Monthly Archives: February 2008

Mukasey refuses probe of Bush aides

Apparently we no longer have an Attorney General who is willing to follow the law.

Sad.

Time to resign if you can’t follow the law, Mukasey.

Mukasey refuses probe of Bush aides – Yahoo! News

Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused Friday to refer the House’s contempt citations against two of President Bush’s top aides to a federal grand jury. Mukasey said White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former presidential counsel Harriet Miers committed no crime.

As promised, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she has given the Judiciary Committee authority to file a lawsuit against Bolten and Miers in federal court.

“The House shall do so promptly,” she said in a statement.

Mukasey said Bolten and Miers were right in ignoring subpoenas to provide Congress with White House documents or testify about the firings of federal prosecutors.

“The department will not bring the congressional contempt citations before a grand jury or take any other action to prosecute Mr. Bolten or Ms. Miers,” Mukasey wrote Pelosi.

Pelosi shot back that the aides can expect a lawsuit.

“The American people demand that we uphold the law,” Pelosi said. “As public officials, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution and protect our system of checks and balances and our civil lawsuit seeks to do just that.”

Leaping Lizards

LEAPING LIZARD: The flying dragon can glide for up to 50 meters (164 feet). It jumps from a tree and spreads out folds of skin. These folds act as wings and let the lizard glide through the air.

Yi (pronounced “yee”), is usually translated as Change or changes. Philosophically, it is primordial change, inscribed in the actual order of things, the on-going process of the real or Way. It gives us the seeds and the symbols through which life and spirit can transmit and extend themselves. The meanings of this truly magical name include making a gift, healing a sickness, calming and tranquilizing the spirit, pulling up weeds, cultivating a field. It is the sun appearing after clouds, thanks to the intervention of an ancestor. It is the name of a frontier region, and suggests borderline or liminal states of mind and place. The Chinese character in its various forms contains the graphs for sun and moon and for a lizard or chameleon.

Change is a book you cannot keep at a distance, for
its Way is always shifting.
Transforming and moving, never resting
it flows through the six empty places
like a messenger of life and death
transforming the strong and the supple.

Rules cannot confine this. It follows only Change.
It issues forth and re-enters in a stately dance,
teaching caution within and without,
illuminating the causes of trouble.
It is not an army to protect you,
but a beloved ancestor who draws near.
So follow the words and feel their place in your heart
and you will have charge of the omens and their powerful symbols.
If you are not willing to do this, the Way cannot open for you.

Yi. Change, easy. The symbol for change is a picture of a swiftly moving lizard, the image of change.

Those who follow Tao spend a lifetime studying change.

The ancients observed that all life changed. Grain grew from seeds to tall, full plants. Deer were born in the spring and gradually learned to walk on their own. Human beings grew old and died, yet the generations succeeded one another.

Observing the continual alterations of birth and death, the ancients therefore said Tao had no fixed points; its only constant was change.

When something reaches its extreme, it changes to its opposite. Just after a rice plant reaches a sweet fullness, it begins to yellow, wither, and die. Just as the deer comes to full vitality, it soon becomes old and passes from the earth. And when people reach the apex of their knowledge and strength, they inevitably begin to decline.

Thus it is that Tao is movement, and that movement is marked by constant change.

Deng Ming Dao, Everyday Tao

Last time we got to see leap day, I was going through a period of introspection and silence. It was shortly after that I started actively blogging politically. This time I thought I might at least acknowledge the leap day, since I can and all that.

While I am hopeful that we will soon see major political changes, I know it is still going to be a long hard struggle. Economically the country is in a great deal of trouble, as much as our leaders don’t wish to acknowledge that. To think we can still spend so wastefully on military efforts that are not gaining anything for us is ludicrous. And yet there seems to be no other plan yet to deal with what is looking to be a looming energy crisis, with oil today reaching $103 a barrel.

We must transition to alternatives, we must learn to do more with less, and we must stop the illusion that more and bigger is necessarily “better”. Living large may seem fun, but when I visit the large, mostly empty homes of some people and see how little actual personality or originality there is in their lives, the dearth of books, or ideas, or the lack of any real effort to develop their creativity or even simply think their own thoughts, it makes me very sad. My home is small and not terribly elegant, but my son’s friends are always here, we have great parties here, there are hundreds of books around, music and pets and artwork and a gorgeous garden and lots of creative energy.

The lizard is leaping, change is in the air, and we need to be prepared to change, too.

Faith (Repost)

In spite of knowing,
Yet still believing.
Though no god above,
Yet god within.

There is no god in the sense of a cosmic father or mother who will provide all things to their children. Nor is there some heavenly bureaucracy to petition. These models are not descriptions of a divine order, but are projections from archetypal templates. If we believe in the divine as cosmic family, we relegate ourselves to perpetual adolescence. If we regard the divine as supreme government, we are forever victims of unfathomable officialdom.

Yet it does not work for us to totally abandon faith. It does not follow that we can forego all belief in higher beings. We need faith, not because there are beings who will punish us or reward us, but because gods are wonderful ways of describing things that happen to us. They embody the highest aspects of human aspiration. Gods on the altars are essential metaphors for the human spiritual experience.

Faith shouldn’t be shaken because bad things happen to us or because our loved ones are killed. Good and bad fortune are not in the hands of gods, so it is useless to blame them. Neither does faith need to be confirmed by some objective occurrence. Faith is self-affirming. If we maintain faith, then we have its reward. If we become better people, then our faith has results. It is we who create faith, and it is through our efforts that faith is validated.

Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

The point of faith is to become better people. Not to force your religion on others, but to better yourself. Not to strengthen your religion or return it to its traditions so you can glory in the past, but to allow yourself to face the world as it is now, and deal with life as it is now. Tao doesn’t encourage us to live in the past or long for some past glory days of Taoist rule, or go around converting everyone to Taoism, or to force our governments to meet some holy standards of justice. Tao tells us to live our own lives in harmony with natural forces. The “faith” of Tao is to know that if you follow its principles and move in harmony with the Tao, your life will naturally become better.

And it does. That’s the beauty of it. It works. Just as Christianity does if you truly follow its teachings, and don’t reinvent your own interpretations of it to suit your misogynistic tendencies. Just as Buddhism does, if you follow its logic. Just as Islam does, if you follow its true tenants and don’t use them as ways to control the women in your society, or enforce the power of the Mullahs over the people to their detriment. Just as any faith does, once you get past the “rules” you’re “supposed” to follow and understand the heart of what it is trying to tell you – to treat other people well, to better yourself before complaining about others, and to live your own life in accordance with what you believe, and not impose that on other people around you.

For the unified mind in accord with the tao all self-centered striving ceases. Doubts and irresolutions vanish and life in true faith is possible. With a single stroke we are freed from bondage; nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing. All is empty, clear, self-illuminating, with no exertion of the mind’s power. Here thought, feeling, knowledge, and imagination are of no value. In this world of suchness there is neither seer nor other-than-self.

To come directly into harmony with this reality just simply say when doubt arises, ‘Not two.’ In this ‘not two’ nothing is separate, nothing is excluded. No matter when or where, enlightenment means entering this truth. And this truth is beyond extension or diminution in time or space; in it a single thought is ten thousand years.

Emptiness here, Emptiness there, but the infinite universe stands always before your eyes. Infinitely large and infinitely small, no difference, for definitions have vanished and no boundaries are seen. So too with Being and non-Being. Don’t waste time in doubts and arguments that have nothing to do with this.

One thing, all things: move among and intermingle, without distinction. To live in this realization is to be without anxiety about non-perfection. To live in this faith is the road to non-duality, because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.

Words! The tao is beyond language, for in it there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, no today.

–Hsin Hsin Ming (Verses on the Faith Mind)
Attributed to Chien Chih Sengtsan, ca. 600 C.E.
Translated by Robert B. Clarke

Trickster

I am beginning to understand that there is much of the trickster in my personality. I’ve always identified with Loki, and often use humor to try and defuse situations (not always successfully, like any trickster…)

I’m currently reading Lewis Hyde’s “The Gift” right now, but I think his “Trickster Makes This World” will be in the reading stack soon. (It’s been on my wish list for a few weeks now).

Lewis Hyde

“An important part of any sacred activity is marking a boundary between the sacred and non-sacred. It’s important to build a container so the action is conducted inside sacred space,” he noted. “So, when you get to a character like the Trickster, you now have somebody who is the critic of the boundary, whose position is that all boundaries can be become too rigid and too impermeable, causing the life to dry up inside the container. So you need, both … some way to make the container and some function that is smart about how and where to break it. The Trickster is the sacred boundary crosser. And it’s not just that he crosses boundaries, he does it as a needed sacred function. If all you have is sacred forces who are maintaining their fiefdoms then you can end up with a fragmented heaven. Trickster gets a commerce going among the various sacred powers.”

Speaking of “heaven” – Hyde related in his book the story of C.G.Jung when he was a twelve-year-old schoolboy in Basel, Switzerland, admiring the glorious cathedral in the town square.

Said Jung, “I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the sight, and thought: ‘The world is beautiful and the church is beautiful and God made all this and sits above it far away in the blue sky on a golden throne and … Here came a great hole in my thoughts, and a choking sensation. I felt numbed, and knew only: ‘Don’t go on thinking now! Something terrible is coming …’”

For several days Jung struggled with the thought of whether or not God, who controls all things, could allow him to think a thought he shouldn’t think. Finally, having worked himself around to believing that God wanted him to have the forbidden thought, he relented: “I gathered all my courage, as though I were about to leap forthwith into hell-fire, and let the thought come. I saw before me the cathedral, the blue sky. God sits on His golden throne, high above the world – and from under the throne an enormous turd falls upon the sparkling new roof, shatters it, and breaks the walls of the cathedral asunder … I felt an enormous, an indescribable relief. Instead of the expected damnation, grace had come upon me. I wept for happiness and gratitude.”

Hyde said he was indebted to C.G. Jung, particularly one of his students, Marie-Louise von Franz, and their work with the idea of Mercurius. To the medieval alchemists, Mercury was the metal symbolizing duality – metallic yet liquid, matter yet spirit, cold yet fiery. Mercury was the metal uniting all the opposites. This Trickster energy was known to the Greeks by way of Hermes, the messenger god; in the Roman pantheon, Hermes becomes Mercury.

“C.G. Jung was a fabulously smart guide,” Hyde continued. “The Jungian insight is that the psyche is a community of forces and you need that whole community of forces working together. The pathology is when one member of the community begins to dominate in an individual, so some other part – your Warrior, say, or your sense of justice – gets muted. Or if we’re speaking of a group rather than one psyche, it’s when somebody begins to take over through display of one singular force. In a healthy community, every force will have a counter force. For example, Hermes steals the cattle from Apollo, but at the end of the story, Hermes and Apollo are friends. They find a way to relate. They need each other. You can’t have a boundary crosser unless you have someone who cares about the boundary. Hermes needs Apollo to be able to play with the rules and Apollo needs Hermes to keep things lively.”

To help people come back to a place where they’ve been trapped or lost requires them to become a ‘Hermeneut’ of their own life. They have to be helped to understand that there is an active learnable role to play in relating to the story you tell about your own life, the story you’ve inherited, the story you’re going to create as you live your life. Most Americans are passive recipients of the story that the media wants them to live by and only when you realize it is a story are you able to make different choices. You can interpret the story and be converted – from a passive object of commercial pitchmen into an actor living a life that you yourself create.”

Hyde said he believed a lot of Americans were “numb.” I liked the quote he used from child psychologist Donald Winnicott: “It is a joy to be hidden, but disaster not to be found.”

To explore within ourselves all the limiting behavior we’ve been taught takes a kind of “imaginative amorality,” the author said. It’s not an immorality, but an archetypal motivation in our own psyche to “play with the rules rather than observe them.”

The snark fails….

Lobbying straight from McCain’s straight talk bus… classic….

TPM Election Central | Talking Points Memo |

This is pretty great. Today’s Washington Post piece all about the fact that John McCain is surrounded by lobbyists on his campaign has gotten lots of attention today. It’s key context for understanding the big Times story yesterday about his allegedly improper relationship with that female lobbyist, as well as his constant railing against lobbyists and “special interests.”

But the piece has a lovely and very revealing little nugget buried in it that has passed unnoticed. It turns out that one of McCain’s top advisers, lobbyist Charlie Black, does lots of his lobbying from the Straight Talk Express. From aboard the bus itself…

Of all the lobbyists involved in the McCain campaign, the most prominent is Black…even as Black provides a private voice and a public face for McCain, he also leads his lobbying firm, which offers corporate interests and foreign governments the promise of access to the most powerful lawmakers. Some of those companies have interests before the Senate and, in particular, the Commerce Committee, of which McCain is a member.

Black said he does a lot of his work by telephone from McCain’s Straight Talk Express bus.

The snark fails…

Late Update: FireDogLake’s TeddySanFran, who flagged this first, has a good line about Black: “I wonder if he expects a desk in McCain’s Oval Office?”

Dragon Headed Turtle

Hubby is back from the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco – and I got presents! Yay! This dragon headed turtle is one of them, along with some yummy Teuscher’s chocolates and a nice hat and scarf from the Scottish store.

Dragon headed turtles are a Feng Shui charm:

The Dragon Headed Turtle brings with it the ancient secrets that can protect a home from negative energies.

The Dragon symbolizes luck, the turtle long life and the baby turtle is a symbol of new beginnings. The Dragon Headed Turtle (Tortoise, Terrapin,) is the symbol of longevity in your home, especially for the head of the house. The dragon headed turtle is also a powerful symbol of wealth, health, prosperity and protection.

Legend has it that the turtle has within his body the secret of heaven and earth and the design of his shell shows the magic square, which is the guide for life.

This beautiful dragon headed turtle can be used to improve relationships by placing a piece of red ribbon in his mouth, to attract wealth use golden ribbon.

If you are having Health problems place a piece of blue ribbon in his mouth.

To increase his strength place him in the North of your lounge or office or place him behind you when you are sitting at your desk to give you support.

To increase your success or improve your options place one inside your front door on a table, in the evening turn him round to face the interior.

Never place him in the kitchen or bathroom.