic and political disenfranchisement.” Examples include the CARES and HEROES acts, lining up to vote during a pandemic, giving away food and drink to BLM protesters. The elite can attempt to pull the financial rug out from under these efforts, but what they will discover is that it is far easier to nationalize assets than it is to buy them. People without a stake in the system, looking into a future with no opportunity, will construct a parallel economy built around value, rather than profit.

A Hill of Beans to Die On?

Just finished listening to Maddow’s interview of Mary Trump.

I find the juxtaposition with Trump’s promotion of Goya beans to be unnerving. Hayes profiled the polling that shows that while Trump is heading for a disastrous loss in November, the majority of self-identifying Republicans consider their loyalty to be to Trump rather than the GoP. Trump’s falling poll numbers are thus an indication that those loyal to the GoP are exiting the party.

In this context, the only rational goal of the man who promised to “run the nation like a business” is to seek to cash in on his position. Investigative reporting shows that Trump is laundering money of uncertain origin through his golf courses. Given the misappropriation of inaugural funds, I would not be at all surprised to learn that Trump is siphoning money from his re-election campaign into his private accounts.

The promotion of Goya beans from the Oval Office is of a piece with this hypothesis. How much has Goya contributed to the Trump campaign?

I suggested here that bookies would find it profitable to run a lottery on Trump’s state of refuge following his departure from the White House. His lack of attention to the COVID crisis may reflect his acceptance of the fact that his loss is inevitable, a vicious punishment for the electorate that is betraying him. I think that following his loss, his only interest, between November and January, is going to be arranging his flight to a state that will guarantee him non-extradition.

Foaming at the Mouth

The degree to which the Republican grandees have abandoned the Constitution is revealed in their justification for suppressing mail-in voting:

If we allow mail-in voting, no Republican will ever be elected President.

Hello: last I checked, the United States was a representative democracy. That means that dogmatists can expected to be checked by the will of the people. When your policies make you unelectable, you need to change your policies.

In other words, what the Trump, McConnel, and their ilk are saying is “if we want to have another Republican president, we will have to abandon our corrupt crony-capitalism Federal racket.”

Which, actually, is just fine by me.

Turned Off

I do not subscribe to shame. It is somewhat pitiful, rather, that they need it so badly that they rape me in my dreams.

They have been proud of the control they wield over the President, but the hammer blows fall faster and faster. They try new gambits.

So after the rape, this dream: I am appealing to my sons for financial support, and they ignore me. Flying toward an ancient city, I float over a carpeted field of discards. Drawn below, I tug at the loosened ends of a roll. Two ceramic plates? No, they didn’t like that.

A pause, and I try again. Two tablets. I turn the first one on and the dream shifts. The screen displays the vibrantly-hued pages of a comic book. I look around me. Rich color everywhere.

You see, I cannot see pictures when I dream. They have occupied that part of my mind, and do not let images through.

Am I supposed to be impressed? You have trapped yourself in the avenues of my imagination. I will see visions again, with or without your consent. The question is only whether you will be torn apart in the realization of that eventuality.

So, no, I did not feel obligated by the gift. Rather, I calmly asked, “And just what does this do for the people that I love and serve?”

Sixes and Sevens

This month Ecstatic Dance LA starts its seventh year. Next month, I start my seventh decade. That could be an a coincidence, but I find an odd meaning in that parallel.

The Hindus chose seven chakras and the Holy Books have seven days of creation. Understood correctly, the two are related. I look back at the last three decades and I see the chakras progressing through the heart (seat of wellness and social trust), throat (seat of social expression), and third eye (seat of personal realization). Looking forward, I pray that my seventh decade will lead to divine manifestation.

In entering its seventh year, Ecstatic Dance LA has no other path forward. Until January, I made the trip down from Ventura twice a month to join you physically on the dance floor. In February, facing financial ruin and suffering from a premonition that disaster was about to befall us, I stopped. It was only a month later that the doors closed and the dance became a virtual experience.

That may be frustrating for many of you, especially those that rely upon physicality to engage reality. The body has its perks, but also pitfalls. Confronting its dominance during the dance, over the years I did my best to raise consciousness. Sometimes the response was grateful; sometimes incredulous; sometimes hostile.

Ecstatic Dance merges personalities through music and movement. Through physical contact, we facilitate that merger, negotiating control and surrender. If Ecstatic Dance is going to survive, we must see beyond the physical metaphor. We must reach up into the divine realm, knocking humbly at the gates of love, and allow it to temper us as we merge in the realm of spirit.

I hope that you will join me there.

Responsibility

For the last twenty years I have wandered the world talking with people that claim the authority of Love, telling them that they were sending Love’s precious children into places of darkness that were painful to them.

Without exception, their response was “Who do you think you are? Some people gave me a piece of paper. And these other people pay me money to do what I do!”

At the end of last year, the pain finally wore me out, and I started telling them, “Look – love does not take vengeance. It does not punish people. It just goes away. Understand me: in its raw form, the natural world is a destructive place.”

And they said “Who do you think you are?” Worse, they started telling others to ensure that I do not have the resources to continue the work that I do.

My response: during the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, the evening news on MS-NBC documented the fear and exhaustion and heartbreak of the front-line healthcare workers. At night, I opened my heart to that pain and called angels down to sustain and protect them. After my tears had exhausted themselves and I drifted across the globe, a man’s voice range out to announce: “It’s Brian Balke.”

I rescue those that I can.

Evangelical Advice

I tried so long to warn you. But I love you, and so I will try again.

Ignore the king you elected, for kings always disappoint.

Stay home. Be prayerful and listen for the still, quiet voice in your hearts.

This is what you will hear:

You cannot shop around for the truth and expect to find it. Your pastor does not have a privileged line to God. He is only telling you what you want to hear.

Church is not like shopping. It is not like a swap meet. Worship requires that people sit in a confined setting for long periods. Most houses of worship are laid out like sports arenas or concert halls, not like retail stores where racks of clothing and shelves of goods separate customers.

Stay home. Be prayerful. Listen for the still, quiet voice.

The coronavirus is a warning – in the most direct terms – that the path you are being led down ends in death.

Chief Injustice

When the founders designed the Federal government, they thought carefully about how to ensure that at least one branch would be protected from electoral pressure – the Judicial Branch.

The other branches of government have staggered turnovers: the House of Representatives every other year, the Senate every six years, and the President every four years. The idea was that the longer the term, the more resistant to public pressure. It is for this reason that the Senate prides itself on being the “greatest deliberative body in the world.”

But the federal judiciary serve lifetime terms because they are intended to be immune to political pressure. They need not consider how a decision or opinion from the bench will affect their electoral prospects. This allowed the Supreme Court, early in the history of nation (Marbury vs. Madison), to claim the role of deciding whether the actions of the other branches were legal under the terms of the highest law of the land – the US Constitution.

The founders understood that political actors would use the powers of office to secure their position. In other words, the founders understood that every act by a elected official would have political consequences. In the hoped-for outcome, good policy would lead the voters to re-elect the official. In the unfortunate case, exposure of misconduct would cause the voters to deny the official their office.

Unfortunately, that requires that the misconduct be revealed. The founders again provided diverse methods for that to occur. The first is the free press. The second is the balance of powers: each of the three branches has the opportunity to check misconduct in the other branches.

The Supreme Court is intended to be the branch most immune to pressure when it exercises that responsibility. Unfortunately, it has abdicated that role. Under the guidance of “Chief Justice” John Roberts, the justices selected by Republican presidents have decided that they wish to avoid “political involvement.”

This is absolutely childish. Every act of the federal government has political outcomes. That one party or the other claims a case is “political” is natural, but irrelevant. The job of the court is to decide whether the actions of officials in the other branches is legal under the Constitution. To abdicate that role is absurd, childish, and cause for impeachment. It is the reason that the Supreme Court exists.

This is not idle speculation. The Court, considering the national conspiracy to disenfranchise electors in 2010 (The GoP “Red Map” project), determined that it was “nonjusticiable.” In other words, the Court would not decide whether the plan violated the Constitution right to vote in free and fair elections.

Similarly, the conservative members of the Court have avoided intervention to enforce Congressional subpoenas that are essential to exposing criminality in the Executive Branch.

This injustice is a political act. The chief proponent of that policy, John Roberts, is woefully ill-suited to his role. Claiming that the Court should avoid political entanglements is absurd. When a question of legality or legitimacy is brought before the court, the only criterion that the Court can consider is the Law, with the Constitution as the ultimate standard for legality.

Postal, Going

In the run-up to Henry V’s invasion, the French state was weakened by the reign of a delusional king. Charles VI went through long periods as an alternate personality. The court politics was organized around ensuring access to the king during his initial moments of coherency. The lucky individual had complete control of the affairs of state.

What is pathetic in the current era is the obvious manipulation of our Chief Executive by the unscrupulous. Trump is a paranoid delusional, his antagonism to government reinforced during impeachment by the parade of public servants who came forward to expose his malfeasance.

The fear of destruction justifies all selfishness. In an executive, it is thus the crowbar used to destroy institutions. The characteristic attitude of selfishness is “I do not care what it cost to make this. I do not care how much damage its loss will cause. If I want it, I will take it; and if it threatens me, it will be destroyed.”

Trump’s usefulness to the selfish is no more evident than in his decision to abandon the Postal Service, the largest non-profit public service institution in America. With the threat of universal vote-by-mail kept in the shadows, he manufactured a charge that the Postal Service subsidizes Amazon deliveries. Delivered with absolute conviction – as was his assertion that injecting disinfectants would cure COVID-19 infections – clearly the same process is in play: he was given a brief by someone, and passed the information on to the public as true.

The Postal Service has been under attack by private delivery services for many years. Much as in the health insurance market, they want to carve out the low-cost delivery operations in urban areas, abandoning the rural communities. That those communities, already deprived of health care services, would be further cut adrift and disempowered electorally, is of no concern to them. They simply seek profit.